Tuesday, April 1, 2014

4 comments MMQB Review: Baseball Season Preview Edition

Peter King talked (yet again) about how big of a bust Josh Freeman is last week in MMQB. He also made a slightly snide comment about Teddy Bridgewater claiming to be a "servant-leader" without actually looking the term up to see what it meant and gave Starbucks some advice on how their vanilla drink is too sweet. Because the one thing Starbucks needs is better advice on how to sell their products. This week Peter brings it down a little by talking about Jim Kelly's latest cancer battle and Peter's brother (the one he visited in England a few weeks ago) passed away over the weekend as well. So as much of a pretentious person Peter can be, that still sucks and has to be difficult to deal with. In fact, it's sort of bullshit he has to write his MMQB for next week, but I guess it's his job so he will do it. This week Peter also talks about the DeSean Jackson saga, Ralph Wilson's dying wish just so happens to also be a pet project for change in the NFL that Peter supports, and makes his predictions for the baseball season. 

The family will need those moments in the coming weeks. Today, provided a slight fever is under control by this morning, Kelly begins a regimen of treatment—chemotherapy Monday and Tuesday, radiation Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—designed to stop the cancer that is dangerously close to the carotid artery in his head. It’s too perilous to operate now, even if the cancer that has spread up his infraorbital nerve can be neutralized, because there’s no guarantee all of it can be found and removed.

It’s a complex cancer.

I guess this is as opposed to a non-complex cancer. You know, the easy cancer to figure out.

At times, the support system has him feeling a little guilty. He walks the halls here and sees patients, some very seriously ill, alone. “There’s a lady down the hall,” he said to his brothers the other day. “Anybody visit her? I never see anyone. We should bring her some of my flowers.”

The Kelly family follows that Christian message now. Sometimes, their message and belief is so strong it sounds like a gospel tent in the room.

All this preaching about God and belief in a higher power is really offending Peter's liberal senses. What would Bono do? He'd have faith, but not talk about it unless he wanted a camera crew to follow him as he made a pilgrimage to Africa in order to show everyone what a good and caring person he was. Talk about faith and have a Christian message when in public, but all of this beliefs and faith in private just sounds like something you would hear in a revival tent to Peter.

On Friday night, I put out a message on Twitter to my followers. I asked if any of them had a message to send to Kelly, whose illness has been reported far and wide. I wanted to see what the level of compassion and concern was.

Peter wondered, "Do people give a shit if Jim Kelly has cancer" and the answer may surprise you. People DO care. Perhaps Peter should hit up his Twitter followers for an experimental, expensive treatment to help Kelly and then never update his Twitter followers on whether their donations for the treatment ended up working. I'm still waiting for Peter to announce in MMQB how the experimental treatment for Dr. Z up in Michigan worked out, mostly because a few years ago Peter spent quite a bit of time in MMQB hitting up his readers for money to fund these experimental treatments.

Wrote Rich Gannon (yes, that Rich Gannon): “Please know brother that you remain in our thoughts and prayers. No hill is too tough for a climber like you.”

THAT Rich Gannon? Thanks for telling us it was THAT Rich Gannon, because otherwise if it was just a Rich Gannon who was a normal person these words of encouragement would have meant jackshit. These words obviously mean more coming from a famous ex-athlete.

I read a 15 or 20 of them to Kelly and to the room of Kellys. He took a moment to compose himself.

“Humbling,” said. “Humbling. I had no idea. I mean, I don’t do Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. But they tell me about it. There’s a lot of ‘Get well, Jim Kelly,’ out there, and I am so appreciative of that. I really don’t know what to say.”

Say anything, but just don't say anything about God because it makes Peter feel uncomfortable. It's like a gospel tent up in here when the Kelly family using faith and their Christian beliefs to get through the cancer diagnosis of Jim Kelly.

After a while, a doctor came in and said she had to clear the room to examine Jim. Camryn and Jill’s mom went to get a bite to eat. The brothers went to relax downstairs in a waiting room. Jill and Erin adjourned to a waiting room down the hall that they’ve filled with inspirational Bible verses 

(Peter rolls his eyes)

(“The Lord is my helper … I will not be afraid”).

