Wednesday, April 30, 2014

11 comments MMQB Review: It Turns Out the Top-10 Picks of the NFL Draft Have Not Been Decided Yet Edition

Last week in MMQB Peter King took Starbucks to task for forcing him to wait in line for coffee, because Starbucks is the only place on Earth coffee can be purchased. Peter suggested Starbucks do something about the long lines at this location, because long lines are a problem at this Starbucks and Peter knows this because he's been there a grand total of two times. Peter also told us it is just so much harder this year to evaluate quarterbacks in the draft, unlike previous years when it was so easy to evaluate the quarterbacks. That's why there have been so few quarterback busts over the last 10 years, because it has been so easy prior to this year to evaluate quarterbacks available in the draft. He also decided the Red Sox should for Giancarlo Stanton since the rest of the majors serve as a feeder system for the Red Sox. This week Peter talks about draft charades (as if he hasn't been reporting on these charades in MMQB over the last few weeks as if they were anything but real possibilities and not charades), gives us more of Mike Mayock's bullshit about Teddy Bridgewater, and congratulates his own website on having a great week covering the NFL. 

Allow me several paragraphs before we get into draft news (or, at least, draft rumors about Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney) and an interview with high pick Khalil Mack.

This is as opposed to every other week when Peter just talks about something non-NFL related without asking his readers' permission. I'm not sure why he feels the need to ask permission now.

There’s something else of note, something real … and at this time of year, when so much is smoke and mirrors and disguising real intent in advance of the draft, real sounds good to me right now.

Let's not forget that Peter has been reporting these smoke and mirrors for the past couple of weeks as if he knew the real intent of these NFL GM's. Tom Savage is shooting up boards! Khalil Mack is in play at #2! Teams are cold on Anthony Barr!

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is donating $5 million to help former Saints special-teamer Steve Gleason, who now is wheelchair-bound with ALS, and his Team Gleason foundation build and operate Team Gleason House for Innovative Living. The gift, Gleason said, will be used  as an endowment for annual operating expenses for the home.

This is very kind of Tom Benson.

“Call me crazy,’’ Gleason said Sunday afternoon, “but I envision a facility like this in every NFL city.”

You may have a misconception about what Gleason said here. Let Peter clear that up for you because Peter wants to be clear.

Gleason actually didn’t “say” this. His ALS has advanced to the point where he cannot move any extremities, and he “types” by focusing his eyes on a computer screen, arduously recording words letter by letter on the laptop.

Thanks for clearing this up. I know I personally was extremely pissed off when I read that Peter typed Gleason "said" something. I was all like, "What a minute there, cowboy! Steve Gleason can't say anything because he has to use his eyes to type on a laptop. Don't do a disservice to those people who can 'say' something by indicating Gleason has all the facilities that a normal person without ALS has."

I asked Benson what motivated him to make this gift. “Steve is part of our Saints family,” Benson said.

Peter wants us to be clear. Tom Benson did actually SAY this using his own voice and no laptop.

I’ll be corny for a moment here. There’s something familial about New Orleans that’s different from most cities—maybe every city.

Sure, New Orleans is more familial than maybe every other city in the United States. This sounds like a completely plausible claim.

“Steve has this saying: ‘No white flags,’” said Benson.

PETER WANTS TO BE CLEAR THAT STEVE GLEASON DID NOT REALLY SAY THIS. HE CAN'T SAY ANYTHING DUE TO HIS ALS!

Ten days and counting, mercifully. Go fast, clock. Scatter-shooting what I know, now that the visitation period between players and teams is over, and the final boards are due to be set league-wide this week—if they’re not set already:

Yes, let's find out what Peter "knows," even though any information at this point has a good chance of being a lie or intentionally misleading.

When Clowney visited Atlanta last week, he left a very positive impression with the Falcons’ coaches and brass. I’d heard before that meeting that the Falcons weren’t inclined to entertain thoughts about making such a bold move, from sixth pick in the first round to No. 1 overall. Now they are thinking of it.

But Jadeveon Clowney is lazy and not worth the #1 overall pick! That's the narrative, don't try to change it now Peter.

I also like how Peter is telling us there are a ton of smokescreens this time of year and now he is reporting on Clowney-to-the-Falcons being a real thing and is not a smokescreen.

To move from six to one, it would likely take Atlanta’s first-rounder this year and next—at least that would be close if you’re using the draft pick-trade chart. (The first overall pick is worth 3,000 points, the sixth 1,600. For an equal swap, the Texans might ask for more than two first-rounders, figuring there’s no way the Falcons will be drafting in the top 10 next year.)

I'm pretty sure the Texans may ask for an equal swap in this trade, unless for some reason they want to get less compensation in a trade out of the #1 overall spot than they believe they should receive.

If the Texans would be happy to settle for, say, Blake Bortles or Khalil Mack,

And let's not get confused, if the Texans draft Blake Bortles then they would REALLY be settling.

There’s a rumor (apparently faulty) making the rounds about the Eagles moving up to try to get Johnny Manziel. I wouldn’t pass it along if the person who told me wasn’t smart and, to this point, reliable. But I just can’t see it, and I have someone who would know better than the rumor source telling me it absolutely won’t happen.

Oh, so source #2 is smarter than source #1. I wonder if Peter has a source draft chart based on each source's intelligence with that source's percentage of accurate rumors passed along. It's sort of Peter's Big Board for sources.

I just put it out there as an example of the kind of stuff that makes the rounds when so much of what happens at this time of year is designed to be a misdirection play.

You know, sort of like Tom Savage shooting up boards could be a misdirection or the fact any team with the ability to look at video tape and get past his physical characteristics could look at Blake Bortles and want to spend a Top-10 pick on him is a misdirection as well.

If Atlanta can’t get one, they can certainly get to No. 2.

Yes we know, Peter. The Rams' #2 pick is completely up for sale. We get it. The Rams want to accumulate draft picks and they call in their favorite reporter to help them get a market for that #2 overall pick. The Rams want to trade that pick and Marvin Demoff needs you to help them do so. It's understood.

St. Louis holds two first-round picks—the second and 13th overall choices—and you should put something close to the mortgage down on the prospect of them trading one or both of them.

So NFL teams, get ready to make your best available offer and make that offer high. Because the Rams are only going to accept big offers for their two picks. Not that Peter is going to set the market for the Rams of course or use MMQB to convey to NFL teams what it would take to move up and get the #2 or #13 overall picks of course.

That means the Rams, under Snead, have traded their three first-round picks a total of four times. Any questions about their intentions with the two first-rounders on May 8?

No Peter, my only question is whether you sleep well at night or do have some sense of guilt that you are used at times as a conduit of information to NFL teams by your agent? Does it bother you or are you fully aware of the conflict of interest as it pertains to the fact your agent who represents you also represents the Rams head coach and is the son of the Rams COO? I'm sure there are bigger conflicts of interest in the NFL, you know like Jay Glazer being personal friends and training those athletes he covers, but I'm not sure conflicts of interest are more blatant than Peter's pimping out of Alex Mack a few weeks ago in his Tuesday mailbag and his inside information on the Rams draft strategies for this year. I can't help but think Peter is being used as some sort of conduit to get information out to other NFL teams to help set a market for an eventual Rams draft day trade.

Manziel stuff. Come to find out that one team, at the NFL Scouting Combine, spent the entire 15-minute individual interview period with Manziel talking only about his personal life and his run-ins with trouble. When the horn blew to signify he had to go to his next speed-date, Manziel asked team officials and coaches in the room, “Any football questions?” There was none … This, by the way, from one NFL offensive coordinator whose team will not be choosing a quarterback high in this draft: “If I had the first pick in the draft, I’d take Manziel.”

Peter sees that any discussion of Manziel moves the needle, so I expect we can hear more Johnny Manziel talk from Peter for the next 5-15 years, depending on how successful Manziel is in the NFL of course.

Also, the fact this offensive coordinator isn't picking a quarterback high in this draft doesn't mean this offensive coordinator is an unbiased spectator when giving his opinion. If Manziel goes higher then that means there is a chance one of the quarterbacks this offensive coordinator may hypothetically like could go later in the second round. There's always an agenda and the fact the offensive coordinator's team isn't selecting a quarterback high doesn't mean there isn't one he wants to fall to his team.

I absolutely buy Dallas’ interest in Manziel. One: He is Jerry Jones’ kind of guy, and I believe Jones all along has had half an eye on Manziel, particularly if he could get him at a bargain position—say, the middle of the second round. I don’t believe Manziel will make it out of the first round, of course, but Jones could be sorely tempted at No. 16 overall if Manziel were there. 

