Friday, February 28, 2014

5 comments Matt Labash Tries to Have Most Tone-Deaf Take on Redskins Naming Controversy, Wins Hands Down

Matt Labash writes for "The Daily Caller" and also for "The Weekly Standard." His bio shows he is a full of snark and isn't afraid to shoot from the hip. You ask him a question, prepare to get the answer. So please pay attention to him, because attention is great and it seems to be what he wants. Matt has a column creatively titled "Ask Matt Labash" where he answers questions. Well, someone asked him a question about the Redskins naming controversy and he answered in possibly the most tone-deaf way possible while making terrible analogies. But hey, he's shooting from the hip so we can't blame for what he writes. He's just telling it like it is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.


Dear Matt, 

Any truth to recent reports that Iron Eyes Cody was shedding a tear not over pollution but due to a passing motorist with a Washington Redskins car flag? Or is this just a convenient attempt at revisionist history? I’ll hang up and listen. -  Ramon H. 

I feel like there is probably a few inside jokes in here I don't get, but what I do get is the gist of this question, which is "Give us your opinion on the Redskins naming controversy." 

If Iron Eyes is pitching his teepee in these parts, my guess is he was crying over rush-hour traffic on 395, or maybe the new speed camera that tagged me under the same overpass not once, but three times in the same week, due to the commuter-mugging pickpockets who oversee the D.C. government.

I have a feeling I would agree with Matt Labash on some issues, since I think the speed cameras and traffic lights that take pictures of your license plate is a lazy man's way of policing, but I'm afraid he is doing a crappy job of advocating the Redskins don't change their name. 

Not to play the part of the jaded old-timer, but personally, I had a lot more sympathy during the days when Iron Eyes Cody’s people had something real to cry about, like Indian massacres, bad eminent domain takings, or the land getting despoiled by rapacious developers and litterbugs.

Somehow I feel like Matt Labash wouldn't/didn't have a lot of sympathy for Iron Eyes Cody during these days. I get the feeling Labash would just think Iron Eyes Cody was just being a whiner when crying about Indian massacres. 

If he were still around nowadays, he’d probably shed a tear over the silliness of the Oneida Nation’s manufactured controversy.

Manufactured controversy? I'm not sure that's the correct phrase to use here. It seems like there is a real controversy about the Redskins name change, to the point Dan Snyder had to hire Lanny Davis to help manage the situation after he released a statement saying the name wasn't changing. This is real controversy right now and I wouldn't consider it manufactured since this argument has been brewing for a few decades now.

I don’t particularly care to weigh in definitively on whether the Redskins should or shouldn’t change their name.

The mocking way he treats those who think the name should stay the same, as well as his snide comments about Indians probably gives his position on this issue away. 

Why would I need to, when everybody and their idiot brother-in-law already has?

I see Matt Labash is doing the whole "I'm going to make sarcastic comments, but not take a side on this issue so I can always have the defense I NEVER claimed the Redskins shouldn't change their name" method of discussing this issue. 

Of course, as a Cowboys fan,

Well of course you are. 

a part of me would enjoy seeing Washington’s name changed to something more appropriate, like the Washington Foreskins.

(gets back up from rolling on the floor laughing, just without the laughing, rolling on the floor, and getting back up parts)

While the libertarian in me holds that a name change is between Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his God

Actually the libertarian in you would hold that the name change is between Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his God or just between Dan Snyder and himself if Snyder doesn't have a God. A libertarian would probably allow Snyder the free will of choice to choose whether he would have a God or not and not assume he does have one. 

I personally hate name changes, as I think team names, even if unintentionally, tend to reflect the character of their region.

Well, not always. I'm not sure if rams have anything to do with St. Louis or Los Angeles. I'm also not sure how a panther reflects the character of the Carolinas. I guess I can't argue that Texans reflects the Houston NFL team, but you get my point. Team names don't always reflect the character of the region. I give you the Utah Jazz.

In the mid ‘80s, I was briefly a ball boy for the Washington Bullets, before the powers that be worried they’d offend murder victims (hard to, since they were already dead)

This comment comes off as more uneducated than funny and less snide than trying very hard to be controversial. Washington simply didn't want their basketball team to be affiliated with the idea of a bullet. The purpose wasn't to avoid offending murder victims, but to remove any affiliation with a bullet from the NBA team in Washington. 

As any suburban Marylander knew at the time, heading into crack-ravaged Prince George’s County, where the Bullets then played, you were liable to encounter a real-life version of the team mascot through your car window.

Which is why the NBA and Washington didn't want the NBA team to be affiliated with or called the Bullets.

The name, then, gave us a hard-earned sense of civic pride.

Really? "Us" felt civic pride in the team name the "Bullets"? Even if it wasn't a name associated with violence it doesn't exactly give me a sense of civic pride. A bullet provides civic pride? I don't get it, but of course I'm not from Washington nor am I a Cowboys fan. 

Similarly, the Redskins are a healthy reminder of the people we took this country from.

Yes, but it is a healthy reminder that some groups of people who we took this country from find offensive. So to Matt Labash it's a healthy reminder and to other groups of people it is a slap in the face. I'm all for a reminder of the Indians, but perhaps a team name that some factions of the Native American population doesn't find to be a slur could be the Redskins new team name. 

This is like if a German soccer team named themselves the Heidelberg Hymies. They are just providing a healthy reminder of the Jewish people who died in World War II! 

I have deep  respect for Native peoples, mind you. As a boy, playing cowboys and Indians, I usually opted to be an Indian,

By saying "as a boy, playing cowboys and Indians, I usually opted to be an Indian" it shows you don't have a deep respect for Native peoples. It shows you prefer to be snide and attempt to be comical instead of sincere in trying to make a point. 

even going so far as to join the Boy-Scout-like Indian Guides

And because you were in Indian Guides as a child this means you have a unique perspective on this Redskins naming argument. 

But of course, these days, all statements must be political ones, and all outrages, manufactured or otherwise, are of utmost urgency, requiring our immediate attention.

The Redskins naming controversy has been simmering for almost 20 years now, so I wouldn't say it has utmost urgency nor has it required our immediate attention. Tony Bruno was talking about the Redskins name 20 years ago and Rick Reilly wrote a column almost 20 years ago saying the Redskins name should be changed. As much as Matt Labash wants to make this Redskins naming controversy as a new, politically correct thing that has happened since the liberals took over Washington, it's simply not true. The argument and discussion has been simmering and now it seems to be gaining more momentum. 

Never mind that people have  somehow managed mostly not to be beside themselves with outrage that the Redskins have been so named going back to their franchise origins in Boston in the 1930s.

The argument the Redskins name is historical and that's why it should stay around fails on so many levels. The most basic level it fails on is that something being historical doesn't mean it is right in the current place and time. Humans progress, women get to vote, blacks and whites get to share the same water fountain. 

Never mind that before the PR machine really got cranking and every windsock commentator in America had to weigh in on the “controversy,” a 2004 Annenberg Public Policy poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans themselves did not take offense at the name...Never mind that even before the team revised the Tonto-talking fight song of the Skins, “Hail to the Redskins,”  which contained stereotypical language such as “Scalp ‘em/ Swamp ‘um/We will take ‘um big score,” it still managed to refer to “redskins” reverentially as “braves on the warpath” and “sons of Washington.” Never mind that as’s Rick Reilly wrote, a high school team, the Wellpoint (Wash.) Redskins, which has a 91.2 percent Native American student body, considers the name a badge of honor.

These are all relevant points that can be used to argue against changing the Redskins name. Remember earlier in this column when Matt Labash wrote: 

I don’t particularly care to weigh in definitively on whether the Redskins should or shouldn’t change their name.

It sure seems like he is weighing in definitively on whether the Redskins should or should not change their name doesn't it? Matt Labash has a funny way of not weighing in by only presenting the view he seems to agree with. 

And never mind that according to TheDC’s own Patrick Howley, the head Indian in charge of the current protest, Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, might be about as legitimate a member of his tribe as I was during my Indian Guides years.

Oh well, then his opinion wouldn't count because Halbritter isn't a real Oneida, just like Matt Labash's opinion doesn't count because he isn't a legitimate Indian despite his fast history of being an Indian Guide. 

When you survey the landscape of team names, it’s a wonder grievance groups aren’t sprouting up everywhere. Yet we don’t see gays protesting the Green Bay Packers,

After making relevant points, Matt Labash starts to throw out his unfunny jokes again which ruins his credibility. 

or the Dutch marching in the streets that Packer fans are called Cheeseheads. (A racial slur that originated in Nazi Germany.)

If a Dutch or German athletic team used the name "Cheeseheads" then possibly the name should be changed if it offends someone. I don't know why the Dutch would have a problem with a team name that doesn't specifically refer to the Dutch. The Redskins logo specifically has an Indian in the logo, so "Redskins" refers to an Indian, while "Cheeseheads" isn't even the Packers team name and clearly does not refer to the Dutch. 

Similarly, sexually frustrated Satanists aren’t demanding the Duke Blue Devils change their moniker.

This isn't even funny. It's stupid and pointless. 

And Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish would probably get drunk and hit you (as is their people’s custom) if you tried to take their nickname away.

