Friday, May 30, 2014

2 comments MMQB Review: A Very Non-Specific Brady Interview

Peter King finally mentioned that Gregg Williams went to the St. Louis Rams as their defensive coordinator in last week's MMQB. I was wondering when he was going to get around to it. He also told his readers why St. Louis was the perfect place for Michael Sam and eased slowly into the mid-summer lull that will become MMQB. This week Peter talks about Tom Brady, Jim Irsay (while not acknowledging how he treats Irsay and a player differently when they both get picked up for driving while impaired), the Redskins name debate, and marvels at all all of the food trucks in Portland. 

On this Memorial Day, we pause to remember the 1.3 million American soldiers who have died in war since our founding, and the 1.5 million who have been wounded. Thank you. Thank you again, to all who have served and sacrificed, and to those who now serve and sacrifice.

These soldiers fight hard for American freedom so that Peter King can bitch about having to wait too long in line for coffee and have the freedom of speech to eavesdrop on the conversation of strangers while in public. I'm sure this is inspiring news for them to know.

American, land of the free, home of the brave, and that guy just took his shoes off on a plane right in front of Peter! No man should have to endure such an indignity while flying first class, drinking wine other people have served him and reading the paper! This is America, not some third-world country where they don't wear shoes!

Sometimes, Tom Brady gets slapped in the face that he’s still a pretty big deal, even with no Super Bowl titles for going on a decade now. His charity of choice, Best Buddies, which fosters relationships and employment training for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, asked him to make a trip to Houston for a private Best Buddies dinner and auction. “I sat next to this man’s wife at dinner, and it was a really good night,” Brady said. “He’s been very supportive of Best Buddies, and he was that night.”...Not bad: Half a day in Houston, almost a million bucks for the charity he’s passionate about. Which left him grateful, and a little dazed about raising that much in Texans country, half a country away from his team.

Because it's impossible to believe someone from Texas who wants to support a charity would do so if the benefit of supporting the charity is to play in a touch football game with Tom Brady. I am not a huge fan of Tom Brady, but would I pay a lot of money (assuming I had any money) to play touch football with him? I probably would. So it's not weird in Texans country for a guy to want to play football with a Hall of Fame quarterback of an opposing team.

“I shake my head about a lot of things these days,” Brady said.

We know what you mean, Tom. We get it. I can't believe Blake Bortles went #3 in the draft either.

The other day he used his 6:20 a.m. drive from Boston to Foxboro to talk about his present and future, but not to dish very specifically about anything.

Oh great! Please feel free to re-print this entire interview. I love to hear athletes talk in generalities about what may or may not happen in the future without handing out specific information.

Said Brady: “It’s hard to explain this to people, but the commitment I make, in terms of keeping my body in shape and my nutrition right, should make me healthy. I feel better today than when I was 25, and I know that’s hard for people to believe, but I do. I work at it. Basically, I work all off-season to prepare my body to not get hurt. I can’t help the team if I’m on the sidelines. I’ve got to be durable.”

Smart man. Tom Brady remembers how he got the starting quarterback job for the Patriots and sees why Alex Smith is now playing quarterback in Kansas City and not San Francisco. He's a California boy and remembers the move from Joe Montana to Steve Young. Gotta stay healthy and gotta stay productive. That's the key to not getting replaced.

So he works with House, the former baseball pitcher and maestro to many pro quarterbacks and major-league pitchers, and he is diligent about his eating and fitness. But beyond that, he’s not going to help you with specifics.

Thanks for the interview then, Peter! It seems Peter interviewed Tom Brady and the biggest takeaway he wants to share with his readers is "You aren't going to learn anything." This is the sign of a real sportswriter, digging deep into a subject and refusing to run the interview until he is sure the reader has learned something new or---I'm just kidding of course. Peter got an interview with Tom Brady. That's all that matters when it's put in a headline. It gets pageviews. Day done, where's that Allagash White beer?

Does it work? You be the one to judge. Watch me play. Then draw your own conclusions.”

Don't yell at me! Would you dare talk to Gisele like that?

Then Peter shows numbers that explain Brady is better post-knee surgery than he was pre-knee surgery. What he doesn't show is why this proves he's overrated as a quarterback and the one season Matt Cassel started for the Patriots proves that!

(I'm kidding about that. My post from years ago about why Tom Brady is not overrated still gets randomly linked places from time-to-time, followed by the same argument that's been going on for six years now...I just enjoy re-hashing the argument from time-to-time)

Bill Belichick waded into the second round to take Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, his highest pick of a quarterback in the time that Brady has been his starter. It’s the second time Belichick has spent a fairly high pick on a passer in recent years. In 2011 he used the 74th overall selection on Ryan Mallett. This year Garoppolo was the 62nd overall choice.

There is a difference in Belichick drafting Mallett, who was considered a value pick at #74, and Garoppolo, who went a little higher than expected by some "experts" but still around the time he was projected to be drafted. Belichick has intentions with the Garoppolo pick I don't think he had with the Mallett pick.

Though Brady is entering his 13th starting season, he hopes Belichick’s just wasted another pick on Garoppolo.

Don’t expect Brady to ever say that. But there’s no question that’s how he feels.

Wait, so Tom Brady may not want to be replaced as the Patriots starting quarterback? I just learned something new. I was promised no specifics and no learning in this interview with Brady.

“I had a pretty good idea we’d take a quarterback,” Brady said. “Coach Belichick doesn’t care who the quarterback is here. He’s always going to play the guy who he thinks gives him the best chance to win.

I bet some Patriots fans wish they could say the same thing about Belichick's attitude towards the Patriots receiving corps.

Three other Brady quickies:

Author's note: This is much different from the Favre quickies and Manziel quickies (Peter hopes) that Peter can not talk about in MMQB. This is a family column and it's too early for Peter to hope that Manziel feels the same way Favre felt about him. Sure, he's older now and the age difference is even more pronounced. But feelings don't age at the rate humans do and Peter knows how he feels, even as Manziel prances around at parties with co-eds. That's temporary and what Peter feels about Johnny Manziel is real and permanent. It won't go away and it can certainly last through the advances of a few whore-ish 20-something girls who don't nearly have the amount of money and pull in the NFL that Peter has. Have your fun now, Johnny, Peter is coming for you later. He'll sweep you up in his arms and carry you away from Browns training camp when the time is right.

On the nine-year Super Bowl-win drought: “It’s hard to win. Thirty-two teams are working hard to try to win it every year, and we’ve been close … 14-2, the Super Bowl in 2011, the AFC Championship Game in 2012 and 2013. You get to those games, and you have to play your best to win, and we haven’t. I haven’t. We had too many opportunities we missed last year in Denver. And then what it comes down to is only one team really had a great season at the end.”

I recognize this is obvious, but it's really fucking hard to win a Super Bowl. A lot of things have to go right, few things have to go wrong, and it's hard to be on the right side in a one-off playoff game. Other teams practice and prepare for the games too. So if Tom Brady retires with three Super Bowls and never wins another one, then he's had a hell of a career. If winning a Super Bowl were easy, every team could do it.

Now he was in Foxboro. The clock struck 7.

And at 7, much like Cinderella, Peter turns into a cafe latte.

Last question: “How’s it been to work and throw against Darrelle Revis so far?”

“I’m tired of throwing against him, that’s for sure,’’ Brady said. “I did tell him, ‘Hey, we plan on building a couple of hotels on your island over there, so don’t be offended.’ “

Then after they build the hotels on Revis Island, Tom Brady and Gisele will frolic with their children on the island, riding jet skis, and holding hands walking down the beach.

Most prevalent question from the NFL public over the past four months: What’s taking Roger Goodell so long to bring the hammer down on Jimmy Irsay and Ray Rice?

He's so busy suspending guys for serious violations like smoking marijuana he doesn't have time to deal with players who do such menial things like strike their wife or drive around drunk.

I believe sooner, rather than later, Irsay will be suspended and heavily fined by Goodell for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy. Under Goodell, the NFL has almost always waited until the legal process played out on a first-offense with a player or other league or team employee.

Except for the case of Ben Roethlisberger of course.

This is Irsay’s first legal offense. But I don’t think Goodell is going to wait much longer, and I don’t believe Goodell will let Irsay have his day in court before he sanctions the Colts owner.