I'm shocked that Jerry Jones wants to make a splash and take a quarterback who will bring the Cowboys attention for something other than their record. Just absolutely shocked. How unlike Jerry Jones to be focused on getting attention for the Cowboys and doesn't seem as considered about making a pick that upgrades the Cowboys team as a whole. I can see how the Cowboys would be concerned about Romo's back, but to draft a quarterback in the first round? I'm not sure that's a smart move.

The top 10 of one team not in the top 10, though I do not know the order: Two quarterbacks (Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles), four tackles (Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin), one defensive tackle (Aaron Donald), two pass-rushers (Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack), one wideout (Sammy Watkins).

What? I thought the Top-10 of the draft was already set and the only thing to be decided was the order these players would come off the board. That's what Peter has told us in a previous MMQB. 

1. I think the difference between this year and many recent ones is that we know which players to place at the top of the draft, but we have no idea whom to match where. I’ll take this shot at the top 10, though the Rams certainly will have a chance to trade the second pick, and will be very interested in doing so:

  1. Houston: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida.
  2. St. Louis: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn.
  3. Jacksonville: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.
  4. Cleveland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
  5. Oakland: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.
  6. Atlanta: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M.
  7. Tampa Bay: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo.
  8. Minnesota: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.
  9. Buffalo: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.
  10. Detroit: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan.
2. I think if you add these six players—cornerback Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina, linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama, and wideouts Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Marqise Lee of USC—you’d have something very close to the first half of the first round May 8.

What happened to this "something very close to the first half of the first round"? How did Zach Martin and Aaron Donald sneak into this group? I'm vexed and confused. What happened to Anthony Barr and where is Teddy Bridgewater at on this team's big board? I thought "we" knew who to place at the top of the draft and now one NFL team has a different order. It's almost like it's impossible and disingenuous to pretend to be able to guess the Top-10 (or Top-16) of the NFL Draft in late February.

Want a darkhorse for Carolina at 28—or, if the Panthers are lucky and he falls to 60? Guard-tackle Joel Bitonio of Nevada. Coach Ron Rivera went to Reno to meet him and came away impressed, I’m told.

But, but "Wide receiver...make a splash...give Cam weapons...I'm a Panthers fan who only wants to see shiny, exciting new players drafted while I mock the Cowboys for only drafting shiny, exciting new players. Who cares if Cam has time to throw? I'm an ignorant Panthers fan who only wants to be excited even if it means the quarterback gets murdered by a pass rusher because he has no protection."

Yeah, I'm tired of hearing about how Cam "needs weapons" when four of the starting offensive linemen from last year's team could no longer be starting this upcoming season. I mean, you have to protect your quarterback, but the ignorant stupid fucks here in Carolina are stuck on a wide receiver because THEY ARE SHINY AND SO MOTHERFUCKING EXCITING!

(rant done...if a wide receiver falls to Carolina, great, otherwise offensive line is a much, much bigger need in my opinion...I get tired of hearing how bad Carolina needs to draft a receiver by these idiots who think drafting skill position players is the only way to go)

I spent time on the phone Saturday with the most unknown of the prospective high picks—outside linebacker Khalil Mack, from Buffalo of the Mid-American Conference.

Can he still be considered "unknown" if he's been talked about so much that everyone knows his story already? Don't worry Peter doesn't answer that question.

You might know some of his story:

Because he's so unknown part of his story is already known. By the way, don't we as a public know Khalil Mack's story as well as the other top picks' story at this point?

Mack’s best fit is as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, though he says he can also play 4-3 end or outside ’backer, and, at 251 pounds, it’s not impossible that he could play inside as well. But his edge-rushing ability would be best employed coming off the edge in the 3-4. That’s what the Texans play.

Plus, the Rams are totally thinking about drafting Mack at #2. So if an NFL team wants to move up and grab Mack before the Rams do then make a really good offer now. No time to waste, make that offer now or else Mack is totally going to be a St. Louis Ram because they love him so much, but not enough to actually draft him. So make the Rams an offer because that pick is up for grabs, but make the offer really, really strong.

“Got a gut feel where you’re going in the draft?” I asked.
“Not at all,” Mack said. “Wish I knew.”

Well, Peter has known since late February you were going to go in the Top-10, he just didn't know which team it was that would be drafting Mack. 

Ten things you need to know about Earl Morrall.

7. In 1972,filling in after Bob Griese broke his ankle in Week 5, Morrall went 9-0 as a starting quarterback in the Dolphins’ perfect season—the last time any NFL teams won every game it played during a season—and was named First Team All-Pro for the second time. But he was replaced by Griese as the starter for the Super Bowl after struggling in the AFC title game at Pittsburgh.

Imagine if this happened in 2014. Imagine if a backup quarterback named first team All-Pro was replaced for the Super Bowl after struggling in the title game. I can already hear Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith arguing back and forth whether this was the right move or not. It's not like Morrall only played part of the title game, but he was 9-0 prior to the game as the starter and the coach replaced him for struggling in the AFC title game. The media would have a field day with this story if it happened in 2014.

“If I was a GM in the NFL, I would not take him in the first round of the draft … You’ve got to see the quarterbacks throw the ball live. I’ve never seen a top quarterback in the last 10 years have a bad Pro Day until Teddy Bridgewater. He had no accuracy. The ball came out funny. The arm strength wasn’t there, and it made me question everything I saw on tape because this was live.”
—Mike Mayock, on the Petros and Money Show on AM-570 in Los Angeles (via Pro Football Talk)

These are all opinions, so it's hard to get all up in arms over these opinions, but this was just crazy to me. Teddy Bridgewater had a bad Pro Day. Fine. How does his bad Pro Day trump everything else he has done during games and on the field outside of that Pro Day? I like Teddy Bridgewater a lot, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. Mayock says:

You’ve got to see the quarterbacks throw the ball live.

There is tape of Teddy Bridgewater throwing the ball live. He played for three seasons at Louisville and there were plenty of chances to see him throw the ball live during that time. I saw Teddy Bridgewater throw the ball live when he was a freshmen against West Virginia. So does that make me qualified to say he should be taken in the first round?

The ball came out funny. The arm strength wasn’t there, and it made me question everything I saw on tape because this was live.”

I mean, go for it, but any "draft expert" who watches one bad Pro Day of Teddy Bridgewater's and then decides to write him off as a first round prospect better be prepared to do the same for any quarterback who has 2-3 bad games on tape. I know it isn't live, but the tape doesn't lie either. It's all there on Bridgewater. Ignore the tape at your own peril.

It's just absolutely hilarious to me how guys like Mayock are knocking down Bridgewater because he didn't do well at a scripted workout. It's like his three years of tape means nothing and was simply an optical illusion so that seeing Bridgewater throw live suddenly helped reveal the truth about him. It's ridiculous, but "draft experts" can pretty much say whatever they want and nobody cares. They are experts who aren't experts and aren't held to a standard that their opinion is a truthful and fact-based opinion. It's not like there is any downside to saying anything controversial or saying a hot sports take. When Mayock is drooling over Bridgewater in two years all will be forgotten.

“When is the draft now? I think it’s in September.”
 
—Peyton Manning

God, what an insightful and important quote. I'm glad Peter included this among his "Quotes of the Week."

“Well, I’m very confident in what I’ve done. The people who are the critics, they look at all of the negatives. They don’t look at all of the stuff I’ve accomplished. They don’t look at that I’m one of three quarterbacks in the history of the NFL to do certain things. They don’t look at that kind of stuff. They want to find ways to tear me down, but I’m not worried about that. They can say whatever they want. All that matters is what everyone believes in this organization and what I believe in myself. That’s how I go about my business.’’
 
—Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, reporting to work last week for the Bengals’ offseason program.

In non-ironic fashion after providing this quote by Dalton about his haters who don't look at everything that he has accomplished, Peter provides information showing the difference in Dalton's regular season and postseason performance.

Dalton is beginning to chafe at the perception (reality’s more like it) that he’s been good in the regular season and poor in the post-season.

I'm not sure if Peter is outing himself as one of Dalton's haters or simply pointing out the criticism is fair. One thing I do know is the Bengals weren't exactly winning multiple playoff games prior to Andy Dalton being their quarterback in 2011.

