Monday, March 31, 2014

3 comments Jay Mariotti Bemoans the Loss of Sports Journalism as He Stands Over It's Corpse with a Bloody Knife

Jay Mariotti has attempted to reinvent himself with the Sports Talk Florida site as the man who is going to come in and save journalism from itself. I'm not sure he's preaching to a very large audience, or at least an audience that leaves comments, because most of his columns don't have any comments under them. I'm sure Jay would say that's because everyone agrees with him. Jay is one of the reasons for the decline of sports journalism though. He's never been a very good writer and mostly he exists for pageviews from people who don't like him or want to read his latest attack on a certain person/place/thing. That's what Jay is good for. He's a mercenary who in the past (though possibly not now) gets eyes on his columns. Somehow this has led Jay to believe he is in a position to talk about the decline of sports journalism as if he isn't partially responsible for the ESPN-ification of the profession. So Jay bemoans that Rick Reilly will no longer be writing for and thinks this is another death-knell for the sportswriting profession. It is not. Sportswriting will still be around 20 years from now and Jay only says the profession is declining because no one will hire him to write columns anymore for a major sports news organization. This is typical Jay Mariotti. He hates what he can't be. He pimped his radio show out to ESPN, FoxSports, and other major news organizations who declined to work with him (he admits this in his introductory column to this Sports Talk Florida site), so naturally because these major sports news organizations won't allow Jay to write sports journalism then he takes the position the profession is dying. If Rick Reilly not writing columns anymore is a sign the profession is dying, then sports journalism never had a shot to begin with.

On Rick Reilly’s final day at, his two March efforts were the highest-read pieces on the site.

Being well-read is a good thing. Being well-read doesn't mean quality though, it just means people read what you write. Danielle Steel has sold a ton of books, but I'm not sure anyone would argue she is one of the best writers on the planet. The same goes for music. The best quality music isn't always the highest quality music. Sometimes being popular doesn't guarantee high quality.

As he ends the most accomplished sportswriting career of his generation,

I'm sorry, I think Jay meant "As he ends what no one would argue is the most accomplished..." Let's read that again just to be sure.

As he ends the most accomplished sportswriting career of his generation,

Oh. Well, this sentence is how Jay can lose credibility with me immediately. The only thing Reilly has accomplished in the last 5 years is plagiarizing himself repeatedly.
he embarrasses the industry traffic whores who’ve mocked him as their cheap way of attracting eyeballs.

(Jay glances at himself in the mirror subconsciously, not understanding why)

So Jay says that Reilly had the most-read piece on during his final day, then says that Reilly embarrasses traffic whores who mock him as a way of attracting eyeballs. Couldn't it be possible that some of those pageviews were redirected from sites mocking him? And also, Reilly is terrible. Those people mocking Rick Reilly are not about attracting eyeballs, but about pointing out terrible writing.

A gifted paragon in an increasingly wayward, soulless, Beavis-and-Butthead profession,

Hey Jay, the 90's called and they want their pop culture reference back.

Reilly has had to absorb cheap shots from hopeless hacks who can’t draw readers with their own dreck and rely on ripping a master to make a few nickels.

Much like Rick Reilly has to rely on ripping his own past work off in order to churn out a weekly column? Or like how Jay has to write columns ripping on fellow sportswriters, athletes/coaches and generic Internet bloggers in order to gain attention for himself?

His piece last week on Jim Kelly and his horrific obstacles in life, including cancer, stirred tears. His recent commentary on why Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were voted immediately into baseball’s Hall of Fame — though all managed teams with stars immersed in performance-enhancing drugs — provoked widespread debate.

His columns where he plagiarized his own work and misquoted his fucking father-in-law of all people also provoked widespread debate. How about the column where he basically called Jonathan Martin a wimp? That provoked some debate, yet Jay conveniently leaves out these columns that provoked debate because they are a part of the Reilly legacy over the past five years that doesn't make him look so good.

Reilly made you think, made you cry, made you LOL, made you get to know a subject, made you love sports and hate sports and love him and hate him.

Maybe he did a decade ago, but in the last 10 years he has mostly made people hate him for writing about sports.

He is leaving the writing game to concentrate exclusively on television. Anyone who knows Reilly knows this is ass-backwards, that his flowing prose doesn’t come across so well on TV.

I absolutely agree. Reilly has the presence of a creepy uncle on television, but the problem is his writing (no matter what Jay says...and remember, Jay thinks his own personal writing is good so I'm not sure he's capable of understanding what good sportswriting is) hasn't been up to par for a while now. It's so bad that Reilly has been copying his old work at least once a year. But yes, Rick Reilly's skill set doesn't really translate well anywhere except for in his writing, and his writing isn't very good anymore.

But ESPN president John Skipper, who has a bizarre hard-on for a comparatively inane Bill Simmons and has overpromoted a glorified Boston sports fan at Reilly’s expense,

This ESPN president John Skipper is also the guy who brought Jay Mariotti's name to the national conscience by hiring him to be on "Around the Horn" and giving him a forum to be the Jay Mariotti that I have come to know and dislike. One would think that Jay wouldn't take cheap shots at Skipper, but Jay is still bitter that he was fired from ESPN and of course has to take a shit on Skipper due to this. It's Jay's M.O. He bashes his ex-fellow employees on his way out the door.

is ignoring Reilly’s robust readership and turning him strictly into a talking head who will create stories for “Monday Night Football” and SportsCenter. This is a forced move, with Skipper conveniently playing to Reilly’s social-media critics — and playing to his pal Simmons, too — rather than protecting Reilly and having his back.

You only have to search the archives of this blog to see I'm not the biggest Bill Simmons fan in the world. If I'm the head of a major sports network and having to choose between Rick Reilly and Bill Simmons, then I am choosing Bill Simmons every time. The bottom line is Rick Reilly doesn't fit in with ESPN because Reilly is a one-trick pony. He's good at writing a weekly column at the end of a magazine and he was good at that when working for "Sports Illustrated," but at ESPN he simply isn't able to create stories or contribute anything to a discussion about sports. Rick Reilly doesn't do sports. He does human interest stories about people involved with sports. I don't understand what Skipper would have had to do to have Reilly's back other than to ask him to not continue to write in a shitty fashion.

“Life’s 2 short 2 work full-time. Letting my column go + will just do features 4 MNC + SC. Thx 2 John Skipper 4 this!,” Reilly tweeted.

Thank John Skipper? For what, ruining sportswriting?

The idea Jay Mariotti is accusing someone else of ruining sportswriting is delicious. Jay Mariotti is a man responsible for picking fights with athletes and managers, re-writing an entire column because within 6 hours of posting the original column he looked like an asshole based on the premise of his original article, and just generally writing in the manner of a troll to gain attention.

Also, didn't ESPN hire Jay Mariotti to do some freelance writing recently? Last year in fact. Unfortunately this wasn't Mariotti's big triumphant return to writing he wanted it to be because ESPN didn't publish anything else after that one column about Kobe Bryant. Not that Jay is bitter of course, but he was doing freelance work for the guy he now claims ruined sportswriting.

Not to mention, I have seen this Mariotti column all across the Internet with people commenting on it. It's a little ironic that in the column where Mariotti complains says:

he embarrasses the industry traffic whores who’ve mocked him as their cheap way of attracting eyeballs.

That Jay himself is using Reilly's name to increase his traffic and get his name back out on the keyboards of those who follow sports. It's just typical Jay. He complains about traffic whores while being jealous he doesn't have the traffic he wants, so he takes steps towards being a traffic whore himself. Jay accuses someone of stealing bread while he has a loaf hidden under his shirt.

When I started this multi-media sports site,

I'm sorry, this is funny. This is like old bands starting their own label because, "We want to produce and control the content of our music and how it's distributed." This means: "No major label will sign us right now." Yeah, this is a multi-media sports site, but the relevance of this sports site Jay runs pales in comparison to the relevance Jay believes it carries. Jay thinks he's winning the marathon when he's just so far behind everyone else he can't see his nearest competitor.

I wrote that the best writers are the most versatile — strike a romantic nerve, break a scandal, rip an owner, question a strategic move, profile a great athlete, rejoice after a marvelous performance or human triumph. You must do it all.

Interesting, because Jay is incapable of doing at least half of these things the best writers do. Rick Reilly was capable of doing these things at one time until the sportswriting landscape shifted from under him and readers requested more from a writer than a few bad jokes and a generic look at a sports event. Rick isn't relevant anymore because there are writers who can be funny while also taking a more in-depth look at a sports topic. Rick has struggled to find his place in the new sportswriting landscape. I love to blame John Skipper for things, but this one isn't his fault...outside of hiring Reilly in the first place...and giving him a new contract. Okay, so maybe the whole "hiring of Reilly" is John Skipper's fault.

Sportswriting should be less about analytics and fandom and more about passion, debate, raw energy, feel, criticism.

Not true. Sportswriting should be about analytics and fandom, along with passion, debate, raw energy, feel and criticism.

The problem that Jay doesn't seem to understand is that Rick Reilly didn't provide any passion in his columns at ESPN. Many of them were mailed in. The next time Rick Reilly provides any debate or raw energy in his columns will be the first time he does so. Rick provides criticism sometimes, but it's more of a "casual sports fan" criticism (as seen from his comments about Notre Dame football two years ago) where you can tell Rick is providing an uninformed opinion.

I’ve yet to see Simmons evoke an emotion other than “Who is that guy, why is Doug Collins looking at him funny on an NBA pre-game show, why is he writing 20,000-word monstrosities that say nothing and why is he championing `smart writing’ when he and his offshoot site, Grantland, are comprised of pretend intellects who also write way too long and say nothing?” When a writer has to tell someone he’s a smart sportswriter, he probably is not a smart sportswriter and is more a self-promoting, write-for-his-peers charlatan.