Wait, so Peter's excuse is that Goodell is waiting for the legal process to play out, but Peter thinks Goodell will suspend Irsay before the legal process plays it self out? Goodell is either waiting for the legal process to take its course or he isn't. It's A or B. If Goodell is waiting for the end of the legal process, then wait, but don't claim that's what he's doing and then say Goodell will suspend Irsay before the legal process plays out.

Goodell could choose to wait until the case is adjudicated; that has been his M.O. But there’s enough that’s solid now for him to make his call, and there’s the specter of letting an owner own while a damning case drags through the legal system, if it does drag.

So basically there is no real policy about letting the case play out and Goodell's reaction depends on each individual case and the evidence brought against a player/owner in that case, as opposed to waiting for the legal system to run it's course?

Early this month, when I was in Atlanta covering the Falcons’ draft, I ran into a retired player who launched into a screed on Irsay and how the NFL hadn’t disciplined him yet. “When that discipline comes, he ought to be tested daily,’’ the player railed. “If they can test a player 10 times a month, an owner should be tested more.”

Every time Jim Irsay pees, his urine should immediately be drug tested. In fact, if Irsay breathes then that breath should be submitted to a Breathlyzer.

Goodell has to be considering a large fine and removing Irsay from any involvement with the Colts for months. But any penalty that doesn’t included future random testing will be dangerous and wrong-headed.

Of course Goodell will have removed Irsay from any involvement with the Colts AFTER he gets to participate in the 2014 draft and AFTER he is able to attend the pitch to bring the 2018 Super Bowl to Indianapolis, but that's probably just me being nit-picky.

Does Goodell really want to risk the specter of an impaired Irsay staggering in after a three-game losing streak and firing his coach and general manager?

I'm not entirely sure this would happen. I would like to hear Peter explain why he discusses Irsay being pulled over for driving erratically in terms of him having a problem, yet discusses an NFL player like Josh Gordon or Greg Hardy's use of alcohol or marijuana purely in football terms?

There is a growing picture emerging of what happened that night. As Chris Mortensen has reported, sources say Rice and Palmer both were physically aggressive in the elevator. Who hit whom first? What does it matter? Palmer was the one who was knocked out and had to be dragged into a hallway. And there is no excuse for hitting a woman. None. Never. If she hit Rice 10 times, he has to hit her zero times. I don’t want to hear, “She hit him first.” Two wrongs don’t make a right. Ten wrongs don’t make a right, especially when it comes to physical abuse on a woman … especially physical abuse on a woman.

Unless she jumps in front of you at Starbucks or is standing in front of the Apple logo for too long. Then a kidney punch or tripping her would suffice as punishment for the wrong she has done.

What should have happened is, Rice should have said, regardless of who hit whom first, and who was responsible for tempers escalating: “I apologize to my wife for hurting her physically and emotionally that night, and I apologize to my team and those who have supported me so fervently since I’ve been in Baltimore. There is no one in this incident to blame but me. No man should ever raise a hand to a woman, regardless of the circumstances or what might have led to that moment. I am a better man than that, and I will work hard from this moment forward to try to earn back the trust that I have lost from everyone I know, and from every follower of the Baltimore Ravens. I am deeply sorry. Now I’ll answer any questions you might have.”

But Peter wants to add in the caveat that a woman who can't correctly stop at a four-way stop or get Peter's coffee latte order correct isn't a real woman anyway.

Rice likely faces a short (maybe two-game) suspension from the commissioner for being a first-time offender under the personal-conduct policy. He’s got a strong résumé and is greatly admired for his work in the community. He shouldn’t be thrown out with the trash. But he’s got to realize that the performance the other day was tone-deaf.

I guess Goodell is going to let the legal process play itself out before suspending Rice? After all, that's what Goodell does until he decides he doesn't want to do that anymore. It's his official policy unless the legal system is taking too long.

All owners get five minutes to cap their cities’ presentations. Benson capped New Orleans’ bid. Jimmy Irsay capped Indianapolis’.

Funny how Irsay's suspension may occur after he gets the chance to cap Indianapolis' bid for the 2018 Super Bowl. Weird how that works.

And Mark Wilf, owner/president of the Vikings and brother of principal owner Zygi Wilf, put a bow on the Minneapolis bid by saying, simply: “We need this now. The Super Bowl in 2018 will help us sell our stadium to our community far more than if we got the game two or three years later.”

"Give us the Super Bowl so we can justify spending the taxpayers money on a new stadium. It's obviously everyone else's job to justify the expense, not ours."

On the fourth ballot, requiring a simple majority, Minnesota won. The Saints thought they had 15 votes, so theoretically the vote could have been 17-15, Minnesota; the owners aren’t told what the vote was. But whatever it was, the upshot was easy. Sentimentality was out.

And of course that reasoning won out.

“From talking to the owners,” Roger Goodell said at the Atlanta meeting, “the determining factor was the stadium in Minneapolis, and the effort they made in bringing that stadium to completion.”

“It was so important,” Mark Wilf said Saturday, “because the competition for Super Bowls is not going to get less intense. New stadiums are getting built all the time. You never know after 2018 when our chance would come.”

And obviously Minnesota and the Wilf's had to get the Super Bowl to justify the expense of building a new stadium. It's typical Congressional-type thought. Spend a lot of money and then think of a way to justify the use of the funds. It's easier to say, "Hey look, we got a Super Bowl" as a reason why the new stadium was worth the cost, as opposed to saying, "Yeah, but look at the pretty new stadium we got for you...by the way, ticket prices are increasing."

It certainly would have come soon, because stadiums with domes in northern cities always get one game. But with the smooth and influential Arthur Blank getting spades in the ground in Atlanta last week for his new stadium—set to open in 2017—and Atlanta not having a Super Bowl since 2000, and with southern venues like Tampa Bay (last Super Bowl: 2009) and South Florida (2010) trying to break droughts that will be a decade long by the time the game comes around, it was no lock Minnesota would have gotten the 2019 Super Bowl.

And if the Vikings didn't get the Super Bowl then the new stadium would have totally not seemed worth it.

There are two ways to look at what the Seattle Seahawks did when they waived their sixth-round pick, Marshall tackle Garrett Scott, on Friday. You can say they blew it with their pre-draft investigative work on him. Or you can say it correctly—no one knew about the rare heart defect Scott had, and it never affected him in his college career, and, once the team found out, the Seahawks did a noble thing.

Seattle doctors found the heretofore undiscovered heart defect in Scott—one that hadn’t shown up at Marshall or in the NFL’s pre-draft screenings—once he came to Seattle last week. Instead of releasing Scott because he’s not going to be able to perform this season, and maybe ever again, Seattle GM John Schneider first signed Scott to a four-year contract, with a $100,000 signing bonus.

Maybe the Seahawks doctors blew during the pre-draft screening of Scott AND they did a noble thing by paying him the signing bonus they didn't have to give him. Mind blown.

In the debate about the name of Washington’s NFL team, there isn’t much common ground between the pro- and anti-Redskin side, but here’s one thing they can agree on: The conversation on the subject has never been louder. The two sides paint polar opposite pictures of the support for and appropriateness of the team name. What’s true, and what’s spin? Our take:

It's all part true and part spin. There, I just saved everyone time.

1.  Team says: An overwhelming majority of Native Americans do not find the name offensive.

The team and the NFL use as proof a 2004 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy center, in which 768 self-identifying Native Americans were asked this question: “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?” Ninety percent of those polled said the name did not bother them. It’s a leap, though, to say the results of that poll mean an overwhelming majority do not find the name offensive 10 years later, particularly when there is significant evidence to the contrary: 

Well, public opinion usually doesn't change that quickly in a decade. That's quite the transformation for 90% of people to agree with something and then 10 years later more than 40% of these people have changed their mind.

3. Team says: The term “Redskins” originated as a Native American expression of solidarity.

The N-word is used as a term of endearment and solidarity among some people, but that doesn't mean there should be a professional sports team with the N-word as the team name.

I’ve thought this for some time. At some point, at some league function or some private moment, but probably not for some time because it’s not a tidal wave of native sentiment yet, Roger Goodell and perhaps another owner Snyder trusts will go to Snyder and ask him, “Why are you doing this? Is this worth it? If you’re offending even 15 percent of native Americans in this country—and that’s probably a low number—is it worth it?”

And Dan Snyder will respond by reminding this person the Redskins are his team and he can call them what he wants to call them. The Redskins management and ownership has dug in at this point. It doesn't seem like they will change the name, barring someone very important forcing them to (Congress, Robert Griffin getting very involved against the use of the name, etc) do so. I know nothing about Daniel Snyder, but I don't think he's worried about offending 15% of native Americans.