Neither "Fighting Irish" nor "Blue Devils" are considered slurs by any member of the Satanist or Irish population. That's a difference in the use of those team names and the name "Redskins." 

So in solidarity with the offended, you now refuse to even use the Redskins’ name, so as not to besmirch Native peoples? Fine, but where does that leave us? Does that give everyone else license to take offense over their pet imagined infraction? Say cops, who could demand we no longer patronize the Phillies’ Triple-A club, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs of Allentown. Or what about the “Terrible Swedes” of Kansas’s Bethany College, whose name traffics in the widely-held stereotype that Swedes are terrible people.

The fact that Matt Labash is using these examples shows me that he doesn't understand the Redskins controversy and probably should refrain from commenting on it. IronPigs nor is Terrible Swedes considered a slur in and of itself, while Redskins is obviously considered a slur by some Native Americans. 

Will circle-jerksters now picket the South Carolina Gamecocks, as taking too lightly their contributions to society?

No, because the Gamecocks logo clearly shows the logo refers to an animal. Matt Labash doesn't seem to understand the reason behind the opposition to the Redskins name very well. 

Will anti-noise pollutionists take issue with Cape Breton’s junior ice hockey team, the Screaming Eagles? Will pacifists see red over the Fighting Quakers of Wilmington College (Ohio), and  will anti-arsonists burn down the Midwest Conference over the Knox College Prairie Fire?

Again, he is missing the point intentionally it seems. In and of themselves, none of these team names are considered slurs by a group of people. 

Will fans of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks rise up in anger? Maybe they’re entitled. After all, the name suggests they are Canadian, an insult nobody should take lying down.

I know he is trying to be funny (yet again), but it's hard to see where the line between being serious and just being a jackass (I think the "I played as Indians during Cowboys and Indians" was the peak of the jackassery). Labash is missing the point. There is a difference in a team name that can be considered an insult by taking additional steps to find it offensive and a team name that is inherently by itself considered offensive to a group of people.

For example, for IronPigs to be offensive one would have to say, "Well I know sometimes the police are called 'pigs' and so calling a team 'IronPigs' could be offensive if a person makes the connection to 'pigs' also being the police."

There are additional steps required to find IronPigs offensive. The IronPigs logo isn't a police officer eating a donut, while the Redskins logo is a Native American. The offensive slur specifically refers to a Native American and no additional steps are required to reach this conclusion "Redskins" refers to Native Americans. 

I don’t know where the next Campaign of Outrage will come from. But rest assured, it will come. Because if there’s one thing that offends us as a nation, it’s having nothing to take offense over.

While there may be some truth to this comment, I don't think this is a situation where the Native Americans who take offense to the name Redskins are just trying to get offended for the sake of being offended. Making bad comparisons to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and comments about playing cowboys and Indians as a child only serves to show Matt Labash just doesn't get it. Maybe he's too busy cracking jokes, maybe he is too busy complaining about the politicizing of the Redskins name controversy by politicizing it himself and turning it into a "People are always offended by something" argument. 

Either way if the author thinks team names reflect the character of a region, then he should know Washington is 1.8% American Indian, while it is 81.6% white. Maybe the Redskins should change their name to the Washington Honkies (or maybe Washington Charlies would be more appropriate to reflect the oppression by white people over the Native American population).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2 comments Allen Barra Thinks Everyone Who Thinks Derek Jeter Shouldn't Be in the Hall of Fame (Very Few People) Specifically Stats Nerds (Why Them?) are Just Plain Wrong

Allen Barra is very proud of the way he has mastered Jemele Hill's art of creating an argument few people are making and refuting this argument. He's so proud he has mastered this he is showing off his new found skill in an article about Derek Jeter. See, those haters and stats nerds who don't think Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame are wrong. There is the fake argument. It's an argument that doesn't exist. There are probably a few people who don't think Derek Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame, but there isn't a vast conspiracy of stats heads who don't think Jeter should be in the Hall Fame. Yet, Barra insists there is. Hence, he refutes the argument that few are making. Very impressive.

Barra is well-known for loving himself some Derek Jeter. So much so his Wikipedia makes mention of this fact. So much like Jemele Hill (when she wrote more than she does now) would write an article entitled, "Rex Ryan is not a racist who dresses like a clown and has sex with vagrants" and then disprove this idea, Allen Barra is very pissed off that the stats nerds and haters who generally don't exist think Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

To my knowledge, what the Baseball Hall of Fame did yesterday was unique: It tweeted the date for an induction ceremony for a still active player to be welcomed into Cooperstown. The date, if you want to make your reservations now, is July 26, 2020. (A player must be retired for five years before he goes on the ballot.) And if I were you, I wouldn’t wait.

Allen Barra will be there with a picture of Derek Jeter that he wants autographed, along with some boxers that he sucker-punched Minka Kelly for on a brisk, autumn day as she was walking down the street with Jeter's dirty laundry. Obviously Derek Jeter would never have a washing machine in his abode, because Derek Jeter has no dirty laundry anywhere near him. So after Barra sucker-punched Kelly he got a pair of Jeter's boxers and one of Jeter's jock straps that he sniffs every morning in order to wake up in a good mood. So let's just say, Barra will be there at the induction ceremony in 2020. Even if he's dead, he has paid for a hologram of himself to show up at the induction ceremony.

Not only will Derek Jeter be a first ballot selection, he may well be what Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron weren’t  – 

Super-cute and still a little bit mysterious?

a unanimous choice.

Oh. I don't think Jeter will be unanimous, though I have learned through the years to never underestimate a sportswriter's love for Derek Jeter. I just think if Greg Maddux can't get into the Hall of Fame unanimously then Jeter will probably miss a few votes too.

If that happens, and I think there’s a very good chance that it will

Really? "A very good chance?" No baseball player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously and a surefire guy like Greg Maddux wasn't voted in unanimously, but there's a good chance Jeter is the first unanimous selection? I wouldn't take a bet that Jeter will be the first baseball Hall of Fame member to be voted in unanimously.

If one had to synthesize most of the recent Jeter coverage under one headline, it would be: Is Derek Jeter a True Hall of Famer or Is He Overrated?

If I had to synthesize my response to this then I would have to do so in two parts:

1. What the fuck is a "True Hall of Famer" mean when this is in all-caps? Is Jim Rice a "True Hall of Famer" or just a "Hall of Famer"?

2. Derek Jeter can be a Hall of Famer and be overrated. They are not mutually exclusive from each other.

I guess I forgot that we live in a world where there is no medium and a person has to take either one extreme viewpoint or another. This world is better known as "A lazy way to write a column" and right now Allen Barra is happily inhabiting this world.

There isn’t any doubt that he is going to get into the Hall of Fame. Only nine players in the history of baseball have more hits than Jeter. He’s a 13-time All-Star with five World Series rings. And he’s tremendously popular. If you put down a deposit on a hotel room in Cooperstown for July 2020, it’s good as gold.

I think it is universally accepted that Derek Jeter is going in the Hall of Fame. Even the stats nerds who think Jeter is a bit overrated as it pertains to fielding accept this view (which it turns out Barra accepts this view...only he doesn't acknowledge he accepts this view because that would be a criticism of Derek Jeter, which is against the rules). Quite simply, the group of people that Allen Barra believes to exist does not in fact exist.

Those who have cast doubts about his HOF worthiness have always stressed  the lack of bold numbers on his statistics page on In other words, he never led the league in many offensive categories.

Part of the problem is Allen Barra is too busy being angry and pounding angrily at his keyboard with his vitriol directed at anyone who says Jeter isn't the best Hall of Famer in the history of Hall of Famers that he doesn't understand the argument being made. The argument isn't about Jeter not being Hall of Fame worthy, but the argument is that Jeter is just a bit overrated. Barra doesn't comprehend that Jeter can be a Hall of Famer and a bit overrated. It's possible.

This is true. He only led the league in runs scored in 1998 and in hits in 1999 and 2012, and HOFers have usually topped the list in more stats than that.

So in the realm of the "The best baseball players of all-time" Jeter might be getting a big boost for his clean reputation, that he has only played for one team during his career and the fact he has been on five World Series champion teams. Few are saying Jeter should not be in the Hall of Fame and if anyone is saying that then that person is not intelligent. Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame, but his intangibles and being "a winner" seem to help make his Hall of Fame case for him, which means in terms of statistics he is a bit overrated. I realize it is a sin to even acknowledge that Jeter may not be perfect or slightly overrated in some aspect or another.

He was never quite a match for the top superstars of his era. Or as Ted Berg put it in USA Today (in a piece titled “Derek Jeter is the most fervently overrated shoo-in for the Hall of Fame”), 

Oh, so Allen Barra has read the article, he just can't read and comprehend what he is reading. Great.

“In terms of overall value to his teams, Jeter just doesn’t stack up to recent historic greats like Albert Pujols and Barry Bonds, and can’t quite match great contemporaries like Chipper Jones and Jeff Bagwell either.”

This is also true, but not to the point.