“Smart writing,” Skipper says, repeating whatever Simmons says.

 Blowhard masturbation, I say.

There's a certain amount of truth in these statements. There's also a hell of a lot of jealousy to go along with the truth in these statements. Jay was discarded by ESPN twice and he's not happy about it.

And I’m afraid ESPN is further suppressing and marginalizing what once made sportswriting great — passion, fun, controversy — by forbidding anyone but Simmons to stand out from the rest.

If Jay is complaining that ESPN isn't allowing to turn into one big "First Take" episode then I'm very glad for this. I think it would also be effective if Jay gave specific examples of this phenomenon he claims to see, because I'm sure they exist. Without these specific examples it seems like sour grapes to me.

Also on tap are sites targeted specifically for niches — Skipper has hired Nate Silver to operate a metrics/ geek platform (again, smart sportswriting)

I HATE smart sportswriting. I prefer emotional, unintelligent ranting in my sportswriting. Because you know, as a reader I don't deserve smart sportswriting. I deserve the writing that's best used for lining the inside of a litter box, writing that is emotional, overly-critical without thinking the criticism through, and writing with a bias. I deserve Jay Mariotti's writing.

that is capitalizing on Silver’s ability to accurately predict all 50 states in a presidential race for the New York Times, though I’m not certain how that relates to whether Tiger Woods should keep playing or rest his bad back for the Masters.

I think Jay has a fundamental misunderstanding of what Nate Silver's site will be doing. They won't be determining if Tiger Woods should keep playing (how the hell would they even do that?) or rest his back for the Masters. Jay may want to bone up on what the Nate Silver site will be doing before criticizing it.

Also coming is a site promoting African-American content, which is fine as long as ESPN also adds a site promoting Asian-American content, Italian-American content and Icelandic-American content.

Hilarious. I see Jay has the same amount of respect for minorities as he has for women. Wait, I'm sorry, that's right. Jay was framed by a she-devil and he would never hurt another woman.

Seems the thinkers are overthinking. And wrecking the business.

So a site promoting African-American content is "overthinking" sporstwriting? Jay was never good at the whole "thinking" thing, so I can see how he's intimidated by a move to more cerebral-oriented sportswriting that doesn't involve taking cheap shots at the local MLB manager.

Reilly’s departure means sportswriting officially is dead.

No, it doesn't. If sportswriting didn't die from Jay's repeated efforts to kill it, then the departure of a writer who was good at his craft a decade ago isn't going to make a difference.

ESPN now will trot out megadoses of Simmons, whose popularity stems from “reader letters” he actually is writing to himself — a practice he lifted from a brilliant sports columnist named Mike Downey. 

It disturbs me a little bit that Jay and I have noticed the same thing about Bill's mailbags.

Once, the business was flowing with big money, and the best sportswriters made millions.

Or, in the case of Jay Mariotti, who was that industry whore trolling for eyeballs on his columns, even the worst sportswriters made a million or so. Jay is mad he isn't rolling in the money like he used to be. If you notice, I think many of Jay's complaints about others center around rejections Jay has experienced during his professional career. He hates FoxSports and ESPN because they don't want to hire him. He's mad that the sportswriting industry is moving away from his shitty writing towards a more thinking-man's writing because it affects Jay's paycheck. Jay isn't capable of thought-provoking writing.
Now, irresponsible entrepreneurs hire writers on the cheap to write lies and drive traffic.

Jay misses the days when irresponsible newspapers hired him to write cheap lies and drive traffic. Those were the good old days.

The clown who started the trashy Deadspin site once wrote he had it on 80 percent authority that Albert Pujols used steroids — Pujols should sue him, as he sued former major-league slugger Jack Clark for making the same claims — and the writer since has devolved into another humdrum no-read for a site co-owned by (ready to howl?) MLB.

Gosh, I'm howling.

Deadspin is among the sites that like to think they took down Reilly because he recycled some old lines.

I don't think those sites think they took Reilly down. I would like Jay's take on how Reilly recycled some old lines from a 500 page column isn't basically recycling the same column and how this matches up with Jay's insistence that Rick Reilly has had the most accomplished sportswriting career of his generation. Is Rick such a great writer even he wants to copy himself? It's hilarious that Jay accuses Deadspin of printing lies, but everything they wrote about Rick Reilly was true. Jay skips over this little fact, that he calls Deadspin liars while refusing to acknowledge the subject of this column (Rick Reilly) was a target of Deadspin only peddling the truth. 

Not only do those stoners struggle to match Reilly’s worst sentences on their best writing days, they have as much right to assess integrity as Pinocchio and Dick Nixon.

What? I don't even understand this, other than Jay throws two dated pop culture references at his readers. Jay can't fight Deadspin with an intelligent retort on the facts of what Deadspin wrote regarding Reilly because he knows Reilly recycled his own columns, so being Jay Mariotti, he takes the low road and starts making the discussion personal. Jay can't argue on the merits, so he tries to drag people down into the mud with him.

Maybe Jay likes Rick Reilly so much because Jay likes to recycle jokes too. Look for the "Pinocchio/Richard Nixon" joke in the first paragraph of that Mariotti column. 

In the 21st century, as always, the essence of sportswriting is telling the reader what he doesn’t know and giving him a reason to chew on what is so compelling about sports. Rick Reilly did it better than anyone I’ve read.

You should have read more over the last decade, because while at ESPN Reilly has been nothing but a bust and disappointment. He was given a forum and a chance to write, with every column posted on's front page and he never repaid ESPN's faith in him. In fact, Reilly spit in ESPN's face by recycling old columns while they handed him a paycheck worth millions.

“Thanks to everybody who liked the column and even those who hated it. You fired me up. It was a privilege,” he tweeted.

Rick Reilly tweeted. Consider those three words.

Yes, the dichotomy of Rick Reilly using new media Tweeting his departure from sportswriting while part of the reason he is departing is because he couldn't adjust his writing to new media is interesting.

It’s all you need to know about the death of sportswriting.

That sportswriting isn't dying at all, it's just some older sportswriters who have failed to adjust to sportswriting in the 21st century are being left behind? Sportswriting can't be dying. Rick Reilly hasn't been a good writer for almost a decade now and sportswriting has somehow survived Jay Mariotti's repeated attempts to kill it. If sportswriting can survive this and this then I think the profession will be able to survive pretty much anything.
On Rick Reilly’s final day at, his two March efforts were the highest-read pieces on the site.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2 comments Bruce Jenkins and Dan Shaughnessy Have Some Thoughts About Progress and Changes in Sports

Dan Shaughnessy and Bruce Jenkins aren't the two most progressive individuals when it comes to changes in sports and being accepting of these changes. So it's no surprise that Dan Shaughnessy carps about the effect stats have on analysis in sports and Bruce Jenkins is one of those who doesn't like the new home plate collision rule. There are unknowns when new rules take effect! Unknowns are bad! Bruce likes to wake up in the morning and know exactly what he is going to eat and how the day is going to go, while Dan Shaughnessy just hates everything.

Let's start first with Dan Shaughnessy telling us that not everything can be quantified. For example, Dan's awfulness. There is no known way to measure how awful he is at writing or how negative he can be in order to troll the Boston fan base that reads his columns. Dan also wants his readers to know that heart and toughness can't be quantified either, so that means he will encourage his fellow sportswriters to stop quantifying these characteristics, right?

Picked-up pieces while unpacking from two weeks in Fort Myers . . . 

I'm guessing Dan has an entire suitcase just for haircare products. That whitefro isn't going to make itself pop without a little help.

Information is good. Every sports team can benefit from data. But why do I feel like there are people who want to erase all scouting and experience from sports?

You get this feeling because you lack the understanding and the motivation behind using statistics to analyze how players perform, as well as you are probably intimidated by these statistics that seem too difficult for you to comprehend.

The eighth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was held at the Hynes Convention Center last week and drew a raft of A-listers from the world of sports. Owners, general managers, and even some ballplayers and ex-ballplayers are knee-deep in the data. 

Their time would be much better spent watching games and seeing which players pass the eye-ball test as opposed to spending time quantifying the information the "eye ball test" may miss or isn't capable of quantifying in a way that can give someone a conclusion or organized set of data.

But can we just stop the madness and acknowledge that there are some things in sports that never will be quantifiable?

Absolutely. There are some things that are not quantifiable and as soon as idiot writers stop trying to quantify things that aren't quantifiable or pretend you can measure a player's heart or leadership, then I think the madness will stop. Dan isn't intelligent enough to understand that it isn't the stats crowd that wants to quantify things that aren't quantifiable, it's those exactly like Dan, those who hate stats that try to quantify those things that aren't quantifiable. For example, you can't measure a player's heart and stop pretending like this is possible. Great point, Dan. If you only you took your own advice.

And I’m not just talking about heart, character, makeup, leadership, and ability to play hurt and perform under pressure. 

Yes, these can not be quantified. So any attempt to quantify these is madness and should immediately stop. Right? Wait, that's not what Dan is saying. He's saying it's perfectly fine to try and quantify those things that can't be quantified, but stop pointing out the insanity of quantifying these attributes and allow him to bask in his own ignorance. If anyone tries to quantify the unquantifiable, it's those vehemently against the stats crowd. The ability to play hurt isn't quantifiable, so stop saying "He's the toughest guy in the majors" and a player can't "lead his team in heart" because that's not quantifiable. If only Dan would take his own advice.

