Tuesday, December 30, 2014

6 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Wimps Out On Choosing an MVP Edition

Peter King described what a terrible failure Johnny Manziel was the last time I covered MMQB. Peter also compared the upholding of Adrian Peterson's suspension with the suspension of a school teacher, which helps to show just how out of touch Peter can be. Peter also introduced us to Chris Harris Jr. of the Broncos and pointed out how Jadeveon Clowney probably won't be the same player after his microfracture surgery. This week uses his operative in the 49ers organization to report on Harbaugh's departure, thinks the Buccaneers should just go ahead and draft Marcus Mariota now (because when has anything changed in the draft from December to May?), gives spoilers on the podcast "Serial" as his travel note which blows my mind because it's a podcast and has nothing to do with travel, and empathizes with Jeff Fisher. 

So late Sunday night, as the Steelers were winning the final game of the 2014 regular season, completing the last bit of the playoff puzzle, I had a well-placed 49ers operative on the phone from California, 

We all know from Peter's "investigation" into the Ray Rice-elevator incident that Peter's operatives are never wrong, unless they are lying to him, in which case they will probably be providing incorrect information.

“This year was doomed from the start,” said the 49er smart guy. “It’s the classic example of, ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ 

Not only is this operative well-placed, but he can provide fancy quotes as well. This isn't just a football guy, he's a SMART football guy.

it was always, ‘Sources say this, sources say that.’ You cannot run a successful organization with one side of the building leaking stuff to hurt the other side of the building. And it never stopped.”

Says the guy who is currently giving this quote to Peter King AS A SOURCE WHILE LEAKING INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION'S INNER WORKINGS. But I'm sure this well-placed operative never hurt the organization by leaking information. Never. It's totally different when he does it. Not that he would do it of course.

• Coaching carousel. (Always hated that phrase. A carousel is a place of fun. You think Mike Smith is having any fun today? Or his doomed staff in Atlanta?)

"I am going to choose to use a phrase and then claim I hate this phrase, even though there is no reason I should have to use this phrase if I don't want to use the phrase, but I will use it voluntarily and then claim I don't like using it."

If there is one takeaway from this MMQB, it's that Peter wants readers to know a carousel is a place of fun. Always remember that.

• I have made my choice (or choices) in the crowded MVP field. It’s a fun race in this I’m-right-and-so-you’re-an-idiot Twitter era,

Don't worry Peter, people thought you were an idiot way before Twitter came around. There was just no easy forum to express these feelings. It's not Twitter that created people who like pointing out you are wrong. But no really, keep blaming technology.

and I spent a few hours over the weekend divining my decision, and then it got messed up in the early Sunday window, and then messed up further in the late-afternoon window, but early this morning, the light bulb went off and … well, read on and you’ll see.

What's the opposite of waiting with baited breath? That's how I feel right now.

• What makes Khalil Mack tick?

His heart.

I like this guy.

It's okay to like Khalil Mack everyone! Peter King has given us permission to do so. Bless you Peter!

It’s been a long time coming. In retrospect, the Niners would have been smarter to cut the cord last winter if Harbaugh could have been convinced to take the Cleveland job; that way, San Francisco could have gotten compensation for him, and the rebuilding could have started earlier. Instead, this was a wasted year.

Yes, hindsight can be very useful. This is why building a time machine is so important. Because then the 49ers could go back in the past and do what they probably should have done one year earlier, but didn't know they should have done one year earlier. Of course, if the 49ers had gotten rid of Harbaugh a year earlier then without the benefit of hindsight football writers like Peter King would have criticized them for getting rid of a successful head coach. Once things got bad, this criticism doesn't seem to be prevalent. Rest assured, the 49ers would have gotten destroyed for trading a successful head coach coming off three NFC Championship appearances. Winning cures all.

In October, I ran into Ronnie Lott in Chicago. He was stunned the Niners seemed ready to divorce Harbaugh, and recalled how uncomfortable it often was playing for Bill Walsh. “Getting guys to play at their highest level is not always a comfortable thing to do, but that’s what Bill coached us to do,” Lott said. “I wanted a coach who’d get the best out of me, out of us. I didn’t want a buddy.”

Peter is about to make a comparison to Bill Walsh and it's not a good one. Many head coaches are hard to deal with, and when they are successful with the organization, then this difficulty can be dealt with. Jim Harbaugh wanted to get paid like a Super Bowl winning coach. He had not won a Super Bowl and the issue wasn't just with the players, but with 49ers management. That makes it different.

That led me to call Carmen Policy, team president/ombudsman during the Walsh era, who I recall was so often the referee between Walsh and many in the organization, occasionally owner Eddie DeBartolo. “There were times under Bill where it was a constant crisis-management situation,” said Policy. “But you’re winning, and so I’d say, ‘If we can just keep it together for the next month, month and a half, we’ll be okay.’ Eddie had this insatiable desire to win, and Bill did too.

And here is the difference that Peter isn't seeming to acknowledge. Jim Harbaugh acted like and wanted to get paid like a Super Bowl winning coach. Bill Walsh WAS a Super Bowl winning coach.

Jim Harbaugh is like, "Pay me as if I were a coach who won the Super Bowl."  

Trent Baalke is like, "But you haven't won a Super Bowl. That's not the end-all, but you haven't won a Super Bowl and want to be paid like you have. Also, you and I differ in ways that really are fundamental. You think I should draft different players and we don't always agree on the direction of the team."

It was all about winning, every day. I don’t know that any players loved Bill, but they had respect for him, and they knew he could lead them to the promised land.”

It's not the players that had the issue. It was 49ers management. In every business, when the fancy suits don't get along over the long-term and don't share the same vision a divorce will occur. This is how it is in business and life. Sports aren't different.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will be interviewed, and he has a chance to get the permanent job; Fangio is very well-respected within the building, and in particular on the staff. I hear Baalke may have interest in UCLA coach Jim Mora, who was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator for five years (1999-2003). And I hear the offensive staff, at least most of it, is likely to be purged—though Baalke and/or York could make a couple of aides (offensive line coach Mike Solari, running backs coach Tom Rathman) part of the deal for the new coach.

I think Jim Harbaugh should still be the 49ers coach in a perfect world, but he isn't the only good head coach in the world, so the 49ers need to move on if that's what the situation requires. It's obvious with Peter's "Can't they just get along?" attitude that he hasn't worked in an office or organization where two or more people simply can't co-exist. Logic goes away and keeping a talented person becomes secondary to preventing a toxic atmosphere.

Fans don’t care who’s at fault. They don’t care that Harbaugh was increasingly difficult to get along with. They know that he, probably more than any single person, was responsible for taking the Niners from irrelevant to the Super Bowl. And so they’ll be watching, warily, as York and Baalke make a crucial hire for the future of the franchise.

It sucks. No doubt. Harbaugh wants to get paid and he didn't agree with some of the personnel moves that Baalke made over the past few offseasons and drafts. Winning cures everything and when the 49ers stopped going 12-4 and making the playoffs, a change was going to be made. If 49ers fans can't trust Baalke to make a good coaching hire then they shouldn't trust him to make smart decisions for the organization either. I don't see why 49ers fans wouldn't trust him. I think Baalke deserves some trust based on his record of player acquisition through the draft and free agency.

Think of it. Other than maybe the absence of the 49ers—which we’ve seen coming since midseason—and the presence of the Cowboys, is there anything that really shocks you about the playoffs this year?

Other than a team with a losing record hosting a playoff game? Other than the Cowboys being in the playoffs at all?

let’s take a look at the four matchups coming on the first weekend of the playoffs.

Okay! Let's!

NFC: Arizona (fifth seed, 11-5) at Carolina (fourth seed, 7-8-1), 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Cardinals need to repeat history here. In 2008, as the lower seed, they flew to Charlotte under very similar circumstances. They’d lost four of their last six in the regular season, just as they have this year. That season, Arizona was on the Super Bowl express, the classic example of a team with a big star getting hot (Larry Fitzgerald: 546 yards, seven touchdowns over four playoff games) at the right time. Big difference, of course, is that Kurt Warner was the quarterback then, and either Ryan Lindley or a gimpy Drew Stanton will be at the helm now. Carolina will try to run. It’s probably the Panthers’ only hope.

Yep, it's their only hope. If they can't run the ball, Ryan Lindley will tear the Panthers' secondary apart.

(Please don't let this happen. Please.)

AFC: Baltimore (sixth seed, 10-6) at Pittsburgh (third seed, 11-5), 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC

This could be the last game of a great rivalry.

What? The last game of a great rivalry? Did Ozzie Newsome say, "There will be some changes after the season" and Peter King thought this meant the Ravens would be folding as an organization or selling off all their players for beer money?

This could be the end for 37-year-old James Harrison, a mainstay in this game, as well as 33-year-old safety Troy Polamalu. On the other side, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone, and Suggs is 32. So enjoy this test of wills on a cold Saturday night at the confluence of the Three Rivers. It’s the game of the weekend.

Because we all know that the Ravens and Steelers have proven terrible at drafting and finding young talent to replace the older talent that retires or leaves in free agency. It's the end of an era maybe, but it's not the last game of a great rivalry. Players will be replaced and the rivalry will continue. Don't be a drama queen.

AFC: Cincinnati (fifth seed, 10-5-1) at Indianapolis (fourth seed, 11-5), 1:05 p.m. ET, CBS.
 

This looks like the most even matchup of the weekend. Big question: Can Andrew Luck beat the Bengals by himself?

Andrew Luck is a pretty good quarterback, but he does need receivers to throw the ball to and an offensive line blocking for him. So no, I don't think Luck can beat the Bengals by himself. Fortunately, the genius Ryan Grigson has put a great team around Luck, right? Three seasons of ingenius drafting has put a great team around Luck. Isn't that what I hear?

The Colts have held two of their last three foes to 10 points, but they were offensive weaklings Houston and Tennessee. The last three playoff teams Indy hass played have scored 51, 42 and 42 points.

I don't hate Ryan Grigson, but I do chuckle a bit at how he has built the Colts team. They are obviously a great offensive team, but the question of how he's built the defense does hang in there in my mind. Grigson is very well-respected as a GM, but I'm interested to see how he continues to build the defense. He's seemed to focus solely on offense and helping out Andrew Luck. Which is a good idea, but the Colts have to stop opposing teams too. Playing Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Houston six times this year doesn't answer the questions too well for me.

First order of business: Will the league office see Ndamukong Suh’s stomp on Aaron Rodgers’ leg during the second half at Green Bay Sunday the same was as the Lions saw it—which is to say, inadvertent?