To me, it just doesn’t make much sense for Snyder to keep fighting a fight that’s on the wrong side of history.

Yes Peter, but you also find the name offensive and think it should change. Dan Snyder doesn't see himself as being on the wrong side of history. He sees himself as rightfully resisting the insistence of others that his team change their name.

You have gotten to know Andy Benoit, I am sure, from his exhaustive work at The MMQB over the past year.

Andy is a bachelor. He lives in Boise. He told us he has two cats: the quite unathletic Mister Fizzles, whom he inherited from his sister a couple of years ago (“Mister Fizzles might have been raised by potheads; that is just not an agile cat,” Andy said), and the athlete in the feline family, Othercat.

So I just started calling him ‘Othercat.’ Not ‘Other [space] Cat.’ One word: Othercat. It just stuck. One day my parents were over for dinner and they were aghast at the name, implored me to change it and that’s when I dug in my heels.”

But cats always have names! Change the cat's name. DON'T YOU KNOW YOU ARE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY, ANDY?

Andy Benoit likes two drinks and two drinks only: water and skim milk. He recently had ginger ale for the first time.
“It’s like Sprite,” he reported. “Only more sophisticated.”

Okay. Only two drinks, huh? With the two cats and the inability to drink anything other than milk and water I'm starting to see why he is a bachelor. It's becoming a little clearer.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Travel Note of the Week

Because I have not been to Portland, Ore., much in my life, I didn’t know the city had a thriving community of food trucks and carts. Last Tuesday, on a walk through downtown Portland, I was amazed to see an incredible variety of food available in small trailers, all set up in an open-air parking lot in the center of the city, facing out on a square of sidewalks surrounding the parking lot. Transylvania food. Iraqi food. Georgian food. (Not Georgia the southern state; Georgia the country, halfway around the world.)

Thanks for clearing that up, Peter. Because your readers are all morons who think Georgia is only a state and not a country. If only we were as smart as you, then you wouldn't have to explain what Georgian food is. Peter wants his readers to know Portland, Ore. is "Oregon," not the type of rock that contains minerals that's often called "ore."

I was walking at about 7:30 in the morning,

Peter wants his readers to know that morning is often after night, which is the time when it's usually dark out.

But if you came back at lunchtime, 

That's the meal between breakfast and dinner. Peter doesn't want to confuse his readers.

Ole Latte, where the Brazilian roast was brewing, was thriving among the morning commuters going to work downtown. The 27-year-old barista, Rachael Metzger (“Barista is another word for daytime bartender,” she said),

Oh, so it must be a Portland thing to treat everyone like an idiot. I'm confused, WHAT'S A BARTENDER?

No time to chat. Customers.
“Hey David! Costa Rica today?” Rachael said.

Peter wants us to know that Rachael is talking about the coffee when saying "Costa Rica," not talking about the country.

David: “Nooooo. Brazil. My favorite. How was your weekend, Rachael?”

It's a community of food trucks that blows Peter's mind. All this food in this small little area. I wonder if Peter's sort-of-but-not-really nutrionist likes the idea of Peter being surrounded by various types of food like this?




News can't be supressed but news outlets could refuse to make public the name of the suspect in a shooting. This would serve two purposes. First, it would prevent the suspect's family from receiving national attention for a crime their child committed, and second, it would not get the suspect's name out there and make him/her famous. Still, I doubt every news outlet would agree to supress the name of the suspect and eventually the person's name would make it's way to the public.

The NPR host posed this question on Saturday night in the wake of another slaughter, this one killing seven and wounding six near a college campus in California, by another demented kid with a grudge against people and access to guns.

Peter loves his anti-gun statements and I'm sure this shooting is another strike in his mind against giving people access to guns. Much like illegal drugs such as cocaine or alcohol during Prohibition, if you prohibit access to a good or material then that means no one will have a chance to acquire that good or material, right? Get rid of guns by banning access to them. Hey, it helped the United States stop the trafficking of cocaine to a dead halt.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think that was a great job by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, going to Los Angeles and coming up with a depressing picture of the future of the NFL in L.A. two decades after the Rams and Raiders last played there. The money quote from Graham’s story, from long-time Los Angeles city councilman Bernard Parks: “I’ve finally, personally come to a conclusion. I have to resign myself to the fact the NFL is not coming.” Strong words from one of the biggest NFL flag-wavers in town.

2. I think, Sam Farmer, I will wait for your retort. Or your forecast.

It's the exact same line of thought about the exact same topic. There's no need for one part of this thought to be under #1 and the second part to be under #2. Combine them.

3. I think I hope Bill Belichick—as he did last week on SiriusXM NFL Radio—continues to press for replay on any call made in any game. For those who say it will lead to five-hour games, come on. It won’t increase the number of challenges each coach has per game; it will simply provide another bit of insurance against a blown call changing the outcome of a game.

It won't increase the number of challenges each coach has per game, but it will increase the chance each coach will use both of his challenges. This will further slow the game down, and if I'm being honest, the NFL already is running into issues in my mind with games going too long. The games have more action than baseball and so I'm not signaling that football is going to be considered boring in 10 years, but there's a lot of commercial breaks during a given game and the replay challenges already take five or so minutes. So while I'm not against Belichick's idea, Peter is missing the opposition's point. The point isn't that coaches will have more challenges, but that coaches will use all of their challenges.

9. I think—and this is not a football note, but a societal one—

Which obviously explains why this thought isn't in the "non-football thoughts of the week." 

following the Mark Cuban controversy of the past few days, what he said at worst was borderline racist. Borderline. I wouldn’t have said it, but I also wouldn’t have attacked him for it.

Peter wouldn't have attached Cuban for saying what he did, but he certainly would call him borderline racist.

Pretty soon, no public figure will say anything, ever, at all, that is borderline controversial. We’re forcing all free-thinkers and speakers to measure everything they say and then come out with pablum, or else risk facing some hurricane of anger in some social segment of this world—on Twitter, or some other forum—whether it’s truly deserved or not. 

Peter writes this after eviscerating Bernie Kosar last year for saying negative things about the Rams last year during a preseason game. Peter basically called Kosar a drunk. But this is totally different from that because Peter isn't the one making the comments.

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

Which is completely different from the societal thought above which was completely football-related.

c. Waking up Sunday morning, which of the following would you have believed more likely: Manny Ramirez named player-coach of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, or Kim Kardashian selling everything to follow the Dalai Lama?

Manny Ramirez being named a player-coach of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. By a longshot.

e. You mean there’s a race-car driver named Will Power and I’d never heard of him until the Indy 500 Sunday?

You mean you follow American Championship Car racing year-round? If not, then there's no reason you would have heard of Will Power.

g. I do not approve of the Stephen Drew signing. I approve of growing pains with a future star shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, instead of slapping him in the face after six weeks of mediocre play in the field at a time when his peers are juniors in college.

PETER DOES NOT APPROVE! THE RED SOX SHOULD IMMEDIATELY RELEASE STEPHEN DREW!

If only there were a way for Xander Bogaerts to play positions on the field other than shortstop. If only that seems to be the plan by Red Sox management to allow Drew's good glove on the field along with not impeding Bogaerts development by allowing him to play positions other than shortstop. If only, but alas it's not possible for Bogaerts to play any position other than shortstop in Peter's mind.

j. Did you know Adam Silver used to help babysit SI managing editor Mark Mulvoy’s kids in Westchester County, N.Y.?

Yes Peter, I absolutely knew that because I know every detail of every person's life. I believe Adam Silver and Will Power used to babysit children together if I'm not wrong.

k. One more story from the week that I absolutely loved: Joe Rhodes of the New York Times journeying to Vancouver to tell the tale of soccermania in nutty MLS markets Vancouver, Portland and Seattle. Always thought—and I told MLS commish Don Garber this—he should put the league office in Seattle, so it would be in the middle of three markets that treat the league closest to the way the English treat their major league.

Along with bringing the NFL Network back to the East Coast, Peter is all about putting a main office in the exact area where most of the news from that market is created. It's like he lives in a pre-Internet time where there's no way to cover sports news if a network can't get boots on the ground to cover that news.

n. Coffeenerdness: See my take on Portland coffee trucks on Page 4.