Hockey analytics? Really? Calgary hockey boss Brian Burke told the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, “I think it’s still an eyeballs business,’’ while explaining that he has yet to see a worthwhile numbers-based system for evaluating hockey players. 

Hey, maybe there is a reason the Flames haven't made the playoffs in four seasons, even if Burke wasn't involved with the Flames until this year. Attempting to rule out a system that can be used for evaluating players doesn't seem like the best way to build a successful organization. It's also not shocking that an executive who doesn't prefer to use analytics wouldn't believe that analytics could be useful in evaluating hockey players. This is like a person who doesn't believe in evolution stating that he hasn't found any real evidence evolution exists while Dan Shaughnessy nods happily like this statement actually means something coming from this person.

You know why he hasn’t seen it? Because it’s impossible to evaluate hockey players with data!

Except, it's not at all impossible. But yes, let's keep making bold statements that contain lies. It's much more fun and easier than accepting the world is changing in a direction you don't like nor understand.

Must all the intangibles be sucked from our games until all that is left is spreadsheets and blinking computer screens?

Again, I think Dan should look up what the word "intangible" means and then be shocked to find it is something that can't be measured or quantified. So I don't think anyone wants only spreadsheets and blinking computer screens to be all that's left from sports (and really, that's such a lazy criticism, if you are going to criticize advanced statistics at least put some effort into it), but advanced statistics do have a place in sports.

but it’s still OK to admit that there always will be things in sports that cannot be measured. 

But this is the entire argument for not trying to measure intangibles. They can't be measured, so it's folly to try and measure them. Intangibles are great, but like Dan says, there are some things that can't be measured and intangibles are one of them. Of course Dan isn't bright enough to see stating, "Not everything can be measured" goes for the intangibles he wants to assign to players so badly.

Then Dan has other thoughts on other topics as well.

Olympics in Boston? Worst. Idea. Ever. Please, stop.

Well, the worst idea ever was the person who thought hiring Dan Shaughnessy to write columns was a good idea. If only we could go back in time and make this stop.

The Tampa Bay Rays’ theme for 2014 is “Eat Last.’’ That means you win the World Series.

Very good Dan! You are so intuitive.

Count me as one who is dubious about baseball’s new instant-replay system.

What? I never would have guessed Dan wouldn't like the new instant replay system. What a shock.

Look for umpires to call everything “fair” on balls down the line. Given the what-ifs regarding base runners and continuous action, it’ll be easier to change fair to foul than foul to fair.

Or umpires will make the call that they believe is the accurate one. In the NFL, officials don't call a close play as a complete pass and a fumble simply because it's easier to change that call than to reverse a call that was called initially ruled incomplete when the football was recovered by the opposing team. I think Dan is being a little dramatic.

Meanwhile, no one seems to understand the new home-plate collision rules. Another disaster waiting to happen.

The rule hasn't been used in one regular season game yet. I wouldn't expect everyone to understand it. I would expect that this home plate collision rule be given time to work or not work, but we know the angry old men who write about baseball aren't going to like change of any kind and will be quick to take a huge shit all over replay the first time it takes 30 seconds too long.

I had forgotten that the Red Sox selected Clay Buchholz with one of the compensatory picks they acquired when Pedro Martinez signed with the Mets. And as much as we all complained when the Sox let Orlando Cabrera walk after 2004, it needs to be remembered that one of the picks acquired in the Cabrera loss resulted in Jacoby Ellsbury coming to Boston.

This is the same Jacoby Ellsbury that Dan enjoyed mocking and criticizing for not being able to stay healthy enough or coming right out in Spring Training last year and announcing he isn't definitely going to re-sign with the Red Sox.

Never forget, Dan is an ass.

Well, Bruce Jenkins is also upset that the home plate collisions rule is going to be a disaster. Fuck giving it time to work out or seeing how it works in regular season games, it's already a failure on the horizon. Unfortunately since those who write about baseball (i.e. sportswriters) are already against the home plate collision rule they are going to drive the narrative that the new home plate collision rule is a failure and any issue with the new rule is going to be criticized harshly.

It sounded like such a good idea. Major League Baseball came up with a rule that would address home-plate collisions, and there was hearty applause.

(Bengoodfella smiles and starts clapping)

Then people stopped to take a hard look - and they're realizing that this is unacceptable.

(Bengoodfella gets sad face, doesn't know what the hell Bruce Jenkins is talking about)

On the surface, it's all good:

But then when you look below the surface, this is a change and ALL CHANGE IS BAD! ANY IDEA THAT INVOLVES CHANGE SHOULD BE IMMEDIATELY DISMISSED!

Catchers no longer can block the plate without the ball, and baserunners can't veer out of a normal path to "targetcatchers with the intent of bodily harm.

Bruce Jenkins is too infuriated to close his quotes. He's so angry right now, correct grammar completely eludes him.

In that sense, the vicious and unnecessary collisions will indeed vanish.

"In the sense that the rule will work as it is intended to work, to reduce collisions, then this new rule should be successful. But you know, like, this is unacceptable that players will now be safer and concussions are reduced."

Hey look, I closed the quotes, it's not hard to do!

But nobody considered the effect on baserunners, who now risk injury on certain plays. 

This is as opposed to previously when baserunners still risked injury on certain plays, but also could run over the catcher, which increased the severity of the injury each player could suffer. Apparently this is acceptable.

Here's the disturbing trifecta of chaos:

I mean, really, "disturbing"? Isn't Bruce overstating the case just a little bit here?

-- Catchers are still allowed to block the plate if they have the ball.

-- Runners are therefore allowed to collide with the catcher if there is no clear path to the plate.

Oh my God, how disturbing that changes were made which didn't alter the way home plate collisions worked prior to this rule. Astoundingly disturbing on a level that Bruce Jenkins hasn't seen before.

-- The new reality, from an MLB press release: "The umpire will consider ... whether the runner lowered his shoulders or pushed through with his hands, elbows or arms when veering toward the catcher."

In other words, you can run into the catcher. Just make sure it's sort of an "excuse me" gesture.

No, it simply means IF the catcher has the ball then the runner has to make an effort to score that doesn't include running over the catcher or pushing the catcher out of the way in an effort to make him drop the ball. It's fairly simple to just slide and this rule is intended to avoid collisions that are designed merely to make the catcher drop the ball and results in concussions.

Picture this: Runner steaming toward home, with the throw from left field - directly behind him - leaving him no idea when or where the ball will actually arrive. Everything looks fine until the last moment, when, wait a second - the catcher does have the ball. And he's blocking the plate. Now what?

Well previously the runner ran over the catcher when he found at the last minute the catcher DOES have the ball, so that was unsafe. I would assume if the runner has enough reflexes to run over the catcher as he could do prior, then he also has enough reflexes to slide around the catcher's tag or try to score without lowering his shoulder into the catcher. Sliding is always the best option anyway.

The rules makers seemed to ignore the fact that when a collision is at hand, and you aren't wearing protective gear, you have to lower your shoulder because that's where the body most safely absorbs a blow.

Or the runner could slide. Or the runner could not round third base and try to score if he thinks the throw will beat him. The point is this rule is supposed to make baseball players safer and it may not work, but it also may work. Either way, the runner should slide because that's the best way to score anyway.

"You're coming in at full speed, all of a sudden the catcher has the ball, and I can't lower my shoulder or push off?" said the retired Eric Byrnes. "What do you want me to do, torpedo in with my head and get paralyzed?

At least Eric Byrnes isn't being dramatic about it. Of course Byrnes, being the clearly bright guy that he is not, ignores the fact runners have torpedoed into the catcher previously and somehow managed to walk away without being paralyzed. But let's ignore this and try some dramatics or hysterics when responding to the new home plate collision rule.

You're leaving the runners in no-man's land. We're worse off than we were before."

Unless the runner slides, which is an option at every other base in this situation, yet Eric Byrnes conveniently ignores this little truth. The runner should do the same thing at home plate he would do at any other base when the ball beats him to the base. It's that simple. Eric Byrnes managed to slide into third base (without running over the third baseman) when the ball beats him, why can't this be done at home plate?

I love baseball, reading baseball writing, and watching baseball players, but sometimes I wonder if baseball writers and players don't just revert back to acting like children when a change is proposed, stomping their feet and complaining rather than rolling with the punches and thinking logically.

Throughout big-league camps in Arizona and Florida, managers are imparting the same directive: "Keep it simple," as Giants manager Bruce Bochy put it. "Stay in sliding mode all the time. Slide hard to the plate, feet first."

It doesn't have to be that hard. A runner should slide, like he does at every other base.

Similarly, catchers are practicing the art of staying just inside the baseline, giving runners a lane to the plate, and applying a swipe tag. The Giants are well ahead of the game in this respect, having gone through the horrendous Buster Posey experience;

This horrendous experience was caused by a home plate collision by the way. The same home plate collisions that Bruce Jenkins seems to have no problem with if they continued on and on. Catchers can't block the plate if they don't have the ball, so if the ball beats the runner then the runner should respond as he does at any other base when the ball beats him. It takes time to re-train themselves, but it can be done.

"For catchers, there's no downside in trying to cheat a little. Plate-collision debates will be reviewable under the new instant-replay system, and the worst that can happen is that the runner will be ruled safe - which he should be, by all rights, if he arrived ahead of the throw.

Yes, but this scenario of catchers cheating will happen only if they don't have the ball yet. So there is a downside to a catcher without the ball cheating because he could get the ball and tag the runner, except he was in the baseline and the runner will be called safe. So the catcher will cheat a little when he doesn't have the ball, but if he had a chance to tag the runner out then under review the runner will be safe instead of being out. The catcher's cheating in the baseline will have cost his team a run in this situation.