Nope. It was intentional and he should be suspended for the playoff game.

The Bucs should just turn in the card for Mariota now, and other draft/coaching/GM notes.

Brilliant idea! What could change between now and May? Absolutely nothing could change. Peter should be a GM and decide on his team's draft pick in December. I'd like to see that.

The Bucs will have a delegation, led by GM Jason Licht, at the Rose Bowl Thursday to see Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota duel Florida State’s Jameis Winston. I recently asked five GM/personnel types in the NFL about the two players, and it came out the way I thought: 5-0 in favor of Mariota, because of on-field and off-field things,

And those are the only two options for the #1 overall pick in the draft? It seems to be there are quite a few other options at #1 overall.

• The Browns may now be in the market for a quarterback—because of Johnny Manziel’s knuckleheadedness. They pick 12, 19 and 45, and have an extra four from the Sammy Watkins trade. If there’s a non-Mariota quarterback they like, they have the ammo to move up and get him if that’s what’s needed.

At some point the Browns will draft a good quarterback and will get credit for doing so. Sort of like how the Seahawks threw a bunch of shit at the wall in free agency and trades to find a quarterback before finding Russell Wilson and then he ended up paying off big time.

• So much of the draft predictions are impossible now, because several of the teams picking high in the first round could have different pickers, depending on the outcome of GM and coaching searches in the next couple of weeks.

But the Buccaneers need to draft Marcus Mariota. This is known for sure.

• I think the Titans will certainly consider a quarterback at No. 2. I don’t believe for a minute they’re all-in on Zack Mettenberger as their quarterback of the future. Not that this isn’t possible, but it cannot be a certainty.

No way. I can't believe the Titans aren't sold on their 6th round pick in this past year's draft. Usually 6th round picks develop quickly or not at all.

• I wonder if Stephen Ross is having buyer’s remorse this morning, having announced he is keeping Joe Philbin and then seeing the bizarre display Sunday in Sun Life Stadium. Not only did Miami lose to the rival Jets, but the loss was ugly, with NFL Network reporting Mike Wallace basically quit the game late in the first half when teammate Charles Clay caught a touchdown pass.

But Joe Philbin cared about the Dolphins players this year. Remember? He visited the players in their rooms and this brought everyone together? This was part of Peter's training camp report and how things would be COMPLETELY different in Miami this year.

Then Peter takes a long time to tell us who he chose as MVP, only to cop-out and choose two players. Why? Because, he's Peter King. Showing balls and making a concrete choice isn't something he is capable of doing.

The anatomy of a Most Valuable Player decision:

Are there people who read MMQB who really give a shit about Peter's thought process? Give us a sentence or two on the process and then give the freaking answer. Don't bore us, get to the chorus. It's amazing to me how Peter really thinks his readers need a thorough day-by-day accounting of how he came to his MVP decision.

Friday. Realized I’d better start coming close to a final decision, with the votes for the Associated Pressseason awards due in a few days,

I'm betting Peter broke out into a flop sweat at the thought of this deadline which he had known about for months. Life as a sportswriter is very stressful.

Watt, theoretically, could be having the best season by a defensive player ever, yet because his team was going to finish out of the playoffs, it seemed foolish to make give him my MVP vote. How much value can a defensive player have on a 9-7 team, particularly one that finishes in the bottom half of the defensive team stats?

This is stupid. How much value could a defensive player have on a team without other great defensive players and steady quarterback play? Gee, I don't know. The Texans could be 5-11 or 4-12 instead of 9-7.

Saturday night.

Too many great quarterbacks are having great seasons that while not indistinguishable are close in merit, and it’s impossible to pick one; so in this one season, I should pick the best player in football instead. That’s what I was thinking as the day dawned for Week 17.

What a revolutionary idea. Choosing the best football player as the MVP.

One other issue about the MVP race. I firmly believe that Peter was a little nervous about voting for Aaron Rodgers because a vote for Rodgers could give him an MVP award, which would in turn possibly make Brett Favre's accomplishments in Green Bay still look impressive, but also move Rodgers closer and closer to Favre's legacy in Green Bay. I absolutely believe this. I firmly believe Peter King would take his friendship with Brett Favre and Favre's legacy in Green Bay into account when voting for MVP.

Sunday afternoon. NBC Viewing Room, as the early games begin. If Watt overtakes Justin Houston for the sack title (entering the day, it’s Houston 18, Watt 17.5), and Romo and Rodgers are so-so, I’m thinking Watt’s the guy. In the first 11 snaps against the Jaguars, Watt beats the second pick in the ’13 draft, Luke Joeckel, for two sacks, one of them forcing a fumble.

Yeah, J.J. Watt should be MVP if he can beat some shitty Jaguars offensive lineman for a sack, while Rodgers plays the Lions' defense. Brilliant reasoning.

Then Rodgers injects heroism or some such trait into the derby in Green Bay late in the afternoon. With the NFC North title on the line, he goes down in agony with a strained calf while throwing a first-half touchdown pass. He has to come out of the game, then returns to a thunderous ovation and chants of “MVP! MVP!” early in the second half to lead Green Bay to a 30-20 victory. “Impossible choice,” I say to no one. “Just impossible.”

I wonder what Peter would do if he had to make decisions that really fucking mattered as part of his job. Choosing a player for a postseason award is "impossible," then what would happen if he made a decision like having to choose two employees to lay off? This teeth-gnashing from sportswriters is hilarious to me. It's a postseason award, not anything that is really important. Quit with the drama like you are choosing whose life to save.

A couple of times over the years with the API have split my MVP vote. Once, famously. In 1997, I gave half to Brett Favre and half to Pittsburgh cornerback/safety Carnell Lake. Favre tied Barry Sanders that year for the award, preventing him from winning three straight MVPs outright. A few folks in his family weren’t very happy about that vote, and Favre kidded me about my good friend Carnell Lake a few times.

Long story short, Peter splits his vote between Watt and Rodgers. I told you that Peter considers his friendship with Favre as part of his MVP vote. Don't think Peter isn't aware of how a full vote to Aaron Rodgers would affect his good friend Brett Favre's legacy in Green Bay. A full vote for Rodgers means he is one step closer to eclipsing Favre's legacy in Green Bay. Friendship before all else.

The winner: a tie. I will split my vote between Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt.

I'm sure the Favre family appreciates it, Peter. You didn't even hurt anyone's feelings while making this "impossible" decision. Good for you. Now you and Brett Favre can have beers on the porch and you won't have to worry if he is a little angry with you. 

I have been impressed with how Oakland first-round pick Khalil Mack has carried himself this year. He gets it. He gets the football part, and he gets the off-the-field part, and he gets that he hasn’t accomplished anything yet because his team is at the bottom of the AFC West.

As long as Khalil Mack doesn't do something like get Greg Schiano fired or get injured then Peter will continue to like him.

The Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (12-4). There are many reason why the Seahawks will enter the postseason as the most dangerous team, but this is the big one: During Seattle’s six-game winning streak, foes have scored three touchdowns. That’s one every eight quarters.

Remember Peter King's trepidation about the Seahawks even as he ranked them the 3rd best team in the NFL?

Seahawks 36, Packers 16, and the story line for the next week was something like this: Yeah, we know no one ever repeats in the NFL, but this year’s different. Seattle’s unstoppable. No weaknesses. Everyone who didn’t pick Seattle to repeat, change your picks now.

Seattle since the opener:
Record: 2-2.
Points scored: 97.
Points allowed: 97.


3. Seattle (3-2). Since opening night, mortality.

And my thoughts at the time:

The Seahawks have played the teams that are #1, #2, #4, and #9 on this list. They beat two of those teams. So I don't know if it is "mortality" any more than it is a really difficult opening schedule.

And what do you know? By the end of the season the Seahawks are ranked as the best team in the NFL by Peter!

2. New England (12-4).I don’t have a lot of confidence in either fifth seed Cincinnati (Oct 5 in Foxboro: Pats 43, Bengals 17) or fourth seed Indianapolis (Nov. 16 in Indianapolis: Pats 42, Colts 20) journeying to Foxboro in 12 days and beating the rested Patriots.

Here's Peter when listing the assumptions "we" thought were correct, but really weren't.  
Ten things we think we thought about the 2014 season before this weekend:

The Patriots would have their usual AFC East stroll to a playoff bye, and the other three division stumblebums would fight for second place.

Yep and it happened that the Patriots ran away with the AFC East again.

7. Detroit (11-5).The 24th straight loss to the Packers in Wisconsin means the sixth seed in the NFC, and this daunting road to the Super Bowl, if favorites hold the day: at Dallas, at Green Bay, at Seattle. Not sure there’s been a tougher road recently.

I'm sure Peter has said this before and there are always upsets along the playoff road. So I don't know if form will hold.

11. Arizona (11-5).Last six games: 2-4. Last six games: 12.2 points per game. They played very competitively against a beat-down 49ers team Sunday, but it’s hard winning playoff games when you can’t score past the teens.

I try not to be Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead (he loves to link his old articles on Twitter when he's right about something) and point out every time I am right, but isn't this something that a few people (myself included) saw coming? The Cardinals have to score points to get to the Super Bowl. Fortunately, they are playing a fairly inept Carolina offense, but still, if they can't run the ball and can't throw the ball they aren't going to win a Super Bowl with Drew Stanton.

12. Carolina (7-8-1).On a neutral field, I’d like Arizona, narrowly. At Charlotte, I like Carolina.

The Panthers have lost two straight home playoff games to NFC West teams.

Offensive Player of the Week
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback Green Bay. John Wayne-like. The numbers in the 30-20 NFC North title game over Detroit were so very Rodgers (17 of 22, 226 yards, two touchdowns, no picks), but it was how he did it too. Rodgers aggravated his left calf strain in the second quarter while throwing his first touchdown pass of the afternoon at Lambeau Field, then returned in the second half to get the save against the Lions. Quite a performance. Was it an MVP-ensuring performance?

Not in Peter's opinion it wasn't.

Defensive Player of the Week

J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston. With his umpteenth signature game of the season—three sacks, a safety, a forced fumble, six tackles—Watt kept the Texans’ playoff hopes alive until the Ravens rallied to beat Cleveland. The Texans finished 9-7 and out of the money, but now we’ll see if one of the best defensive seasons will be good enough to earn Watt the MVP award.

Not in Peter's opinion it wasn't.

I believe splitting your MVP vote is not making an MVP vote at all. When Peter chooses two players for an individual award, he isn't making a choice at all. He's choosing to not make a choice and this shouldn't be allowed. I'm sorry that choosing an MVP is so hard, but a choice has to be made.