I wonder if Peter fell off the wagon and drank more than three cafe lattes this week and got fired as a client by his sort-of-but-not-really nutrionist. 

p. Johnny Manziel. Champagne rainstorm. TMZ. Las Vegas. Manziels will be Manziels.

I'm pretty sure that's not a phrase nor should it ever be a phrase. Manziel was hanging out with Rob Gronkowski too, which obviously bodes well.

Adieu Haiku

Memorial Day.
You can’t tell the story of
Pat Tillman enough.


Nor can Peter mention Johnny Manziel enough. You know, Peter hasn't mentioned Brett Favre in a while in MMQB. I wonder if they are quarreling because Peter doesn't like Favre's new homeless man look in retirement. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3 comments Bill Simmons Lazily Writes Another Fake Mailbag

After having written four original pieces of material in a row, FOUR!, Bill Simmons takes a step back and decides he hasn't done a mailbag in three weeks, THREE WEEKS!, and hasn't done a mailbag where he admits to making up the questions in almost a month. It's been a long time coming. So Bill decides he will write a "Self-Mailbag," which appears to be a mailbag where he admits to actually making up the questions, as opposed to his usual mailbags where I think he makes up some of the questions or at least edits them in a way they sound like Bill wrote them. So Bill has an idea presented in this mailbag that will shake up the NBA. Don't like you aren't excited.

Greetings from Miami, Florida, the gorgeous home of South Beach, LeBron and Wade, Pat Riley and the Miami Mafia, David Caruso’s sunglasses, the strongest coffee in America, Crockett and Tubbs (both semi-retired), my media nemesis Papi Le Batard (he calls me the “Great Houdini”),

Then Bill continues on with a long list of things in Miami including a mention of Jalen Rose and his friend/ex-teammate Juwan Howard, most likely discussing how they got a lot of hype at Michigan without actually having won an NCAA regular season Big 10 title or a title of any other kind during their two years there.

It’s an amazing city, one of those places that makes you feel like you’re walking around a 24-hour movie set.

And Bill has been on movie sets! He was an executive producer for "Million Dollar Arm," the movie that tanked at the box office because it looked shockingly uninteresting, AND he knows Jon Hamm. He also knows Jimmy Kimmel, and yes, he has his phone number.

It also has just about nothing in common with Indianapolis, a lovable city in its own right for an entirely different set of reasons. In fact, they barely have any direct flights between Indy and Miami, just a bunch of connections through Atlanta, Houston or wherever. It’s like the airlines decided, “Why the hell would anyone fly from Indianapolis to Miami unless it was for the NBA or the Indy 500?”

Or unless the Dolphins were playing the Colts, or unless someone from Miami wanted to attend the NCAA Tournament or unless a person from Indianapolis wanted to go to Miami.

I planned on writing off Game 2 and the NBA lottery for Wednesday, figuring I could bang the piece out on my two flights (Indy to Atlanta, then Atlanta to Miami). One problem: I forgot to charge my laptop. What a rookie mistake.

So this mailbag is going to feel even more rushed and half-assed than it usually does. Get excited! Bill was going to mail in a column about the NBA lottery, (as I predicted in a Tweet...I bring this up not to pat myself on the back, but to point out how predictable Bill's writing has become):





but he was too lazy to plug in his computer to charge it to lazily write the column, so he had decided to mail in a mailbag where he writes the questions.

Because the Grantland email page that forwards me reader emails has been broken since last weekend. (As soon as we fix it, I’ll post something on my Facebook page.)

In the words of Bob Dylan, "everything is broken," but in the words of Bill Simmons, "WE forgot to charge the laptop" and WE broke the Internet and prevented him from getting his reader emails.

So I’m going to attempt to GUESS your questions. Unlike always, these are not actual emails from actual readers.

You sure it's "unlike always"?

Q: Cleveland just won the NBA lottery for the third time in four years. Does this mean that God doesn’t hate Cleveland anymore?

Bill was upset that the Cavs won the NBA lottery for the third time in four years and expressed his displeasure on "NBA Countdown" immediately after the lottery. Bill even had the Cavs last in his "Lottery Karma Rankings," which didn't really make sense to me. Few teams in the lottery actually deserve to get the #1 overall pick. The Sixers tanked so they could get the first pick, the Kings are always in the lottery, and neither the Lakers/Celtics deserved a top-3 pick. The idea one team "deserves" the #1 overall pick is silly.

A: Or, you could say that He hates Cleveland so much that He gets bored just having them flounder or lose in agonizing ways, so occasionally, He sprinkles in a little extra hope just so He can squash it later. I would keep my guard up, Cleveland.

I'm not ready to give up on Anthony Bennett, but the Cavs have won the lottery two prior times when there wasn't considered a real franchise player available. Last year there were a few good players available and in 2011 Kyrie Irving was the clear best player in the draft. Compare that to the drafts over the past five years when the Cavs haven't had the #1 overall pick where Anthony Davis, John Wall (he is on par with Irving in my mind), Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant were available. This is the first time the Cavs have won the lottery in a fairly strong draft. The 2011 and 2013 drafts weren't bad, they just didn't have the quality and depth of other recent drafts.

Q: You mentioned on TV that “we need new rules” after Cleveland won the lottery again. What are those new rules?

A: I barely remember this because I was trying so diligently to avoid becoming the first ESPN talking head to say “motherf—er” on live TV. No offense, Cleveland fans. I’m happy for you.

Talk out of both sides of your mouth much, Bill? Bill listed the Cavs as last on the "Lottery Karma Rankings" and admittedly almost had a meltdown when the Cavs got the #1 overall pick. Does it sound like Bill is happy for them?

Lord knows you suffered enough over the past 50 years, and you certainly deserved some extended Ping-Pong luck after getting shanked by LeBron four summers ago.

On "NBA Countdown" immediately after the lottery Bill specifically made reference to the Cavs losing LeBron and said that doesn't mean they get permission to be an incompetent franchise. He said something like those words. But yeah, Bill is happy for you Cavs fans.

I ranked the Cavs last in Tuesday’s Lottery Karma Rankings for basketball reasons only. They wasted seven LeBron years and never found him the right help (or came up with a smart long-term plan to build around him). They went through three coaches and two GMs since 2009 … including the same coach twice (one year into a five-year deal, no less). They had four top-four picks in three years and thought Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters could coexist. They vowed to make the playoffs 12 months ago, then proceeded to unleash the strangest collection of front-office moves in recent league history — here’s a team that spent five picks renting Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes so they could get swept in Round 1, and they couldn’t even make the playoffs.

Regardless of whether it was personal or not, and it's weird for Bill to try and indicate he ranked the Cavs last "for basketball reasons only" as if anyone cares who Bill personally likes or doesn't like, it certainly doesn't sound like Bill is happy for Cavs fans. He's got a laundry list of why the Cavs should not have gotten the #1 overall pick.

The NBA treats franchises like Cleveland the same way absentee billionaire fathers treat their screwup sons — just keep buying them stuff and throwing money into their accounts and everything will be fine, right?

The NBA doesn't treat them any sort of way. It's a lottery. The NBA (supposedly) has no control over the lottery results, so they aren't doing anything to help the Cavs.

I just hate the mentality of repeatedly enabling poorly run franchises with the league’s best incoming talent.

Here you go, Cleveland — I bought you another Ferrari, try not to crash this one!

Bill wanted his Celtics to get the #1 overall pick. Reward the good, smart teams with the best players, that's what he wants. As I have stated before while recognizing the difference in the NBA/NFL/MLB in terms of the impact one player can have, the NBA is the only major sports league that attempts to punish teams for being terrible by not guaranteeing them the #1 overall pick. So I don't know what Bill expects the NBA to do about poorly run franchises. Adam Silver just can't decide the Kings don't get a draft pick this year.

And by the way, it’s not just the Cavs. Minnesota just made its 10th-straight lottery. Sacramento just landed its sixth-straight top-seven pick. Washington made the 2014 playoffs only after landing the no. 5, no. 1, no. 6, no. 3 and no. 3 picks from 2009 through 2013. I can’t accept that we created a professional basketball league in which …

A. The same incompetent teams get rewarded — repeatedly, over and over again — for being incompetent.

The Wizards made the playoffs this year and appear to be on the up-tick. Granted, they blew some of these first round picks but I don't know if they can be considered an incompetent franchise at this point. Doesn't it mean the Wizards did something right by landing those picks and then eventually making the playoffs? Isn't that the intended point of the NBA lottery?