Peter believes those are lyrics to a U2 song, but he can't remember right now which one.

Earlier this month, when Jim and Jill Kelly had a moment alone, and they were digesting the news that the insidious cancer inside Jim’s face and head had returned with a vengeance, they began reflecting. When they reflect, the subject is often their late son Hunter, who died at 8 of a rare nervous system disease in 2005.
“Well,” Jim said, “I know where my son is, in heaven. And I’ll probably see him before you.”

Boy, Peter really brought the tone down in this MMQB. Rick Reilly should be embarrassed that he can't do personal interest stories like this one anymore.

But the thought is unavoidable. The reality of their lives, all of their lives, is that Jim Kelly is fighting for his. He’s in the best hands he can be, and all they all can do is hope, and pray, that modern science works, and these microscopic cancer cells don’t continue the march to Jim Kelly’s brain.

Snark aside, best wishes to Jim Kelly. I'd like to get back to mocking Peter King for what he writes in MMQB though. I'm here to be snarky and it's impossible to be snarky about cancer.

A very busy week, and weekend, in the life of the NFL, and a sad Sunday for me. My brother Ken died suddenly of a heart attack in a small village in England, and I’ll tell you a bit about him in a few paragraphs. Most of the following was written before I got the phone call, so here it is.

Man, Ralph Wilson hasn't even been brought up yet. This is quite the downer of a MMQB. By the way, this is the second King brother who has died of a heart attack. I mean, Peter needs to skip the colonoscopy exam and make sure he's getting his heart checked every six months.

If history is a judge, I would expect owner Dan Snyder and GM Bruce Allen to put on the hard sell to sign Jackson when he arrives in Virginia late today—or at least sometime before he leaves for his second meeting somewhere in the NFL. Snyder is a gambler.

Which is why Snyder is so sensitive to the needs and wants of the Native American community. He loves to visit their casinos, being the gambler that he is.

He does not like to lose players he wants, and why would he not be aggressive in pursuing Jackson? Washington is $7 million under the cap—not a lot of dough, but consider that its three best offensive weapons now (Pierre Garçon, Alfred Morris and newly signed wideout Andre Roberts) count for a reasonable $12.55 million on the cap this year.

That's good news. And I know Morris isn't going to want a new contract soon, so his cap figure is sure to never go up. Plus, the benefit of trading that first round pick for Robert Griffin is the Redskins don't have to pay a first round draft pick. What a wonderful situation for them to be in!

This is contingent, of course, on Allen and coach Jay Gruden and Washington assistants asking around about Jackson’s attitude, work ethic and off-field stuff.

Well, it is Dan Snyder so I'm not entirely sure he will ask important questions like:

1. Should we do research on Jackson's attitude and work ethic?

2. What are the salary cap ramifications?

3. Does he fit the offense Jay Gruden wants to run?

4. Does Jay Gruden or Bruce Allen want Jackson?

I can see Allen, as good a contract-writer as there is in the business, putting in enough insurance to protect Washington—and I also think Allen will be the calming influence on Snyder so the owner doesn’t throw so much money at Jackson to prevent him from seeking other options. And there will be more suitors.

You have to love it when the General Manager of a team has to be the calming influence to prevent the owner from wildly spending money.

So what happened in Philadelphia? I don’t think there was one specific event. I think there was a feeling internally in Philadelphia that Jackson should have been one of the team leaders, and an argument on the sideline would crop up, and he wasn’t the best work ethic guy, and I always got the feeling that old and new administrations weren’t crazy about Jackson being in position to influence some of the younger players on the team.

So a story that DeSean Jackson may have been a part of a gang just happened to coincide with Jackson being released, which made it seem as if these two events were related in some way. Couldn't the Eagles have at least just released Jackson without a good reason like the Panthers did Steve Smith? That worked out so much better for Carolina in the Charlotte area with picketing and immature idiots saying they wouldn't ever support the team again. Why attempt to defame Jackson when you can just release Jackson and then have everyone freak out no reason was given?