"I know instinctually, as a (former) catcher, there will be certain plays with the game on the line," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It's 2-2 in the ninth, and this is the winning run, and I'm not gonna be thinking too much about giving him a lane."

Fine, a catcher can still make the tag if he is standing out of the baseline. He just needs the baseball in his hand to do it and if the catcher has the ball then he can be in the baseline. It will take some time to re-train runners and catchers, but it can be done.

Byrnes is adamant. "Remember Scott Cousins? When I played, I was that guy," said Byrnes, referring to the Marlins player who crashed into Posey two years ago. "Totally within the rules, but always trying to blow up the catcher. I see things totally different now. I don't want to see collisions of any kind, and this new rule is a disaster. 

Oh Eric Byrnes, Eric Byrnes. Maybe the rule will be a disaster, but if you don't want to see collisions of any kind then this rule is going to help prevent collisions. There is no one way to just magically cause collisions at home plate to disappear, so MLB is trying out ideas to reduce the collisions that Eric Byrnes no longer wants to see. If Byrnes has any ideas, I would love to hear them, but it seems he's more interested in bitching than solving the issue at hand.

"They're doing this to avoid concussions? Then go all the way with it," said Byrnes. "Let's have no collisions at all. Use the amateur rules, where you have to give runners a lane and you have to slide. That's it! No collisions. Do you watch the college game? Those guys play the game hard, and the plays at the plate are exciting. Nobody ever accuses them of being a bunch of wussies."

Oh come on. Players and writers would bitch that collisions are no longer a part of the game. This is bullshit if Eric Byrnes really thinks this is a better idea that would be more warmly accepted. In fact, players can now decide to not collide with the catcher. They have that option and catchers have the option of not standing in the way of the catcher. It's bullshit if Eric Byrnes thinks MLB could adopt a "no collisions" policy and players wouldn't bitch and moan about how the game of baseball is being changed irreparably. Baseball players and writers hate change of all kinds.

None of this has escaped Joe Torre, the MLB executive who led the rules-making committee, or Tony Clark, head of the players' union. "I think the title of the press release said 'experimental,' " Clark told reporters. "That's not an accidental word."

Exactly. Don't get your Depends in a wad. It's experimental and it may or may not work. What will happen no matter what is the bitching and whining from baseball players and writers who don't want to see any part of the game changed. That will never change.

Let's hope the experiment finds its way back into the laboratory for some serious fine-tuning.

Any better ideas, Bruce? None? Great. Then continue bitching about a rule that is going to (hopefully) work as it is intended to while not having any great alternative solutions of your own.

Friday, March 28, 2014

2 comments Bill Simmons' "Fuck It, I Give Up on Writing Original Material So Here's a Mailbag" Volume 4; Now It Seems Bill is Running Out of Mailbag Questions to Answer

Bill spun a Phil Jackson-related conspiracy in his last "real" mailbag, as well as suggested that NBA owners should be willing to relegate their team to a lower division for running an incompetent franchise. We all know business owners are quick to punish themselves for being crappy at running their business. One of Bill's readers also proposed the idea of a Bill Simmons sex tape and then wanted to talk about Bill's testicles, because that's just how pathetic his readers are. This week Bill retroactively looks back at the trades that involved draft picks from the 2014 NBA Draft and uses the "Khan" joke for probably the 9,000th time.

Editor’s note: We’re taking next Wednesday off from the NBA Bag, then writing three more for the Triangle on April 2, April 9 and April 16 (last day of the regular season).

What do you know? Bill has given up writing original material and now he can't even churn out a mailbag on a weekly basis. 

We might keep it going through the playoffs if the questions are good enough.

If Bill can think of enough questions to ask himself. 

Every NBA Bag has a 5,000-word limit. As always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

Of course they are. They are actual emails from actual readers and Bill didn't write any of these questions himself. I completely believe that. 

Q: If I was (Suns owner) Robert Sarver, do I pray to make the playoffs? Or do I see that Minnesota is only one spot below me, and that I get their top 13 protected pick if my team can out-suck them down the stretch?
—David Bruxvoort, Ames

SG: Good lord, I didn’t even know about that stealth tanking angle! 

It's not really a stealth tanking angle. It is just a higher form of tanking. It's losing games so you can get an additional draft pick. Though if the Suns did this then it would put them in (what Bill claims) is the dreaded draft spot just outside the lottery or barely in the lottery where no NBA teams want to be, right? Bill has said when referring to the Milwaukee Bucks that the 8th seed in the playoffs isn't where a team wants to be in order to improve. So I'm sure Bill answers the question mentioning this theory of his, right? Actually, Bill never really answers the question. And here I thought that was the point of a mailbag, to answer questions from readers. It turns out the purpose of a mailbag in Bill Simmons' opinion is to give him a reason to go off topic about something he wants to discuss that isn't directly related to the question being asked.

We’ve spent the season dealing with so many pick swaps, protected picks and semi-protected picks, even I can’t keep track

Bill is more intelligent than everyone else so if he can't keep track of the pick swaps, then Bill knows no one else can keep track.

Last week, I found out my poor father was rooting against Atlanta every night because he thought our Celtics had Atlanta’s first-rounder; actually, we’re almost definitely getting Brooklyn’s first-rounder.

And because rooting against a team has real world implications, Bill's father has altered the NBA landscape by being personally responsible for a few Hawks losses.

So let’s figure it out. If only for Dad’s sake. The following teams have their own picks: Milwaukee (no. 1, with the highest odds to win the lottery), Philly (2), Orlando (3), Boston (4 – LET’S DO THIS!!!!!), Utah (5), L.A. Lakers (6), Cleveland (9), Phoenix (14), Chicago (19), Toronto (20), Memphis (21), Houston (25), L.A. Clippers (26), Miami (27), OKC (28) and San Antonio (30). The other 15 teams either traded their picks or traded protected versions of those picks. We’re putting those trades in one place because, for whatever reason, this hasn’t been done well enough yet.

Bill is the first person to put all of these trades in one place. Who says "no" when given the chance to read about all of these NBA trades? Not anyone, that's for sure. NO ONE DENIES THIS!

FYI, I dumbed down the trade details as much as possible.

Thanks, Bill. The rest of the world isn't up to your intellectual standard, so I'm glad you dumb the trades down for your readers. Everyone is stupid except for you.

See the man's ego? He hasn't even started writing the answer to the email that is asking a completely different question from the answer Bill is giving and he has twice subtly mentioned how he considers himself to be smarter than anyone else.

The Trade: Last June, Philly sent Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel, a top-five protected 2014 pick and a nine-month loss of dignity (expires April 16).

They’re losing this pick and they know it. You gotta love the Cans — they trade Chris Paul for 12 cents on the dollar

Now let's be fair, Bill. The Pelicans had a trade which would have given them Luis Scola, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and the Rockets 2012 first round pick at #16 (which turned out to be Royce White but given the fact the Rockets now had Pau Gasol probably would have been higher...or maybe not). The Pelicans were in a tough spot at that point because they had lost leverage and weren't able to make the one trade they wanted to make, had a pissed-off superstar, and had their options narrowed through David Stern's meddling. It's ridiculous to blame them for trading Paul to the Clippers for the package they got, because they tried to do better and the NBA would not allow them to.

Trade No. 1: In 2011, Denver sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York for Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton, an unprotected 2014 pick, a 2016 pick swap and three boxes of JD & the Straight Shot’s new CD, Don’t You Know Who My Dad Is?

James Dolan, Isiah Thomas, David Kahn...Bill really takes repeated cheap shots at the low-hanging fruit doesn't he? That's until he meets them in person, at which point they come to an "understanding" brokered by the king of annoying broadcasters, Gus Johnson.

Trade No. 2: In a 2012 four-teamer, Orlando lost Dwight Howard and basically gained Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, Nic Vucevic, the inferior Denver/New York pick (in 2014), and a lifetime reprieve from Dwight’s farts on the team plane.

It's amazing what an NBA team can receive back for a superstar when the commissioner doesn't do the owners' bidding by blocking a perfectly reasonable trade for that superstar.

2014 Draft Ramifications: Right now, Denver gets no. 10 (from New York), Orlando gets no. 12 (from Denver), and New York gets a situation so dire that it just panic-splurged $60 million on a 68-year-old GM who’s never done the job before, might commute from California, hasn’t been around the league for three solid years and is already openly admitting things like, You probably won’t see me at the draft combine. Sounds promising!

I can't believe that Phil Jackson took the Knicks job just so he could land a job with the Lakers. Considering Jackson now actually has a job with the Knicks, and not the Lakers, I'm not sure how his brilliant plan to land a job outside of the Lakers and make Jimmy Buss jealous enough to offer him a job within the Lakers organization is working, but I'm sure Bill has a half-assed theory about this.

Trade No. 1: In 2011, Cleveland sent J.J. Hickson to Sacramento for Omri Casspi, Sacramento’s future pick (protected 1-12) and a signed, sealed confession from Geoff Petrie that he’d given up and was just trying to hurt the Maloofs with stupid trades.

Trade No. 2: In January, Chicago traded Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum’s overweight/frowning/limping cap ghost and that same Sacramento pick.

2014 Draft Ramifications: Assuming the Kings keep this pick (and they will — it’s no. 7 right now), it rolls over to 2015, 2016 or 2017 (top-10 protected). Unfortunately for Chicago, no Sacramento first-rounder has fallen outside the top 10 since 2008 — it’s like holding a blank personal check from Lindsay Lohan.

Oh, a Lindsay Lohan joke. It must be 2008 again.