B. The same team in a 30-team league can win the no. 1 overall pick three times in four years.
 
C. We refuse to put any rules in place to temper A and B.

"We"? How is it "we" won't put rules in place? Don't worry, Bill has the rules already in place. At this point it seems like he is suggesting the NBA rig the lottery so one team can't win the #1 overall pick three times in four years...or at least so the Celtics get the #1 overall pick.

Q: Is this response ever going to end? Can you tell us what those “new rules” would be?
 
A: Sure …

Rule No. 1: Once you win the no. 1 overall pick, you can’t win it again for four years.
 
If four years is good enough for an Olympic cycle or a presidential term, it’s good enough for the same team getting the no. 1 pick.

In today's episode of "Spot the False Equivalency..."

I'm not sure how Bill proposes this happen with the current lottery system. If the Cavs have their ping-pong balls removed from the discussion then this increases the chances every other team would get the #1 overall pick or does the NBA just remove the Cavs ping-pong ball if it's selected for the #1 overall pick? We don't learn the specifics because Bill is an idea man who can't be bothered with exactly how to prevent the same team from getting the #1 overall pick more than every four years.

Rule No. 2: No team can get two top-three picks in a three-year span.
 
In other words, anyone who landed a top-three lottery pick in 2012 or 2013 would have been ineligible for 2014’s lottery drawing. We’d toss their Ping-Pong balls out and everything. So on Wednesday, the Cavs would have been stuck at no. 9, Orlando would have been relegated to third or lower, and everyone else would have had better chances.

Bill better hope the same teams don't end up in the lottery over a two year span or else there is going to be a shit-show in the third year where six of the 14 teams can't get a top-3 pick. Much like Bill's other ideas, this seems really overcomplicated.

Rule No. 3: You can trade future Ping-Pong ball combinations to any other potential lottery team.
 
I’m suggesting this one for three reasons: It’s easier than it sounds, it would be an incredibly fun wrinkle for the Trade Machine, and the Cavaliers absolutely would have been dumb enough to do it last February (saving us from the stupidity of them winning another no. 1 pick).

Because the one thing that should occur is NBA trades need to be MORE complicated so the average fan can't understand at all what was given up and what was received. Great move. I'm not going to acknowledge this rule because it just seems too complicated.

But if those three rules get voted down, then let’s at least add this one …
 
Rule No. 4: If any NBA team wins the lottery for the third time in four years, the team’s representative isn’t allowed to celebrate in any way.
 
What are they allowed to do? Nothing. They just have to stand there stoically and soak in their own shame. No fist-pumping, no smiling, nothing.

It's not much of a punishment. The team still gets the #1 overall pick, and really, how often does the same team get the #1 pick three years in a row?

Q: When Ibaka got knocked out for the playoffs two days after you wrote that “What if this is OKC’s last shot?” column, did any OKC fans blame you for jinxing the team?

A: Of course! They sent me hundreds and hundreds of emails about it!

Hundreds and hundreds? I feel like this is a bit of an exaggeration.

Who knew I had the powers to tear Ibaka’s calf muscle? Could I just keep doing that to people? Am I like the Carrie of sports columnists? Miami fans — I would definitely NOT dump a bucket of pig’s blood on my head during Game 3 or Game 4 of the Eastern finals.

Yeah, who knew? It's not like Bill has referenced him jinxing a team in his columns for the last decade and it's not like he recently reminded his readers that he believes he jinxed the Patriots by taking a picture with his dad at the Super Bowl commemorating the Patriots perfect season? It's silly to suggest Bill can affect the outcome of a game, just not silly when he does it.

Q: Are you disappointed that Milwaukee didn’t win the lottery, followed by Arn Tellem refusing to show them Joel Embiid’s medical records and bullying them into taking someone else?

A: I was really looking forward to that! I love when Arn Tellem goes Frank Underwood on us. No way Milwaukee could have taken Embiid without knowing if the stress fracture in his back totally healed.

Now remember that Bill is writing these questions himself, so...well, you will see.

Anyone who could pull off this Embiid/medical records thing just 10 months after getting New Orleans to spend $44 million on Tyreke Evans probably just needs to run our country. By the way, Embiid’s back is fine. I watched him work out last week.

There we go. Bill writes a fake question just so he can brag to his readers that he saw Embiid work out last week. Bill is very impressed with himself and as a veteran of watching tall men walk to determine whether they have a back problem or not (like he did with Greg Oden), Bill pronounces Joel Embiid medically cleared. So, no need to do a physical and Bill just had to brag to his readers he saw Embiid work. And guess what? That's not all the bragging Bill is going to do to show how impressed with himself he is.

Q: Wait … what? You watched Joel Embiid work out last week?

A: Yes — at a secret location in Santa Monica.

It was a secret location that Bill was invited to and you WERE NOT invited to. It was a super-secret location where Embiid played basketball by himself. Be jealous. After all, Bill wants his readers to be jealous and that's why he brought this up in the first place. 

He wasn’t playing against anyone, just going through a two-hour workout with Will Perdue. Here’s what I can tell you: He moves around as effortlessly as a 7-foot Serge Ibaka; he’s such an athletic freak that he’s one of those “still going up as he’s finishing the dunk” guys; his freakish wingspan might make Jay Bilas pass out; he has been playing basketball for only four years (which seems impossible); he gave up a world-class volleyball career; he has 3-point range; he can shoot jump-hooks with both hands already; he couldn’t have seemed more coachable/agreeable/likable; he’s a hard worker with a goofy sense of humor; his voice is just a touch Mutombo-y (deep with a heavy African accent); and his friends call him “Jo-Jo.” And again — his back seemed totally fine.

If this were Peter King then I would be wondering if his agent was also Embiid's agent, but I don't think Bill's agent is Arn Tellem. This is quite the review of Embiid's abilities, as well as some background on Embiid that most people who follow college basketball already know.

News flash: As I said on TV before the lottery, Embiid was always going first. None of these teams was passing on him. Repeat: none of them. The amount of smokescreening going on in April and May was high comedy. We keep hearing his back is really screwed up, this could be another Oden situation … Just stop it.

The truth is, Wiggins and Parker never separated themselves enough this season to warrant anyone saying, “We’re passing on a potential franchise center with a good chance of becoming the 7-foot Serge Ibaka.”

I will remember this. I really hope "we" aren't wrong that Embiid is going to be the first pick in the draft.

Q: What could have happened at the 2014 NBA draft lottery that would have inspired the worst rom-com of the last 20 years?

If Bill is going to make up questions then shouldn't he at least do a better job than this of making up the questions? Oh, a question about a romantic comedy involving the NBA! Great, everyone loves bad romantic comedy jokes.

If Embiid and Mallory fell for each other on lottery night, followed by Embiid demanding that only Milwaukee could see his medical records (so they’d take him second), then Tellem turning evil and trying to break them up, followed by some sort of Romeo and Juliet scenario developing and Embiid and Mallory going on the run. They’d definitely call this rom-com either The Love Lottery or Drafting My Heart, and it would definitely star Jennifer Lawrence as Mallory and Michael B. Jordan as Embiid.

I don't know if this is supposed to be funny, creative or what. It fails on all counts and I don't see the purpose of this question and answer.

Q: Can you give us four more predictions for the 2014 lottery?

Sure! I’ll even throw on my Clairvoyant Bill hat for you …

Because that hat has worked out so well for Bill in the past...

Prediction No. 1: Utah tries like hell to trade up for Jabari Parker.

Because Jabari Parker is Mormon and a lot of people in Utah are of the Mormon faith. This is analysis!

I’m almost positive that Jabari is the first Mormon who can be described like this: “A little bit of Paul Pierce and a little Carmelo offensively, only if they were more fun to play with, and they were trapped in Rudy Gay’s body if Rudy needed to go gluten-free and hire a personal trainer.”

There have only been rumors of Parker being out of shape and no verification I have seen. I also enjoy how scouts nitpick prospects like Durant when he was coming into the NBA saying, "I'm not sure how much more muscle mass he could add to have an NBA body," but kid with a bit too much fat but an NBA body and a strong work ethic has a knock against him too. They are never happy.

Prediction No. 2: Orlando happily jumps on Dante Exum.