It's exactly the point if you are writing an article stating that you bet Derek Jeter will be the first unanimous Hall of Fame selection. If Jeter can't match his great contemporaries like Bagwell, Bonds, Pujols, and Jones then how does he deserve to be the first unanimous Hall of Fame member? Therefore, one could logically deduce that since Jeter could be the only member of the Hall of Fame unanimously voted in then he could be a slightly overrated. So the fact Jeter doesn't measure up to his contemporaries is exactly the point. If Jeter isn't as good as his contemporaries then how would he deserve to be the first, and only, unanimous Hall of Fame selection?

Jeter is a greater player than a Yankee shortstop of the 1940s and early 1950s, Phil Rizzuto, who is in the Hall of Fame. Nobody said Rizzuto should not be inducted because “He doesn’t quite stack up with Ted Williams and Stan Musial.”

No one was saying that Rizzuto was probably going to be the first unanimous Hall of Fame selection either.

For that matter, of the 23 shortstops in the Hall of Fame, Jeter is probably more worthy than all but three or four – Honus Wagner, for sure, probably Arky Vaughan, maybe Cal Ripken and Ernie Banks (who is officially listed as a first baseman, though he won back-to-back MVPs at shortstop).

I don't know that anyone is arguing this point that Jeter is very, very deserving of being in the Hall of Fame. I think the point being made is that Jeter is slightly overrated, which is especially true if he is unanimously elected into the Hall of Fame. Jeter isn't even the best shortstop of all-time, much less the best baseball player of all-time, so a unanimous selection would be overrating him a bit.

I don’t trust any of the supposedly scientific measures of fielding ability, but here are two that surely have  some measure of validity: Jeter’s career fielding percentage, going into the 2014 season, is .976, compared to the average for players at this position over the same period has been .972.

The fact you don't trust (though more likely this means, "I don't understand them and don't care to understand them") scientific measures of fielding ability is a reflection on you, not a reflection on the fielding metric itself. A fielder can't commit an error on a ball he can't get to. So Jeter's career fielding percentage is great compared to other fielders at his position, but there are metrics that measure what balls a shortstop was able to get to as part of how well he fielded his position. That's what makes Andrelton Simmons such a great fielder, that he gets to balls other shortstops can not get to, which means he is a better fielder because he can get to these balls. See how it works? So Jeter's career fielding percentage is great, but if you don't argue on the merits of the argument this fictional conspiracy of stats heads are using to keep Jeter out of the Hall of Fame then there is no point in arguing. The merits in this situation are that stats heads point out how Jeter's range was limited for portions of his career according to UZR, so refuting this by pointing out Jeter's fielding percentage misses the point completely.

His range in the field has been four chances per nine innings while other shortstops over the same span averaged 4.5. I’d say that on the whole this indicates that Jeter was an average fielding shortstop, perhaps a tad below average.

Which is the argument advanced by stats heads who insist on pointing out that Jeter was indeed an average to below-average shortstop at times during his career. Yet, the Gold Gloves kept piling up, which didn't always make sense. THAT is the point being made, so thanks for helping that point to be proven.

But he hit and ran the bases well enough for the Yankees to keep him there regardless of his defensive deficiencies.

In any event, he isn’t going into the Hall of Fame because of his fielding – he’s going in because of his hitting and base running.

But...but...but...the point being made is that Jeter is a tad overrated because he wasn't a great fielder according to some advanced fielding metrics. It seems that Allen Barra is willing to concede this point while still violently clutching to the idea that there is no way Derek Jeter was overrated in any way.

Let’s save time and compare Jeter to a hitter who everyone acknowledges as a legitimate Hall of Famer – or at least they would if Pete Rose hadn’t  tarted betting on baseball games.

An editor is badly needed for this sentence. Again, comparing Pete Rose to Derek Jeter isn't going to convince the vast conspiracy of stats heads that don't exist that Derek Jeter deserves to be in the Hall of Fame...mostly because this group doesn't seem to exist. Have I mentioned they don't exist yet? Allen Barra seems to have critically misread Ted Berg's column for "USA Today." I'm not even sure he read it at this point.

Writing, "Derek Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame because he favorably compares to Pete Rose" doesn't mean that Derek Jeter isn't overrated nor does it mean Jeter should be the first unanimous Hall of Fame inductee. Barra's argument is just so silly. His points so far about why stats heads are wrong about Jeter are:

1. Fine, they aren't wrong about the main criticism of Jeter, which is his fielding. Still, don't be a hater and stats heads are still wrong.

2. Jeter is a perfectly average fielder and to call him an excellent fielder is wrong, but fuck it, let's do it anyway.

3. Derek Jeter isn't overrated and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer because he compares favorably to Pete Rose.

4. Mostly, you know that argument that Ted Berg made that Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer, yet still a little overrated? Well, he's wrong because Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer no matter what Ted Berg never said otherwise.

Jeter’s career batting average is .312 to Rose’s .303, and even if Derek played another five seasons to match Pete’s 24 years, and his skills declined over that time as Rose’s did late in his career, Jeter would still end up with a higher batting average.

Jeter has a higher on-base percentage than Rose, .381 to .375, and had a considerably better slugging percentage, .446 to .409.  When you combine these two numbers into the stat beloved by so many analysts, on-base plus slugging, Jeter has an even bigger edge, .828 to .784.

I think rather than spending time proving that Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer because he compares favorably to Pete Rose, Allen Barra should spend time looking for all these stats heads who say Derek Jeter shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame so the entire premise of his article doesn't seem like a joke or a desperate attempt to defend Jeter's honor.

And, if you want to throw in fielding, whatever shortcomings Jeter has had with a glove, he was better than Rose, who was never more than adequate at any of the several positions he played.

What a disaster. If the premise of this article was supposed to be "Derek Jeter was a better baseball player than Pete Rose" than these comparisons to Rose would be pertinent. Unfortunately it's not the premise and these comments about Jeter being a better player than Rose are not pertinent and in no way tells us why the fictional stats heads who don't want Jeter in the Hall of Fame are wrong.

If you check my Wikipedia page – and I’m not advising you to since just about everything on it is wrong – you’ll find reference to a Deadspin story back in 2009 titled “Jesus Is the Derek Jeter of Christianity.” The author (unnamed) says that I “think Derek Jeter should win the MVP despite the pesky fact that Joe Mauer is a better candidate …”

The author was in fact not unnamed. It was "Junior" from "Fire Joe Morgan." Clearly, Barra seems to show a willing lack of reading comprehension on various levels and not just when it comes to reading articles that pertain to Derek Jeter.

I never said Joe Mauer was a better MVP candidate than Jeter. What I said was that most of Mauer’s statistics were better and that “the case for Mr. Jeter” – the Wall Street Journal makes you refer to men who are living as “Mr.” – “as American League MVP is made by more subjective arguments.”

Well unfortunately the MVP award isn't a subjective award where you can be like Bernie Miklasz and state that because you see a guy like Yadier Molina play everyday and know what he means to his team then that means he should be MVP. So subjective attributes like leadership, banging supermodels/actresses/brunette women in general and being a nice guy aren't quantifiable and therefore shouldn't be taken into account when selecting an MVP.

Come on, are you going to tell me that Derek Jeter wasn’t a great teammate and that he didn’t contribute to his team in ways that don’t necessarily show up in a box score?

It's obvious with this sentence being written that Barra has missed the point entirely. The point isn't that Jeter doesn't contribute in ways that don't show up in the box score or he isn't a great teammate. The point is that the MVP is decided by statistics and which player is most valuable in tangible terms to his team. I don't know if Barra is smart enough to know he's making a typical straw man argument. The argument isn't about whether Derek Jeter is a great teammate, but about whether Jeter's performance exceeded Joe Mauer's performance in 2009 to where he should be named MVP over Mauer. Barra is the typical sportswriter who is incapable of arguing on the merits of what is being discussed without changing topics or countering with a straw man argument.

Except maybe in the “win” category?

Wins are a team statistic and should be somewhat irrelevant as it pertains to an MVP vote. A win or loss for the Yankees is partially representative of the teammates that Jeter has around him.

After all, the Yankees did win the American League pennant and the World Series that year. And really, why would Jeter need special arguments to be an MVP in a year when he hit .334 with 18 home runs, 212 hits, 107 runs scored, 30 stolen bases and an OBA of .406?

I'm not sure what "OBA" is, though it appears to be "OBP." The fact Barra can't put three letters together accurately shouldn't be a shock given his apparently inability for reading comprehension.

Also, Mauer hit .365 with 28 home runs, 191 hits, 94 runs scored, 4 stolen bases and an OBP of .444. He did this in 523 at-bats while Derek Jeter had 634 at-bats. I think the 21 fewer hits and 13 fewer runs scored can sufficiently be explained by the 111 fewer at-bats that Mauer had during the season. Of course, this requires analysis to understand and Allen Barra appears incapable of understanding an article he is reading and what it states, so I wouldn't expect him to understand that Jeter had over 100 more at-bats than Mauer and what this means for Jeter's statistics.

Have some of us overrated him a bit? A bit, maybe, but we’ll happily bear that cross.