Goats of the Week
Justin Gilbert, Josh Gordon, Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns. Three words: Grow up, gentlemen.

But Manziel is so different now! Doesn't Peter remember how he had lunch with Manziel that one time before the NFL Draft? It was a whole new Johnny Manziel and not at all an image makeover to help his draft status.

“Is the NFL going somewhere?”
—Jim Harbaugh, after his final game as the 49ers coach, asked if he would miss the NFL.

I can't wait for Jim Harbaugh to come back to the NFL in three years after he wears out his welcome in Michigan and an NFL team throws a ton of money and power at him. This will happen.

In the past five seasons, the Patriots have won the division by 3, 5, 5, 4 and 4 games.

But after Week 1 Peter said the assumption the Patriots would run away with the division was a fallacy. Whoops.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

So the Christmas break allowed the King family to gather in northern Connecticut on a stormy Christmas Eve for a family dinner.

If asked where Peter King would meet his family for Christmas dinner then Connecticut would be my answer. For me, Peter King and the stereotype of rich, white, out-of-touch Connecticut go hand-in-hand. 

We got to binge-listen to eight episodes of “Serial,” back and forth to dinner. This is the 12-episode podcast describing in great detail the 15-year-old murder of a Baltimore high school student, Hae Min Lee, that resulted in her former boyfriend, Adnan Syed, being handed a life sentence for her death—a killing he said he didn’t commit. Syed participates by phone from his prison in Cumberland, Md., and host Sarah Koenig and her intrepid staffers find the rest of the key characters in the stale murder case they bring to life. I finished the last episodes over the long weekend.

I won't cover this much because I don't listen to this podcast, but I don't think giving spoilers and opinions on a podcast is a travel note. If there is no note that actually involves traveling, then perhaps don't have a travel note. If MMQB is a buffet like Peter King insists then don't put chocolate covered strawberries on the menu as "fruit" for a salad because you think there needs to be fruit for a salad on the menu.



Curt Schilling doesn't think Johnny Manziel could evolve into an NFL quarterback because Schilling doesn't believe in evolution and thinks that it's Obama's fault Manziel hasn't succeeded in the NFL so far.



Sunday marked the 10th straight loss for the Rams in Seattle. Three times in this current December streak of games, the loss foiled the Rams’ effort to finish .500 or above.

I'm sure Rams fans feel that way too when they are told the team is "on the rise" and the team commits itself to a quarterback who can't be relied upon. But sure, it's not like Jeff Fisher is paid as if he is an elite coach or anything. Next year, that's the year Fisher finally finds a reliable quarterback. Just give him time and a contract extension.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 17:

o. CBS crew (Steve Tasker/Steve Beuerlein/Andrew Catalon) reporting Rex Ryan won’t take a defensive coordinator job.

Why would Ryan take a defensive coordinator job when he can sit out of football for a year and take a broadcast job that will automatically make the media put his name in the hat for any NFL head coaching vacancy? There's no point in actually coaching when Ryan can become a hot coaching candidate simply by not coaching.

p. Good Florio stat Sunday: If Florida State beats Oregon on Thursday, Jameis Winston will be 28-0 as a collegiate starter.

I guess that is a stat which is interesting. If you know Florida State hasn't lost in two years then you would know Jameis Winston hasn't lost as the FSU starter too.

s. Greg the Leg, good from 52, and it would have been good from 62, at Seattle.

Sure the Rams don't have a quarterback really and their head coach and GM make personnel moves like they know there isn't a real sense of urgency to win immediately, but Greg the Leg could play for the Rams for the next decade. That's something to build on.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 17:
 
What Peter liked:

g. Jordan Matthews, a good draft choice by the Eagles, with a rookie season that in most years would be a superior one—67 catches, 872 yards, eight touchdowns.

What Peter doesn't like:

b. Kelvin Benjamin had a good rookie year, but two drops in the NFC South title game? Not good.

I completely agree these two drops were terrible, it's interesting that this is what Peter focuses on since Benjamin has 73 catches for 1,008 yards and 9 TD's on the year. Matthews' drop percentage is 5.8% while Benjamin's is 5.5%. But Matthews had a superior rookie year in most seasons, but it isn't superior because another rookie wide receiver had a "good" rookie year.

d. Jay Cutler’s look, wrapped up on the freezing bench in Minnesota, pregame: Get me outta here!

While Cutler has been terrible, can you blame him? His coaching staff has thrown him under the bus.

5. I think if I’m John Schneider, who is not a what-could-have-been guy, I have to ask myself at least occasionally: Why didn’t I take Golden Tate for half the money and zero compensation over Harvin? (I know they happened 10 months apart, but if Seattle passed on Harvin, they’d have saved about $5 million in cap money annually, plus first-, third- and seventh-round picks.)

Again, this is complete hindsight. The Seahawks couldn't have known Harvin wouldn't be a better receiver than Golden Tate two years ago and it's not like Harvin didn't contribute in the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory. This is annoying. These weren't moves made by the Seahawks at the same time and Peter wants the Seahawks to predict the future and know Golden Tate is going to be a great receiver for the Detroit Lions and choose not to trade for Percy Harvin. Just totally using hindsight to unfairly second-guess John Schneider.

c. Tom Brady at Peyton Manning. It’ll be their 17th meeting, assuming both return in 2015.

My reason to live continues to exist.

Some of the best matchups, of course, won’t be known until we see where (if anyplace) Rex Ryan lands, what happens in Chicago, and where the surprise change is made. There’s always one. Or three.

See? There is no sense in Ryan taking a coaching job. His not being employed in the NFL will have the football media pushing him as name for a head coaching job until he takes another head coaching job.

9. I think Rams owner Stan Kroenke must be thinking (though how would we know what he thinks—the man never speaks) this after the team’s 11th straight non-winning season:

Why am I paying Jeff Fisher $8 million per year and not getting good results?

Of course not! It's not Fisher's fault and isn't Les Snead's fault and certainly isn't Kevin Demoff's fault. Nothing is.

I empathize with Jeff Fisher never having a good quarterback situation to deal with.

Really? You empathize with Fisher that he and Les Snead have chosen to do nothing with the quarterback position and continue to rely on Sam Bradford, a guy the Rams aren't even certain should be the quarterback of the future, to be the starter going into the season with little competition for his job? The conscious choice to waste the time and money of Rams fans by relying on a player who consistently can't stay healthy, you empathize with Jeff Fisher about that? I personally think decisions like that are why coaches and GM's get fired. There would be a good quarterback situation to deal with if Fisher and Snead had not relied on Austin Davis and Shaun Hill to be the options at quarterback if Bradford got injured.

The excuses for Fisher...they kill me. It's nice to have friends in the media.

But for all the resources and draft picks the team has had, 20 wins over three years just isn’t enough, which makes 2015 a vitally important year for Fisher’s future coaching the Rams.

This is an understatement. Snead and Fisher need to run the Rams like they will get fired if the team won't improve, not like they have 5-7 years to fumble around and then get a contract extension should they get it right for one year. But that's how it is. Jeff Fisher hasn't won a playoff game in a decade, and hasn't had a winning record with the Rams, but the 4th year of his mediocrity may be the time to start evaluating the job he's doing?

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

b. Stupid me. I didn’t get to any movies in the last week. Unbroken and Selma are first in the queue.

Thanks for the update. Feel free to not do it again.

e. Central Park on Christmas: Like the highways around Los Angeles at 4:30 in the afternoon. That was amazing, to see hundreds in line to go ice-skating and hundreds more just hanging around in the park in the middle of Christmas afternoon. I don’t know what I expected, but I thought Christmas was more of a homebound holiday.

People choosing to go outside on Christmas Day. What an amazing and marvelous sight.

The Adieu Haiku

So long Jim Harbaugh.
They say you were a big pain.
Hmmmm. Bill Walsh was too.


They also say that Bill Walsh was a pain who won Super Bowls. Jim Harbaugh has only had four seasons with the 49ers, but he wanted to be paid like Bill Walsh when he isn't quite Bill Walsh yet. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

0 comments Jim Souhan Says He's Glad the Twins Hired Paul Molitor So The Coddling of Twins Players Can End; Then Eats An Entire Plate of Nachos From The Safety of the Press Box

Like his fellow Twins-watcher Tom Powers, Jim Souhan thinks the Twins have been coddling their players too much under Ron Gardenhire. Much like Tom Powers, Souhan states this as someone who doesn't make his living in athletics where he could suffer a severe injury, unless carpal tunnel counts as a severe injury. Fortunately, the Twins have hired Paul Molitor to end the coddling of the Twins players. Previously, Twins players have missed games with brain injuries and torn muscle parts, but that era has ended with Paul Molitor in town. Now there's no excuse for missing a game. Just rub some cocaine and marijuana on it like Molitor did and get out on the field. If a Twins player is thinking about sitting a game out, take it from a guy who had an article written about him stating,

The amazing thing about Paul Molitor's recent bat-o-rama is not that he has hit in 33 straight games but that he has played in 33 straight games.

I'm sure Molitor's injuries were just a result of him playing too hard and trying too hard not to coddle himself. The idea a player who was famous early in his career for being injured no longer allowing Twins players who are injured to be coddled is funny. From the first article I linked, here is a list of Paul Molitor's ailments from 1980-1986:

Molitor was voted to the American League's starting lineup for the 1980 All-Star Game but had to excuse himself. A pulled chest muscle forced the Milwaukee infielder to miss almost a full month of play, from June 24 to July 18.

In 1981, Molitor tore ligaments in his left ankle May 3 and was on the disabled list until July 12.

In 1983, a wrist injury bothered him all season, and his batting average, hit and RBI totals fell way off from the year before.

In 1984, Molitor hurt his right elbow in spring training, played 13 games before undergoing surgery May 21, and never came back.

In 1985, Molitor made the All-Stars again, but spent Aug. 13-29 on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.

In 1986, Molitor hurt his hamstring, was put on the disabled list from May 10-30, hurt it again three days later, and returned to the disabled list from June 2-17.

I'm sure Jim Souhan thinks all of these injuries were from trying too hard and trying to be gritty enough to continue playing. There is nothing wrong with being injured and I am smart enough to understand Molitor can't rub dirt on his injuries and come back in the game. Unfortunately, Jim Souhan forgets about Molitor's past and decides that the coddling of Twins players has to stop...and Molitor is the guy to do it, while conveniently ignoring that Molitor had his own injury issues. 

As a player, Paul Molitor demonstrated competitiveness not with gestures or celebrations, but with stone-faced, head-first slides into spikes.