And not just because he might be really good, but because that could ignite Victor Oladipo’s career. He’s not a point guard and he’s too small to defend certain 2-guards … but if he could defend point guards and play 2-guard offensively? Boom! I love the Exum-‘Dipo backcourt.

Me too. Because the one thing many NBA teams look for is a backcourt combo where neither player is a true point guard and both want to score. What could go wrong? 

(Important note: I’m making all Exum judgments so far based on 3 a.m. viewings of him on YouTube as well as the ravings of the Grantland office’s international basketball expert, Danny Chau, who loves Exum as much as I love both of my children combined.)

And really, based on Bill's stories about taunting his daughter after the Kings lose, I wouldn't be surprised to hear Danny Chau only sort of likes Exum. Also, 3 a.m. viewings of Exum on YouTube is almost as good as Bill making his usual judgments on American players after having seen two weeks of the NCAA Tournament.

Prediction No. 3: If the Celtics don’t trade their pick, they’re taking Shawn Marion 2.0 (a.k.a. Aaron Gordon).

Of course there is going to be a Celtics draft prediction. Of course.

I believe that Gordon is destined to become this year’s Russell Westbrook — a.k.a. the crazy-competitive, crazy-good athlete who doesn’t seem to have an official position yet, only the more teams work him out and watch tape of him, the more they fall in love with him. I’m worried about Utah taking him fifth if they can’t trade up for Jabari.

Gordon has been projected to go in the 4th-8th range over the past couple of months. Nothing new here.

If you’re the Lakers, would you flip no. 7 and Nash’s expiring for Lopez and Lopez’s still-healing foot, then roll the dice that you just landed a top-five center for two years?

No, no I do not. I try not to overvalue draft picks, but Nash's expiring contract and the #7 pick have to get something better than Brook Lopez.

If you’re Charlotte, wouldn’t you shop that no. 9 straight-up for Al Jefferson’s old buddy Millsap, or maybe Monroe or Afflalo? I think two of those teams are making a move.

Maybe Monroe, but part of the reason the Jazz didn't keep Millsap around is because he and Jefferson seem to take up the same space on the court at times. Besides, Charlotte needs a guy who can shoot, not another guy taking up space on the inside. Well, every team can use another quality big man, but you get what I mean.

And what’s Rubio worth, for God’s sake? Would you give up any pick from no. 8 through no. 12 for him? What if Orlando traded no. 12 for Rubio, then drafted Exum and went with the Exum-Oladipo-Rubio backcourt?

Then they would have a true point guard, but have a skinny small forward who may or may not be able to play small forward at the NBA level. It very well could work but if the Magic want a true point guard they should just draft Tyler Ennis at #12.

Q: You were there for Game 2 in Indiana — was there any point when you said to yourself, “Holy shit, Miami’s three-peat might be going out the window?”

And because Bill was at the game he had a different perspective from those watching on television. It was a totally different game in person, as opposed to watching on television. In fact, when watching the game in person Bill noticed the Pacers weren't even playing in the game, it was in fact the Pistons who were playing the Heat, but you couldn't tell this from watching on television.

Still — Lance Stephenson missed an 8-footer that would have given Indy a five-point lead with under six minutes to play (and ignited the crowd, too). When it happened, I remember thinking, If Lance makes that shot, this is suddenly the most important 90 seconds of the season for Miami.

Bill remembers thinking, "I'm going to have a super-hyperbolic thought here in a second that will affirm my status as an ESPN talking head who makes overdramatic statements for effect."

Meanwhile, the Heat threw the kitchen sink at them, knowing they had three days’ rest before Saturday’s Game 3. And they barely won. I don’t mean for this to come up like an awkward SportsCenter integration, but would you go “GOOD SIGN!” or “BAD SIGN!” for that one? (That’s Good Sign/Bad Sign, Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods!) I’m leaning toward “BAD SIGN!”

Bill may want to take off the Clairvoyant Bill hat until he actually earns it.

Q: So what did that just mean? Are you saying Miami is in trouble?

A: Not necessarily.

OF COURSE NOT! Bill is just wanting to make bold statements through the use of jokes in order to get attention, but not actually say anything in those bold statements. He thinks it was a bad sign the Heat barely won, but they aren't in trouble. Basically, Bill is saying the Heat may or may not have been in trouble. It could go either way. It's too early to tell, but either way Bill isn't going to say anything that could be seen as him being wrong.

If the role players come through one time, they’ll finish the series off in five or six.

But if not? They’re flirting with a dangerous Game 7 return to Naptown, against a team that feels exceedingly comfortable playing them, setting up a potentially frightening repeat of what happened in the 2002 Kings-Lakers series.

Just remember that Bill makes part of his living as a talking head on a pregame show for ABC/ESPN commenting on the NBA. So Bill tells us the Heat would be in trouble if the role players for the Heat come through one time, but if they don't then the Pacers could win the series. So basically, if Wade, Bosh, and LeBron have to score all of the points then the Heat could lose. No way! Isn't this kind of obvious? I don't know how much information Bill is really providing here. NBA titles are won by role players stepping up. A team's supporting cast playing well is crucial to winning a playoff series in the NBA. It just seems like Bill is riding the whole "Here's a bold statement...the Heat could have been in trouble...or may not" type of analysis. It sounds bold, but it's really not.

If Indy blows the Eastern finals, blame LeBron first because it’s always near-impossible to win a series when you don’t have the best player in the series.

And obviously if the Heat role players don't step up in one game then that means LeBron wasn't the best player in the series, right? Bill states the key to the Heat winning the series is if the role players come through one time, but then will blame LeBron if this doesn't happen? LeBron can still be the best player in the series and the Heat lose the series, especially if the role players for the Heat are so important.

But after that, blame last summer’s trade with Phoenix for Luis Scola — the Pacers gave up Gerald Green (who blossomed into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate), Miles Plumlee (suddenly a valuable big man) and their 2014 no. 1 pick (which could have been later packaged with Danny Granger’s expiring for someone better than Turner).

The Suns' offense better fit the talents of Plumlee and Green. I don't think there should be any doubt about that. Plus, packaging the #1 pick with Granger's expiring contract is complete hindsight. I don't know if anyone expected the Pacers to trade Granger last summer. So Bill is using hindsight to criticize the Pacers and ignoring Plumlee and Green fit better in the Suns offense than they did the Pacers offense. And no, the Pacers shouldn't have changed the offense to fit the talents of Plumlee and Green.

Q: Do you think Kevin Love will get traded before the draft? Who has the best chance to get Kevin Love right now?

If you think the Boston Celtics aren't on this list then you don't know Bill Simmons at all. Bill writes a short paragraph on all of the other teams and dedicates three paragraphs to the Celtics. He is the Boston Sports Guy after all.

A: Yes, he’s getting traded before the draft. That’s when they will get the biggest haul for him. The suitors, in descending order from “least likely” to “most likely”:

And the Celtics are the second most likely team to land Kevin Love prior to the draft. Don't question this conclusion like it's Bill's opinion. It's a fact.

L.A. Lakers: Could offer the no. 7 pick, the chance for Love to come home, and the chance for him to be reunited with his girlfriend (the actress Cody Horn).

Because it is very important to know who who Love's girlfriend is and that she lives in California. After all, this is 2014 and there are no such things as planes or any other modern technology/transportation that would allow Love to see his girlfriend while playing for an NBA team not in Los Angeles.

I don’t know how any of this helps Minnesota. 

Why not just stay in Minnesota one more year, then sign with the Lakers in 2015?

Maybe for the same reason Bill thinks Love wouldn't just stay in Minnesota for one more year, then sign with any of the teams on this list in 2015. Is playing with Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and Avery Bradley so attractive that Love wants to be traded to Boston NOW before they actually accumulate talent around him?

Phoenix Suns: They have a bunch of decent assets (the nos. 14, 21, 28 and 29 picks, Alex Len, the Morris twins, etc.) but no headliner. They’d have to package multiple picks to move up to no. 5 (Utah)

But I thought Utah wanted to move up to grab Jabari Parker? He is Mormon after all.

Houston Rockets: But they’d have to convince Chandler Parsons to agree to a sign-and-trade, something they couldn’t do until July (after the draft). No way Parsons wants to live in Minnesota — he wants to be famous too badly. He’d rather attend Hollywood red-carpet premieres and become the next Bachelor. (I’m not even kidding.)

Bill loves swinging insider information like this around. He doesn't even try to pretend he's not getting a hard-on handing out insider information like this. Bill wants his readers to know how tapped into the personality of the players in the NBA he truly is. He's very impressed with himself.