So it is possible for Jeter to be a Hall of Famer and a little bit overrated. Also, if Jeter is a little bit overrated then how in the holy hell does he "deserve" to be the first unanimous Hall of Famer? This makes not of sense. No Hall of Fame inductee has ever been unanimously inducted, so I still don't get why Jeter should be that first inductee to be unanimous. Also, where in this article is there any evidence that stats heads are wrong about Jeter? Was that just a cheap way to try and get pageviews, by trolling the audience?

See you in Cooperstown in 2020.

Which is where Derek Jeter deserves to be and no fictional stats heads conspiracy has said differently. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

8 comments MMQB Review: Peter Talks about Johnny Manziel and Shamelessly Titles MMQB as "Here's (The Real) Johnny"

Peter King told us about the Michael Sam Seminar in last week's MMQB, as well as supported a code of conduct for NFL locker rooms. A really good point was made in the comments in reference to Peter's insistence that Derek Jeter had "no hint of scandal" surrounding him during his playing career. Jeter played with Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and A-Rod while he was with the Yankees. That's an All-Star lineup of suspected or proven PED users. So Jeter has a hint of scandal around him.This week Peter talks about Johnny Manziel's makeover (and Peter says he looks super-precocious), his rendezvous with Manziel at the Holiday Inn (not a rendezvous in THAT way...okay, Peter was hoping for a just a little jean grinding), how the 49ers in no way were trying to trade Jim Harbaugh to the Browns and Jim Harbaugh was in no way trying to get the Browns to hire him (you know, just like Harbaugh had no interest in Peyton Manning two years ago), and how God is making one draft prospect slide down draft boards while slavery still makes Peter cry. 

The offseason. That’s a good one.

Browns chase Jim Harbaugh. Lose.
Michael Sam meets the press. Wins. Then he lifts weights. Loses.


Johnny Manziel undergoes radical image-ectomy. Early returns: good.
Ray Rice undergoes radical image-destruction. Early returns: awful.
Players might get flagged in games for using the n-word. Tremendous.

I am not in a position to give an opinion on the use of the n-word on the football field. Obviously, I would prefer it be eliminated in all facets of life and sport, but when two players are trash talking and one player says something like, "No way, how figure?" or talks rapidly to where the official didn't understand what the player says and throws a flag as a result it seems silly to me. Is the NFL really going to start dealing with players and coaches appealing that they didn't use a certain word on the field? I don't know, I want the word to be eliminated but it seems like flagging players for use of the word seems more like a PR move than an actual solution to the use of the word.

The NFL scouting combine’s halfway over. Overrated (as always).

Sure, the Combine is overrated but two of Peter's big five stories from the week dealt directly with results from the Combine. It's overrated, unless it provides Peter with more information to write a story. Also, most of the information in this MMQB is information Peter learned at the Combine or deals in some way with the Combine. But yeah, it's overrated in Peter's opinion. 

Mike Florio reported Friday that the Browns “nearly pulled off a trade” for boffo 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. That set the combine on its ear, and set off a flurry of denials and non-denial denials. Cleveland officials wouldn’t deny the story, lending it added credence, and then, on Sunday, owner Jimmy Haslam told USA Today, “There was an opportunity there, and it didn’t materialize.” Harbaugh denied the story, and the Niners organization mostly kept quiet except for a tweet from CEO Jed York Friday night denying the story.

I completely believe the Browns. That's not a sentence that I routinely write, but the Browns were desperate for a quality head coach to turn the team around and Jim Harbaugh is reportedly not happy in San Francisco. I have a hard time believing much of what Harbaugh and the 49ers say (not that I think they are liars, but they have shown they will only reveal information they want revealed and will deny information they don't want revealed) since they claimed they weren't interested in Peyton Manning two years ago, but somehow they were one of the finalists for his services.

That was until Sunday night, when York told me he would not rehash the entire story but did say: “The Browns reached out to me, and we had no interest in pursuing it.”

It sounds like the Browns overstated the situation, but it remains the 49ers got an offer and didn't like the compensation or didn't want to get rid of Harbaugh quite yet. It seems like that's what happened.

But as I first heard Friday night, I don’t believe terms were discussed back and forth between the Browns and Niners. I believe that, as York said, the 49ers decided not to engage the Browns on any substantive negotiations for Harbaugh.

Substantive negotiations or not, if terms were discussed back and forth then there was interest on both sides, which makes this an interesting story and 49ers outright denial not entirely accurate.

But first, my encounter at the combine with Jonathan Paul Manziel.

Peter's encounter at a Holiday Inn with Johnny Manziel. So many Favre-like qualities, yet so much younger and so much more dangerous. It's an alluring proposition, but would meeting a hotel seem too upfront to Manziel? Perhaps Peter should suggest they meet somewhere else safer, less obvious for their rendezvous. At a restaurant. Yes, that will work. But eating food, would that be rude in Johnny's opinion? Peter had no time to answer this question for himself because his impulse led him to just outside the door to interview Manziel. There he was, his gun-slinging self just waiting for Peter to approach him with a curious yet mischievous on his face. It's not Favre 2.0, but it's close enough for Peter.

Then to coach Gus Bradley. “Hi Coach Bradley, pleasure to meet you. Johnny Manziel.”
Then to GM David Caldwell, and then to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. All the same: handshake, look ’em in the eye, refer to them by name. He knew them all. Now, he didn’t know the scouts in the room, but he knew five men by sight that he’d never met. “That was impressive,” Caldwell said. “He did a really nice job in there. He was prepared for the interview, very prepared.”

You mean Manziel didn't bring Drake into the interview with him and somehow avoided showing up to the interview drunk? What a shock. I can't believe Manziel is desperately trying to clean up his image so he can be drafted higher and be paid more money. No other applicant at a job interview has done this before.

O’Connell and Manziel even studied Washington’s offense from last year, not because they think there’s any chance the team will draft him, but because Kyle Shanahan, last year’s Washington offensive coordinator, now works in Cleveland, and they wanted to get a feel of what he likes to call and how he likes to use protections. Hammer home schemes, specific plays and formations each team is partial to using.

And Manziel didn't show up drink with a skank on each arm everyday to these film sessions? He's surely grown up and is a different person now.

Some teams won’t like that; Houston’s buttoned-up owner, Bob McNair, certainly will frown at the prospect of having a playboy quarterback, if that’s what the owners of the top pick judge Manziel to be.

Of course Bob McNair also frowns at losing games, so at some point he may have to reconcile these two positions a little better. The fact Manziel partied in college doesn't mean he will do the same in the NFL and the fact Manziel was a good boy in his interviews and didn't seem like a party boy doesn't mean he wouldn't let partying distract him while he's in the NFL.

An executive of one team who met with Manziel over the weekend said, “Has there been one killer incident for him? If there is, we haven’t found it.”

“We’ve found nothing that’s come across as a fatal flaw to us,” Caldwell said.

BREAKING NEWS: College students like to party. If this college student is an athlete whose parents have money then he will want to party and spend money while partying, most likely while also having as many women at his side as possible.

“Our goal is to give every team that’s interested the maximum amount of time with Johnny they want,” Burkhardt said. “The more time, the merrier. Because when they spend time with him, they’ll get to know the real Johnny.”

It's funny how NFL writers can help shift the narrative around when they want to. Johnny Manziel is a party-boy quarterback who isn't mature enough to lead an NFL team until he shows up at the Combine being super-polite and stating that he will show everyone who the true Johnny Manziel is. Oh, he must have completely changed who he is in the last four months. Re-write the narrative immediately!

Even though the 5-10½ Russell Wilson just won the Super Bowl, below-average size at the position—Manziel  measured 5-11¾ at the combine—is a detriment to greatness in the NFL. Small quarterbacks often have to be out-of-the-pocket improvisers;

Conveniently, Johnny Manziel is excellent at improvising outside the pocket. So, I'm not sure the concern here.

last year Manziel had poor games in losses against LSU and Missouri when hemmed in the pocket, frustrated he couldn’t get out on the edge and make something happen. “One of our goals,” Whitfield said at the combine, “has been to show that a player who’s been driving an automatic can now drive a stick-shift, and he can make the kind of plays from the pocket you’re going to need to make in the NFL.”

Now these are real concerns NFL personnel guys should have about Johnny Manziel, not whether he is too much of a party-boy. They should be concerned he can throw the football from the pocket and not worry about whether he'll try to bang a Hooter waitress in every town he plays in. Sure, Manziel not being focused is a concern, but his overall ability to play quarterback should be a much bigger concern.

But he’s also unique in this regard: How many prospects get less famous going from college to the NFL? Manziel might be the one.

Well, this has absolutely zero relevance in terms of whether Manziel will be a productive NFL quarterback or not. But hey, the Combine is overrated, while this type of information on how many players have been less famous going from college to the NFL is very, very important. Also, I would argue that Myron Rolle got less famous once he made it to the NFL and I'm sure he's not the only one.

I met Manziel in the back of the restaurant at the Holiday Inn

A very alluring start to this story. I have a feeling Peter has met Brett Favre in the back of quite a few Holiday Inn's.

It’s late at night, but he’s still on.