I found myself in a spot in Rhode Island for a few hours last week that I’d never been before—South Kingstown, on the sea, 45 minutes south of Providence—visiting retired New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride for a story you’ll be seeing this week. Wooded, quiet, close to beaches, not over-developed.

South Kingstown woods, you now have Peter King's seal of approval. Feel free to grow and prosper as you wish from now on.

What a great smell,

An underrated smell, even. The woods near South Kingstown have always been underrated!

a sea smell, even a half-mile in from the water.

Careful with the wind! It brings smells all over the place in South Kingstown. The wind is also very underrated. It can straight blow you away.





What Kobe really means is that he is currently injured, so he couldn't play for Donald Sterling. He would play for him, but he couldn't right now. Plus, the Lakers have already showed Kobe the money. Back when the Lakers had not shown Kobe the money, he seemed pretty dang willing to play for Donald Sterling. 

If Kobe thinks Karl Malone's, "I'm hunting for Mexican girls" comment was bad just wait until Donald Sterling has a few comments about Kobe's wife.

I half expect Peter to write, "I don't know much about the NBA and have no interest in the sport, but I do know Donald Sterling is a racist." I feel like this is a sentence he must type. Nearly all of his comments on the NBA are prefaced by how little he knows about the NBA.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think the one consistent whine about the schedule I heard in the past few days was the Oakland fandom complaining about opening at the Jets, then returning to play at New England in Week 3 and London in Week 4.

I would be irritated the Panthers close the season on the road against a division rival, but they have only closed the season at home four times (I believe) since 2000 so I guess I should be used to it at that point. No schedule can be fair, but closing on the road against a division rival nearly every year is a bit tiresome.

That’s a tough start for sure. But the Raiders—as most western teams do when they have to play in England—requested a Week 3 East Coast game so the trip to England would be 5.5 hours instead of 10. So the only beef is playing Week 1 on the East Coast.

See Peter, the Raiders fans didn't request the Raiders play an East Coast game before going to England, the team did. This can all be fixed by the NFL just not playing games in England, but that would make sense and ruin Roger Goodell's plan to put an NFL team in England, regardless of whether they want an NFL team or not. After all, there are a few American markets that would support an NFL team, so why not give England a team. After all, money.

And who cares, really?

Raiders fans do, Peter. Raiders fans clearly care. You just said Raiders fans were whining about this road trip, so that's who cares.

5. I think if Blake Bortles sat in the front row at a Rays or Marlins game with his girlfriend, no one would say, “Hey, why isn’t Blake Bortles concentrating on football and staying out of the public eye before the draft?” First: it’s possible directors and camera people wouldn’t know what Blake Bortles looks like, so he might not even be noticed. But also, if they did know it was Bortles and put his mug on TV, I can’t imagine anyone questioning his dedication or decision-making because he chose one evening to sit in the stands at a baseball game.

Stand up for Johnny Manziel, Peter! Don't let the big bad bullies in the media criticize him.

(Peter will then go on a 300 word rant about what a waste of money Josh Freeman was this season) 

6. I think, also, I’d like to know the difference between J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson being on-site at the NCAA basketball tournament, and Johnny Manziel being there.

The difference is that Russell Wilson and J.J. Watt have already been drafted by an NFL team while Johnny Manziel has yet to be drafted by an NFL team and there is a line of thought he should skip attending sporting events and prepare for the draft. I disagree with this, but there is a difference in Manziel being at the NCAA tournament and Wilson/Watt being at the NCAA tournament. Manziel is not employed in the NFL yet and Watt/Wilson are.

7. I think I get the part about folks wondering if Manziel is devoted to his craft when they see him in the bars at 2 a.m. But going to sports events is a different story entirely.

Two things:

1. It is clear that Peter is very, very concerned about the media questioning what Manziel should be doing with his time.

2. Shouldn't all of these thoughts about Johnny Manziel be under the same #5 heading in Peter's outline? These are all thoughts about one certain topic, so Peter would either continue his thoughts on Manziel by putting an "a." or "b." below the #5 or just make points #5-#7 all one thought. It's how outlines are supposed to work I believe.

Do you know, for instance, that Manziel, on the day he visited with the Texans in Houston, was in the gym at 6:15 a.m.working out before he had to be in front of the Texans brass? My point about all of this: It’s fair game to doubt Manziel. But I think it is folly to suggest that being at a ballgame or The Masters is a black mark against his dedication to football.

And somehow this point took three separate numbers in Peter's "Things I Think" outline to fully get across.

9. I think I’d like to congratulate our writers at The MMQB for a fine week.

"Congratulations to me and my website!"

When the NFL pushed the draft back two weeks, I wanted to avoid two extra weeks of nothing but draft coverage, because I think we’re already inundated with it for two full months, starting at the combine. So this week, while not ignoring the draft, our writers wrote solid pieces on other things. 

It was probably a good idea to write about other things rather than the draft. Of course, there's the whole matter that Peter seems to continually struggle with which is instead of congratulating other people in private, Peter gives public congratulations in MMQB here that can come off as a bit self-serving or fishing for compliments.

When I walked into Sports Illustrated managing editor Chris Stone’s office Friday, he said, “What a week you guys had!’’ That is my bow for the week. Hope you don’t mind me bragging about our troops.

I don't know why Peter thinks his readers would care now about him publicly congratulating friends/co-workers/random people/inanimate objects. He's been doing this for several years now.

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

a. The only remaining question about Donald Sterling: When’s he selling the team?

Who is he going to sell the team to? Magic Johnson? He wouldn't let his girlfriend appear in a picture with Magic Johnson, you think he's going to be excited to sell HIS basketball team to Magic? Donald Sterling is selling the Clippers team when the NBA makes him sell the Clippers team, which I guessing will be sometime between "never" and "over his dead body."

e. Daniel Murphy stole his 27th straight base Sunday. I dropped my dentures when I heard who held the Mets’ record for consecutive stolen bases: Kevin McReynolds, with 33. How is that possible?

It's possible because Kevin McReynolds stole 33 bases without getting caught. He did steal 50 bases over three seasons from 1987-1989. It's not like he never stole a base.

f. Dice-K a closer? A nibbler closing? Impossible. That’s it. I am officially a baseball dunce.

It was official a few years ago. Not every closer has to throw the ball 97 mph and throw a ton of strikes. There is more than one way to close out a baseball game.

g. I am also officially a TV dope. I have missed “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men.” Totally. Every episode.

But five years from now when Peter starts watching "Mad Men" I'm sure he will tell us all how entertaining it is in MMQB. "Mad Men" seems like the perfect Peter King television show. I'm surprised he's never watched an episode.

h. Apropos of very little: Ansel Adams died on April 22, 1984. Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994. Pat Tillman died on April 22, 2004.

Hmmmm...what is the takeaway from this again?

i. Coffeenerdness: Six shots of espresso Sunday, before 3 p.m. It is officially close to the draft.

Or Peter officially has too much money that he feels the need to waste it on bullshit like six shots of espresso.

k. If I could print the best lines each week in “Veep,’’ I would. If Elaine Benes were saying them, they’d be printable. But Selena Meyer? Too edgy for a family website.

Yes, Peter lives in a world where "Veep" is too edgy for his site. Even if he didn't print the curse words, it's all too edgy for anyone to read.

The Adieu Haiku
So, Donald Sterling: 
You had to open your mouth.
Long past time to go.


You tell him, Peter! Way to put Donald Sterling in his place in haiku form. Tough words should be delivered in the form of a traditional Japanese poem. Speaking of long past time to go, about this Adieu Haiku...



Monday, April 28, 2014

8 comments Bob McGinn Makes a List of the Top 25 Quarterbacks Ever, Seemingly Fails at Doing So

The last time we left Bob McGinn he was telling us that IF Aaron Rodgers got injured then the Packers would be totally fine because SENECA WALLACE HAS TOTALLY GOT THIS. Hmm...well it turns out the night after McGinn wrote this column Aaron Rodgers got hurt in a game against the Bears and the Packers were not fine at all. In fact, Wallace was benched for Scott Tolzien and then the Packers signed Matt Flynn because for God's sake there has to be someone who knows how to play quarterback on the roster. So McGinn swung and missed on Seneca Wallace being a quality backup, but not one to hide after making such a bold prediction, Bob decides that he is going to rank the top 25 quarterbacks he has seen play. 

Thanks to Eric for sending me the link to this article. As Eric mentioned in his email to me (spoiler alert!) Drew Brees is too low, Brett Favre is too high, Bart Starr is too absent, and Donovan McNabb is not absent. And yes, I realize it is a subjective ranking of these quarterbacks, but there are some mysterious reasons given for the inclusion/ranking of some quarterbacks.