He slid "into spikes" as a player? That seems unnecessary to prove his toughness. The bases don't even have spikes on them, yet Molitor slid into bases with spikes anyway. That's toughness.

In 2001, he hinted at the fires within. The baby Twins, having led the American League Central for most of the season, were ambushed by a veteran Indians team in Cleveland late in the season. Molitor, then coaching under Tom Kelly,

Tom Kelly, a known pussy who somehow managed to ride the grit of Jack Morris and Frank Viola to two World Series titles.

thought the opponents and umpires were displaying disrespectfulness to his team. It took multiple people to keep him from bursting onto the field to physically make a point.

Leadership is physically assaulting an umpire and the opponent.

Last season, as the Twins lost 92 games, Molitor — promoted from coach to manager on Tuesday — again tried to remain below boiling temperature.

“There were times last year when we’d get on the team bus after a loss and Paul would look over at me and just shake his head,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “He had that look in his eye, like he was ready to explode. And I know that look, because I was sitting on that bus thinking, ‘That was a game we should have won.’

If it weren't for the group of nine human vaginas on the field who can't play through injuries, these games would have been won. This isn't ballet guys, it's baseball. Suit up and play baseball...unless you can't like Molitor couldn't earlier in his career in which case that was fine for him, but totally isn't fine the current Twins players.

“We won 70 games last year. I think we should have won 78. To go from 78 to 88, or something close, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I think we should be competitive this year.”

At his first news conference as manager, Molitor said: “I’m coming here to win.”

BREAKING NEWS: A newly-hired manager states his intention is to win baseball games.

His first order of business should be introducing a new mentality to the clubhouse.

A mentality like cocaine use to work through any tired feeling or marijuana use to numb any pain the players may have?

During their four consecutive losing seasons, the Twins tried to exercise caution with injured or bruised players. Anyone complaining of an ache was given an extra day or two off. There is logic in that approach.

You mean an ache like an injured hamstring that Molitor had during the 1986 season? Or an ache like a pulled chest muscle that Molitor had during the 1981 season?

There is also danger.

Danger!

The Twins clubhouse became a place where you could collect a check without actually taking the field.

One of the early tests of Molitor’s tenure will be his handling of his best player, Joe Mauer.

The player for the Twins who is a catcher and has suffered many of the ailments that a catcher will traditionally suffer, including concussions and knee surgery? The same Joe Mauer who holds the Twins' record for most games played at catcher?

Both grew up in St. Paul. Both played baseball at Cretin High. Both had the early years of their careers defined by constant injuries. The difference between them is important. Molitor’s desire to play was obvious. Mauer’s is not.

This doesn't really make sense. How does Souhan know that Molitor's desire to play was obvious and Mauer's desire is not? Is Souhan also able to visually determine a player's desire, even going back 30 years? Or is he just writing this sentence in a weak attempt to push Molitor's injuries off as something he couldn't fight through in an effort to head off the obvious contradiction in painting an oft-injured ex-player-turned-manager as a guy who will force his players to fight through injuries.

When the guy making $23 million a year begs out of the lineup because of a bruise, it’s difficult for the manager to push others to play through pain.

Souhan is referring to Mauer leaving a game with a bruised right elbow. This happened on September 23 and he returned on September 25.

Molitor’s predecessor, Ron Gardenhire, believed in maintaining cordial relations with key players. That approach worked for most of a decade. It appeared to fail in recent years with Mauer.

Mostly playing catcher, Joe Mauer has played in at least 113 games in every year of his career except for 2011 and 2004 when he was called up from the minors. Catchers are banged up a lot and in 11 seasons Joe Mauer has played 210 games as the DH and 920 games as the catcher, while Molitor played 1173 games as the DH in 21 seasons. Just saying, it's a lot easier to get banged up as a catcher.

Can Molitor play the bad guy?

“Yes,” he said. “It is a necessary part of the job. But for me, it’s kind of like surgery. It’s kind of the last option. I want to reach people in different ways before that needs to be done. We all know that different players have different buttons that need to be pushed.

And hopefully Molitor can push the "Rub some dirt on it" button that his manager couldn't seem to be able to push for him early in his career.

“We can all talk nice and fluffy about, ‘Well, you can all get along, and then they’ll play for you.’ In reality, not everyone is going to fit into that mode. They’re going to challenge you along the way, and see where you stand. I will choose other things first, but yes, there will be times when you need to be tough.

Plus, winning. Paul Molitor will be trying to win games too. Don't forget that. It's a goal other managers tend to forget about.

Does Mauer expect to be managed differently? “Well, I’d like to think I don’t need a lot of managing, as long as I get in the lineup,” he said.

Which should happen since Mauer is still a really good hitter. That's getting lost in this discussion about how the Twins aren't a tough team and Joe Mauer left a game due to a bruise.

Does closer Glen Perkins, who is friends with Mauer and an admirer of Molitor’s, believe the new manager will have to push this group of players?

“I think that there’s an inherent respect for him that’s going to make guys do the things they have to do,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any lackadaisicalness. With him, it’s the same thing as with Terry Ryan. When Terry walks into the room, you stand up and shake his hand. He commands respect. Paul Molitor is the same way. Nobody is going to feel right about trying to get away with certain things.

“The culture changes with just hiring him, and him being our leader. It’s a welcome change.”

"Pussies not allowed!" is what Glen Perkins is really saying. All of these Twins players who have been coddled are finally going to be forced to play through their injuries. Of course, Jim Souhan in typical talk-radio style only named one Twins player who he thinks has been coddled, but I'm sure there are many, many more that he just didn't have time to name in this column. After all, when indicating in the title there are multiple Twins players who are being coddled, it makes sense to only use the example one player, and for that one player to be the Twins catcher.

By the way, Yadier Molina (a guy I don't think anyone would state is not tough) has played in an average of 120 games per year in his career,  while Joe Mauer has played in an average of 118 games in his career. The man who upholds all that is great and right in baseball, Brian McCann, has averaged playing in 124 games per year in his career. So catchers get injured and can't play in every game during a season. Now that Mauer has been moved to first, maybe the bar is higher, but he still has almost a decade of wear from playing catcher on his body. Not that it matters to Jim Souhan as he eats a pre-game spread and tosses back a Diet Coke before the game safely in the press box, it's just that Mauer isn't tough enough. Paul Molitor is obviously the cure.

Jim Souhan also wrote an article where he thought that Molitor should maximize the grit and toughness of the Twins team by hiring an entire coaching staff of Twins legends. What could go wrong?
 
On Tuesday, the Twins, for the first time, hired a Hall of Fame player to be their manager.


Why stop there?


Why not surround Paul Molitor with other famous former Twins?

Greg Gagne for hitting coach! It's the only way to win. Jeff Reardon for pitching coach!

Why not hire coaches who will inspire admiration, if not fear, in the Twins clubhouse?

"Admiration, fear...they are pretty much the same thing," said the future dictator of a Communist country. 

Traditionally, major league coaches earn their jobs through years of minor league work and organizational loyalty.


The advantage Molitor has now, and has enjoyed as a minor league instructor and spring training coach, is that his reputation precedes him. If a young player doesn’t know who he is, someone like Glen Perkins or Brian Dozier will tell that player, “Listen to this guy. He’s in the Hall of Fame, and he got there with his brain.”

That's a great story, Jim. Actually Paul Molitor got in the Hall of Fame with his ability to hit a baseball, but it sounds much, much cooler to say he got there with his brain. 

In an otherwise empty Twins spring training clubhouse in 1996, I was interviewing Chuck Knoblauch when Ron Gardenhire, then a coach on Tom Kelly’s staff, came in and told Knoblauch he was wanted on the field. Knoblauch said, “In a minute,” and didn’t move.


Gardenhire, angry, left. Knoblauch said, “What’s he gonna do? He’s just a coach.”

Then Knoblauch went on the field and threw the baseball into the stands when trying to scoop the ball to the shortstop for a double play. 

Knoblauch was being a jerk. He was also correct: The average major league coach wields little actual power. The average major league coach is seen as part valet, part worker bee.


Now imagine a clubhouse filled with young players, run by a manager named Molitor, and coaches named — take your pick — Dan Gladden, Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven or Eddie Guardado.

Oh yeah, that's a great point. With guys like Gladden, Morris or Guardado in the locker room players will be like, "I don't know who the fuck that guy is because he isn't in the Hall of Fame like Paul Molitor is, but I am definitely going to respect that guy because they are the average major league coach that wields little power." 

My ideal Twins staff would be Molitor, Brunansky, Guardado as bullpen coach, Gladden as outfield coach and Morris or Blyleven as pitching coach.

Basically, Jim Souhan's ideal Twins staff has almost no experience actually being a coach at the major league level. I can't imagine how that wouldn't work out. 

The Twins would need to hire a Latin American former player who could communicate with the team’s Spanish-speaking players, and Molitor could use a veteran bench coach.

That's a great point. Who can speak to all the Mexicans? Perhaps Rick Aguilera? Sure, he ain't no Mexican, but as long as he can spit a few words of Spanish out I'm sure it will appease everyone. What are the Mexican players going to do anyway? Paul Molitor ain't having any bullshit in his clubhouse, including any bitching about the fact there ain't no Spanish-speaking coaches. Go home if you won't play hurt and or you think that you need a translator! Paul Molitor and Jack Morris never needed a translator and neither do you!

All of the above were known for mental and physical toughness as well as success. They are all capable of keeping a clubhouse loose, or getting in a sluggish player’s face.

And that's really what it is all about, getting in a player's face. Boy, Jim Souhan really wants to watch grown men get yelled at, doesn't he?

Just as Molitor can teach a young player the proper footwork required to steal bases in the majors,

"Run in that direction and then slide once you get close to the base."

Guardado could show his own game films

That sounds like a good use of time. "Hey everyone, come see how good I pitched! No bitching about watching me pitch for two hours or else Paul Molitor will get in your face. I'm keeping it loose now, but when Jack Morris comes in raging that you aren't watching my game film, it's on you to calm him down."

while demonstrating that velocity is not a prerequisite to pitching well in the big leagues.

"Throw slower and success will come."

Isn't that the direction baseball is headed? Softer throwing relievers?

Gladden can explain how he learned to expertly play left field,

"When the ball was hit to me, I used my legs to run and catch it. Here, now you try."

Morris and Blyleven can take apart games pitch by pitch.

And Morris will always complete every game he takes apart pitch by pitch, just like he completed every game he started in the majors...including GAME 7 OF THE 1991 WORLD SERIES.