As is Peter. He's very "on" if you know what I mean. He's ready, it's late and there is a precocious quarterback in front him with an Allagash White he they can sip on together. Life is good.

he’ll be damned if he’s going to have a repeat of last week, when he told the Houston Chronicle that if the Texans passed on him with the No. 1 pick, “It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made.” (Even though—funny—it’s become part of Peyton Manning folklore that Manning did precisely the same thing with the Colts in 1998 when they were choosing between him and Ryan Leaf to be the top pick in the draft. Manning said to GM Bill Polian’s face, “If you pass on me, I will come back and kick your a– for years.” So let’s go easy with the idea of Manziel’s brashness ruining his chances in Houston

I don't think anyone but the media is trying to perpetuate the story that Manziel's brashness will ruin his chances in Houston. It's the media who reports on the story, and in fact, it is Peter King who earlier in this very MMQB indicated Bob McNair wouldn't like a playboy quarterback. Meaning, he wouldn't want Johnny Manziel if "new" Manziel has the same behavior as "old" Manziel, and "old" Manziel was brash. 

Now, about the Manning Passing Academy incident last summer, when he was sent home for not showing up on time one morning …

“I got back from the function that we had the prior night, went to my room, and plugged my phone in to wake up at 8 o’clock the next day,” Manziel says. “When I woke up the next day I realized it was a little lighter outside than it had been the morning before. I shuffled around and looked for my phone in the bed and pressed the top button, pressed the home button. No juice. And I really woke up freaking out. I got to camp about 30 minutes late. I met with the head people, met with the counselors, and they asked me to go home...For some reason, there was kind of a rift in communication with people saying I wasn’t in my room. And I absolutely was. I woke up in my bed in my dorm room like I had the two mornings previous.”

It's the old, "I was there in my room, it's just no one saw me" excuse combined with the "My phone died" excuse.

“And the rumors that you’d been in New Orleans that night?” I ask.

“Absolutely not,” Manziel says.

"Do you want to go to New Orleans, tonight? Right now. You and me. Let's take off now and just leave our troubles behind."

This is what Manziel was asked, to be sure, in his meetings here. Some of them, at least. And he was prepared to answer the questions about his partying. “I’ve tried to be completely honest with the teams,” he said. “I was in college.

Oh, it's supposed to be the Spring semester of Manziel's junior year. I guess he's decided to not attend the Spring semester of his junior year at all.

There were points throughout the last year maybe I was a little bit out of that saying. I did things too much and maybe overly aggressive. At the same time, things progressed fast for me. A lot of things were thrown on my plate and pushed into my life, and I really ran with those.

It's a good thing that things won't progress fast in the NFL and there won't be a lot of things on Manziel's plate or else I would 100% believe he magically became a more mature person over the last three or four months.

I am the only person I know of that had a schedule directly tied with our director of football operations to do whatever it was the school was asking of me. And really I’m incredibly loyal to Texas A&M. It was the school that gave me an opportunity when not a lot of other places did. But I feel like with the media attention I had, the scrutiny, and everything that I went through last year, it directly prepares me for this.”

Manziel's PR guy fist pumps out of excitement that Manziel nailed this line.

“I’m going to go be extremely honest with these teams, let them see a side of me that some people don’t get to see,” Manziel says. 

Peter says, "So this does mean you will take your shirt off right now and let me touch your chest? Just tell me now before this goes any further." 

That’s what you have to do. Convert on third down, and not turn the ball over. That’s something that Russell is incredibly good at. And he’s extremely accurate. Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. I’m not going to sit myself in this seat today and compare me to him. I have a lot to do to earn my stripes and earn my position in this league. I realize nothing is going to be handed to me. I have to go work for it.

Manziel's PR guy continues pumping his fist at Manziel's performance here. After all, if a player/coach/GM wants to sell a story without getting too many tough questions in response then go to Peter King.

Not to mention, for a guy who thinks the Combine is overrated Peter certainly bases a lot of this MMQB on information he learned at the Combine.

And now the rest of the NFL story this week.

I’m not convinced Cleveland got very far down the road. Did Jed York get an offer of a draft pick or picks from Cleveland for coach Jim Harbaugh, mull it over, talk to his inner circle and decide not to accept it? Did he ask Harbaugh if this was something he really wanted? Or did York simply decide, “We’re not trading our coach?” We might never know, though my guess is the only way York would have agreed to consider a deal is if Harbaugh told him flatly he wanted to take the Cleveland job.

Maybe Peter should do a poll of anonymous GM's to find out what they think about this situation. They'll be anonymous which means they will completely tell the truth.

Harbaugh clearly hasn’t gotten the money he thinks he deserves for leading the Niners to three straight playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl—for making the Niners a star franchise again. He’s entering year four of a five-year deal, which pays him $5 million a year.

From seeing Harbaugh's antics on the sidelines I can't imagine he would be a difficult person to get along with. He seems so calm, collected and without a strong opinion.

The Niners are unlikely to break the bank for a coach who hasn’t won a Super Bowl,

The guy has made the NFC Championship Game in all three seasons he has coached in the NFL. He keeps this up, he's winning a Super Bowl. So I find the whole "We won't pay him big money until he wins a Super Bowl" bullshit to be just that, bullshit. He's clearly shown himself to be a top-tier NFL coach. The fact he hasn't won a Super Bowl and "only" made three NFC Championship Games shows this is true.
The one thing the Pro Football Talk report leaves in its wake is the impression this story, and Harbaugh’s wanderlust, is not over.

Sounds to me like Harbaugh wants complete control of the roster, including personnel decisions. Maybe he will get lucky and the Browns will fire Pettine after this season or Daniel Snyder will decide he wants a bigger "name" coach for the Redskins.

Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said something telling about the alleged altercation between running back Ray Rice and his fiancĂ©e, Janay Palmer, at an Atlantic City casino last weekend. “Right now, I feel very good about his side of the story.” If so, then Rice must have given team officials a version that involves either self-defense or overt provocation by Palmer.

Because it's okay to smack a bitch if she smacks you first or is just really wanting you to lay a hand on her.

Not that either one of those explanations would justify domestic abuse, if there was abuse.

But Peter, you just said Rice must have given the team a version that involves self-defense or overt provocation by Palmer. This means you thought this would satisfy the Ravens, and therefore would be an acceptable excuse to explain what happened, right?

Rice already had one 2014 challenge on his hands—making sure his 660-yard season was a fluke. This problem will dwarf that one.

It's okay to smack your girlfriend, but at least be good at football, because otherwise that's not acceptable.

Also, is that "dwarf" mention a reference to Rice's height? Very insensitive.

The league’s Competition Committee meets in Florida beginning Friday, and one of the items on the agenda will be discussion on a rule to flag players for using the n-word on the field during games. I’m unequivocally in favor of it, and can see no reason why it wouldn’t be enacted 

As nice as it would be to hear that word eliminated, I just don't know about throwing penalty flags because a football players uses the n-word. It seems very hard to enforce when the officials may throw a flag for a comment they didn't completely hear.

Interesting to hear Mike Mayock lobby—correctly, by the way—for the Bengals to draft a quarterback in the later rounds to give Andy Dalton some competition. “If your quarterback can’t play at a certain level,” Mayock said on Sunday’s NFL Network telecast, “you can’t win a Super Bowl.” The Bengals need to run it more. That’ll help Dalton as much as a fourth-round passer

Peter hates Andy Dalton for some reason. I can't figure out why, but he's completely not sold on Dalton as the starting quarterback for the Bengals. I'm not saying the Bengals shouldn't invest in a backup quarterback, but both Mayock and Peter are idiots if they think a fourth round pick will come in and take the Bengals to a Super Bowl this year.

Greg Schiano is here, meeting with some of his friends in the coaching business, trying to figure out his next move

I can't wait for a team to hire Greg Schiano followed by Peter telling us what a brilliant move this was for that team. Notice that Peter has completely not mentioned Gregg Williams was rehired by the Rams as their defensive coordinator. One would think this merits a mention in MMQB, but I'm guessing Marvin Demoff has ordered Peter to not mention it, lest it puts Jeff Fisher or the Rams in a bad light. It's just funny to me that Peter hasn't mentioned Williams' hire at all and of course makes me think there has to be a reason he hasn't mentioned this, when it deserves a mention.

One other story that Peter hasn't mentioned...he hasn't talked about the ESPN column on Tony Gonzalez where he shows himself to not quite be the teammate and person he was talked up as being through his NFL career. Not a shock, I guess. Peter likes himself some Tony Gonzalez and the only way he could write about the column is if he were a little critical of Tony Gonzalez and Peter refuses to alienate any of his friends (who also happen to be players he covered) if he doesn't have to.

Three players I found universal love for at the combine: Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins, Auburn tackle Greg Robinson and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. Watching Watkins run and catch, I’ll be surprised if he’s not a 1,000-yard player as a rookie, even if he goes to a team with an iffy quarterback situation. 

Oh, so he could play for the Bengals then?

“The report? Reeee-diculous! Ridiculous. No. Ridiculous.”

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area at the Combine. 

Of course Jim Harbaugh denied he has interest in Peyton Manning two years ago, said he liked Alex Smith as his quarterback and then replaced Smith at the earliest opportunity with Colin Kaepernick. Plus, Harbaugh wouldn't admit he wants out of San Francisco or that he had his agent investigate other NFL job openings. Why would Harbaugh not deny the report even if it were true?