But I want to stress that I don’t think this was a Kelly decision alone. I think this was organizational, brought on some by the negative publicity that came with the damaging NJ.com article released Friday.

The Eagles definitely had bad timing to release Jackson so soon after the article about his gang ties was read by so much of the Interwebs.

Just my feeling, because neither Kelly nor GM Howie Roseman were talking over the weekend, but I’d bet a lot that the Eagles, once the NJ.com story got out, didn’t know if there was going to be more bad stuff coming out on Jackson, and didn’t want any team coming back to them saying, “What were you hiding?” Plus, no team would have given anything for Jackson after that story hit the internet Friday—even though there was nothing damning in it, just a lot of smoke.

I personally find it hard to believe that no NFL teams would have given something, anything for DeSean Jackson after that story broke over the Internet. I could be wrong, but considering how quickly teams were on Jackson after he was released I can't imagine the smoke around him (without any real hard proof) wouldn't have deterred a team from giving up even a late-round draft choice for him.

More than a few people at the NFL meetings in Orlando took note of how engaged New England coach Bill Belichick—not normally a big speaker at league meetings—acted in the discussion on instant replay. Belichick believes every call should be replay review-able, and I’m told he gave a reasoned, cogent explanation of his position to the league when the matter was discussed last week. “Let’s open it up,” he said—meaning let’s allow any call to be reviewed.

More plays would be reviewable, which means coaches would have to be more judicious with when they throw the challenge flag, though this would also mean there are more reviews. So as long as the NFL is fine with more reviews occurring I see no issue with any play being eligible for review.

There were 1.65 replay reviews per game last season. Even if that were to go up to, say, 2.65 per game with the Belichick initiative, I don’t see much time being added to the average length of games, because most of the reviews (65 percent last year, officiating czar Dean Blandino said) can be done in conjunction with TV timeouts.

Well, this is assuming the new replay system where two guys in the league office are able to review the play during the TV timeout really does decrease the amount of time needed to ensure the proper call was made. Reviews can be done under the old system during TV timeouts as well, but it often took more time than just a TV timeout to review the play. I do see time being added to the average length of games because if the replay reviews are going to increase by one replay review per game then for no time to be added to the average length of the game the replay review time will almost have to be halved. Even with the league office reviewing replays I'm not sure I can see this happening.

And some movement on the PAT too. Good idea by Competition Committee member and noted conservative-football guy Mike Brown of the Bengals: Put all conversion tries at the one-yard line. The kick would be a piece of cake, of course, but the shorter distance would motivate more teams to go for a two-point conversion. A team with a power running attack or a great spread scheme might be emboldened to go for two consistently.

I don't believe moving the two-point conversion up one yard is going to make a huge difference in the number of teams that choose to go for two. I could be wrong, but head coaches are going to get an easy PAT attempt which will tempt them to be conservative. I find it hard to believe the same coaches who are currently too conservative to go for a two-point conversion on the two-yard line would suddenly start going for it on the one-yard line. The distance is only shorter by three feet anyway.

Denver coach John Fox said “high on his list,” when his team gets back together in April, will be talking to the group about locker-room inclusiveness. “I thought [Davis’ talk] was the most incredible thing I’ve seen here [at a league meeting], and I’ve been coming to these a long time.”

I think a lecture on inclusiveness will immediately convert those people who don't believe homosexuals have a place in an NFL locker room. Of course years of believing in excluding a certain group of people can be immediately changed by a lecture about how inclusiveness is the best way to succeed.

Divining the Draft. The five teams that intrigue me—for movement possibilities and volume—in the wake of the release of the official draft order the other day:

Cleveland. With eight picks in the top 150 (4, 26, 35, 71, 83, 106, 127 and 145), Browns GM Ray Farmer can surely move around with that fourth overall pick if there’s one player he can’t do without. If Farmer wants Sammy Watkins or Jadeveon Clowney or one of the two great tackles, no question he has the draft-pick currency to do it.