Most big-league coaches are happy to have a job and hold little leverage. The Twins would have to woo Morris or Blyleven away from good broadcasting gigs offering scheduling flexibility. That would be expensive.

(Twins management) "Bert, you can fart in the clubhouse." 

(Bert Blyleven) "It's a deal."

(Twins management) "Jack, you can tell stories about GAME 7 OF THE 1991 WORLD SERIES and we will put a good word in for you to the Veteran's Commit---"

(Jack Morris) "It's a deal."

The organization strives to keep its best players close; they can’t get much closer than wearing a uniform in the dugout during games.

The dynasty would then begin. Now Paul Molitor is going to go get in someone's face which will cause fear in the player, followed by admiration.

Friday, December 26, 2014

2 comments Lowell Cohn Is Not Impressed With the Oakland A's Signing Billy Butler

Previously when covering a Lowell Cohn column on this site, he was angry over Colin Kaepernick's contractual demands. I wouldn't say Lowell is a Kaepernick-hater, but he's not a fan of the guy at all. Lowell seems pretty old-school, so he's taking a few shots at Billy Beane through the years as well. Lowell is not happy with the Billy Butler signing. On his personal blog, Lowell provides the same article, but uses the sarcastic title "A's Win World Series Early" as if Billy Beane had come out and stated that, yes, the A's will now win the World Series. The title is less sarcastic in his article on the "Press Democrat" site. Either way, Lowell is unimpressed with the Billy Butler signing. Obviously Billy Beane would have been better off simply not trying to improve the A's team. I'm sure that would have made Lowell much happier.

The Oakland A’s are a great offseason team. One of the best. 

Considering the A's are a team that generally stays out of the free agent market and don't make a splash in the offseason with big trades or throwing money around, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If anything, the A's are a great regular season team. That I can see. 

No club wins a pennant or a world championship in the offseason like the A’s. 

If Lowell is referring to teams that do great things in the offseason and then underperform during the regular season, he's factually incorrect. That's not what the A's do. If Lowell is referring to the A's making a splash with big trades and big signings in the offseason that don't pay off, he's still factually incorrect. That's not what the A's do either. Something about Billy Beane makes baseball writers crazy.

The A’s, under the stewardship of Billy Beane, just pulled off another major offseason coup. They signed former Royals DH Billy Butler to a three-year contract.

Considering Butler is 28 years old and was signed for three years at $30 million and his career line is .295/.359/.449, and last year was the worst year of his career, I would say it isn't a bad signing. Lowell will use terms like "coup" to try and overstate the case in order to disprove something no one else believes. It's his only chance to be sarcastic and misstate the opinion of Butler's signing as a part of his anti-Billy Beane agenda.

People are falling all over themselves praising Beane because he did it again, won the American League title before November came to a close. This is so special.

Really, Lowell? People are "falling all over themselves praising Beane"? Look at the fawning on this SB Nation site. Then if you do a search for "Billy Butler signed by A's" and the praise for Beane is vast that it is almost non-existent. Then if you do a search for "Billy Butler A's win American League title" and you find...umm...well, no one saying the A's have won the American League title. In fact, most of those articles point out that Butler is just one piece of the puzzle if the A's want to compete again in the American League.

The A’s also are a great pre-September baseball club. Take last season. They were 28 games over .500 in early August. Their phenomenal record was virtually unheard of and they were outscoring opponents by an obscene margin and many experts were calling them a great team and everyone was praising their platoon system of batting. Believe me, the A’s don’t get enough credit for what they do before September year in and year out.

Writes Lowell Cohn with only the slightest hint of condescension. He won't be giving the A's credit for much longer, that's for sure. Billy Beane has the reputation for using methods to build the A's that Lowell finds scary and new (even though they are old by now, of course) and Beane's method of building the A's team can't exist without every failure of the A's during Beane's tenure also being pointed out.

I would like to add something else. This signing of Butler — more on his stats in a moment — is Beane’s best offseason signing since he nabbed closer Jim Johnson before last season. 

There we go. There's a mention of an A's player who didn't work out. Of course, it wouldn't be Lowell Cohn writing this if he wasn't somewhat factually incorrect. Johnson wasn't signed by the A's, they traded for him. The A's gave him $10 million in arbitration for one season and then later released him during the season. It's not exactly a historically terrible blunder that will drag the franchise down for years to come.

But Lowell's point is that just last season Billy Beane paid a player $10 million and that player ended up being a disappointment. So Billy Beane isn't perfect. YOU GOT HIM NOW, LOWELL! Now go for the kill by pointing out that Beane has (gasp) probably signed other players who didn't make the All-Star team. Just be sure to ignore all the free agent signings and trades that Beane has made which worked out.

Johnson had 50 saves for Baltimore the year before Beane got him. And Johnson lasted almost to August before the A’s released him.

Fire Billy Beane! He made a mistake!

Maybe it’s unfair to compare the Butler and Johnson signings because, obviously, Johnson came to the A’s with more recent success than Butler. If I’m being unfair to Butler, forgive me.

You are not forgiven and you are being unfair. It's unfair to compare Butler to Johnson because one was a 30 year old relief pitcher and the other is a 28 year old DH/1B. It's unfair to compare Butler to Johnson because Billy Butler has had success every year in the majors except for 2014. It's clearly an outlier year on his resume.

Here’s the big point. A’s fans should no longer mourn the loss of Yoenis Cespedes because now they have Butler, a man who slugged, slammed, smashed nine home runs last season in 151 games.

I'm not sure if a person can smell sarcasm, but I am definitely getting a strong whiff of sarcasm from Lowell Cohn right now. Butler hit 21, 15, 19, 29, and 15 home runs the five full years before 2014 though. Of course, why would Lowell pay attention to Butler's entire career when he can choose one year of that career to represent his talent in an unfair way?

It’s an astonishing accomplishment. I mean, sure, Beane ruined the A’s chances last season when he traded Cespedes for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, 

Sure, this is an opinion and not a fact.

but now he’s back on track with Butler who, in addition to his nine big dingers last season had 15 the year before. It’s hard to find sluggers like that.

Comparing Butler and Cespedes by one statistic isn't exactly a fair comparison (which is obviously Lowell's intent). I'll dive deeper since Lowell is too lazy to do this.

Butler has a career line of .295/.359/.449. Cespedes has a career line of .263/.316/.464. You know what? Let's talk easy numbers that Lowell understands. Strikeouts are bad, right? Butler has struck out once every 6.2 at-bats in his career. Cespedes has struck out once every 4.4 at-bats in his career. Walks are good, right? Butler has walked once every 10.1 at-bats in his career. Cespedes has walked once every 14.0 at-bats in his career.

Billy Butler averages 38 doubles over his career in a 162 game season and Cespedes averages 32 doubles over his career in a 162 game season. Cespedes has more raw power and Butler is more of a gap hitter who gets on-base. There should be no real comparison between the two, especially since they don't even play the same position. Yet, in an effort to rub Beane's nose in the dirt, Lowell insists on a comparison. Butler isn't a slugger.

One other thing, Butler is making $6.667 million next year and turns 29 in April. Cespedes is making $10.5 million next year and turns 30 in October when he will be a free agent.

In a conference call, Beane explained why he made this epic Butler deal. “He’s a right-handed, middle-of-the-lineup guy, which is really hard to come by these days. His age (28), certainly his body of work over the last few years. He stayed very healthy his whole career. Bats are rare, not the easiest thing to come by these days.”

"Epic"? This isn't an epic deal. If Lowell wants to see an epic deal maybe he can pay attention to what Yoenis Cespedes will get on the open market next summer or look at the $36 million over four years that Beane gave to Cespedes when he had zero track record of success in the majors.

Beane acknowledged Butler’s nine big flies last season was a bit underwhelming. Beane admitted he didn’t know why Butler’s power numbers fell off. He referenced Butler’s 2012 season when he hit 29 home runs with 107 RBIs.

In fairness, 2012 wasn’t that long ago.

But why be fair when there is an agenda to be pushed? Lowell doesn't really like Billy Beane and wants to discredit any successes he has while also pointing out all of Beane's failures, as if the A's haven't been one of the most successful regular season MLB teams over the last decade with one of the lowest payrolls in the majors.

Beane kept talking about Butler’s “body of work” — like Butler was a novelist or composer — to deflect attention from recent history.

Sort of like how you aren't mentioning Cespedes home run and walk rate have decreased every year he's been in the majors and he's essentially becoming a powerful hitter who can't get on-base? How some of his comparables are Craig Monroe, Bubba Trammell and Larry Sheets? You don't mention how some of Butler's comparables are Harold Baines, Will Clark, John Olerud, Alvin Davis, and Nick Markakis?

Beane admitted Butler’s two so-so years in a row drove down his value so the impoverished A’s could afford him. Now, we understand the logic of this move. It was good Butler had only 66 RBIs last season and pretty much sucked. That made him available to Oakland.

RBI's are the product of having people on-base that can be driven in. Butler isn't a big RBI guy and isn't a big home run guy. Don't criticize him for what he isn't going to be, while ignoring what he can be.

To put middle-of-the-lineup Butler’s stats in context, compare him to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, that known power hitter.

I get continuously frustrated with these baseball sportswriters who have no fucking clue how to use numbers and notice outliers in a set of data. How terrible were the math teachers at public schools in the 1960's and 1970's? Prior to last year, Crawford had never hit more than 9 home runs in a season. Lowell is taking the best power year of his Crawford's career and the worst power year of Butler's career and trying to make them the same type of hitter. It doesn't work that way.

True, Crawford mostly batted eighth, just before the pitcher, which means he’s the worst hitter among the regulars.

Crawford actually batted seventh mostly. He had 212 plate appearances as the 8th hitter and 255 plate appearances as the 7th hitter. But again, what are facts when Lowell has a point he wants to prove? I bet he misses the days when everybody believed what he wrote and refused to do research to find out if Lowell was too lazy to do research in backing up his claims. Those were the good ol' days.

But a comparison with Butler seems warranted. Last season, Crawford hit 10 home runs, one more than Butler. Crawford’s slugging percentage was .389. Butler’s was .379.

Crawford's career slugging percentage is 0.359 and Butler's is 0.449. I know, I know, I am daring to use statistics from years prior to the 2014 while outrageously acting like neither Brandon Crawford and Billy Butler were rookies last year. How dare I act like two players who have played multiple years in the majors aren't rookies in order to allow Lowell to push his agenda!

Maybe Butler can help the A’s improve from September on. They are not so good at “from September on.” In 2012 and 2013, they got run out of the playoffs in the Division Series. 