Here’s the Factoid:

The Buffalo Bills are doing something very nice, and smart, for their scouts and officials who work the draft: They’re giving them Easter week (the week before April 20) off. “We want our guys to be fresh,” GM Doug Whaley told me. “There’s only so long you can study guys.”

This reminds me of what I said in college a lot, which was, "I can study this material only so long until I've overstudied," which was a nice way of saying, "I'm tired of studying, I'm going to the bar."

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Checking in at the downtown Marriott the other day for the combine, and a woman next to me was doing the same with another front-desk person. She asked the woman checking her in: “What is the scouting combine?” The Marriott attendant said it was the NFL bringing college players in for workouts and interviews with teams, and it comes to Indianapolis every February.

“I don’t get the name,” the Marriott guest said. “The combine … it’s a combination of something?”

What's the point of this travel note? This guest doesn't know what the Combine is. Does Peter find that funny? Does he find it refreshing? Is Peter just determined to kill space in MMQB and had to find a travel note? Basically, there has to be a reason Peter took the time to share this with his audience. What's the reason? It seems pretty pointless.

“Carlos Hype.”

@TonyGrossi of ESPNCleveland, after vaunted Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash and limped off Sunday, saying he strained a hamstring.

“Michael Sam benched 225 pounds 17 times, second-worst among defensive lineman. Seven WRs did more.”

@MichaelDavSmith, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, after Sam lifted at the combine on Sunday.

But Peter, remember how overrated you said the Combine is? How can these "Tweets of the Week" be in any way important if they pertain to the Combine? After all, if the Combine is so overrated then Carlos Hyde isn't hype and it doesn't matter if Michael Sam only bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times. It's all overrated. So who cares if Carlos Hyde is hype and what Michael Sam bench presses?

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think the difference between this year and many recent ones is that we know which players to place at the top of the draft, but we have no idea whom to match where.

Peter thinks he has the Top 10 players who go off the board in the draft figured out with a little over two months until the actual draft. I'll remember this when Peter acts shocked the first round didn't go the way he anticipated and talks about how unpredictable the draft was. I mean come on, trades can happen and some players will rise up the board after individual workouts at their college. It's ridiculous to claim in late February which players will be taken at the top of the draft.

I’ll take this shot at the top 10, though the Rams certainly will have a chance to trade the second pick,


and will be very interested in doing so:

(Peter's phone rings) "Hold on Johnny, it's my master---I mean, it's my agent. Hello, this is Peter King, king of the draft rumors and always ready for a clever joke or two."

(Marvin Demoff) "I don't even know what the fuck that was. God, you're clueless."

(Peter King) "It's the way I answer the phone to be fun and precoci---"

(Marvin Demoff) "I didn't ask you to tell me why you do it. Stop it. Just do it. I noticed you haven't mentioned the Rams hired Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator. Sure, any time a defensive coordinator who was suspended for a year like Williams was gets rehired it's news, but I like how you ignored it. Great job. Kevin really wants that hire to go under the radar until Gregg starts doing a good job and that's when I will give you permission to write a 'Gregg Williams' Redemption' story. Obviously you wouldn't write this story, but have one of your THE MMQB writers do it. Not until I tell you to though." 

(Peter King) "Well, I---"

(Marvin Demoff) "I didn't ask you to talk. Be sure to mention in this week's MMQB that the Rams really want to trade the #2 overall pick. So far Kevin hasn't had much interest shown in that pick, so I want you to really, really focus on telling everyone that pick is available. We need more traffic on that pick so we can get the Rams the best return possible. Just do it."

(Peter King) "Well, my astute readers could see through this and then it would affect my credibility if they know my agent's son is the Rams GM and I am not-so-covertly providing them with positive coverage. I'll do anything, and for future reference I do mean anything, but I'm afraid my readers will find this out and it would hurt my credibility."

(Marvin Demoff) "I am your credibility. Shut up and do it. Make it known the pick is available...are you blowing kisses or something? What's that sound?"

(Peter stops blowing kisses at Johnny Manziel as Manziel is looking at his phone) "Oh no, not at all. What you think about---Marvin? You there?"

(Marvin Demoff has hung up)

Houston: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida.
St. Louis: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn.
Jacksonville: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.
Cleveland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
Oakland: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.
Atlanta: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M.
Tampa Bay: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo.
Minnesota: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.
Buffalo: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.
Detroit: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan.

Well, there's the Top 10 players and this will not be changing. You can bet on that.

2. I think if you add these six players—cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina, linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama, and wideouts Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Marqise Lee of USC—you’d have something very close to the first half of the first round May 8.

Because we all know there's no way a guy like Derek Carr impresses at his individual workout and then works his way into the Top 15 where a QB-needy team has traded up to get him. No way at all. This doesn't ever happen. I also don't believe Peter will state in May when the NFL Draft doesn't go this way that it was TOTALLY unexpected. Peter has seemed to jump the gun on a lot of things so far this year, like when he decided because the Colts had lost a game in terrible fashion that they may not win the AFC South.

4. I think this is not the way to get drafted by your dream team, the Seattle Seahawks: U-T San Diego reported Sunday that San Diego State running back Adam Muema bailed from the combine without working out, telling the website that if he didn’t work out, he would get his wish and play for the Seahawks. Muema had been projected as a late-round pick in May. He said God told him to “sit down, be quiet, and enjoy the peace.” I’m sure combine officials and the NFL are pleased to have had Muema take a running back slot at the prestigious tryout camp and to have paid his way from San Diego to Indianapolis for the combine, and then have Muema inform them God didn’t want him to work out.

Good job God, now you've gone and ruined this player's career by giving him bad draft advice. What good are you, God? You are like a bad agent who misleads and lies to a player about his draft position and then doesn't help that player out when your lies are found to be just that. Drew Rosenhaus wouldn't go this low as to promise that a player would be drafted by a certain team. I hope you are happy with yourself.

Just a hunch: This won’t raise his grade on the Seattle draft board. Or anyone’s. If he’ll be on one at all.

You just ruined this kid's dream with your bad advice.

Then Peter discusses other observations about the Combine that mean very little because the Combine is overrated.

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

c. Saw 12 Years a Slave. Then I cried for 12 years.

Gosh, slavery is so sad. Peter wasn't aware that slaves actually were tortured and treated so inhumanely. He thought slavery was when a person had to work for a little bit above minimum wage and didn't get every weekend off. It turns out, and Peter wasn't aware of this, but slaves didn't get paid. Like AT ALL!

d. Tremendous movie. Riveting, painful, memorable. I haven’t seen all the Best Picture nominees, but it will take an epic film to beat that one in the Oscars for me.

How about a movie with Lake Bell, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep? Wouldn't that be the best-acted movie in the history of cinema and definitely would be an epic film that could beat out "12 Years a Slave."

e. Really liked the Kerrigan/Harding show Sunday night on NBC. I’d forgotten how nutty the whole thing was.

Really? Peter, you forgot how nutty that whole situation was where Tonya Harding's husband hired some goons to bash Nancy Kerrigan's knee? This just slipped your mind?

g. Beernerdness: Two selections from a weekend of fine beer-drinking in the fine city of Indianapolis. One: Osiris Pale Ale, by Sun King Brewing of Indianapolis. A delicious and perfectly hoppy pale ale served in a tall can. That beer needs to get to New York, and fast. Two: Rail Splitter IPA, of Triton Brewing, also of Indy. (Great craft beer town by the way. I’d be hospitalized if I tried them all.) Not many IPAs give off a citrus scent, but this one does.

Yes, well not every IPA is supposed to give off a citrus scent. So that explains that.

f. Coffeenerdness: Patachou, the great breakfast spot and NFL personnel hangout in downtown Indy, could use one darker roast coffee, but the Simon Blend, with a medium bite, is so much better than coffee you get in restaurants almost anywhere.

h. One last Indy reference: I strongly recommend a pizza shop there, Napolese Pizzeria, downtown. The crust is a bit thicker than my wafer-thin crust preference, but the taste of the crust, and the fresh ingredients, make it a great meal. 

Apparently the Combine may be overrated, but Peter has a hell of a time attending the Combine while eating food and drinking delicious beer/coffee.

j. Pleasure to see you and spend time with you at the combine, Matthew Berry.

Hey, you know a text message is much more personal and less name-droppy way of telling Matthew Berry that you enjoyed spending time with him.

l. We keep three players in our league. Mine: Dustin Pedroia, Jay Bruce, Ian Desmond. Had Ellsbury, but didn’t protect him as one of my three keepers. Because, well, you know.

Because you are terrible at fantasy sports and no one cares about your fantasy team?

The Adieu Haiku

Indy in winter.
Autograph guys chase Manziel.
But they don’t catch him.