Tanking Potential: No need … although Sacramento and Boston have done the best jobs of anyone at playing hard for 45 minutes and then blowing games late. They’ve really made it an art form.

Come on, like Bill wasn't going to drag the Celtics into the discussion at some point? Bill can't go an entire mailbag without talking about his favorite team and slobbering all over how other teams may tank but the Celtics are too competitive to tank. They just don't have a very good team on the court, so that's why they lose games. Other NBA teams put a bad team on the court and that's tanking, but not the Celtics. They may be putting a non-competitive team on the court but they are definitely NOT tanking.

While we’re here, kudos to the Celtics for how they’re taking advantage of this “Rondo can’t play back-to-back games yet” rule. Last week, they played him in an unwinnable game in Indiana on Tuesday, then sat him for a totally winnable home game against New York 24 hours later. Yes, they lost both games. Now that’s how it’s done, my friends.

Okay, I think I'm confused. So the Celtics aren't tanking, they just play hard, unlike the other teams that are tanking who don't play hard? So the Celtics are tanking, but trying really hard while tanking, which differentiates them from other teams who are tanking? But of course. The Celtics are special and so are you, Bill!

I caught Cleveland in person on Sunday against the Clips — that’s the most miserable visiting team I’ve seen in a couple years. They make the Kings or Wolves look like the 2008 Celtics.

It never stops and it never will. The Boston Sports Guy has to go back to what he knows.

The Trade: A 2012 three-teamer in which New Orleans got Robin Lopez and Hakim Warrick, Phoenix got Wesley Johnson and Minnesota’s top-13 protected pick, and ’Sota got cap space and yet another segment for the future Emmy-winning 30 for 30 KAHHHHHHHHHHNNN!!!!!

Then Bill embeds the YouTube clip as he always does when mentioning David Kahn and further punches this one-note joke into the ground. For added effect, he also embeds a "Kahn" .gif, because no joke gets old after the 9000th time it has been told. Bill learned this from his friend Jimmy Kimmel. Did you know Bill used to work on Jimmy Kimmel's television show and Bill is friends with Jimmy Kimmel? He totally is. Do you want Bill to prove it by calling Kimmel right now? He'll do it.

Tanking Potential: Very low. Phoenix (29 losses) only gets that pick by reverse-passing Minnesota (32 losses). Not on Jeff Hornacek’s watch! Not on Goran Dragic’s watch!

The Suns could always do what the Celtics do, which is try really hard all game and then lose at the end. This isn't tanking, but trying really hard yet failing because there are purposely few quality NBA players on the roster...which is totally different from tanking.

Trade No. 1: In 2012, Atlanta sent Joe Johnson to Brooklyn for expirings, plus a 2013 first-rounder (no. 18: Shane Larkin), plus the right to swap first-rounders in 2014 and 2015, plus a 12-hour nap until the drugs wore off.

Trade No. 2: Boston sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for expirings and Gerald Wallace’s contract, plus the lesser Atlanta/Brooklyn first-rounder in 2014, plus unprotected first-rounders in 2016 and 2018, plus the right to swap firsts in 2017. This wasn’t a trade as much as a pillaging.

It was a pillaging except for the fact the Celtics had to take on three years of Gerald Wallace's contract and these first round picks don't mean anything if the Celtics don't use these picks to draft good players who contribute. Basically, what Bill refers to as a "pillaging" right now could easily be the basis for a Bill Simmons column in 2019 about how Danny Ainge ruined the Celtics franchise through stupid draft picks and personnel moves. If I had a good memory, I would try to remember Bill wrote this when 2019 comes around and Bill is doing some of his usual whining (or straight-out ignoring of a team by becoming a "widow") when the Celtics becomes non-competitive for more than one season.

2014 Draft Ramifications: Right now, Atlanta gets no. 15 (from itself), Boston gets no. 18 (from Brooklyn) and Brooklyn gets a draft STD. Hey, Minnesota — what about no. 4, no. 18 and Jared Sullinger for Kevin Love? Come on, you gave us KG and Big Papi, it’s tradition!

Actually Ortiz was a free agent, so the Twins didn't "give" Ortiz to the Red Sox, Ortiz chose to sign with Boston. I also love how Bill just can't stand the rebuilding period it will take for the Celtics to be competitive again and wants to have the Celtics trade for Kevin Love. I wonder how Bill would handle it if his team really had a 2-3 year rebuilding process where that team wasn't competitive for 2-3 seasons? I'm guessing he wouldn't handle it very well.

The Trade: So this one gets convoluted.

Well gosh, I hope we can understand it. Just use small words please. 

Right after the lockout ended, Dallas traded a future pick (top-20 protected) to the Lakers for the Artist Formerly Known As Lamar Odom, four Keeping Up With the Kardashians cameramen, three missed urine tests and five unexcused absences to be named later. Whoops. L.A quickly flipped that pick to Houston to dump Derek Fisher’s contract (for Jordan Hill). In October 2012, Houston re-rerouted that pick to OKC in the James Harden hijacking.

Boy, that was complicated. So basically, Oklahoma City should never have traded James Harden. That's the vibe I'm getting.

Since we’re here, check out these numbers since the All-Star break.

James Harden: 26.7 PPG, 6.4 APG, 4.5 RPG, 49% FG, 42% 3FG, 37.6 MPG

Jeremy Lamb: 3.6 PPG, 0.4 APG, 1.8 RPG, 29% FG, 21% 3FG, 12.2 MPG

Steven Adams: 2.0 PPG, 0.2 APG, 3.8 RPG, 53% FG, 00% 3FG, 16.1 MPG

I think since we are talking about James Harden, remember when Bill didn't like that the Thunder picked Harden over Rubio? Bill wishes you would forget this, but it happened.

I recognize this trade isn't going to be equal, but Steven Adams would have been a sophomore in college right now and Jeremy Lamb would be a senior in college at this point. I also recognize that James Harden is only 24 years old himself, but it's not like Adams is even close to a finished product for the Thunder.

The Trade: Golden State traded the Richard Jefferson–Andris Biedrins–Brandon Rush expirings plus unprotected picks in 2014 and 2017 to Utah for cap space, a prolonged handshake and five autographed copies of Karl Malone’s upcoming autobiography, Hunting for Little Mexican Girls.

2014 Draft Ramifications: Right now, Utah gets Golden State’s 23rd pick. You know what’s not mentioned enough? Utah allowed Al Jefferson (killing it in Charlotte) and Paul Millsap (an All-Star) to leave so they could take on $24 million of bodies … just to eventually get the 23rd pick in the 2014 draft and a 2017 unprotected pick, as well as some unabashed 2014 self-sabotage.

The issue is that the Jazz would have had to pay Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to stay in Utah, which would have cost quite a bit of money on a long-term deal (at least for Jefferson) and it's not like the Jazz were going anywhere with Millsap and Jefferson on the roster. I have a feeling if the Jazz had re-signed both of those guys then Bill Simmons would have made jokes about the Jazz re-signing two players from a non-playoff team that play the same position and then end the discussion with a comment like, "If you are going to pay $22 million per year for two players make sure they play the same position, one doesn't play defense and they aren't the core of a playoff team." I know Bill would have said something like this. Alas, the Jazz rebuild and Bill criticizes anyway.

The Trade: Phoenix traded Luis Scola for Indiana’s pick (top-14 protected), Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a lifetime of “I JUST KICKED LARRY LEGEND’S ASS IN AN NBA TRADE AND THERE WERE WITNESSES AND EVERYTHING!” bragging rights for Suns GM Ryan McDonough.

Retroactive Verdict: Holy mackerel, that trade was one-sided, especially with how well Green has been playing. Can you believe McDonough, a Boston kid who grew up loving the Celtics, somehow outwitted the Basketball Jesus in an NBA trade?

Can you believe the fact McDonough grew up in Boston and was a Celtics fan has absolutely nothing to do with whether he outwitted Larry Bird in a trade or not? It's shocking that these two facts may not have something to do with each other. Mind-blowing really.

2014 Draft Ramifications: Right now, the Suns are picking no. 14 (their own), no. 17 (from Washington) and no. 29 (from Indy). Well done, Ryan McDonough. I hereby dub you the Anti-Kahn.

Hold on, that's well-done? Doesn't Bill tell us that the worst position for a team to be is to be drafting in the middle of the first round while getting the 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs? Bill has stated this on several occasions, but now it seems Bill's little rule about not wanting to fall in the draft position from 14-18 while making the playoffs isn't true when he doesn't want it to be true. Not that Bill is full of shit most of the time or anything like that.

(Wait a second, I still have almost 2,000 words to play with! Let’s hit some other emails … )

How about you answer that last email? No, you won't do this because you only answered the email so you could sum up all the trades that led to the 2014 NBA Draft order and mention the Celtics needlessly a few times? Okay, great.

Q: The people who think Blake Griffin has been more valuable than Kevin Love this season are the same people that think Miguel Cabrera was more valuable than Mike Trout in 2012. We have advanced statistics now. What the hell is your case for Griffin over Love?
—Ben G., Los Angeles

SG: Um … I watch basketball?

Interesting, because this is the same "eye test" that MLB voters used to claim that Miguel Cabrera deserved the MVP over Mike Trout in 2012, well along with the fact Cabrera's team made the playoffs and Trout's didn't, despite the Angels actually winning one more game than the Tigers in 2012. So basically, Bill uses the same reasoning as guys like Murray Chass and couldn't be more proud of it.

Then Bill uses the word "we" three times and says "you" once in a paragraph about why "we" need to not count out the Rockets as a potential destination for Carmelo Anthony this offseason.