Lowell thinks that Billy Beane should figure out how to build a team that wins in October. Since Lowell is so smart, maybe he can figure out how to build a team that will win every year in October and then share it with the rest of the MLB teams. I'm sure they would love to know how to do this.

Last season, despite having a terrific record for a long time, they finished 10 games behind the Angels and got dismissed — yes, dismissed — in the wild-card game by Kansas City.

They weren't exactly "dismissed" by the Royals. The Royals threw a late comeback on the A's to win the stupid one-game Wild Card playoff. In fact, if Lowell wants to talk about what Billy Butler has done most recently, perhaps he would mention Butler was 2-for-4 with two RBI in the American League Wild Card game. To do that would be giving Butler and Beane credit, so no matter if Butler helped the Royals win the one-game playoff against the A's, Lowell won't mention this. He sure as hell will mention the Royals beat the A's in that game, but won't reveal how. Narratives and agendas. That's all that matters.

It is distressing when a team wins the World Series in the offseason but can’t win the wild-card game on Sept. 30.

The A's have never won the offseason. I don't know where Lowell gets this from.

Some of the blame goes to Beane. He loused up the team by trading Cespedes. Hardly anyone knew it at the time. I sure didn’t. Beane should have known. It’s his job to know.

Yes, it's Billy Beane's job to predict the future and know that a risky trade he made would not pay off. I don't know if he loused up the team by trading Cespedes. He wanted a proven ace to carry the A's through the World Series. As seen by Madison Bumgarner's performance in the postseason, Beane clearly had the right idea about finding an ace. Again, Lowell won't mention Beane's idea to find an ace who would put the team on his back worked out for the Giants.

And there’s something else. Beane is more intrusive than other GMs. What does intrusive mean in this case? I believe Beane involves himself in the day-by-day managing of the club. He doesn’t phone manager Bob Melvin once the game starts and tell him what to do. Nothing like that. But he gets involved with the lineup. And I imagine he’s the one who insists on strict platooning — which sometimes takes a hot batter out of the order.

I don't know if this is true or not, but neither does Lowell. He has no idea if Beane is more intrusive than other GMs. He's just making a guess that (shockingly!) goes to prove the point he wants to prove. Look at the language Lowell uses here to make it seem like he knows something about Beane that he doesn't in fact know. He's guessing.

Beane is more intrusive than other GMs.

That is a statement of fact. Beane IS more intrusive than other GMs.

I believe Beane involves himself in the day-by-day managing of the club. 

This statement shows that Lowell is guessing and passing it off as fact. "I believe Beane involves himself..." He's guessing, he doesn't know like he indicated in the previous sentence.

But he gets involved with the lineup.

Another statement of fact. Beane gets involved with the lineup, which other GMs tend to do as well. Lowell appears to know this is a fact and not an opinion. But wait...

And I imagine he’s the one who insists on strict platooning — 

"And I imagine..." Lowell gives himself away that he's making statements of fact and then admitting that he doesn't know those statements are true. It's what he "believes" or "imagines," which is so clearly far from the facts that he presents them to be that no credible sportswriter could pretend he is doing anything here other than guessing.

But don't worry, here comes the kicker. All of the speculation, it leads to Billy Beane pulling hot hitters from the lineup and directly affecting whether the A's win games. Not only is Beane a terrible GM who can't win in the postseason, he is personally responsible for the lineup decisions that causes the A's to lose games. Lowell is taking his guesses and coming to the conclusion he desperately wants to reach.

which sometimes takes a hot batter out of the order.

You hear that? Billy Beane sometimes takes a hot batter out of the order because Lowell "imagines" that Beane is the one who insists on strict platooning and "believes" that Beane involves himself with the day-to-day managing of the club. Can you believe what Billy Beane does? Based on the potentially imaginary tale that Lowell has just spun, he is removing batters from the order, which causes the A's to lose games. WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS BE STOPPED?

And of course, Beane only gets intrusive and insists on strict platooning in the postseason, because otherwise Lowell would have to admit IF Beane is intrusive on Bob Melvin's decisions then they tend to work out a lot. But Lowell wants it both ways. He wants to blame Beane for being intrusive, blame him for the team's failures, while also shutting Beane out for getting any credit for the A's success in the regular season. What agenda? Lowell ain't seen no agenda.

This meddling is noticeable. I notice it. You notice it. The players notice it. There’s the rub. Beane runs the risk players will lose respect for Melvin, a perfectly respectable man and a fine manager. Beane should think about this.

But he won't think about this because HE'S A MONSTER! Beane insists on taking the A's to the postseason and running the team his way. What GM other than Beane would have such a huge ego?

But he doesn’t have to think about it right now. The baseball season is months away and life is wonderful and the A’s just won the World Series.

Nobody said that. You are setting the expectation so you can later knock Billy Beane down when/if that expectation isn't met.

Lowell's agenda in regard to Billy Beane is so transparent it's almost laughable. He sets a high expectation that no one else has set for the A's, just so he can brag when Beane doesn't meet this expectation. Then Lowell creates a narrative based on his own assumptions in order to make Beane look like a controlling overlord. What a joke.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1 comments The Ghost of Hot Sports Takes From Bleacher Report's Past

When I write about Bleacher Report I tend to not give the author of the column or slideshow a name unless he is someone who actually is a "name" or rather well-known writer. I call the person writing the slideshow "the author" most of the time. Bleacher Report has improved over the years for sure. There's a reason for that. The site has shed it's past, which seemed to consist a lot of times of high school students who need to gain attention by writing about sports, but have no idea how to write about sports. They hired "real" writers now and there is quality sportswriting on the site. Of course, there is still bad writing. I received an email with a link to a column about Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner from 2010 on Bleacher Report's site. I read it and it was horrible, horrible writing. So I looked at the author's archive that consists mainly of hot sports takes where the author ignorantly spit out all of his biases and ridiculous reasoning into columns that ended up very, very wrong. The author couldn't even be concerned with filling out a bio. No time for that when hot sports takes are ready to be served.

So this is just a sampling of the archive where the author takes out his/her (not entirely sure and won't assume the name is either gender, but I will write "he") admitted bias against teams in poorly-written and eventually incorrect screeds on Bleacher Report. We are all wrong at times, but there is nothing like being wrong and being so cocky and presumptive you won't be wrong.

First, the author (who admits to hating Steinbrenner and Martin in the comments) states Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner should not be in the baseball Hall of Fame. I tend to agree with Martin at least, but feel the hatred and 10th grade-level writing bleed off the page and into your unsuspecting eyes. It's incredibly bad writing filled with amateur hot sports takes better served coming from a Twitter account with an egg for an avatar. The author hasn't written since 2011, but I'm sure he's trolling some sports message boards somewhere.

The late George Steinbrenner and the late Billy Martin did not receive many votes by the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee. This sounds just about right; they didn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame on their first try.

In fact, they shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame period. Neither did anything special to earn that honor, so it's hard to believe either of them will be there.

Steinbrenner did nothing to merit being in the Hall.

I'm confused. So the author DOESN'T think George Steinbrenner should be in the Hall of Fame?  

He caused damage to the sport by escalating salaries, and he basically destroyed the chances of small-market teams winning championships. He created the divide between small-market teams and big-market teams when it comes to generating revenue that has not been resolved.

Steinbrenner did have some help, but it seems completely fair to just blame George Steinbrenner in total for these issues.

This guy had too much baggage; he wasn't beloved by his fellow owners, treated employees like slaves,

I'm not entirely sure how Steinbrenner can be responsible for the escalating salaries of players and then stated that he treated his own players (who he paid a lot of money to be in his employ) like slaves, but I'm sure the author has totally sound reasoning for making this statement. He just never explains the sound reasoning.

Talk about Steinbrenner giving Steve Howe, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden second chances. He wanted to rejuvenate their careers, but he wasn't doing it to be a savior. He wanted to take credit if those guys succeeded, and he wasn't afraid to let people know it was him that played a role in their success.

If you want to look at it that way, then yes. Does Tony Dungy counsel NFL players to soothe his own ego or because he really wants to help counsel these players? If I hated Tony Dungy I could make an argument that it's all about him and how he wants to take credit for the success of these players. Either way, the result is what mattered. Steinbrenner gave these three players chances to rejuvenate their careers.

Besides, owners have no business being in the Hall. they don't play the game, so there's no reason for them to be in. Yes, they run a business. But, the Hall should be about players and managers—nothing more than that.

These hot takes are coming at me so fast, I can barely catch them all. The best part is this hot sports take is just thrown out there and immediately abandoned for the next one. No need to elaborate further, here's something else hot off the presses!

Go ahead and talk about his success. People should remember something: The Yankees went on a great run after Steinbrenner's suspension, and when he came back, he rode on their coattails.

(touches computer screen and burns his finger)

This is the same owner who wanted to trade all those prospects. He wanted guys who can win now and did not want to wait another five or six years. Once he came back from suspension, he started his nonsense. The prospects flourished, and it resulted in the "Core Four" of Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.

Imagine if Steinbrenner traded them all: where would the Yankees be now?

But Steinbrenner ended up not trading them all, so the hypothetical of what Steinbrenner didn't do isn't a good reason to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. That's a positive for Steinbrenner that he got overruled and decided not to trade these players.

Imagine if Lou Gehrig was born as a chipmunk instead of a human? How good would he have been at playing first base without arms and legs and the insatiable need to cross the street when a car was coming? HOW COULD LOU GEHRIG HAVE BECOME THE MOST OVERRATED FIRST BASEMAN IN MLB HISTORY IF HE WERE BORN A RODENT???

Basically, the Yankees won in spite of him. He contributed spending money by getting the best players, but it's easy to do when he has many resources to work with in the biggest media market in the world.

The Johnny-come-lately Yankees fans will say great things about him, but those folks weren't around during the dark days of Yankees baseball.

Every single one of you. None of you were around during the dark days of Yankees baseball. Only the author was there, screaming curses at children who dared to wear a Don Mattingly jersey to a Yankees game.

If he wasn't winning, he wouldn't be beloved here.

Very astute observation. It's like saying if Derek Jeter had 3 hits instead of over 3,000 hits he wouldn't be headed for the Hall of Fame. The fact Steinbrenner did win is why he was beloved and a case for his Hall of Fame induction can be made. Sure, if you ignore the reasons he should be in the Hall of Fame he wouldn't have a very good case.

As for Martin, he was an overrated manager. He was fired everywhere he had been, and he won championships in spite of his work with the Yankees. Earl Weaver out managed him at every opportunity.

Whew! This was three sentences of three hot sports takes.