I'm astounded and amazed. Every week Peter manages to one-up the uselessness of the previous week's Adieu Haiku. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

4 comments Bill Simmons Writes about Steve Nash's Comeback Attempt, But Has to Make it Just a Little Bit About Himself Out of Habit

Bill Simmons and Grantland has done a pretty good series about Steve Nash and his attempts to come back from injury to play again in the NBA for the Lakers. The video is very well done and it's not hard to find yourself cheering for Nash to come back and be productive. Bill Simmons provides an introduction to the video in written form, and rather than give a brief introduction and let the video speak for itself, Bill writes 2600 words and just has to make it a little bit about himself. I'm not sure Bill understands how to write a column or even an introduction to a video without making it just a little bit about himself. He's under the impression everything is about him anyway. So watch the video, it's good, here's the overly-long introduction, which isn't so good.

2014: $9,300,500  
2015: $9,701,000
Steve Nash wears no. 10 for the Lakers, but it’s really 9.3. Next season, that turns into 9.7. Those are the numbers Lakers fans see. They see a walking cap figure.

You already know what I'm going to write here. Bill is speaking for Lakers fans, they only see Nash as a commodity because fans are only capable of viewing athletes in that way, blah, blah, blah...don't try to think you speak for the fans. Bill isn't going to stop doing this of course.

You can’t blame them for feeling that way.

I don't know if Lakers fans see it exactly this way, Nash as a walking cap figure, but they could see him as a guy who is expensive and isn't playing right now, yet a player who provides a lot of value if/when he makes it back to be productive. 

Adam Silver once told me his league had evolved into a 10-month sport: from preseason (October) all the way through free agency and summer league (end of July).

This is your reminder that Bill Simmons has talked to Adam Silver before.

It’s a nonstop frenzy of mock drafts, calculated leaks, fake trades, unsubstantiated rumors, misleading tweets and hopeful executives knocking on front doors at 12:01 a.m., with everything feeding off the collective sophistication of the fans.

Not that Bill is off topic or anything right now, but Steve Nash's attempted comeback has very little to do with the sophistication of the fans or how long the NBA season really lasts. But again, Bill has talked to Adam Silver. This is important to know.

Believe me, we didn’t always inhale summer that way.

Yes I know, I wasn't born just a few years ago and have memory recall that goes back further than the year 2000. For some reason, Bill feels the need to educate his readers on what the NBA used to be like, as if his readers are mouth-breathing morons who aren't capable of understanding the sophistication of the game without him spoon-feeding it to his readers. It's ironic, given that Bill calls the fans collectively sophisticated yet seems to want his readers to "believe me" the game wasn't always a nonstop frenzy. The collective sophistication of the fans must stop when it comes to remembering what the NBA was like 10-15 years ago.

Right after hired me in 2001, I wrote a column handing out Boogie Nights quotes as “awards” for the NBA’s best and worst offseason signings. I didn’t have a feel for ESPN’s readers yet.

Will this piece go over people’s heads? Is there too much salary stuff in here? Do people care? Is this too nerdy? How many readers actually give a crap?

Thirteen years later, that piece reads as if I deliberately dumbed it down.

So to summarize Steve Nash's attempted comeback attempt so far:

1. The NBA is a 10-month sport now, because Adam Silver told Bill this.

2. Bill wants us to know it wasn't always that way.

3. Here is a link to a column that Bill wrote and here are Bill's thoughts at the time about the column.

4. Bill didn't think his fans were that smart and dumbed the article down.

It certainly appears so far that Steve Nash's comeback attempt is mostly about Bill Simmons and his thoughts 13 years ago about the NBA. I'm surprised Nash even got camera time in the accompanying video.

I don’t remember cap figures mattering for me until 1994, when I came to the horrifying realization that I understood the cap better than my beloved Celtics did.

"I, I, I, me, me, me. Let's talk about my favorite NBA team and how I'm smarter than they were in 1994. Me, me, me, I, I, I."

As if Bill Simmons couldn't write an introduction to a Steve Nash comeback video, that's right it's not even supposed to be an entire column but an introduction to a video about an NBA player's comeback attempt, without talking about the Boston Celtics. There's absolutely no reason for Bill to talk about one of his old columns, there's absolutely no reason to talk about the Celtics, and there is no absolutely no reason to talk about whether Bill was smarter than the Celtics front office in 1994. Yet, Bill can't write anything without either (a) making it about him in some way or (b) shoehorning in a brief discussion about his favorite teams. The world revolves around Bill and his past/present thoughts. Look no further than this introduction accompanying a video about a non-Celtics player comeback efforts to see this as a true.

That summer, we were already saddled with Sherman Douglas’s never-ending contract,

"We" huh? I didn't realize Bill played for the Celtics team in 1994.

(Checks Celtics 1994-1995 roster and doesn't see Bill on the roster)

Xavier McDaniel’s expiring toilet-clogger and two more years of the late Reggie Lewis’s expensive salary.

Again, if you can find the correlation between Steve Nash preparing a comeback attempt and the cap situation of the 1994 Celtics then you are a better person than me. You also probably are a big, big Bill Simmons fan.

Why did Reggie stay on Boston’s cap after he tragically passed away in 1993? Two words: David Stern. One of many reasons I didn’t write a “Farewell, David” column. 

You screwed over the Celtics, David Stern! Bill Simmons never forgets and this is one more reason Celtics fans are just so tortured and downtrodden. The team isn't on pace to make the NBA Playoffs this year. Has an NBA team never not made the playoffs in such tortured fashion? If Bill wrote columns still then he would write 10,000 words about how the Celtics 13-14 season is the most tortured season of any non-playoff team ever.

That didn’t stop our bumbling general manager, M.L. Carr, from splurging close to $40 million on Dee Brown, Pervis Ellison and an aging Dominique Wilkins. Suddenly 80 percent of our cap was earmarked for two washed-up stars, a fat point guard, a guard without a position, a center who never played and someone who wasn’t alive. We had no way to improve — no real assets, no future stars, nothing. We were trapped under .500 for years.

I can't imagine how Bill survived this period. Most likely he just did what he has done with the Bruins and Red Sox when those two teams haven't been very good. He made an excuse about how he's a "widow" and then stated he didn't like these teams because "they weren't very fun to watch." What this really means is "I only pay attention to my favorite teams if they are winning games."

To nobody’s surprise, the ’95 Celtics lost 47 games before getting bounced by Orlando in Round 1.

I'm sorry, Round 1 of what? Round 1 of the NBA Non-Playoff Teams Playoffs? That's right, the season that Bill is complaining about the Celtics made the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. So there were six teams in the Eastern Conference who were worse than the Celtics. Granted, the Celtics were bad for a period of time after this season, but the season Bill is complaining about the Celtics made the playoffs.

I stopped for gas, bought a Sunday Globe and flipped to the sports section. Unbelievably, improbably, incredibly, Wilkins was reportedly ditching Boston to play in Greece. And I’m in the middle of nowhere, holding a gasoline nozzle with one hand and the newspaper with the other, and I’m yelling, “YES! YES! YES!!!!! CAP SPACE!!!!!”

This is a true story. I believe it. Hey, remember when this introduction was about Steve Nash's retirement? Well, it's not really. This introduction to a video about Steve Nash is really about Bill Simmons' need to bitch about a Celtics team from 20 years ago. Not that Bill makes everything about him, because he would never do that. 

Just a few weeks later, M.L. squandered that miracle by gift-wrapping Dana Barros $20.8 million over six stupefying years. Overpaying a 5-foot-9 point guard when we already had Douglas, Brown AND David Wesley?

M.L. eventually solved that glut by dealing Fat Sherm for Todd Day, a.k.a. The Least Likable Celtic of All Time. Not even one of M.L.’s five worst moves. 

So Bill has bitched that Sherman Douglas was on the Celtics team and now he is bitching that Douglas got traded. Also, Todd Day was better than Sherman Douglas, no matter whether Bill found him likable or not. Likable doesn't have anything to do with it. But hey...Steve Nash...retirement...anyone?

And what about M.L. naming himself coach as well? Since the Internet hadn’t taken shape yet, I couldn’t vent about Bizarro Red Auerbach to anyone other than my father and my friends. I didn’t have a column or a podcast, I didn’t have a message board … shit, I didn’t have email. I wanted to climb Mount Washington, Balboa-style, stand at the top and scream, “M.L. CARR IS RUINING MY TEAM!!!!”

Bill was tortured that he didn't even have a forum to tell everyone how tortured he was. This is the worst thing that can happen. Bill was tortured by not being able to convey how tortured he had become.

So that’s when I started caring about cap figures.

I routinely criticize Bill for not just being able to say something. He has to describe how he feels rather than just stating the feeling he has. Bill tends to do this a lot when he shoehorns in a pop culture reference to state how something made him feel rather than just saying how he felt. The previous paragraphs are a cousin to this trend. Rather than just stating, "I paid attention to the salary cap during the 1994-1995 season when the Celtics made dumb moves and M.L. Carr screwed up the team's cap by signing Dana Barros," Bill has to go into an overly-long story and bring the focus back onto him and what he wanted to say. Bill Simmons doesn't know how to not make something about him.

I look at Gerald Wallace and think, $30.3 million through 2016. Knicks fans look at Amar’e Stoudemire and think, Off the cap summer after next. Phoenix fans see Emeka Okafor and think, $14.5 million, expiring, what can we get for him? Pistons fans look at Josh Smith and think, I have 54 million more reasons to handcuff Joe Dumars to a radiator in my basement.