Longtime readers of the Journal Sentinel probably realize many of the columns that I've written over the years were developed through my legion of contacts from the ranks of personnel men, coaches and players.

He's sort of a big deal. People know him.

Some have maintained that if Peyton Manning plays well and leads the Denver Broncos to victory over the defensive-minded Seattle Seahawks, he should be acclaimed the greatest quarterback of all time.

That got me started.

Probably the easiest column in the world to write is a list column.

"I'm started AND lists are easy. I'm doing a list for my next column. It's better than writing this 'Seneca Wallace would be the best receiver on the Packers roster if given a chance' column I was thinking of writing." 

But with the debate about the best quarterback ever undoubtedly going on for two weeks, the decision was made to come up with a list, in order, of my top 25 quarterbacks of all time.

The list sort of reads as being out of order.

These are my personal choices. I didn't consult a soul.

Bob didn't even consult his soul. Why? BECAUSE BOB MCGINN HAS NO SOUL, JUST AN OVERWHELMINGLY EMPTY AREA WHERE SENECA WALLACE RUINED HIM!

In fact, I've never really given it much thought until last week.

But no worries, this is a super-well thought out list that is the result of minutes and minutes of Bob's concentration and focus, as well as the results of what quarterback names were drawn out of a hat. 

In preparing the list, it was decided that only quarterbacks with 10 years of playing experience would be considered. I also included only players that I can remember watching. Because I never saw the great Otto Graham (1946-'55), he couldn't be on the list.

This is the only criteria required to make the list. Well, it also turns out being really tough is a criteria, but seemingly an unofficial criteria. 

Criteria? There really weren't any other than years of service. I did consider the physical attributes of older players and how they would project to the NFL of today.

Projecting quarterbacks who played 40 years ago as to what type of statistics they would put up in today's game...what could go wrong in doing this?

Passer rating didn't play much of a role.

For one thing, it doesn't factor in winning, rushing and clutch play.


Well, part of the reason it doesn't factor in winning and clutch play is because winning is a team statistic and clutch play isn't definable. It's intangible, which is part of what makes it so fun to use when making shit up.

More than anything, this list was based mostly on unscientific, gut feel.

No soul, just gut.

1. Joe Montana (1979-'94)

2. Johnny Unitas (1956-'73)

The ultimate leader of men.

Sorry famous generals and any other world leader, but Johnny Unitas is THE ultimate leader of men. 

3. Tom Brady (2000-'13, active)

4. Dan Marino (1983-'99)

I'm not trying to be a dick, but if Bob McGinn is all about winning then I'm not sure how Dan Marino made his way up to #4 on this list. I'm not sure if anyone has heard, but he had zero Super Bowl wins in his NFL career. 

5. Peyton Manning (1998-'13, active): Near the top of most-prepared passers ever. Used his domineering personality to make football a legitimate sport in basketball-mad Indiana.

Apparently football was an illegitimate sport in Indiana prior to Peyton Manning playing quarterback for the Colts. 

6. Brett Favre (1991-2010): Nobody had more fun playing the game.

Apparently one major criteria for inclusion on this list is, "Did he have fun playing the game?" If it's a "yes" then welcome to the Top 25 QB's of all-time list. The whole "He had fun playing the game like a child" always sounds like bullshit concocted in order to differentiate Favre from other quarterbacks. I respect Brett Favre, but he isn't the sixth-best quarterback in NFL history nor do I think he should be the sixth-best quarterback Bob McGinn has ever seen. This sounds like bias caused by McGinn covering Favre for most of Favre's career. 

Teammates loved playing with him. Defined the gunslinger quarterback.

He was like a child out there, but he isn't like a better quarterback than John Elway in my opinion. I didn't know Favre's teammates liked playing with him. I'm surprised this didn't vault him all the way up to the #1 spot, especially since he was a gunslinger, which is a description I've never heard used in reference to Favre. Very original.

7. John Elway (1983-'98): Probably the best pure athlete on this or any list. Arm strength ranked right alongside Favre's. Rare running ability.

I probably would put Elway above Favre. Of course Elway didn't have fun playing the game, so he clearly should be moved down this list because of that.

13. Terry Bradshaw (1970-'83): Big arm and an even bigger personality. Overcame sluggish start to his career and became the all-time Super Bowl winner. Outstanding athlete.

I'm sorry. I just can't accept Terry Bradshaw as a Top 15 all-time quarterback. I know he played in an era where he didn't pass the football as much as quarterbacks do today, but he has a career completion percentage of 51.5% and threw two more touchdowns than interceptions for his career. He played on great teams and won multiple Super Bowls, so he gets bumped up this list more than he should.

15. Ken Stabler (1970-'84): Fearless competitor with a whip for an arm. Big, left-handed pocket passer. Really good in the clutch.

What was Stabler's clutchiness rating? Probably a 85 out of 100. Because clutchiness can be measured so it's known for sure that Stabler was really good in the clutch. 

16. Sonny Jurgensen (1957-'74): Played his final season at age 40. Deadly deep-ball thrower but, really, could throw any pass. Never took himself too seriously.

HE HAD FUN PLAYING THE GAME, SO BUMP HIM UP 20 SPOTS!

17. Kurt Warner (1998-2009)

18. Ben Roethlisberger (2004-'13, active)

Has anyone ever been more difficult to sack in the pocket?

Probably not, but he isn't clutch enough nor does he have enough fun to be moved up this list. Sorry Ben, put a smile on your face and Bob McGinn will love you more.

19. Troy Aikman (1989-2000)

I feel like Troy Aikman should be higher on this list than Kurt Warner. I guess Warner's statistics are just much more impressive to McGinn. 

20. Steve McNair (1995-2007): Benefited by sitting early in his career. Developed into a consistent thrower, but his career was defined by toughness and running.

I think I misread this one initially. It said that Steve McNair was a Top 20 quarterback of all-time and I know that isn't true. So obviously I misread this or it is a misprint. Especially considering Drew Brees and Bart Starr haven't made the list yet.

21. Donovan McNabb (1999-2011)

(Bengoodfella dies) 

I mean, Donovan McNabb did win games as a quarterback. So he has that going for him. Let's see what Bob McGinn thinks about McNabb and why he put McNabb on this list, just below Steve McNair nonetheless. I bet if he played in the NFL long enough then Vince Young would have made this list. 

Always seemed to run through the middle for first downs when Eagles needed them most.

Gee, this doesn't seem anecdotal at all. So Donovan McNabb is the 21st best quarterback in NFL history because he ran up the middle for a first down when the Eagles needed it the most, not just when they needed it the least. But oh, it gets better. 

Developed into capable passer from mid-career on.

Yes, the 21st best quarterback in NFL history was a capable passer for the latter part of his career on. That's good to know. Unfortunately, Bob McGinn puts McNabb behind one specific player who was an historically great passer from mid-career on. His name is Drew Brees. But Brees hasn't won anything like McNabb did, right? 

23. Randall Cunningham (1985-2001)

24. Bert Jones (1973-'82): Career ruined early by shoulder injuries. Unreal competitor and passer. Bill Belichick has called him the best "pure passer" he ever saw.

I haven't ever really heard of Bert Jones. But if Bill Belichick liked him then he couldn't be bad, could he? 

25. Drew Brees (2001-'13, active)

Regardless of what era Drew Brees has played in, this is too low for him. I'm not a big fan of Brees, but he has to be above Donovan McNabb at the very least. Also, I would probably place him above Bert Jones, even with Bill Belichick's ringing endorsement of Jones. 

My biggest problem with this list is that Drew Brees should be higher, Bart Starr only gets an honorable mention, and Donovan McNabb shouldn't be on the list unless he only gets an honorable mention as well. Also, if McGinn is going to rate quarterbacks while projecting how they would do in today's game then I don't know how Y.A. Tittle didn't make the list. 