There was nothing special about Martin.

If he did not like a player, he would do everything possible to make his player miserable. Ask Reggie Jackson for details.

Okay, I will. (Bengoodfella goes to call Reggie Jackson and then realizes he has no way of getting Jackson's phone number)

He fell in love with role players, which is amusing since they did nothing.

I'm pretty damn amused. I can admit that.

This guy was also a bigot. He never worked well with African-Americans, and he wasn't any better with Jewish players.

By the way, the author states in the comments he doesn't think Ty Cobb should be in the Hall of Fame either. At least he's consistent. 

There was nothing to like about him. Martin was all about himself. He was a sideshow at home and at the ballpark. He was a fixture at nightclubs and bars.

If Martin didn't do any of those things, he may have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago. Writers may have voted him in even though he doesn't deserve it based on his work.

He was his own enemy. He felt everything had to be his way. He thought the game was about him and not the players. He never respected anyone.

But see, this is really something that Bleacher Report allowed to be printed on their site in 2010. Even if it was true to an extent, it's not exactly the best and most analytical reasoning possible for why Billy Martin shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

ESPN featured The Bronx Is Burning in 2007. This drama revealed everything about Martin, and the writer took notes of every moment of those scenes. The impression was the Yankees manager was not the guy to root for.

AND SINCE WHEN HAS A MOVIE PORTRAYED A REAL LIFE PERSON INACCURATELY?

There's no question the committee showed their vendetta on Steinbrenner and Martin. They wanted to make both of them pay for their actions.

It seems the committee may have evaluated Steinbrenner and Martin on their merits, while the only one with a vendetta just may be you. It's hard to tell, because this is such a nuanced piece of writing.

The committee made their minds up, and there's no reason to think they are going to change their minds on both of them.

Because if a baseball figure isn't inducted into the Hall of Fame on his first try, history shows he never gets inducted into the Hall of Fame...well, at least in the author's world.

(the author steps up on a pedestal)

The Hall is not a place for cheaters, criminals and jerks. This is a sacred place for guys who made the game a better one. It's for guys who made the job a better place.

(the author steps down off his pedestal, smashing his shoe into a child's face on the way down for the crime of drooling and having no concern for the author's words by crying while he's talking on his pedestal )

It's a joke that there is a debate about this. It's funny to see people get worked up by all this.

Yes, it certainly is hilarious to see people get worked up by all of this. The author certainly doesn't seem worked up about it at all.

As good as it looks for both men, it really wasn't that special.

That's what she said.

If you want a slightly more nuanced look at Steinbrenner's Hall of Fame candidacy then follow this link. If you want a take like you just read, may God have mercy on your soul.

Now the author boldly takes on Mark Teixeira for dumping Scott Boras as his agent. 

Typical Mark Teixeira.

He wants everyone to congratulate him for dumping Scott Boras. He approached as a newsworthy moment. He acted like this was a noble thing to do.

Tex's statement at the time. Here is what he said a few years later about his reasoning. I don't know, it seems like he just sort of let Boras go rather than bask in the glory of it all. Maybe I don't hate the Yankees enough to see how evil Tex really was for dropping Boras.

He claimed he dumped Boras because he was tired of people knowing him as Boras' client rather than be a baseball player.

If that is not being self-centered, then what is?

I'm not entirely sure the author understands how an agent actually works. The entire point of having an agent is to make things about the person hiring the agent. Like that's the entire purpose of an agent, to make it about his client.

First of all, no one is interested in his reasoning. No one cares.

If no one is interested and no one cares then why was Tex dumping Boras reported on by the media and now you are so uninterested in his reasoning that you are criticizing his reasoning?

This is about his being protective of his image. Obviously, he cares about what people think of him. That type of stuff belong to high schoolers. Professional players should just do their job and keep quiet.

Yeah, that type stuff belong to high schoolers. Like using an "s" at the end of words to show the word is plural or to indicate you know how to correctly use grammar. So high school.

This sounds like he wants to pass the buck rather than looking at the mirror. He should try that. This is a guy who likes to educate people about the game.

He treats the local media as if they are dumb. He gets defensive when he deals with the tough questions.

This isn't an adult writing these sentences. This is a child who just found out his parents don't have a password anymore on the computer and he is writing these sentences trying to take every chance he can get to bash his least favorite team.

He whines about getting hit by pitch often.

What a rebel. The author is still not using an "s" at the end of his sentences. Fuck you, grammar! You are just a racist Billy Martin lover!

He intentionally injured Angels catcher Bobby Wilson by ramming through him after getting a hit by pitch last year.

He rammed all the way through Bobby Wilson? I don't remember Tex murdering a catcher, but my memory may be a little hazy.

Remarkably, Teixeira sounded indifferent about the whole thing when asked about it. He did not even bother calling him.

This is a totally relevant anecdote as it pertains to why Mark Teixeira is an asshole for firing Scott Boras.

This is not the first time he had those problems. He's been like that with the Texas Rangers. He was sensitive to criticism over there.

The Rangers had no choice to trade the moody player. He became a bad influence to the young players, and he took the life out of that team with his complaining.

This is a fact! Not an opinion! A fact! If it weren't for Michael Young, the entire Texas Rangers franchise would have folded in on itself due to Mark Teixeira's bad influence.

Yes, Teixeira won a championship two years ago, but it's easy to go play for a team that buys a championship every year. Besides it's not like he was doing anything in the postseason two years ago.

Great point. It's easy to win a World Series. In fact, 20 MLB teams won the World Series just last year and Teixeira's season line of .292/.383/.565 with 39 home runs and 122 RBI had nothing to do with the Yankees even being in the playoffs.

He treats the local media as if they are dumb. He gets defensive when he deals with the tough questions.

If he was serious about changing his image, he shouldn't have gone out and made a news conference out of it.

If he is going to be serious about this, he should be stoic to the media from now on. He's better off anyway because he adds no insight to his quotes.

Mark Teixeira needs to deal better with the local media and answer the tough questions. He should not have publicly stated he was leaving Scott Boras. Teixeira should simply not talk to the media at all.

So in summary, Mark Teixeira doesn't give good quotes because he won't answer tough questions, but the author thinks he shouldn't even talk to the media anyway if he is only going to give the media information like the fact Scott Boras isn't his agent anymore. So I really have no idea what the author wants from Tex at this point...other than for him to just die.

It's hard to think he's going to change. No one ever changes. It's one thing from a kid to grow up at some point, but when a man is set in his ways, there's no reason to think he will change.

I honestly have no fucking clue what the author is talking about right now.

Also, fans worry about him hitting a baseball. They want him to get over his April slump that haunted his career. If he does that, no one will care if he is a jerk. It seems Teixeira is too worried about what people think of him. If that's the case, he does not mean well at all.

He has to do this based on his heart. If he is really serious about this, he has to show it.

Oh Jesus Christ, this is like a diarrhea explosion of words on the computer screen. Teixeira needs to do this (do what?) based on his heart and he has to show it. I feel like the author is just playing mad libs right now or trying to talk to the readers in code.

By firing Boras, he put the attention on himself and that's the way he likes it.

Except you stated he didn't like it that way because he won't give the media a juicy quote to digest. This is the type of crap that used to end up on Bleacher Report.

Then the author wrote a trilogy of articles about how the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays are a joke and they won't come close to doing anything during the season because they don't have the hitters to make the playoffs. The Rays went 91-71 and made the playoffs the year the author wrote these three columns. It's not that author was wrong, it's that he was so absolutely sure he was right it's hilarious to read how he wrote with such confidence.

The author first took on the owner of the Rays (naturally) and his cult of followers. You can read the desperation in these articles from the author. He's desperate to write something that another person will read and he will troll as hard as possible for pageviews. He's the Mark Teixeira of Bleacher Report. He just needs to do this based on his heart and show it.

Despite the fire sale, the Rays owner has them believing the Rays can be a wild-card team. When the Rays signed Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon over the weekend, the cults were in propaganda mode. They mentioned the signings will make the Rays as good as last year.

Which they were not as good by five games. Of course, that's not such a big deal when the Rays won 96 games the year before.

Let's get real here. The Rays will do okay, but expecting them to win 87 games is crazy.

They won 91 games. It's a crazy world.

Signing couple of washed-up players is not going to improve the offense. If Damon and Ramirez were any good, they wouldn't be playing for the Rays. The Rays hope to get something out of those two, but its unrealistic. Now, if they signed Vladimir Guerrero, then it's okay to get excited.

Damon hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 home runs, 73 RBI's and 19 steals.

Guerrero hit .290/.317/.416 with 13 home runs, 63 RBI's and 2 steals.

The starting rotation will do a fine job, but they are going to have to be perfect to win games. That's too much to ask. They are going to be involved in 2-1 or 3-1 games often, and if the offense can't provide run support, they are just not going to win them.

15th in runs scored, 25th in batting average, 13th in OBP, and 13th in slugging percentage. 14th in the majors in OPS. So scoring runs wasn't a huge issue.

People argue Jeremy Hellickson can replace Garza, but that's wishful thinking at best. First of all, Hellickson is going to go through growing pains in his first full season.

He went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 3.5 WAR in 189 innings.

If the Rays had their way, James Shields would have been traded, but he has no value right now.

Two seasons later James Shields landed the Rays Wil Myers in a trade from the Royals.

Signing Farnsworth was a bad idea. He's proved he can not be reliable over the years. He will blow games, and he will get hit hard. Joe Maddon would be wise to use him as a situational reliever.

He had a 2.18 ERA and 0.99 WHIP with 25 saves as the Rays' closer.

This year is not going to be easy for the Rays. It’s not going to be bad, but there are too many questions to think this team is going be a playoff team.

They were.

Sternberg and his management team can brainwash others all they want, but it does not change the fact this team has questions to answer.

You mean exactly like every other MLB team?

Now the author isn't satisfied with his previous statements about the cult of Sternberg and has some thoughts on the Rays' signings. 

They are relying on castoffs from their offseason moves. They feel those guys can help them contend for a wildcard spot with their core players.

It's an interesting move. It could work out, but it may not work out.

It may or may not work out. Thanks for clearing up all confusion. This is analysis.

They have fine intentions, but there's no guarantee it will work.

There are no guarantees! None! Every other MLB team has guarantees, but not the Rays.

As for Damon, he struggled at the plate last year. Despite having a good on-base percentage, he couldn't be a difference-maker on the base paths. He wasn't hitting either. His defense left a lot to be desired, especially when he throws to the cutoff guy.

Again, the Rays have to hope this works out.