And Lakers fans look at Steve Nash and think, 9.3 this year, 9.7 next year.

Actually, when comparing Nash's cap figure to Okafor, Wallace Stoudemire, and Josh Smith it doesn't seem as intimidating. Nash is owed $19 million over the next two seasons and if he is able to come back healthy then he could be worth this money. I can't read the minds of an entire fan base, so I'm sure because Bill sees Gerald Wallace as nothing but a cap figure then Lakers fans see Steve Nash as only a cap figure. After all, Bill speaks for fans everywhere.

It’s no different from how I thought of ’Nique at that Vermont gas station — when I didn’t care about his 25,389 career points or his dunking-in-traffic legacy. I only cared that ’Nique was in the way. And that’s how Lakers fans feel about Nash.

This might be true, but it's always dangerous to assume that your thoughts are the same thoughts shared by others. Somehow Bill has gotten away with doing this for almost 15 years now.

It’s a cruel finish for such a wonderful player. I never saw Cousy and Oscar, obviously. I only caught the tail end of Frazier and the second (and inferior) incarnation of Tiny. I caught everything Magic and everything Isiah; they’re 1-2 on the “Best Point Guards I Ever Watched” list.

"I, I, I, me, me, me."

Nash peaked on those “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns teams, when Phoenix built him a high-powered Formula One racing car — with Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and a rotating cast of 3-point bombers as the engine, and Mike D’Antoni as the lead mechanic — knowing that Nash and Nash alone could steer such a complicated vehicle.

Halfway through the column and finally there is a discussion about Steve Nash. We should feel lucky Bill mentioned Nash at all in his introduction to a video about Steve Nash. We could have gotten a season-by-season breakdown of the Celtics cap figures instead.

Maybe they never won a title, but Chris Connelly nailed it when he called them “critically acclaimed.” Not the worst legacy in the world.

Yet much like saying a player "Was the least likable" this ultimately means nothing. The Suns didn't even make an NBA Finals. They were fun to watch, which I'm pretty sure isn't Steve Nash's ultimate career goal that he wants to achieve.

When he battled nerve damage in his back last November, rumors stupidly swirled that Nash might retire. You know, because it’s so easy to walk away from 10 million bucks.

Bill knows Steve Nash, as he will make quite clear in the next paragraph so he probably really does know better than I do, but Nash has interests outside of basketball and he seems to be a very well-rounded individual. I can see him not playing again if his nerve damage was too much to handle and he wanted to focus on his other life aspirations. It's not easy to walk away from $10 million but Steve Nash isn't your typical athlete either.

Steve Nash? I thought he’d already arrived. I thought he was there. And then, one night … my phone rang.

It was him.

Oh, the drama!

Bill even tries to make Steve Nash's comeback attempt phone call about him in just a little way. And no, Bill still won't get to the point and has to relate his relationship with Steve Nash over the years before he gets to the point he discusses the first part of the Grantland "The Finish Line" video documentary.

I have known Steve Nash for nearly five years.

(Stands up and gives Bill an ovation while Bill jerks off to the sight of himself in the mirror)

We met by phone during the summer of 2009, when Nash needed a copilot for a potential book project. Teaming up for a modern-day version of Life on the Run or The Game absolutely intrigued me, especially after chatting with Nash and finding out how perceptive he was. For instance, Nash didn’t just play with Stoudemire.

I always love Bill's use of italics. It really emphasizes what he's trying to say.

This was a whole other level of thinking. I was doing backflips. This could have been, potentially, one of the great sports books.

Not that Bill has an ego or anything, but he could have helped write one of the great sports books.

Steve Nash would be allowing us behind the curtain. 

Plus, Bill was writing the book, which automatically means it would be better than any other book that had ever been written.

Over the course of a few phone calls and emails, Nash smartly realized he could never publish the book he wanted to write. Not while he was still playing, anyway. He couldn’t be candid about teammates and coaches as he was leading them. Impossible.

Deep down, I knew this — that’s why I urged him to scribble out some thoughts while being as frank as possible. I promised I would never show anyone those emails. (And I won’t.)

What a good friend Bill is. The fact Bill needs to tell us he won't show anyone those emails tells me two things. (1) Bill really, really wants to show someone those emails so he can show the world how Steve Nash opened up to him and (2) he could just delete them and Nash would never have to worry about Bill showing someone these emails, but Bill is holding out to still write this book with Nash and that's why he has kept the emails he would never show anyone.

Nash became involved with one of my big projects, 30 for 30, codirecting our film about Canadian hero Terry Fox. We spent a night at Sundance eating dinner with an oversize group;

"Me, me, me, I, I, I, myself, myself, myself."

I realize Bill is giving his perspective on Steve Nash, but Bill has a unique way of making this introduction about him and his feelings as it pertains to Steve Nash. This is an introduction to a series of videos about Steve Nash's comeback, not the history of how Bill Simmons came to know Steve Nash. Yet, that's what the reader has gotten so far.

After Nash’s Fox film received universally positive reviews, we remained in touch and recorded a few podcasts, crossing paths by accident a couple more times. His move to Los Angeles opened the door for a belated collaboration. Well, for about three seconds. Almost immediately, Nash’s first Lakers season degenerated into a full-fledged soap opera — Starring Dwight! And Kobe! And Jimmy! And Phil! And Mike Brown as Mike! — right as Nash’s divorce trial became weekly TMZ fodder. I never felt right about following up.

A solid year passed. My phone rang one night.


Now Bill is 75% through this introduction and he finally gets to the part where he explains why Steve Nash has agreed to do these series of videos for Grantland. We have had to suffer through the history of Bill's friendship with Steve Nash, the 1994-1995 Celtics salary cap situation, and Bill telling us how Lakers fans feel about Steve Nash's cap figure.

Did he have anything left … or did he just WANT to have something left? And how could he tell the difference?

He wouldn’t know for sure unless he killed himself to come back. And that’s what he had been doing, Steve Nash said. For weeks and weeks. He figured he could play quality basketball once a week. But in the NBA, you need to do that three or four times a week. That’s the subtle difference between being productive and being a scrub.

This is what the brief introduction to the first part of the video should have been, not Bill's feelings about the NBA's salary cap.

Now, imagine you’re me.

I'd rather not. It would cause me to hate myself.

You’re sitting home on some random night watching hoops when the phone rings. It’s one of the five or six best point guards who ever lived, a two-time MVP, one of the most entertaining players of the past 40 years. He’s talking candidly, telling you about his myriad problems, vowing that he isn’t done yet. 

That makes you feel very special about yourself, doesn't it? And after all, aren't these series of videos chronicling Nash's comeback attempt about Bill and how it feels to talk to Steve Nash about his feelings?

Halfway through the phone call, I started to comprehend the stakes. We finally had a chance to pull off that Life on the Run/The Game idea, only in video form, and in real time. You read those books, as great as they are, while already knowing the ending. This time around, the ending would write itself. We could root for Nash as it happened.

It's a great idea with a self-involved introduction.

I took the other side, believing the Lakers would be foolish to use the stretch. Wasn’t Nash more valuable as an expiring deal, both as a potential trade piece and a 2015 cap hold before free-agent studs like Kevin Love become available? Then again, the Lakers have done a variety of silly things lately. Who knows? Nash and I batted around the various scenarios like we were Wilbon and Kornheiser. Only later did I realize how surreal it was to discuss Cap Figure Nash with Real Person Nash.

Bill and Steve are like super-besties now. And yet again, while in the middle of telling us how this video series came together Bill has to put the focus back on him and how it felt to be talking to Steve Nash. That's really what this introduction is about. It's about how Bill Simmons feels while talking to Steve Nash...well, and the 1994-1995 Celtics salary cap situation of course.

Regardless, I couldn’t believe how much I was pulling for him last week. Cap Figure Nash had morphed into Real Person Nash — the guy trying to save his career, his contract, his family and his inordinately special gift. I didn’t see 9.3 and 9.7 anymore. I saw only no. 10.

But Lakers fans still only saw 9.3 and 9.7. Bill is smarter than you and can read minds, so he knows this for sure.

Whether Lakers fans follow suit remains to be seen. The day of that Minnesota game, a buddy of mine who loves the Lakers stopped by Grantland’s office. He knew nothing about our Nash project.

By the way, this buddy of Bill's is not famous. It's easy to know this because if this buddy were famous then Bill would have name-dropped exactly who this famous buddy was.

As I started describing it, he hissed, “Oh God, I hope it’s a project convincing him to retire.” We showed him a rough cut. Within 10 minutes, he was begrudgingly admitting, “Now I’m rooting for him to come back.” 

It's a really good video and it should be able to speak for itself without Bill Simmons making the video about him or leading up to the video by using 2600 words to tell us about his feelings when he talks to Steve Nash and how the Celtics giving Dana Barros a six year contract made him feel.

Welcome to The Finish Line.

The finish line would have gotten here a lot faster if Bill wasn't so enamored with himself that he had to make Steve Nash's comeback video about him.