That's my take. Since McGinn used his gut and didn't use any statistics I'm sure there are other parts of the ranking that you as readers take issue with. I would probably move Troy Aikman up the list and move Drew Brees up the list even when the era these guys played in is taken into account.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

2 comments Anthony Rieber Helps Prove My Theory That Sportswriters Are Often Desperate For Something To Write About

I believe that sportswriters in this 24/7 news cycle tend to run out of things to write about. There is only so much to write about or only so many original takes that can be made on a certain sports-related topic. So when some news (or non-news) event breaks these sportswriters are desperate to immediately write about it. It's the same principle that causes ESPN/CNN/Fox News to beat the same topics into the ground. They have 24 hours of air time to fill and so the same topic of discussion or debate will end up getting beaten into the ground by 3-4 different anchors or analysts. It's one of the drawbacks of the 24 hour news cycle. This is how Bob Klapisch gets an entire column out of Matt Harvey posing nude for ESPN Magazine. This is also how a sportswriter like Anthony Rieber manages to get an entire column out of Matt Harvey taking a picture with his middle finger extended. It's a great chance to get a "Matt Harvey has to grow up" column out of the way, and frankly, Rieber has to write something for today and there's nothing else interesting to write about.

This middle-finger salute to Tommy John surgery isn't something a a great baseball player should be doing. It's a clear sign Harvey should grow up that he takes a picture of him making an obscene gesture while in the hospital, the same obscene gesture I'm guessing Anthony Rieber has made himself at some point in his life. But hey, that doesn't matter. What does matter is it's a great day for a narrative and someone has to write the "Harvey giving the middle finger means something more than just him giving the middle finger" column, right? It may as well be him.

Remember that time Derek Jeter posted something offensive on Twitter and then decided to take down his account after the Yankees asked him to delete the post? 

Ah yes, Rieber reveals his intentions by immediately comparing Harvey to Derek Jeter. All bets are off, he wins. Derek Jeter is a saint, Matt Harvey is not.

Remember that time Twitter was around when Derek Jeter was 25 years old and he had Tommy John surgery? Oh, you don't?

No? How about that time David Wright did it?

MATT HARVEY WILL NEVER BE ONE OF THE NEW YORK BASEBALL SAINTS! EVER!

Remember that time Matt Harvey went out and got drunk on the town and pictures were all over the Internet of him doing this when he was around 25 years old?  Wait no, that was David Wright who did that.

Of course it's not illegal to get drunk in public, while obscene gestures are a violation of the Rieber Act of 2014 which specifically punishes those professional athletes in the New York area for making obscene gestures, rude comments or attempting to not be Derek Jeter with an article stating this athlete "needs to grow up." Later, when that athlete redeems himself a follow-up article can be written following this "grow up" narrative stating the athlete has indeed grown up.

That's the whole point about Tuesday's silly Matt Harvey/Twitter photo situation. Not that Harvey posted a photo in which he is giving the middle finger is all that shocking. Twitter has seen much, much worse.

It's not that Matt Harvey is giving the middle finger to the camera, it's that his giving the middle finger adds to the list of innocuous things he's done which all add up to create a narrative that Harvey should grow up. Put separately, these incidents don't mean much, but when slapped together into a trend it looks like Matt Harvey has some real growing up to do. Take all the stupid things you did over a 2 year span in your early 20's and then combine them together...I bet it wouldn't make you look so good.

The problem is that it seems to keep being Harvey who is involved in these little dustups.

I would love a reminder in this column about the dustups that Harvey has gotten involved in, but I'm sure they are so obvious and so egregious that Rieber need not list them right now. Rieber get to these dustups that are really not important at all, but important enough to merit an attitude change in Harvey, a little later. But for right now, Rieber is going to stick to making a big deal out of nothing concerning this picture of Harvey giving the camera a middle finger.

Not Jeter, whom Harvey said he wants to emulate. Not Wright, who is as positive a role model as New York sports has ever had.

Pictures being taken of Wright drunk and pictures of Harvey giving the middle finger to a camera are pretty much the same thing. Both pictures were taken when both players were similar ages. There's no point in acting like Wright is perfect and Harvey is a huge immature asshole.

In case you missed the details: Harvey commemorated the six-month anniversary of his Tommy John surgery Tuesday not with flowers or a card, but by posting a photo on his verified Twitter account (@MattHarvey33). 

It's a verified Twitter account! Not a fake Twitter account! No one snuck into Matt Harvey's room and forced him to make an obscene gesture at gun point. He made this gesture all on his own with total disregard for the fact giving the middle finger is never okay. Harvey may as well have been beating one of the children in the cancer ward with a baseball bat, because that's what he was doing to his public image by daring to show himself making an obscene gesture. I bet Matt Harvey curses too. Derek Jeter and David Wright would never curse. In fact, Anthony Rieber knew when the Mets drafted Harvey he would never be another Derek Jeter or David Wright because Harvey's first name doesn't begin with a "D" and have five letters in it with each consonant followed by a vowel.

A smiling Harvey is giving the middle finger while waiting in his hospital bed for the surgery. He wrote, "I can't believe it's been 6 months already. #tommyjohn''

Harvey was violating the Rieber Act of 2014 while smiling. He's flaunting his disobedience for everyone to see. While one could see Harvey giving the middle finger as a sign that he is saying, "Screw Tommy John surgery, I'm coming back healthy and ready to make a difference for the Mets team," Anthony Rieber is shocked and horrified that a professional athlete would extend his middle finger in the air for a camera to catch a picture of. Rieber also probably is afraid that Matt Harvey curses at times, as well as engages in premarital sex. Oh my heavens, what a display of heathenism.

What will "the kids" think as they see this picture of Harvey giving the middle finger to Tommy John surgery? Doesn't Harvey have the decency to think about the children as these same children scroll through the Internet unattended by their parents?

The Mets were not pleased. Public-relations executive Jay Horwitz -- an avid, if bizarre, user of Twitter himself -- asked Harvey to delete the photo.

Anthony Rieber bets Matt Harvey gave Jay Horwitz the middle finger when this request was made.

Horwitz said. "I never asked him to delete his account.'' But that's what Harvey did.

What was Harvey covering up? Were there pictures of him drinking beer or sitting too close to the television on his Twitter account and these pictures just had not been found yet? Please tell me there wasn't a picture of Harvey blatantly ignoring the 30-minute rule and swimming immediately after he had eaten lunch and that Harvey wasn't bragging about it on his Twitter account. My heart can't stand all of this anarchy.

And a debate on whether it was a big deal or not broke out.

Is it a big deal? Of course not.

Of course it's not a big deal! Anthony Rieber is just building an entire column around it and using this middle finger picture as part of the narrative that Matt Harvey needs to grow up. It's totally not a big deal though, except for the part where Anthony Rieber makes it a big deal.

None of the many minor public-relations missteps Harvey has made since becoming one of the biggest sports stars in New York is by itself all that important.

But if you combine them all together into a string of incidents caused by Harvey's lack of maturity then a brilliant narrative has been drawn and now multiple articles can be written about how Harvey needs to grow up. Again, take some incidents from 2 years of your life when you were 25 years old and see if those incidents couldn't be strung along to show that you need to do some growing up. I bet they could be.

It wasn't a big deal when he was "embarrassed'' after saying he wants to be like Jeter when it came to dating.

No, it's not a big deal. New York is the media capital of the world and young guys are going to say stupid things. Saying he wants to be like Jeter when it comes to dating isn't a bad thing. For all of Rieber's teeth-gnashing that Harvey IS DEFINITELY NOT Derek Jeter, the fact Harvey wants to emulate Jeter would seem to be a good thing, no? Apparently not. Apparently trying to be like Derek Jeter when it comes to dating is a bad thing, but Rieber thinks Harvey should be more like Derek Jeter and not try to be like Derek Jeter.

That he apologized after relentlessly plugging a wireless product instead of answering questions about his elbow on a national radio show.

And of course not answering questions about his elbow on a national radio show is a moral failing which shows a lack of maturity. Naturally.

That he sparred with the Mets about where he was going to do his rehab.

Because the fact the Mets and Harvey have a differing view on where Harvey should do his rehab, this isn't simply a disagreement but a failing caused by a lack of maturity on Harvey's part. It's more mature just to do whatever the Mets tell him to do.

That he seems to seek out celebrity with the same abandon he faced down hitters before his injury.

And we all know New York can't stand athletes like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Joe Namath who chase celebrity. That's why none of those athletes who played in New York are considered legends by the media, they never quite grew up.

Taken all together, though? It's just too much. 

But they are all separate incidents. In fact, they are all separate incidents that mean nothing when taken together as a whole, other than to serve as another good example of how the New York media likes to blow up small issues into overwhelming problems out of boredom. These four innocuous incidents mean nothing unless carefully woven together into a narrative that Harvey needs to grow up.

The perception of the 25-year-old Harvey is probably what caused Mets manager Terry Collins to joke with him Tuesday, "Did you [expletive] up again?''