I don't know if the Rays would have signed Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez prior to the 2011 season in the hopes it would NOT work out. But, as the author has told us, it may or may not work out.

Bush will be in the minors. Kotchman and Delaney will get a shot to make the team. The Rays hope to get something out of Peralta and Farnsworth.

Kotchman has showed he is no better than Dan Johnson.

Kotchman: .306/.378/.422 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI's in 500 at-bats.

Johnson: .119/.187/.202 with 2 home runs and 4 RBI's in 84 at-bats.

Yep, they were really the same player in 2011.

These moves are the best the Rays can do. For a small-market team, it's hard to expect them to retain all of their stars and get a premier free agent. Still, the Rays should have kept Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler, but they apparently thought those two did as well as they could.

It's hard for the Rays to keep their stars, but they should have done it anyway. Just create money for payroll out of nowhere. How hard could that be? The author with a thorough lack of understanding for the economic realities facing the Rays.

It's hard to understand the trade of Matt Garza. He is the type of starter that can win 12 games with his stuff. He can be inconsistent, but in big games, he delivers. To lose that type of starter, it's unfathomable, especially when he has several years to go on his contract.

David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson all won 12 games or more.

The Rays have become relevant to the public and to the AL East with these moves. Players have something to play for. That’s something at least.

A month ago the author didn't really like the moves and he sort of bashed them in the above column.

Now the author waits FIVE WHOLE GAMES of the 2011 season to announce the Rays' season totally over.

So much for the Tampa Bay Rays being a playoff team.

After watching them in this homestand, they are 0-5 for a reason. They feature no hitters that scare the other team. It's not surprising Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren had their way with them.

It's no surprise those five pitchers had their way with the Rays because they are quality pitchers?

Go ahead and talk about how it's early, but it's not going to change the fact these hitters are not impact players.

"Go ahead and point out the fallacy in my reasoning or the small sample size I am drawing my conclusion from, but I will stand by my fallacy and small sample size until proven wrong. Okay, well I will just stop writing for Bleacher Report when I'm proven wrong."

The Rays hoped Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon would provide the offense, but that hasn't worked out so far.

Ramirez was a disaster, but Damon turned it around. It's almost like five games is a tiny sample size to definitively base conclusions upon.

For what those two accomplished in the majors, they deserve a chance to get it together. If they don't by the end of May, the Rays should release both of them.

Or threaten to execute their family if they don't start hitting well. That's probably a better idea.

The Rays are relying on Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Dan Johnson, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist to make an impact as everyday players. That's too much to ask. Most of their players are nothing more than utility players at best.

Well, Dan Johnson IS Casey Kotchman. That much is obvious. Also, 2011 Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist take exception to the idea they are utility players at best. Great foresight though.

Brignac and Rodriguez may be better than they are portrayed, but it doesn't seem like it.

Of course, in his angry brilliance the author picks the two players who AREN'T as good as they are portrayed as being better than they are portrayed.

It's ridiculous to expect starters to win games by themselves. It never happens. Pitching and defense wins championships, but that becomes meaningless if the team can't hit.

So pitching and defense don't win championships then? Because, pitching, defense, and offense wins championships? I'm confused.

The lack of hitting not only will not make the Rays a playoff team, but it will mean 84 losses.

Only off by 13 losses. That's not so bad.

They are on pace to do just that after watching the first five games at the Trop.

Because five games was the perfect sample size to come out and spit hot sports takes about how the Rays are a terrible offensive team.

Now the author comes in hot at Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning on September 8, 2011. He says the Giants are going nowhere, NOWHERE he tells us, with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning leading the team. I don't want to be a bully, but this author comes in so hard and hot on these teams with his hot takes it is really funny to read just how wrong he was. By the way, the Giants won the Super Bowl six months after this column was written.

They are hoping miracles can happen again this year for Big Blue. With the team dealing with many injuries and many defections in the offseason, they are in a bind already. The experts are not giving them a chance to be a playoff team.

And when, other than every single year, have the experts been wrong?

The Giants’ problems stem from the head coach and the quarterback. What confidence does anyone have in Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin?

Considering they won a Super Bowl in 2007 together, as a non-Giants fan I had some confidence in them.

What confidence do the Giants have in Manning now? He did not have a good preseason. He was off target throwing the ball to his receivers. He continues to have problems with interceptions.

It doesn’t seem like he is getting better. Maybe it’s time to realize he had a fluke 2007 postseason.

Yes, maybe it is time to realize he had a fluke 2007 postseason. In 2011, Eli Manning ended up having one of the best, if not the best, season of his career. Oh yeah, and the Giants won the Super Bowl. Either way, it's time to go hard at Tom Coughlin. Careful Tom, the author is blazing at you with his hot takes about your coaching style!

Then there’s Coughlin’s leadership as coach.

He has had his team unprepared and undisciplined every game. They find ways to lose rather than to win. When the going gets tough, Coughlin implodes by screaming at his players rather than leading them and teaching them about what happened on a play. He is often confused on the sidelines every game.

That last sentence sounds like it came directly from Gregg Easterbrook. It's amazing to me that the Giants won two Super Bowls with a coach who has his team unprepared and undisciplined every game. Either that, or the author is just making shit up because he wants to write an article bashing the Giants to gain attention. I'll let you decide.

It could come down to this. His players tuned him out. Their play and their demeanor indicate that. This is why the Giants should have not bothered keeping Coughlin this season. They should have found a coach that can offer a new perspective for guys to listen.

Oh boy, I bet this is awkward for the author to go back and read.

The Giants didn’t look at it that way. They feel Coughlin hasn’t lost it. Plus, they didn’t want to fire him after a 10-win season.

It’s a good thing he won the Super Bowl in 2007 or else he would have been looking for work a long time ago. 

Plus Coughlin had a 65-47 record (That's a 58.0% winning percentage, which is very close to the winning Bill Parcells had with the Giants) prior to the 2011 season. It's weird how the Giants choose not to fire a coach and then he wins the Super Bowl. It's almost like this knee-jerk writing is exactly that, overly-emotional hot takes in an effort to gain attention.

That’s why the Giants are hard-pressed to make the playoffs this year.

My man comes in hard with this sentence, then the Giants win the Super Bowl. No wonder he quit writing for Bleacher Report. Even 2011 Bleacher Report found his belligerent hot takes too embarrassing to publish.

Both of them have shown no evidence that they can lead and produce outside of a fluke 2007 postseason, so it’s hard to get excited about this season.

When hot sports takes go bad. I'm not trying to use hindsight or bully this author, but he's so damn certain of himself and speaks with such authority, it's just fun to read just how bad his writing was at the time.

Because the author most likely felt left out, he decided on June 8, 2011 to go hard with hot sports takes about how LeBron James can't handle the spotlight. The author's writing is like a greatest hits of overreactions that look really foolish a few years later. But what makes it so great is just how sure and non-nuanced the author is when writing about these teams and players. He kicks nuance to do the door in favor of feeling like he's preaching nothing but the truth.

With a few seconds left in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade threw the ball to Mike Miller, who missed a three-pointer that would have sent the game to overtime.

No one can blame Wade for not throwing it to LeBron James, who was disengaged and disinterested in his eight-point performance.

James’ approach cost the Heat a victory as the Mavericks evened the series at two in an 86-83 victory at Dallas.

I am starting to think the author is really Skip Bayless.

Well, there was no defense for this disgraceful performance. Not only did he do nothing on offense, James wasn’t defending either. His defense resembled Nate Robinson’s defense, which is standing around and doing nothing.

Yeah, LeBron plays defense EXACTLY like Nate Robinson. Except Nate Robinson is a winner while LeBron James is a loser.

That was why he made the decision to take his talents to South Beach. The message was clear. He did not want to be the go-to guy on his team anymore, and he did not want the burden of being the face of the franchise anymore. He wanted to be known as a guy who can just fit in with Wade.

Yes, I am sure LeBron James went to Miami because he thought he wouldn't be noticed there. That's why he was so quiet about choosing the Heat when he decided which team he would join as a free agent. LeBron just wanted to quietly fit in, which is why he scheduled an hour-long special announcing his choice to go to the Heat. That's why LeBron promised "not one, not two, not three..." championships at the huge ceremony introducing he and Bosh as new members of the Heat. He just wanted to fit in.

After the Cavaliers bowed out in the playoffs the last two years, James decided it wasn’t worth it anymore. He thought being a one-man team was a burden.

Every single NBA player ever has thought that being a one-man team is a burden. That's why every NBA Championship team has not been a one-man team. There have always been other important, contributing players on that team. No superstar can win a title as a one-man team.

Not only has he stunk on the court, he also came up lame in his press conference. He failed to take accountability by saying he stunk. He came up with excuses for what went wrong.

The author really reads a lot into quotes given by athletes before and after a game. He's very angry with what Mark Teixeira says to the media and he's outraged at LeBron's excuses for his performance.

He talked about how his shots did not go in, which is odd considering he didn’t bother to take shots in Game 4. He talked about how he has to do a better job of being assertive offensively when he did not make an effort to do so.

I'm feeling like the author is too enraged to pay attention while writing this column. See, LeBron said he has to do a better job being assertive BECAUSE he did not make an effort to do so. So it's not an excuse, but LeBron acknowledging the author's criticism that he didn't play assertive enough. Yet, the author doesn't understand this and seems to not understand cause and effect. LeBron can't go back in time and make himself more assertive, so he has to in the future be more assertive. That's what he was saying. Slow down the hot takes and read.

Instead of mumbling through the press conference or coming up with silly clich├ęs, he should have just said that he stunk and he will be more aggressive on Thursday.

He did say he would be more aggressive. Hence the "do a better job of being assertive offensively" part of his comments.

Great players such as Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Jordan and Wade were not ashamed to call themselves out if their performance was unacceptable.

Hmmm...not sure this is a fact-based comment.

Winning a championship should change how a player is perceived, but in the case of James, that’s not happening. Not when he took the easy way out. Not when he is not making an impact in these Finals.

Hot sports take fail. Winning two championships did change how LeBron was perceived.

If he had his way, people would leave him alone and just accept him for what he is.

Maybe it’s time for all of us to stop celebrating him as a great player and look at him as a role player that is along for the ride.

Man, that last sentence was a real burner. Great job of trolling to get attention. It's been over three years and this article has 89 reads. 89 reads in over three years. The author spits out trolling attempts so often to get attention, yet it didn't seem to work.

Bleacher Report isn't perfect today, but this is the sort of crap that got printed a lot a few years ago. The site consisted of a lot of hot sports takes that existed merely for the sake of drawing attention.