So what if they sign-and-trade Parsons to the Lakers for whomever they took with the no. 7 pick (not inconceivable), deal Omer Asik for another first-rounder, then package those picks with other assets (future picks, Terrence Jones, etc.) for Love? Unlikely … but not impossible, right?

I would love to see Dwight Howard and Kevin Love play together. I mean this. I can see them fighting over rebounds now. I can see Howard pouting if he doesn't put up a double-double every game because Love isn't letting him get rebounds. I just want to see what would happen.

But no, this isn't impossible, though it may make more sense just to trade Asik for a first round pick and keep Parsons or trade Parsons in another sign-and-trade that won't involve giving up so many assets and picks. Maybe I'm not over-thinking this enough.

Boston Celtics: They have a war chest of assets, including two 2014 picks (no. 6 and no. 17), two 2015 first-rounders (their own and an unprotected Clippers pick), two unprotected Brooklyn first-rounders (2016 and 2018), a pick swap from Brooklyn in 2017 (unprotected), a $10.3 million trade exception, Keith Bogans’s waivable-ASAP contract ($5.1 million, perfect for trade match), Brandon Bass’s deal (expires in 2015) and two decent young players (Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk).

Except this doesn't necessarily explain why Kevin Love would agree to go to Boston prior to the draft rather than just keep his options open to sign with them once he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season. Other than Rondo, is there any real reason to choose the Celtics now? Especially since they will have to get rid of some of these picks to acquire Love and the Celtics haven't been shy about waving Rondo around in trade discussions. Why not see what the Celtics do with their two 2014 picks, then make the decision to go to Boston after the 2015 season? See, the same logic for why Love wouldn't go to Los Angeles to play with Kobe for two years applies in some ways to the Celtics. The Lakers have no assets, but the Celtics have potential assets but no Kobe, and Boston isn't Los Angeles. It seems to me if I were Kevin Love I would look at Boston as a frontrunner in free agency, but don't see why I should sign there before they have shown they are willing to use these assets to put another superstar (through the draft or through trade...though knowing the Celtics and the lack of patience the fans/team can show, it's more likely through a trade) on the roster so I don't end up on a decent playoff team that isn't a title contending team.

Oh, and they have Brad Stevens and one of the league’s most respected organizations, as well as the team that keeps celebrating its players and welcoming them home even after they retire. That too.

I mean this in the most polite of ways, but shut the hell up. Nobody wants to hear your Boston homer crap. Other NBA teams celebrate their players and welcome them home after they retire as well. And do we know Brad Stevens is a good NBA coach? He seems good, but after one year as the head coach with a crappy team I think it's really too early to tell.

The most logical offer: Both 2014 picks, both 2015 picks, Sullinger, Bogans and Bass’s expiring for Love. That’s four first-rounders (including the no. 6 pick).

Son of a fucking bitch. Four first round picks for a guy who isn't even the best player on a championship team? Seems like a bit much to me. I like Kevin Love, don't get me wrong, but four first round picks and a quality rotational guy for him? No thanks. A team of Rondo and Love with the Celtics current roster isn't going to compete for an NBA Title. I know Bill has no patience to go through a rebuilding process or else he would become a basketball widow (like he did with the Bruins when they were losing), but I feel like four first round picks is overpaying for Love.

You tell me: Could you compete in the East with a starting five of Love, Rajon Rondo, Asik, Jeff Green and Free Agent 2-Guard TBA? And could you make the Finals with a Big Three of James Harden, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony? YES AND YES! Let’s do this!

Can the Celtics compete in the East by drafting players with their four first round picks and then having Kevin Love sign with the Celtics (after all, they are the only team who celebrates their players and welcomes them after they retire, so why wouldn't Love want to play anywhere but in Boston?) after the 2015 season? YES AND YES!

(And if all of this happens, followed by an unhappy Celtics season and Love and Rondo bolting in 2015 to sign with the Lakers and Knicks, respectively, then I’m moving to England and throwing myself into the Premier League. No farewell column, no good-bye party, nothing. I’m out. Nice knowing you.)

I take it back. Let's do this! YES AND YES!

Cleveland Cavs: It all depends on whatever Bat Signal LeBron is sending them. If they truly believe they can bring LeBron home this summer or next summer — remember, he can always opt back into his Miami contract for one more season, then leave after the 2015 Finals — then here’s what the Cavs SHOULD do:

Step No. 1: Trade the no. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett and an unprotected 2015 first-rounder to Minnesota for Kevin Love.

And then the Cavaliers will have traded two first round picks and Anthony Bennett for a one season rental of Kevin Love. Brilliant.

And by the way, ’Sota could flip that no. 1 pick to Philly for no. 3 and no. 10, take whomever’s left between Wiggins and Parker, then have the no. 10 and no. 13 picks as well, plus Bennett! That’s a RESET button and then some.

And the only thing standing in the way of this trade is Philly would have to decide to trade the #3 pick. And really, when they have the chance to land a franchise guy at #3, why wouldn't they trade up, ruin part of their rebuilding plan and get rid of the draft picks they have carefully acquired so that Bill's rosterbation becomes reality? Who says "no" to this?

Bill Simmons Paper GM of the Year. He seems to misunderstand the human element of his brilliant ideas.

Step No. 2: Pull Miami’s old Udonis Haslem trick — renounce Anderson Varejao’s rights (for more cap space), then re-sign him in July for a longer deal.

What if Varejao doesn't want to come back to the Cavs? It was easy to convince Haslem to come back and play for the Heat because they are a championship team, but once Varejao becomes a free agent what prevents him from deciding he would rather sign with another NBA team? Whoops, there goes the human element screwing Bill's ideas up again.

Step No. 3: Bring LeBron home.

Seems simple enough. It's not like Dan Gilbert kicked LeBron on the way out the door or anything.

Your 2014-15 Cavs (potentially): LeBron, Love, Kyrie, Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters and their choice of three ring-chasing veterans who would commit murder to play on that team. A little more palatable than that 2014-15 Heat roster … right?

If rosterbation were a sport, Bill would be an All-Star. Unfortunately that which works on paper and in Bill's head doesn't work all the time in real life. The Cavs SHOULD convince the Sixers to trade up inexplicably to get one of the best three players in the draft when they could sit back at #3 and have their choice of Embiid, Wiggins and Parker, the Cavs should renounce Varejao's rights and brainwash him into wanting to re-sign with them, and then all they have to do is convince the best player in the NBA to come back and play for them again even though they burned his jersey in effigy when he left the first time. That's what the Cavs SHOULD do and the fact Bill seems astounded the Cavs could screw this plan up as if all these steps are only up to them tells you something about Bill Simmons.

(The good news for Celtics fans: Cleveland will probably screw this up. And somehow end up winning the 2015 lottery, of course. Enjoy the three-day weekend.)

You mean the Cavs would screw it up by not being able to unilaterally making these decisions and realizing other NBA teams have a choice whether to make a trade or not based on their own interests and the Cavs can't force Varejao and Lebron to sign with them? I don't believe it. Bill's ideas make sense when working under the assumption NBA teams can unilaterally make decisions without the human element being present. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

0 comments Ten Things Things I Think I Think Peter King Has Not Thought Of: Terence Moore Likes Expanded Replay Now Edition

Usually there is a common thread that runs through these Things I Think I Think Peter King Has Not Thought of, but there really isn't one this time. I would say these are all "bad ideas" but that's not entirely true. These are all articles I think that deserve some mention but don't merit an entire post written about them. These are the links I have been staring at for a few months/weeks/days/hours/minutes and want to comment on in some way. As written in many religious texts, let's start with Mitch Albom, as that's how it is always supposed to be.

1. Mitch Albom isn't writing a book called "The Five People You'll Meet in Heaven Who Used the N-Word," but he did write about the NFL looking to prohibit use of the N-word on the field. I think Mitch just likes writing "the N-word."

To me, the N-word is a hateful slur based on a person’s skin color. Yet because my skin is also a certain color, I am told I cannot I criticize its usage.

It’s not my word.

Every word is Mitch's word! Look for more clarification in his new book, "The Five Words You Will First Hear in Heaven," which will be available as soon as he writes this column for the "Detroit Free-Press" where he lies about being at a basketball game last week with John Wooden and Carmelo Anthony.

But sooner or later, everyone, black and white, will stop saying it in public. This is inevitable.