Harvey laughed.

Harvey is violating the moral fabric of society by raising his middle finger at a camera and all he can do is laugh about it.

Then he sat in the dugout and answered questions for nearly 12 minutes. About half were about his rehab. The other half were about his Twitter photo, which he said was taken by his mother (!).

Obviously Matt Harvey's mom needs to grow up as well. It's no shock that Harvey has grown up to be such a careless, immature asshole if his mother is going to reinforce his behavior by taking a picture of him while he raises his middle finger at the camera. Oh lord, what have Anthony Rieber's eyes seen? If only there was a way to avoid following Matt Harvey on Twitter to avoid seeing his moral fiber decay before our very eyes.

Remember: If Harvey didn't post the photo in the first place, there would have been no dugout news conference. He would have passed through the day virtually unnoticed. 

Remember: You just wrote that this wasn't a big deal, yet you now make a big deal out of this picture.

"I'm not going to apologize for being myself and having a good laugh at a funny little picture,'' he said. "But I've had enough with Twitter and not being able to show your personal side . . . It wasn't me trying to bring bad press to the New York Mets or anything like that. It was my account, and I felt like it was a funny picture. Obviously, it was taken the wrong way, so I took it down.''

Yeah but Matt, don't you remember the time you said you wanted to be like Derek Jeter when it comes to dating? Derek Jeter wouldn't want to be like Derek Jeter when it comes to his dating life. Try to mimic Derek Jeter more often and be less like Derek Jeter when it comes to dating and more like Derek Jeter as it pertains to how he lives his life.

Harvey also said, "It's my personal account . . . I didn't think there was anything officially wrong with it.''

Sorry, but there was.

Anthony Rieber from earlier in this column:

Is it a big deal? Of course not.

So there was something wrong with it, but it's not a big deal. It's not a big deal, but it is a big deal? He can't have it both ways. Anthony Rieber can try to have it both ways, but it only reinforces what a big deal he is making out of a simple gesture made in a picture.

Harvey represents the Mets and Major League Baseball. His social media postings need to be G-rated. PG, maybe. Just like many employees in many industries, what you share on social media reflects on your employer, too.

I can understand that what Harvey says/does on Twitter reflects on the Mets. I don't think Harvey giving the middle finger to a camera reflects badly on the Mets. If someone is on Twitter and gets offended by seeing a middle finger then that person is the one who needs to grow up and probably not be on Twitter. There's much worse shit on Twitter than an athlete giving the middle finger directed towards a major surgery he is about to undergo.

So now Harvey's not on Twitter. As of game time Tuesday night, he appeared to still be on the photo-sharing site Instagram at @MattHarvey33. 

And so was the middle-finger photo, by the way.

Oh no! Matt Harvey didn't remove this "not a big deal" picture from Instagram? There is something officially wrong with this picture. Pictures like the one of Harvey giving the camera the middle finger will forever ruin the reputation of MLB players as upstanding citizens who don't drink, don't smoke, don't curse, and certainly don't give the middle finger to a camera? What would Matt Harvey's mother say?...after she took the picture of course.

Don't you like how this picture that wasn't "a big deal" and the other dustups that Harvey has had, all of which aren't "a big deal" either, become "a big deal" when it's time to start a narrative that Matt Harvey needs to grow up. Harvey better watch out or else he will become the East Coast Yasiel Puig. Just wait until ESPN tries to figure out how Harvey was brought into the country. I'm sure the method used to sneak Harvey out of his mom's private parts at birth will horrify Bill Plaschke.

My favorite part about this article was how it delved into a discussion about 1st Amendment rights beginning with this comment:



If he used twitter to announce homosexual behavior he'd be a national hero.

The discussion went downhill from there. Just another reason to love the Internet. In an article about a baseball player giving the camera the middle finger, in which a sportswriter makes a big deal out of it while claiming it isn't a big deal, the comments turns into a discussion about 1st Amendment rights and homosexuality. But of course.

By the way this column is titled "Tweet and Sour." I'm not sure if this is offensive or not (making fun of how Asian-Americans pronounce "Sweet"). Probably not more offensive than the column itself. If Matt Harvey said it, then it would definitely be offensive though.

Friday, April 25, 2014

2 comments William Rhoden Thinks Trading Carmelo Anthony for Kobe Bryant Would Bring the Knicks an NBA Title

The title there seems to about sum it all up pretty effectively. In fact, I probably don't even need to write anything else. William Rhoden thinks if the Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony for Kobe Bryant, with no further corresponding moves, then it would bring the Knicks an NBA Championship. That's it. I say good day.
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You know, I think I should write more (I bet pretty much everyone stopped reading by now...if so, the lesson is to not tempt your audience into not reading anymore) about this idea because Rhoden's reasoning desperately must be explained. Ideas like this don't just come along everyday.

The Knicks completed another disappointing season Wednesday night, beating the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors before a Madison Square Garden crowd that snacked on complimentary boxes of popcorn — a thank you from the organization to fans for enduring a 41st consecutive season without a championship.

Maybe Dan Shaughnessy can help the Knicks create a curse related to why the team can't win an NBA title so that he can in turn write a book about the curse in order to make money. This would lead to the Knicks breaking the curse, Dan making money, and everybody winning.

In the next few days, Jackson is expected to relieve Mike Woodson of his job as the Knicks’ coach, thus beginning what has become the most enjoyable time of year for Knicks fans: the season of blame and speculation.

I love that the Knicks are located in the media capital of the United States so every failure of the Knicks is treated as if other NBA teams don't have the same problems and panic-stricken fans that the Knicks have. Nope, I'm sure that's just the Knicks fans who enjoy a season of blame and speculation.

While fans in several other cities can anticipate deep playoff runs,

Depending on your definition of a "deep playoff run" then this means four teams can anticipate this happening while the rest of the NBA teams can speculate and blame all they want. Stop whining like the Knicks are in the minority in terms of making a deep playoff run this year.

Knicks fans entertain themselves with drama and debate: Who should be fired? Who should be traded? Who are the hot names to bring in?

Every fan base does this. I recognize this goes against the entitled attitude of some Knicks fans, that their struggles are not shared with other NBA teams, but every fan base does this. If you don't believe me, then check out Bleacher Report's team NBA pages. It's like an orgy of fan rosterbation.

There is something mystifying about a professional basketball team located in the world’s greatest city that for four decades has been unable to assemble a team capable of winning an N.B.A. championship.

Considering only 13 NBA teams have won an NBA title in the last four decades, I don't think it's that mystifying for me. It's not like every NBA team except the Knicks has won an NBA title in the last four decades.

As a coach, Jackson had two great players on nearly all of those championships teams: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with the Chicago Bulls, and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jackson also had quite a few really good role players like Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, B.J. Armstrong, John Paxson, and Rick Fox. But hey, all you need is a great player or two and the NBA title is yours, right?

Now, in his first attempt to be a front-office executive, Jackson will need at least one player with an indomitable will to win, one capable of transforming the culture of an organization and a fan base that has become too accustomed to mediocrity and frustration.

Because trading for a 36 year old (which is Kobe's age at the beginning of next season) who is coming off a major injury and has a huge contract isn't setting the Knicks up for mediocrity and frustration. In fact, trading for Kobe Bryant would be a typical Knicks move. If Rhoden thinks it is mystifying that the Knicks haven't won a title in four decades, then he needs to look no further than this trade suggestion to understand as to why that may be. Taking on veterans with huge contracts or giving veterans huge contracts doesn't necessarily lead to an NBA title.

That player would be Bryant.

Jackson needs to talk Bryant into somehow joining him in New York for one last great mission in both of their careers: setting the table for the Knicks to win another championship.

Oh, I didn't know Kobe would be "setting the table" for another championship ("another" championship?...but it's been four decades and Rhoden is throwing "another" around like the Knicks have won a championship since the Beatles broke up) and not actually playing for the Knicks and leading them to a championship. That's totally different and much more vague. 

One way that can happen is for the Knicks to work out the trade of all trades — Bryant for Carmelo Anthony.

I'm not a big Carmelo fan, but Kobe Bryant is old and expensive. Carmelo will just be expensive. I wouldn't make this trade if I were the Knicks. 

There are all sorts of obstacles to this fantasy’s becoming a reality:

1. It's a bad idea. 

2. Carmelo Anthony is a free agent and you can't trade a free agent. So he would have to sign with the Knicks and then be open to being traded to the Lakers. It could happen I guess. 