Q: Kendall Marshall and Ricky Rubio have very similar stats. —Malc Dawson, Fort Worth

SG: So you wouldn’t give the five-year max to Rubio?

Much like how Bill won't remind his readers that he didn't like Harden for the Thunder, he's just hoping his readers forget how much he was on the Ricky Rubio train back in 2009. I detail it a bit here, but suffice to say that Bill Simmons was a Rubio fan. He's quietly made a violent leap off the Rubio bandwagon since then and has erased all of his footsteps into the woods so his getaway can be clean. Bill is now openly knocking Rubio like a thirteen year old mocking a classmate in the gym locker room for wearing tighty-whities when he only switched to briefs a couple of days earlier.

Q: I’m thinking of naming my rock band “Boogie Cousins.” Is there any reason I shouldn’t do this? —Dan, Potsdam, New York

SG: None. Just remember, if I had this mailbag 25 years ago, I may have gotten this question:

We’re thinking of naming our rock band “Mookie Blaylock.” Is there any reason we shouldn’t do this?
—Jeff and Eddie, Seattle

The members of Pearl Jam would definitely have been big Bill Simmons fans. And also, naming their band "Mookie Blaylock" was a bad idea since they shot to fame as "Pearl Jam."

Q: On your list of post-1989 top-3 picks that played less than 500 minutes in their rookie season (in NBA Bag No. 3), you accidentally omitted your #3 MVP and breakout superstar Blake Griffin. Remember? He missed all of the 2009-2010 season with a knee injury.
—Jeff Bess, Missouri

SG: Yup — total brainfart. And in the section about “Coming Home” tributes, I mistakenly omitted Paul Pierce’s “Coming Home” video that the Celtics made for his return to Boston because of a tragic copy-paste error. It’s the best one, too.

What a shock, Bill thinks the "Coming Home" video for Paul Pierce is the best tribute to that song on YouTube. Bill says this as a completely unbiased biased observer of course.

Q: When are you publishing your march madness picks? I’ve followed your NFL picks for years so I need to see your picks so I can make different ones and win my work pool. C’mon man! Get with it!
—Ben, Cincinnati

SG: My Final Four: Florida, Michigan State, Duke, Arizona. My winner: Michigan State over Arizona. Now please, go against me.

Sad face for Duke. I'm pretty sure Bill just put them in there as a reverse-jinx anyway.

Q: After watching Byron Mullens get posterized the other day, I started to think about which NBA player is most likely to end up on the receiving end of a massive dunk. Call it the “Shawn Bradley Award” since Bradley is the godfather of being dunked on. The qualifications go beyond just being posterized frequently, the player must also have to be tall and probably white,

I'm not sure why the player probably has to be white, but carry on...

and be either naive or arrogant enough to think that they can block Serge Ibaka with a full-head of steam coming down the lane. So who’s the 2014 winner? Mullens? You can’t rule out Greg Stiemsma or Robin Lopez.
—Jesse Collings, Waltham, Massachusetts

Lopez isn't technically white since one of his parents is Hispanic.

SG: The Plumlee brothers can’t fathom that you left them out of this conversation. They’re on Skype just staring at each other in disbelief right now. Along with naivete and overconfidence, Jesse forgot one crucial element: the Bradley Award candidate has to be a decent dunker in his own right.

Oh, this is a crucial element? Well let's see how crucial this element is when Bill lists his Top 5 candidates and ignores this very crucial element that the Bradley Award candidate (Bill is REALLY stretching for additional "teams" and "awards" to be added to his Wikipedia page by his rabid fans at this point) must be a decent dunker in his own right.

My top-five finalists for 2014’s Bradley Award: (1) Miles, (2) Mason,

Okay, okay...

(3) Cody Zeller, (4) Tyler Zeller, 

Wait, I thought the Bradley Award candidate had to be a decent dunker in his own right? Tyler Zeller is not a great dunker. Cody? Sure, but Tyler Zeller isn't a great dunker. You are awarded no points for this suggestion.

(5) Mullens. By the way, we may or may not be working on a 30 for 30 short about Bradley called Posterized. (Like you wouldn’t watch this.)

I would really not watch this.

Q: After watching Night Shift with my wife last night, it occurred to me that this was the movie version of Breaking Bad. Billy Blaze is Jesse Pinkman. Chuck is Walter White. Prostitution is meth. The morgue is the Studebaker/lab. Now I’m enraged that Night Shift was a two-hour film rather than a five-season cable series. While I loved Night Shift as a movie (very underrated), there is so much more character development to be had. I want to see Chuck go completely nuts a la Walter White (I’m talking way more than what he does at the end of the movie; I want him to blow up a Dodge Challenger). I want to see Billy Blaze become hardened by the prostitution business. You have to make this happen, Simmons. Forget all-NBA mailbags. Focus on this and this alone. The world is counting on you.
—John O, Creelsboro, Kentucky

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

In a fitting ending to this weak mailbag, this "Yup, these are my readers" question that Bill made up is incredibly weak. This question has all the hallmarks of a Bill Simmons-created question. It mixes two pop culture references together and tries to make them comparable and has hero-worship of Bill in it so he can feed his ego. Come on, he can come up with a better fake question than this.

Actually, since Bill is taking next week off from his weekly mailbag that he swore he would write every week until April 16, maybe he can't write better fake questions than this. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

8 comments Jay Mariotti Thinks John Calipari is Wrong for Following the Rules; Advises Jabari Parker to Stay in School Because I'm Sure That's What Jay Would Choose to Do in Parker's Situation

Jay Mariotti normally knows a sleaze when he sees one. After all, when looking in the mirror everyday he sees a guy who seems to be pretty sleazy himself. So Jay writes that John Calipari is a sleaze and just generally does a hit-job on Calipari for following the rules set out by the NBA for when collegiate players can declare for the NBA Draft. Also, while doing a hit-job on Calipari he advises Jabari Parker of Duke (coached by Coach K, who by the way, has had two one-and-done players over the last three years and will probably have another this year, along with potentially two more next year) to stay in school. Why? I would have no idea. Mitch McGary, Nerlens Noel, and Marcus Smart are great examples of why staying in school as "the right thing to do" more often than not is the financially dumb thing to do.

I don't know what else I should expect from a guy who has an issue with Barack Obama filling out a bracket. It seems Obama knows more about college basketball players than Jay does, which means Obama spends most of his time talking basketball and not running the country. It doesn't annoy me that Obama fills out a bracket and then goes on ESPN to reveal his bracket. It's all a part of efforts, like appearing on "Between Two Ferns" and Michelle Obama appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel," to appeal to "the kids" and further an agenda/program they have. Obviously Obama isn't furthering a program by filling out a bracket, but I chalk that up appealing to "the kids" and trying to seem down-to-earth. Either way, it's sort of silly to get up in arms about Obama filling out a bracket. It's needless, but not a huge drain on his time.

I'll start with Jay's column about what a jerk John Calipari is. I feel like I end up defending Calipari more often than I would like to, but simply because many sportswriters seem to think it's his fault the NBA has instituted the one-and-done rule. Calipari didn't think of the rule and is on record as saying he doesn't like it. He simply plays within the rules of the one-and-done rule and that irritates writers like Jay Mariotti for some reason.

Don’t bother conducting a scientific poll. Without debate, John Calipari is the most loathed man in college basketball, primarily because what he preaches is not college basketball but something you’d have seen Kevin Trudeau hawking about college basketball on a 3:30 a.m. TV informercial (Note: Trudeau was just sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence for consumer fraud).


Under the phony premise that his players are his only real priority as a coach — his leadership book, to be strategically released in time for the Final Four, is called “Players First’’ — Calipari is on an evangelical soapbox to prove he can point one-and-doners immediately to the NBA while they try to win a quickie NCAA championship for Kentucky.

Except for the fact Calipari has won a championship while placing his players into the NBA after one season, this definitely could be considered fraud. It's also pure speculation to state that Calipari doesn't care about his players. I can't read minds and Jay Mariotti can't read minds, but Calipari's disappointment with the performance of his 2012-2013 Kentucky team was pretty obvious when he spoke about how his team lacked discipline. I guess that wasn't sincere enough for Jay.

Of course, all he’s doing is playing to the soft academic weaknesses of teenaged hoops prodigies — “Gee, if I play for him, I can blow off school and be in the NBA the following June,’’ goes the thought process — so St. Cal can pick the players he wants and annually reload his assembly line of talent.

He doesn't pick the players he wants. He just beaten by Duke for a recruit from Ohio and he has missed out on several other recruits and he lost out on the #1 point guard in the 2014 class to SMU. Yes, recruits want to play for Kentucky to get drafted, but top recruits also choose to play for other schools who can also get them to the NBA after one season in college. Student-athletes are required by NBA rules to stay in college for a year, spend a year overseas or petition the NBA to allow them to enter the NBA Draft if they can prove they are a year removed from their high school graduation. As I've said many, many times before, one-and-done is an NBA rule not an NCAA rule.

Once he won a national championship with two such one-and-doners (Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) two years ago, Calipari had his street cred. 

Actually, he won it with three one-and-done players, including Marcus Teague. But what are facts, even facts that could further prove Jay's point? He's got no time to look this shit up. Research is for bitches and bitches get grabbed by their hair when they are acting up.

“We don’t just play college basketball,’’ St. Cal announced as the season began. “We ARE college basketball.’’

Calipari has a lot of bravado, which may be annoying, but certainly doesn't make him a sleazeball.

No, you are a feeder system — for the grateful NBA,

Every college basketball program is a feeder system for the NBA, not just Kentucky basketball. Some colleges feed the NBA more than others, but NCAA basketball is set up as a feeder system for the NBA. So criticizing Calipari and the Kentucky program for being a feeder system to the NBA is a bit disingenuous. They aren't alone in this regard.