Because I think the Browns need to be moving up in the draft to get Clowney or Watkins, rather than using this "currency" to get a quarterback to throw the ball to Watkins. Also, if I'm the Browns I'm not entirely sure I'm spending draft picks as opposed to using these draft picks to improve the team at multiple positions.

St. Louis.

This is your weekly reminder the Rams have a wonderful draft strategy yet again that will immediately lead to Jeff "8-8" Fisher turning this team around. Just give him 2-3 more years and the Rams are going to be built for success.

The Rams are open for business, 

Much like how Peter used his affiliation with Marvin Demoff, he's trying to help Marvin's son out by getting some action on that #2 overall pick. Really, it's part of Peter's job to drum up some business for the Rams when he can. But don't worry, Peter plays it coy. The Rams are open for business, but they totally have an eye on a player or two in that #2 overall spot, so better make those trade offers to St. Louis quick because they are open to trading the pick but want to keep it also.

I get the feeling we are going to get a lot of Peter trying to drum up business for that #2 overall pick of the Rams over the next month.

with an extra first-round pick again (they pick at 2, 13, 44 and 75 on the first two days), but this might be the year they sit and take one of the two top tackles and be thankful that Washington (from whom they got the No. 2 pick) was so bad last fall.

Yeah, the Rams might use that pick. So NFL teams looking to trade up better make your best offer now rather than wait. Let's get a bidding war going so the Rams can get better value ou---I mean, let's have Peter convey this information to his readers and the NFL executives who read MMQB without any type of bias or ulterior motive.

Kenny King, 1949-2014.
My brother died Sunday, doing what he absolutely loved to do. He was 64, recently retired, a walkaholic, and he and his wife, Jane, were walking in a small village in England—where they lived—and he stumbled and fell. He said he didn’t feel well. An ambulance was called. On the way to the hospital his heart stopped, and the medics in the ambulance couldn’t make it start again.

Sad face for Peter. His brother was a Yankees fan and did not like coffee. I'm not entirely sure Kenny King was really Peter's brother. I wonder if Kenny King loved to travel and enjoyed meeting quirky people? If so, I think a DNA test would be required to prove he and Peter were related.

“I like tradition. But the extra point is so boring.”

—The late Bills owner Ralph Wilson, to club CEO Russ Brandon not long before he died.

OMG! That's exactly how Peter King feels about the extra point too! Ralph Wilson is a traditionalist who doesn't think the extra point is great. A traditionalist agrees with Peter, so this means getting rid of the extra point is completely the right choice for the NFL to make, even if no other acceptable alternative seems to have been proposed at this point outside of "Move the two-point conversion up one yard and then this will definitely make a huge difference in how many teams choose to go for two."

One of the reasons the NFL knows it has to do something about the ease of kicking is the man Pittsburgh has kicking: Shaun Suisham. Take a look:

Suisham made 96.3 percent of all kicks (131-136) over the past two years. The breakdown: 73 of 73 extra points and 58 of 63 field goals.

He is perfect in 29 of his last 32 games.

Suisham is no one’s choice as the best kicker in football.

It's really irrelevant who would choose Suisham as the best kicker in football.

The point is, if Shaun Suisham is a 92-percent field-goal kicker over two seasons, and has to boot his home kicks in an unfriendly stadium for kickers (Heinz Field, Pittsburgh), you know kickers are getting so good the league has to do something to try to make it tougher for them, either on extra points or field goals or both.

Part of me wonders why it is such a bad thing that NFL kickers are getting better at their job? If quarterbacks or receivers get better at their job then would the NFL make it harder to complete passes? Actually, through the defensive rule changes the NFL has done the opposite. I understand the PAT is boring, but I think it's sort of counter intuitive to narrow the goal posts because kickers are getting better at their job. No other position is being made more difficult in response to modern NFL players becoming better at increasing their percentage of success at that position.

From the Football Guy Till The End Dept.:
Five days before he died, Ralph Wilson called club CEO Russ Brandon to be briefed on the bylaws and rules proposals due to be discussed at the NFL meetings in Florida.