3. Kobe would have to want to play for the Knicks. Why would he want to do that again?

I do enjoy how William Rhoden admits his idea that totally makes sense is a complete fantasy due to the unrealistic nature of his idea. 

the no-trade clause that Bryant has, the opt-out clause that will soon make Anthony a free agent, the huge amount of money that both players make, and the N.B.A.’s intricate salary-cap rules.

But otherwise, this is just a brilliant fucking idea on paper. The Knicks get older, get more expensive AND add a player to win in the short-term when the team isn't built to win in the short-term. 

I may be the only person on the planet who believes such a trade would be a key step toward bringing the Knicks a championship.

Perhaps that should tell William Rhoden something. Alas, it only reinforces his impression this trade must happen.

Knicks fans point out — emotionally, by the way — that Bryant is 35 and has a ton of N.B.A. mileage on him, and that he tore his Achilles’ tendon in 2013 and fractured his knee this season. His body has taken a beating, and Jackson would be gambling on Bryant’s recuperative powers.

These are all very, very, very, very, very legitimate concerns by the way. These aren't opinions on why a trade for Bryant would not be in the best interests of the Knicks, but are facts about why trading for Kobe Bryant seems like a bad, bad, bad idea. Kobe is old, expensive, and coming off a major injury. It's not that Kobe can't compete anymore, it's that why would the Knicks gamble on this happening? 

But Bryant’s will, his competitive spirit and his commitment to winning are like new, and they are what the Knicks need most.

Oh, well I completely disregarded Kobe's will and competitive spirit. Not to mention, his commitment to winning explains perfectly why he would be willing to go to an NBA team that hasn't won an NBA title since 1970. But back to that will and competitive spirit. That spirit can make Kobe's teammates around him better though, right? Kobe can win a title with the Knicks current roster? 

For the next two seasons at least (Bryant is signed through the summer of 2016), they need him to point the way. And that, he can still do.

Leadership by verbal abuse. The perfect recipe to turn the Knicks around. I also love the idea Bryant will "point the way." Pointing the way isn't going to make the teammates around him better. I'm sure Kobe "pointing the way" to J.R. Smith will encourage him to stop hoisting up three-point shots with no regard for moving the ball around. 

In Anthony, the Lakers would get a supreme building block. That organization has good karma, as Jackson might say,

Then why not keep the building block in New York? Maybe Anthony isn't as good at "pointing the way" as Kobe might be. After all, nothing says "smart organizational decision" like bringing in an aging shooting guard coming off major surgery who is going to make $48 million over the next two years. If that organization can trade "a supreme building block" w hen acquiring this aging shooting guard then that's all the more better.

Bryant admires Jackson, and Jackson is probably one of the few people capable of showing Bryant a vision of accomplishing something that even Jordan could not — reviving a second N.B.A. team.

Now were are getting to the "doesn't everyone want to play in New York?" section of the column which assumes every pro athlete wants to play in New York. Why wouldn't they? It's New York! It's better than anywhere else according to people who live in New York. 

If nothing else, Bryant might set the stage for a Kevin Durant era in New York,

Why would Kevin Durant want to play with Kobe Bryant again? Durant, if he leaves Oklahoma City, would be leaving a ball-hogging shooter. Why would he want to play in New York with an aging ball-hogging shooter? Also, couldn't the Knicks sign Durant without Kobe being on the roster? I think the Knicks could get Durant without Kobe around. After all, every NBA player wants to play in New York, right?

If Knicks fans need proof of how players can transform an organization, they need look no further than the Brooklyn Nets.

It seems this column is really about competing with the Nets. The Nets signed aging superstars so clearly that's what the Knicks should do as well. 

The Nets added two aging stars from the Boston Celtics — Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — and saw a cultural shift slowly take place.

It also helped the Nets had Deron Williams and Joe Johnson on the roster, as well as had Shaun Livingston coming off the bench. But yeah, the situations are totally comparable. Pierce and Garnett had no major injuries they were recovering from, while Kobe is coming off major knee surgery and he will be playing with guys nowhere close to having the talent of Johnson and Williams. 

“Guys like that don’t accept teammates playing losing basketball or not taking things seriously,” said the Nets’ general manager, Billy King.

But Kobe can't make his teammates play basketball better by raising their skill level. He can't make them into something they are not.

So much time has passed since the Knicks last won a title that just about everyone associated with the team has forgotten what a championship looks like. Instead, the desire to win has been replaced by the collective satisfaction of sending coaches, players and executives to the gallows.

Kobe could bring a winning mentality to the team, but that winning mentality only can take a team so far. A winning mentality can't compensate for a lack of talent or bad coaching. 

James L. Dolan, the Knicks’ owner, encourages all this misdirected emotion through frenzies of misguided moves.

It's weird that Rhoden is saying this because I think trading Carmelo Anthony for Kobe Bryant would be a misguided move. 

Jackson’s stature is too great to be easily diminished by Dolan, but he needs a player of similar stature to push against the inertia that has built up over more than four decades.

Enter Bryant.

Unfortunately inertia also seems to be pushing Kobe more towards retirement and away from being the franchise player that William Rhoden believes him to be. 

In the end, the odds of this happening are tiny, or infinitesimal.

Probably because it's a bad idea and not in the long-term interests of the Knicks. Any player they can get in free agency can probably be had without Kobe Bryant on the roster. 

But as things stand now, those are about the same odds of the Knicks winning an N.B.A. championship anytime soon.

Given a choice, I’d bet on Bryant.

I wouldn't make this bet at all. If the Knicks traded for Kobe then they would have to make 2-3 other moves, because getting rid of Anthony to sign an aging, hobbled Kobe Bryant sounds like a terrible, terrible idea to me. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

2 comments Mitch Williams: The Gift That Just Keeps On Giving

I've come to love Mitch Williams' short blog postings. These short blog postings are usually as long as they are insightful. Today, Mitch Williams takes on Carlos Gomez and his flair for having flair while on the baseball field. Carlos Gomez has irritated his fellow baseball players before and now he's doing it again. The Pirates and Gerrit Cole took exception to Carlos Gomez flipping his bat and this created a brawl between the Pirates and Brewers. Mitch Williams is very much on team Cole and thinks that Carlos Gomez should not do things like flip his bat, but if he does more than that then the players should police themselves, which is sort of what happened during the brawl I believe.

After watching what happened in Pittsburgh yesterday when Carlos Gomez hit the long fly ball to center and flipped his bat, then jogged until he saw it wasn’t going out of the park, at which point he decided to run.

I'm not the king of grammar and sentence structure, so I would normally feel bad for pointing this out, "but after watching what happened in Pittsburgh yesterday..." what? What happened after this? This sentence just sort of ended without Mitch telling us what happened after he watched the game. It trails off as if Mitch got distracted by something shiny. After reading this sentence where Mitch Williams described what happened in the game between the Pirates and Brewers.

He ended up sliding into third with a triple, and when Gerrit Cole said something to him, Gomez charged off of third base at him.

It's baseball's version of justice. Gomez violated an unwritten rule, tempers flared, a fight started and the world moved on.

A couple of things come to mind when I see that. The first being that if I were Cole I would have charged back and tagged him out.
The second is wondering how many times this sort of thing has to happen with the same player instigating animosity between teams before something is done about it!

I like the paragraph break, but there is no additional line to indicate "The second" began a new paragraph. I think it's clear at this point that Mitch Williams edits his own blog. 

Back to these two sentences separately.

The first being that if I were Cole I would have charged back and tagged him out.

No, you would not have. Actually you know what, maybe Mitch would have tagged out Gomez if given the choice between making the tag and being punched in the face. If a human being is being charged, then I think the fight-or-flight reflex kicks in and making sure you get credit for the out isn't going to be the first priority. Especially since the umpires would probably claim Gomez isn't out since time was unofficially called before trying to tackle/punch/pretend to fight Gerrit Cole. But again, in this situation getting punched in the face just to record an out is not the correct move.

The second is wondering how many times this sort of thing has to happen with the same player instigating animosity between teams before something is done about it!

Here is the (lack of) brilliance of Mitch Williams. He states here that he wants "something done about it." Later in this short blog posting he will say what makes baseball great is the players police themselves. So how can something be done about it if Mitch wants the players to police themselves? This makes not of sense.

Last year it happened when he hit a home run off Paul Maholm. Even in the NFL there is a penalty for taunting. But there is no such rule in baseball. Since there is no rule, the players have to handle it themselves. I am speaking for both hitters and pitchers.