And until this past Sunday, a whole lot of us were delighted to see Kentucky, a season after failing to reach the NCAA tournament, struggling with maturity, cohesion and listening issues and appearing ready to exit early from this year’s tournament.

Of course Kentucky was a #8 seed, so an "early" exit would most likely the first round, unless Wichita State had gotten upset in the first round by Cal Poly.

Imagine: Only months after suggesting his team might be the first ever to go 40-0, St. Cal was taking 10 losses into the Midwest Regional. He was a walking embarassment — petulantly blowing off a post-loss press conference, complaining his team was “the most overanalyzed team in the history of sports’’ (didn’t he suggest Kentucky might go 40-0?), then complaining that his players were “counting on me too much.’’

Wait. Players First, right?

The fact Jay can't spell "embarrassment" correctly and that Calipari is sort of a hypocrite for talking about how Kentucky was overanalyzed aside, Calipari wasn't saying he didn't want to coach or care about his players, but he is commenting that his players were waiting on him to provide instructions rather than simply going out on the court and playing to their ability.

And those same players were counting on Calipari too much when they needed him most? Opinions were mounting that he was the next one done at Kentucky, eyeing the New York Knicks.

This isn't Calipari's fault. There is no indication he has attempted to pursue the New York Knicks job. Jay seems to have a double standard for head coaches, because I don't read about him criticizing Tom Izzo for having any iota of interest in the Cleveland Cavaliers job a few years ago nor the fact Izzo keeps getting connected to the Pistons job. Jay also doesn't seem to mind that Coach K has almost taken an NBA job twice (that we know of) during his coaching career. But hey, these two coaches like their players and Calipari is always looking for something better, right? That's the narrative.

Some were demanding his ouster, sensing St. Cal was much more a recruiting con man than an actual coach. His daughter, Erin, defended him on Twitter: “People saying my dad should be fired, he won 81% of his games @ UK. Coach K 79% Duke. Roy Williams 78% @ UNC. Pitino 74% @ UL … #forreference.’’

We waited for the crash.
Instead, Calipari’s parachute opened.

He got his team to play very well against Wichita State and the Harrison twins realized, "Hey, if we drive to the basket a lot I'm not sure very many guards in the country can stop us!"

While presumed future NBA stars Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were flaming out of the tournament with eyesore performances, Calipari watched in bliss as the embattled twin brothers, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, combined for 39 points and lottery pick Julius Randle contributed his usual double-double in eliminating a 35-0 force that nearly won the national title last April.

These presumed future NBA stars are coached by Bill Self and Coach K, both coaches who have coached one-and-done players before, yet get a free pass from Jay because they haven't coached enough one-and-done players. There apparently is a limit on how many one-and-done players a coach can have before he no longer cares about them as people.

Calipari, understand, has a bad hip. It didn’t stop him from leaping and hopping by the bench as the buzzer sounded.

Clearly he is faking this bad hip. John Calipari commits consumer and insurance fraud. Arrest this man immediately!

The purists almost had their man nailed to the wall, at long last.

The idea of "purists" in the college basketball game is laughable. Nearly all coaches end up taking on one-and-done players at some point. Even Tom Izzo took on Gary Harris who easily could have gone pro last year if he had been healthy all season. It's the nature of the game. Jim Boeheim has guys who are going to go one-and-done, Roy Williams has had players go's just how it is now.

“If wins are relief, it’s time for me to retire. This was great joy in seeing a group of young men come together and start figuring this out. It took longer than I’d hoped,’’ Calipari said. “This team and what people said about this team — all we’ve done all year is continue to get better. Like every team, you hit a hole when you don’t play well. But they believed in themselves.
“I just wish we had another month of the season, because we’re getting better every day.’’

How selfish of Calipari to say "we" as if he is part of the team. There he goes trying to take credit for what his players do on the court. It's clear by these quotes that Calipari doesn't care about his team and only wants to steal the spotlight from his players.

Remember, Kentucky rallied and nearly stole the SEC title game two weekends ago from Florida, the tournament’s No. 1 seed and clear favorite to reach the Final Four out of the South Regional. There might be seven NBA futures on this team. Nothing is more dangerous in March — and April — than pro-skilled players emerging as one with the stakes at their highest.

Imagine how good Kentucky would be if John Calipari actually cared about his players and didn't treat them as disposable goods by tossing each freshman out the door after one year so that they may achieve their goal of entering in the NBA Draft and becoming a millionaire? It's a shame Calipari puts these student-athletes in a position to achieve their dreams.

It was Willie Cauley-Stein, the sophomore forward, who said last week that Kentucky would “shock the world,’’ adding, “There’s a lot of people that don’t think we can make a run at it. And you know, a lot of people don’t want to see us make a run at it.’’

These people are better known as "Jay Mariotti." And what is this? A highly-recruited player who is a sophomore at Kentucky and didn't go to the NBA Draft? I thought Calipari kicked all of his freshman out so new freshmen could take their place? My world is spinning.

“Here’s what happened with my team,’’ Calipari said. “They now are putting themselves in a position where they’re accepting roles how they have to play. So we’re becoming a better team. Individuals are losing themselves into the team, so they’re playing better and more confident.

Hence what Calipari meant by stating his players were counting on him too much. They were waiting for him as the coach to put them into a certain role or worried about Calipari correcting the issue of not playing as a team when it is only the Kentucky players themselves who could correct this.

We love most March stories because they are embraceable, charming. Nothing is warm and fuzzy about St. Cal and the rise of his one-and-doners.

It doesn't have to be warm and fuzzy, but the high level at which they play the game could be appreciated. It was pretty cool to see the Harrison twins finally seem to understand they could dominate if they wanted to. Again, it's unfair to blame Calipari for recruiting the players he does. He is looking for a recruiting edge and his edge is that he coaches for a highly publicized school where he helps these basketball recruits get drafted into the NBA. Calipari wouldn't have to recruit these players if they could go straight to the NBA, but they can't. I recognize it's fun to hate Kentucky and hate Calipari, but let's put the blame where it belongs. Calipari isn't abusing the system any more than he is following the rules set out by the system. But of course writers like Jay Mariotti hate the one-and-done rule and naturally Calipari is a villain for not educating these players (and obviously if Calipari had not recruited him then Anthony Davis would have stayed in college for all four years, right?) and then dumping them into the NBA...which just so happens to be where these recruits want to go anyway.

Do not forget that he is the only coach who had to vacate two Final Four appearances because of NCAA rules violations, the first at UMass because Marcus Camby took money from an agent, the second at Memphis because Derrick Rose allegedly had someone else take an SAT test for him.

Calipari doesn't have a clean history. This is true.

At the center of Calipari’s self-righteous rampage through the sport is a familiar question:

I don't understand how Calipari is being self-righteous. If anyone is being self-righteous it is Jay Mariotti for claiming Calipari is the devil for taking advantage of a rule that nearly every other college coach would take advantage of if given the opportunity.

Should college athletes be paid? Again, they are being rewarded with full-ride scholarships that, if they chose to stay the full four years instead of one, are worth beyond $200,000 at many schools.

Yeah, but if someone decides to stay one year and enter the NBA he has the chance to earn much more than that in real money in one year, not over four years.

Should they also be paid a stipend out of the disgustingly mammoth pot now shared by the NCAA, the TV networks and the programs themselves? Certainly. But that won’t stop the cries of 21st-century slavery.

It may not stop those cries, but it would certainly feel more fair. A stipend also probably wouldn't stop John Calipari from recruiting one-and-done players nor prevent these players from choosing to go to the NBA after one year in college if they feel they are ready.

And that won’t stop “heroes’’ like John Calipari from swooping in and protecting these kids, Players First,

I'm not sure Calipari has ever claimed he is protecting his players. He claims he is teaching those student-athletes who enter his program how to play defense and succeed at playing the game of basketball. If this leads to the NBA, then so be it.

even when you know and I know that he’s another scam artist trying to win in a filthy sport.

Other than his past vacated Final Four appearances I fail to understand how John Calipari is a scam artist. In fact, he delivers on what his players want him to do more often than nearly every other college basketball coach. Players enter his program wanting to play in the NBA and Calipari puts them in the NBA.

Now Jay talks about how Jabari Parker can set a grand example by choosing to stay in school for one more year as opposed to entering the NBA Draft. I think Marcus Smart, James Michael McAdoo, and Mitch McGary have already set the example by choosing to stay in school. Nerlens Noel has set the example of why an athlete that has a chance to get drafted should do so. Get paid, that's the best example, because the longer you stay in college the more chances scouts get to pick you apart.

If this isn’t how Jabari Parker wants his college career to end — breaking down in tears, trying to explain the unexplainable — then he does have an option. He can stay in college.

And then wait another year for scouts to pick apart his bad defense or suffer an injury? No thanks.

He can defy the one-and-done expectation, remain at Duke for his sophomore season, tell the NBA and the agents and the TV networks and the shoe companies that they can wait until he’s good and ready.

Because we wouldn't want Parker to be chewed up and spit out by shoe companies and evil agents. He needs to stay in school where he can continue playing basketball for free and have his image marketed without any compensation in return, all while having nothing to gain in terms of his draft position from staying one more year. That sounds like a much better plan. 

Does he realize what a glorious statement that would be, rejectng immediate millions and saying yes to one more year of the college experience?