Considering Ralph Wilson was still the owner and couldn't have predicted he would die five days later I'm not sure how shocking this is. Wilson probably assumed he would have to know something about the bylaws and rule proposals, because he assumed he would still be alive for them to affect his team. Maybe Peter thought Ralph Wilson was going to predict his date of death?

“Miguel Cabrera will earn $49,423 PER AT BAT over the next decade. Median annual income of a household in Michigan: $48,471.”

—@darrenrovell, the ESPN sports business reporter, after Cabrera signed a new deal with the Tigers last week.

Yeah, but can the media household in Michigan hit a home run off professional pitching?

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think much has been made of the decline of Jared Allen as a pass-rusher,

I believe Peter has made mention of others seeing Jared Allen as declining, but I haven't seen where "much" has been made of his abilities as a pass rusher declining. Perhaps I'm not reading the right articles, but all I've read is that it wouldn't hurt to have Allen's snaps cut back a little bit. I'm just not sure who Peter believes is making a lot of Jared Allen's decline, because I just haven't read much of it.

2. I think the more I think about Devin Hester on the carpet of Atlanta for eight games (with a ninth at arch-rival New Orleans) the more I think the Falcons made a good signing. His 14.2-yards per punt return last year, when he turned 31, was fourth-best in his career, and only once has he had a better kick-return mark than his 27.6-yards per runback in 2013. If the Falcons limit his touches, he should be a big factor in 2014.


4. I think I would not be shopping All-Pro guard Evan Mathis if I were Eagles GM Howie Roseman. I’d be shopping for his groceries to convince him to stay for the rest of his career.

Yeah, but what if he has a bad attitude and is reportedly a member of the Dixie Mafia? I think a Philly newspaper needs to start investigating to see if Mathis has a gang affiliation or not.

5. I think Tom Coughlin might be 68, but he talks like a man who wants to coach multiple seasons. “There is no number,” he said when asked how much longer he wants to coach. “I don’t have a number.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see Coughlin, if he wins, coach five more years.

If Coughlin is still the head coach of the Giants in three years, then up and dies during the offseason, Peter will write about how Coughlin was a football guy to the end because he was still watching tape on draft prospects five days before he passed away.

7. I think the oddest thing that came out of the month of March was news that the Saints will spend the first three weeks of training camp this year (except for travel to the first two games) at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The place will install two natural grass fields and one artificial-turf field for the Saints, along with a 55,000-square-foot building for offices, weight room, meetings and locker room. That’s an amazing investment to make, one the Greenbrier probably doesn’t make if it’s only for one season.

Well, if an NFL team wants their players to stay out of trouble then sending their asses to West Virginia isn't a bad idea. They may pass away from boredom or an over-sized pickup truck with mud on the wheels may run them off road, but they won't have a way of getting in trouble. Coal, it's what keeps the lights on you know.

9. I think John Schneider, the real GM, and Kevin Costner, who plays one in a movie coming out April 11, are close to the same guy from what I’ve heard about Draft Day. Costner doesn’t care if he is liked. Sounds familiar.

"Draft Day," and I'm going to avoid mincing words here, looks absolutely fucking terrible and cheesy. It's a love story AND a fairy tale version of an NFL front office. You mean Kevin Costner is in the movie and it's not the early 90's? How quickly can I stand in line to see it? 
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Hooray! Baseball starts in full today!

Oh good, baseball thoughts from Peter King. Yippee!

b. What other player could have made $144 million by age 29 and then hit free agency in his prime? Mike Trout’s going to do that, if his health cooperates.

Miguel Cabrera signed an 8 year deal in 2008 when he was 24 years old for $153 million. He would have been a free agent at the age of 32. Freddie Freeman also signed an 8 year deal for $135 million and will be a free agent at the age of 32. Clayton Kershaw will have made $215 million from his current contract when he is a free agent at the age of 32. So the answer is nobody that I can think of right now. Of course, if Trout keeps eating 36 ounce steaks then he has a better chance of being 144 pounds overweight at his 29th birthday than he has of getting another huge payday in free agency. 
c. My picks: American League division winners: Tampa Bay, Detroit, Oakland. Wild Cards: Boston, Cleveland. AL champ: Oakland … National League division winners: Atlanta, St. Louis, Arizona. Wild Cards: Los Angeles, Cincinnati. NL champs: St. Louis. World Series champ: Oakland.