Does Mitch want a rule rather than have the players handle it themselves? Of course not, but this doesn't mean something shouldn't be done about it. MLB needs to do something about Carlos Gomez flipping his bat, while not actually doing anything that prevents the players from policing themselves. Perhaps Mitch wants MLB to issue a statement saying all violations of unwritten rules will result in unwritten suspensions and unwritten verbal warnings followed by fines that don't exist.

If a pitcher strikes a hitter out in the middle of a game and stares down a hitter, or does anything that shows that hitter up, I think the opposing pitcher has every right to send a messege to an opposing hitter that he better have a talk with his pitcher.

Hopefully Mitch Williams won't be providing this message in written form because it would probably be misspelled. Perhaps Mitch meant that the opposing pitcher has every right to send a MASSAGE to the opposing hitter in order to calm his nerves down and he just accidentally used the letter "e" instead of the letter "a." Or more likely, perhaps Mitch Williams can't spell very simple words and should have someone like a sixth grader looking over his shoulder to help him spell big words like "message."

I am of the firm belief that as a pitcher there is one out that you can celebrate, and that is the last out of a game.

Which not-so-coincidentally would be the out Mitch Williams got to celebrate as a pitcher since he was a closer. Weird how that works.

As for hitters, I have no problem with teams that get a big hit and drive a run in and look to their dugout and do an antlers sign or whatever it is that the team has come up with.

Teams can't celebrate scoring the last run of the game in a walk-off situation? Oh no, they can, it's just a batter can't celebrate hitting a home run if he isn't capable of fast-forwarding into the future to know he didn't actually hit a home run.

That creates team chemistry and it shows grown men who make a ton of money still are able to have fun.

You can't just create chemistry. Chemistry only happens through the constant display of the antlers sign. Everyone knows this.

What I couldn’t and can’t stand is a hitter who hits a home run, flips his bat and stands to admire it. As with pitchers the only home run that I think a hitter can throw his hands up in exultation and run as fast or as slow as he wants — as long as he runs while doing it — is a walk-off home run.

You know, if Mitch keeps writing down these rules for when players/teams can celebrate then they will no longer be unwritten rules. At that point, anarchy occurs because unwritten written rules are being violated.

That is not what is being done by Gomez. The ball he hit yesterday wasn’t even a home run.

Which was something Gomez didn't know until the ball landed in the field of play and not on the other side of the wall. So to say, "Gomez celebrated a hit that wasn't even a home run" is silly since the entire reason Gomez celebrated (prematurely as the case may be) is because he thought he had hit a home run.

So in my opinion Cole has every right to say something to him. The fact that Gomez felt the need to charge off third base after Cole should warrant a suspension.

The fact Cole was talking shit to Gomez, partially because he was embarrassed one of his pitches got lit up, is why Gomez felt the need to charge off third base after Cole. If Cole didn't have his pitch get lit up, he wouldn't have had to talk shit to Gomez at third base and the whole situation would have been avoided. Don't be pissy because Gomez almost took you deep.

Back in the old days, any time hitter showed up a pitcher, the next guy up got drilled. When that happens, the offending hitter’s teammates will take care of it.

Wait, so now Mitch is pulling this "back in my day" bullshit that sounds an awful lot like Cole wasn't in the right according to the unwritten rules and Cole should have drilled the next batter as opposed to mouth-off to Gomez at third base. Really MLB shouldn't let Mitch Williams have his own blog if he isn't going to spell words correctly nor make any damn sense when he writes. He says Cole was in the right in this situation, then states Cole didn't get retribution the way he should have.

A few years ago, the Rangers were playing the A’s and Vicente Padilla gave up a home run. The hitter didn’t stand and admire it. He didn’t do anything to show up Padilla. But Padilla drilled the next hitter. As a pitcher, if you make a mistake and a guy hits a home run off you and doesn’t do a thing to show you up and you hit the next guy, you are an idiot.

Okay, let's keep focused on the current situation and not talk about situations where the pitcher was in the wrong. This is supposed to be about how Gomez was in the wrong for admiring his home run and Cole had every right to jaw at Gomez while he was on third base.

The next inning, Michael Young came up and the A’s pitcher threw at him the entire at bat, until finally hitting him. In my opinion, that is what should have happened.

Part of the problem with this type of justice is suspensions will follow if a pitcher throws at a batter now. Each team gets one warning and then if another batter gets hit pitchers start getting ejected and suspensions could occur.

Plus, I can't read minds, but I would doubt the A's hit Young because Padilla violated an unwritten rule by hitting an A's batter who didn't violate an unwritten rule. Young got hit because an A's player got hit. It's probably that simple.

Following the game, the Rangers released Padilla. Well handled by the Rangers. So I don’t just take the pitcher’s side in these matters.

Well, Padilla did get the swine flu. I sort of feel like there is an unwritten rule stating if a pitchers gets the swine flu then his team must release him. If he flies back to you, using his new swine flu powers, then it's meant to be.

But when it comes to what Gomez did, let’s look at this from a pure common sense standpoint.

Oh, so we are back talking about Carlos Gomez again? If we are going to look at this from a pure common sense standpoint then who will be writing the rest of this column in Mitch's place?

Gomez has played eight years, averaging 14 home runs a season. He should be running hard out of the box every ball he hits.

Yes, Carlos Gomez should be hustling on every play. It's always a good idea. But this isn't about Carlos Gomez not hustling, but is about Gomez's behavior when he believes he hit a home run. Correct? Most baseball players don't hustle out of the box if they think they have hit a home run, so why would Gomez start sprinting out of the box if he thinks he's hit a home run? Recently Derek Jeter didn't hustle out of the box because he thought he hit a home run. This shit happens, yet somehow the world moves on.

Adam Dunn has played 14 years and has averaged 38 home runs per season. He hits balls that are no-doubt bombs. And yet Dunn drops his bat and runs. Miguel Cabrera has played 12 years and averages 35 home runs a year. He drops his bat and runs, too. Neither of them are speed burners, and they know when they have hit it out. But neither of them does anything to show up a pitcher.

Two things:

1. Miguel Cabrera and Adam Dunn's running speed is equivalent to Carlos Gomez's jogging speed.

2. These two players do not run out of the box if they think they have hit a home run. Not usually.

Last year Miggy hit a ball really well to right center in Detroit he took off running. The ball was caught and as he jogged across the mound, Miggy slapped the opposing pitcher on the butt as to say good job.

Cabrera was running because he knew he had not hit a home run. That's the difference. Mitch Williams is willfully ignoring that Gomez thought he had hit a home run, so that's why he didn't come tearing out of the box.

That is respecting the game! And the people you are playing against.

Remember the time Carlos Gomez hit a ball really well to left center and didn't even leave the batter's box, but instead started walking backwards to first base, then after he saw the ball was caught took a piss on the pitcher's mound as he walked backwards across it? That's not respecting the game and the people he is playing against.

I think Carlos Gomez has a ton of talent, but he needs to learn respect for the game and the players who play it. Like I said, the players should have fun and let their personalities show.

Let's see if I understand Mitch's position. Don't celebrate any accomplishment on the field that doesn't involve a show of antler horns with your teammates. Antler horns are fine and not running out of the batter's box is fine if you actually hit a home run. Thinking you hit a home run and not hustling of the batter's box is bad and disrespecting the game. The pitcher is perfectly allowed to jaw at that player who disrespected the game while he is on-base, except the pitcher should not jaw at the player while he is on-base and instead risk a suspension by throwing at the next batter, followed by one of his teammates getting hit the next inning.

I think that sums it up.

Would Gomez like it if a pitcher struck him out, and pointed his finger like it was a gun, and blew the the smoke off the barrel and waved him back to the bench? No, he wouldn’t.

No, he would not like that. It would hurt his feelings greatly.

But at this point, that would be warranted.

So is this another unwritten rule? If a batter violates an unwritten rule by showing up the pitcher then the pitcher can then violate an unwritten rule by mimicking the batter's behavior. I feel like these unwritten rules need to be written down, but then if they got written down they would become rules and everyone would realize how stupid they sound sometimes.

There is a great quote by Barry Sanders when asked why he didn’t celebrate when he scored a touchdown. He said, “I think you ought to act like you’ve been there before.”

I'm pretty sure it was just "Act like you've been there before," but I should probably be happy that Mitch Williams spelled all the words correctly in this sentence. I love that in baseball, a sport that is accused of not being exciting, players who try to differentiate themselves and have a personality are frowned upon.