I do, because other college basketball players have done it. Jabari Parker would in no way be the first college basketball player to reject going to the NBA to come back and play another year in college. Harrison Barnes did it, Marcus Smart did it, Mitch McGary did it, as did Perry Jones III, Isaiah Austin, Terence Jones (from evil Kentucky!), Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, James Michael McAdoo, Gary Harris, Glen Robinson III, and other players over the past decade have done the same. What's interesting about this list is that of those players that have already been drafted few actually improved their draft position by staying in school longer (except maybe Terence Jones). I don't know where Cauley-Stein/Harris/Robinson will go or if they will declare, but I already know from mock drafts I've seen that Robinson doesn't appear to be going in the first round like he may have last year.

“Incompletion,’’ he told ESPN when asked to reflect on his Duke career, after the stunning loss to Mercer in his first and maybe only NCAA tournament game.
Is it possible such a bitter disappointment will impact his decision on whether to enter the NBA draft, where he could be the No. 1 pick? “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what I’m going to do,’’ he said, adding that he “didn’t care about the rankings’’ of draft projections.

Then Parker admitted that the emotion of the moment may be affecting his decision-making, which is a small little point that Jay cares to leave out. What could be gained from coming back to school that could not be gained from playing in the NBA? All that Parker can do is improve his stock to where he is definitely the #1 pick, with the trade-off of possibly suffering an injury or having a down year that causes his stock to fall. Just look at where Marcus Smart is now. He made the "right" decision to stay in school and now he's a guy who can't lead his team to an NCAA Tournament win and the incident at Texas Tech has his maturity called into question. Can he make his teammates better? Can he shoot the three-point shot better? The "right" decision hasn't helped him reach his goal of being drafted early and playing in the NBA.

There is no set mandate that a gifted basketball player must turn pro simply because he might be drafted first. It’s clear Parker’s game and confidence level need work, dogged as he was by 4-of-14 shooting, four turnovers and four personal fouls while continuing to have well-scrutinized defensive issues against a Mercer team showing no mercy.

And if Parker stays at Duke then NBA scouts are going to see those defensive lapses and question whether Parker can defend at the NBA level. That's assuming Parker stays healthy of course. Parker had a horrendous NCAA Tournament and he doesn't have to turn professional, but the risk-reward and examples of past players who have come back to do the "right" thing by staying one more year show that Parker may not have anywhere to go but down. I firmly believe if a college basketball player is projected to go in the Top 5 of the draft, then 9 times out of 10 it is in his best interest to enter the draft.

If he looked like a polished NBA product only two weeks ago against North Carolina,

And you know, he looked like an NBA product most of the entire college basketball season as well.

he since has faded into a funk, perhaps feeling the burden of trying to lead Duke at least into the Final Four.

Or perhaps he is simply hitting the "freshman wall" that freshmen tend to hit, especially freshmen who are expected to be the best player on their team on a nightly basis. Or perhaps Parker was tired from having to play the power forward position (and some center) during most of the season when his natural position is small forward. Besides, the burden that Parker may have felt has nothing to do with whether he should go to the NBA or not.

The best player since LeBron James is Kevin Durant, right? About a dozen other post-LeBron standouts come to mind, right? Yet that didn’t stop the ridiculous hype for Parker and Andrew Wiggins, who avoided his own second-round exit as he and Kansas fended off Eastern Kentucky.

Then Wiggins and Kansas lost in the next round to Dayton. Was it due to Wiggins being in a funk and trying to carry the burden of leading Kansas to at least the Final Four? Well, Wiggins better not go to the NBA until he can carry the burden of leading an entire team to the Final Four.

Just the day before, Parker had spoken about winning a national title. “The only way you can leave a legacy and you can leave behind memories is by winning a championship,” he said. “I know we just came up short (in the ACC tournament). I’ve got to try to do something big now.’’

Has to do something big now? He has been hearing, no doubt, the comparisons to Carmelo Anthony in terms of their offensive machinery and identical 6-8, 235-pound frames. Mike Krzyzewski, his coach, tried to temper the link before the Mercer game.

And the only way Parker can no longer hear these comparisons is to stay in college for more than one year. After that, there will be no more Carmelo Anthony comparisons ever.

Here is the most annoying part about Jay Mariotti encouraging guys like Jabari Parker to stay in school and to state that's the "right" thing to do. That annoying part is I don't believe Jay Mariotti or any of these other sportswriters would have passed up a big payday in the same situation just to stay in school and do the right thing. If ESPN had called Jay while he was in college (assuming ESPN was big when Jay was in college) during his sophomore year and said, "If you skip the last two years of college we will hire you now," does anyone really think Jay would have stayed in college for two more years? I highly doubt he would have. This same thing goes for these other sportswriters who encourage college athletes to pass up a payday in order to stay in college for one more year. Does anyone really think if the roles were reversed that sportswriter would pass up making money in order to stay in college?

“Jabari’s going to be an outstanding pro, but he’s right now in the process of development,’’ he said. “To compare the two now, there is no comparison. But in three, four, five years, Jabari, I think, will be a franchise player. He’ll be a 25-points-a-game scorer in the NBA. But he’s still developing.’’

Just because Parker is still developing doesn't mean the best place for him to develop is in college basketball and not the NBA. It's fun to get paid while developing. It's no fun to do it for free, unless Parker really cares that much about an education. Which in that case, he can always come back to Duke to get his degree anytime he wants.

The most responsible decision he could make would be to stay.

Is it though? Ask Marcus Smart how being "responsible" paid off for him. Ask Mitch McGary how being "responsible" and coming back for his sophomore year when his value was at an all-time peak after the 2013 NCAA Tournament worked out. In terms of finances, it is not responsible to stay in school. If Parker is projected to go in the Top 5 of the draft he should definitely go to the NBA. I have a hard time seeing how staying in school and potentially hurting his draft stock is responsible.

I could think of no worse fate than Parker turning pro, being drafted by the god-awful Philadelphia 76ers and being expected to lead that franchise to the promised land in an overly demanding sports town. Just 19, he surely would struggle at times in his rookie season, whereas another season at Duke under Krzyzewski would better prepare him for the NBA — 

Yes, but declaring for the NBA Draft would mean Parker is actually in the NBA and he would learn to lead a franchise by actually leading a franchise that doesn't have any other leaders, where the team can be built around him and Michael Carter-Williams/Nerlens Noel. If anything, having Noel back there would do wonders to offset Parker's defensive deficiencies and help ease his transition to playing defense at an NBA level. Yeah, I bet Jay didn't think about that did he?

and give him a chance to redeem himself in March.

And how much money does redeeming himself in March make for Parker and his family again?

That also would be a gift to Coach K,

Because the one thing Coach K needs more of is gifts. He already has four Top-50 players in the 2014 class committed to Duke and has one Top-20 recruit for the 2015 class committed to Duke. Who will be around to save Coach K when Jabari Parker is gone?

He had a health scare earlier this month, not the first time, and maybe the best plan is to coach two more seasons at Duke, coach the U.S. Olympic team to a third gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and retire.

I don't understand why Jabari Parker shouldn't go to the NBA because he needs to give Coach K a gift and be around for Coach K's final years as a basketball coach at Duke. This doesn't make sense to me. Why does the impending retirement of a head coach mean one of that coach's players has a responsibility to stay in school? I don't see how this is relevant to the discussion at hand.

It wasn’t his best coaching performance this season, with his players lagging defensively and lapsing on fundamentals.

And of course if Coach K isn't teaching his players the fundamentals and how to play defense why wouldn't Jabari Parker stick around to take advantage of this shitty teaching when he could be in the NBA making money? Come on Jay, you say Parker will learn more staying in college and then state you don't think Coach K did a good job coaching this year. It can't be both ways. Parker isn't very good on defense yet, so why would he stick around if Coach K let his players lag on defense? That's not going to help Parker improve.

Besides Jay is wrong, Coach K didn't do a poor job coaching the entire season. There wasn't a quality center on the roster, the three seniors were disappointments or non-contributors, and the two players he built the team (Hood/Parker) around were weak on defense and had to play out of position too often. Part of the reason these two players were so weak on defense is they played out of position for most of the season (especially Parker). Either way, if Jay thinks Coach K did a shitty job coaching, then I don't see how it is responsible at all for Parker to come back for his sophomore year.

Is it time for to wonder if Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, one of his many protegees, is the best man to replace him?

Remember when this column was about Jabari Parker setting an example by not leaving for the NBA? What ever happened to that?

Everyone knows Chris Collins is going to be the man to replace Coach K. Collins is a great recruiter and just has to prove he can coach. So far, he's done a pretty damn good coaching at Northwestern.

Soon enough, he will be visiting another young man to discuss the future. If he tells Jabari Parker to follow his heart, that artery will lead him back to Durham.

Unfortunately, this is a case of the heart leading Parker wrong. If he's projected to be a Top 5 draft pick then Parker should absolutely enter the NBA Draft. Just take a look at recent players who have chosen to stay for their sophomore year and where they were drafted the year after. It's not a list that tells me it is responsible to stay for another year in college if the ultimate goal is to be drafted as high as possible in the NBA Draft. This is just another example of a sportswriter unconscionably encouraging an amateur athlete to hold off on getting paid when this isn't the same decision this sportswriter would make in the same situation.

Jay Mariotti sucks and it would be responsible for Sports Talk Florida to not allow him a forum to give his trolling opinions. 
If this isn’t how Jabari Parker wants his college career to end — breaking down in tears, trying to explain the unexplainable — then he does have an option. He can stay in college.
Don’t bother conducting a scientific poll. Without debate, John Calipari is the most loathed man in college basketball, primarily because what he preaches is not college basketball but something you’d have seen Kevin Trudeau hawking about college basketball on a 3:30 a.m. TV informercial (Note: Trudeau was just sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence for consumer fraud).