So feel free to pick the exact opposite teams that Peter has picked here. I'm not sure what the exact opposite of these teams are, so maybe just guessing a winner from the remaining teams in each division is a better choice if you want to choose the division winners from each league correctly. 

d. MVPs: Dustin Pedroia, Boston; Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona … Cy Young: Masahiro Tanaka, New York; Alex Wood, Atlanta
I can't believe Peter picked a Red Sox to win the MVP. Shocking. More importantly, Alex Wood to win the Cy Young award. That's interesting to say the least. 
e. Grady Sizemore starts in center field today for Boston in the opener at Camden Yards. Amazing story. Sizemore’s last baseball game: Sept. 22, 2011. That’s 30 months ago.
This is Peter naively getting overly-excited about Grady Sizemore playing center field for his beloved Red Sox. It does make sense that a person who thinks Alex Wood is going to win the NL Cy Young award would also get very excited and be let down if Grady Sizemore doesn't crack 100 games played. 

g. Just wanted you to recall how great Sizemore once was. Not Pujols great, of course, but pretty good. He’s still just 31.

He's still just 31 years old and has had seven somewhat major injuries during his career and hasn't played a game in over two years. So being "just" 31 years old also means Sizemore has suffered quite a few injuries without the injuries traditionally attributed to age.

(And of course I write this and Sizemore had a great opening day. He can play, I just wonder if he can stay healthy)

h. Houston manager Bo Porter is an interesting story. He played cornerback at Iowa under Hayden Fry. He once got a hit off Dwight Gooden. He’s a Newark guy who loves Bill Parcells.

God, he sounds riveting.

I hope I didn't offend Peter by writing "God." Don't worry there's no gospel tent revival happening over here or anything.

i. The Dodgers will begin their fourth game of the season Tuesday at 3:40 p.m. in San Diego. At that time, the Yankees and Astros will not have played a regular-season game.

Thanks Gregg Easterbrook. 

m. The 5.5-minute delay at the end of Arizona-Wisconsin? Intolerable. You don’t delay a game for that length of time to look at replays. You just don’t.

But they did. They just did. 

n. Coffeenerdness: Gotta do better on the coffee, McDonald’s. Tried you two times in Florida last week. Way, way too weak.

Yeah, fuck you McDonald's. Good luck making profit without having Peter's business. 

q. With regard to Jerry Remy’s job status as the color man in the TV booth for the Red Sox, he should not lose his job because his son is a psychopath who is charged with murdering the mother of their child. Even if Jerry Remy is somehow at fault for his son’s wayward life, you don’t fire an announcer because his son’s an idiot, even a murderous idiot.
But it's okay to fire a football player because he has a friend who is a murderous idiot, yet wasn't convicted of murder. 
The Adieu Haiku

Who wants ex-Eagle?
DeSean, Decker and the Jets:
Perfect together.

With Mike Vick throwing them the football, what could go wrong? 


The Casey said...

IIRC, Peter's got Alex Wood on his fantasy team. While I, as a Braves fan, certainly hope he does well, Cy Young seems a bit of a reach. Ugh.

Bengoodfella said...

Casey, he isn't winning the Cy Young. That's just silly. He hasn't even pitched a full season in the majors yet. Not that it means he won't win, but he hasn't even proven he can throw 200 innings at the MLB level. Let's let him get there first.

Crazee said...

" n. Coffeenerdness: Gotta do better on the coffee, McDonald’s. Tried you two times in Florida last week. Way, way too weak.

Yeah, fuck you McDonald's. Good luck making profit without having Peter's business. "

Awesome, I literally lol'ed.

Bengoodfella said...

I'm glad you liked it. Boy, Peter really gave it to McDonald's didn't he? I do think McDonald's has weak coffee, but I don't think it's terrible or anything. Peter is a coffee snob though.