I severely doubt this. I had someone walk in my office and use the word twice just a few days ago. It wasn't a white person and was a college educated African-American female. She's not a stupid person and didn't use the word in an angry manner, but a joking manner. Just saying, it's a word that people probably won't stop using. Maybe someone will read what I just wrote in 100 years, laugh, and then drive off in their hovercraft. Who knows?

Instead, I’m referring to a very vocal minority — at least I believe it’s a minority — of athletes, entertainers, commentators and advocates who are mostly African American, and who claim the NFL’s possible initiative is a move that, as one such critic for huffingtonpost.com wrote, “emboldens whites who assert their privilege over use of the N-word.”

Huh? Look. I don’t shake the rafters of this idea and find sociological ghosts of white supremacy.

Exactly. Mitch writes schmaltzy books about heaven and every once in a while writes a column containing a few easily detected lies. In what spare time he has, he berates those who work in the field of customer service and wonders why he's so perfect and the world around him is so flawed. He's got no time to think about white supremacy because this barista at Starbucks just dared to repeat his order back to him. It's ass-kicking time.

So critics who say the NFL has no right are wrong. The field is a stage; NFL owners are the directors. If you feel compelled to scream the N-word, you can do it, without a paycheck, in the parking lot.

A trickier debate is why black players want to cling to the word in the first place.

Yeah, stupid black people always clinging to racial slurs. Good point, Mitch. 

Admittedly, I am not black,

ADMITTEDLY, Mitch is not black! He wants the truth to be out there now. Mitch Albom is not black nor is he Asian. He's white. He wants there to be no further misunderstandings about his race, so he finally admits he is indeed not black. All further confusion has now been avoided.

But that doesn’t make me — or other whites, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, etc. — stupid or insensitive. We recognize history.

Admittedly, Mitch does recognize history.

Jews were systematically executed, gassed and buried in mass graves — all less than 70 years ago — and they don’t defiantly cling to the K-word. Nor do Chinese Americans boast the C-word, Italians the W-word, Germans the K-word, etc.

Mitch admits he's not capable of understanding how it feels to be called the N-word, so he would never put himself in the shoes of those who do understand this, but he feels free to question why those people wearing these shoes continue to use the word. He knows he can't understand, but he definitely can judge.

The N-word fight is unique. And while nobody should dictate private conversations, if the NFL is going to suspend a white player for using the N-word at an off-season concert or suspend an African-American referee for allegedly saying it to an African-American player, then why the shock at a yellow flag? It’s 15 yards, not a lifetime ban.

As I said at the time the NFL was considering this, it is nice to try and get rid of the N-word, but is very, very difficult to actually put this plan into action. It would have been nearly impossible for the NFL to properly enforce.

Eventually, I believe, people will get tired of defending this hateful slur. In years to come, it may even seem silly. But this is how things change, in fits and starts, coughs and sputters, some easy, some hard.

That's what she said.

It is not my word. In time, it won’t be anyone else’s.

The day can’t come quickly enough.

When that day comes, Mitch can write the book, "The Four People Who Used the N-Word and Didn't End up Heaven You Will Talk To When You Reach Heaven."

2. Hey, guess what? Terence Moore doesn't want anyone overreacting to the expanded use of instant replay. 

Terence may be losing his mind because HE is the one who was overreacting to the use of expanded instant replay here, here, here, and here. But it's his readers who need to stop overreacting about the use of expanded replay, right?

I'm having less of a problem with these new guidelines regarding home-plate collisions.

Did I just type what I just typed? Yep, and upon further review, I don't even need smelling salts. I'm changing my mind (well, sort of) on the implementation of the replay thing and the home-plate thing for the Major Leagues this season, because I'm looking at what's happening to other sports these days by comparison when it comes to changing stuff.

Of course Terence's reasoning for not hating expanded replay has to suck. He doesn't like the idea because it's a good idea, but because other sports are messing up the way they use instant replay. Okay then.

About the replay thing: all baseball officials seek to do is make sure they are using the best technology possible to determine the accuracy of nearly everything that happens on the diamond.

This is literally the exact argument I was making in the four columns I linked above where Terence Moore argued strongly against expanding replay. I'm glad Terence has finally come to his senses and realized, "Hey, it may not work perfectly all the time, but if MLB has the technology to get the calls right they should do it."

Then Terence begins discussing how other sports mess up replay, which apparently means MLB's expanded replay is a good idea.

So the replay thing and the home-plate thing?

I'll survive.

Oh sure, NOW Terence will survive after spending the better part of a year arguing about why expanded replay is such a terrible, no-good idea. It's almost like he should give ideas a chance to be implemented before stomping his foot down angrily that this idea will ruin the sport of baseball.

3. I don't know if this is a joke or not, but Woody Paige thought John Elway should have drafted all Stanford players in this year's NFL Draft. 

See, it would show "school spirit" and why the hell school spirit is important in drafting players to an NFL team is beyond me. 

Will John Elway and the Broncos draft guard David Yankey in the first round, defensive end Trent Murphy second, inside linebacker Shayne Skov third, free safety Ed Reynolds fourth, running back Tyler Gaffney fifth, fullback Ryan Hewitt sixth and center Khalil Wilkes seventh?

No, he did not. 

Elway — now the general manager, which he really was before, anyway, as well as the executive vice president of football operations — does in title and in fact rule over the Broncos' draft.

During the Duke's reign, the Broncos have selected 23 players. Nineteen are on the Broncos' roster, three more are with other NFL teams and one is out of the league.


So of course if Elway drafted players from Stanford then those players would immediately become valuable NFL players who contribute to the Broncos team. Obviously. 

Only one draft pick in the Josh McDaniels error, er, era remains. Demaryius Thomas is the last man standing.

You like how Tim Tebow isn't mentioned here at all. Woody had an absolute infatuation with Tebow (check my archives...I am too lazy to link all the articles) when he played for the Broncos and now that era of Woody's writing career is washed-over like a family who doesn't mention that their son was engaged three prior times, including once to another man, at this son's wedding to a woman (see, that's how Bill Simmons writes, it sucks when someone does overly-long analogies, right?). 

Then Woody goes through the Broncos drafts under Elway because...because he needed to kill some space.

On offense, they wish for a guard, a wide receiver and a running back. On defense, they want a middle linebacker, a cornerback, a defensive end and a safety. Seven positions, seven picks.

So, what's the problem with drafting the seven quality players listed in the first paragraph?


Other than they may not be the best available player at each position available when the Broncos were drafting? Nothing. 

Does John Elway have the guts, the daring-do, the audacity, the school spirit to draft seven players from Stanford, his alma mater?

I think the word Woody was looking for is "stupidity." 

Would that be a blessing, or a Cardinal sin?

There we go. Woody Paige seems to have written an entire column so he could write this last sentence. In the realm of bad ideas, this last sentence being an important part of this realm, drafting all players from Stanford is a doozy. 

4. Lowell Cohn had very different reactions to Aldon Smith's detention at the airport and the charges against Colin Kaepernick that he sexually assaulted a woman. From experience, it's known that Cohn doesn't particularly seem to like Colin Kaepernick. It's interesting that Lowell's initial reaction to each incident was so different.

Here is Lowell's initial reaction to Aldon Smith's being detained at the airport.

Lots of people are dumping on Aldon Smith right now, saying he’s a bad guy and the Niners need to dump him. Maybe that’s true and maybe that’s what will happen. But be cautious. We know very little about what he did and said at LAX today.

Wait and see. Probably a good idea. 

Here is Lowell's initial reaction to Colin Kaepernick being accused of sexual assault. 

Here are Kaepernick's three tweets combined as one for concision:

"The charges made in the TMZ story and other stories I've seen are completely wrong. They made things up about me that never happened. I take great pride in who I am and what I do, but I guess sometimes you have to deal with someone who makes things up. I want to thank all of the people who have shared their encouraging sentiments. I assure you that your faith is not misplaced."

If he means the public's faith in him as a quarterback that is way off the point. If he means the public's faith in him as a good person and a responsible adult, well that is the subject of the debate. His lack of concern for the woman, his total preoccupation with himself makes you wonder what kind of person he is.

It makes you wonder what kind of person Colin Kaepernick is for responding to accusations a person has made. I guess denying the accusations is not the right thing to do? 

Lowell's reaction to whether Smith had been arrested...

As far as I know he’s not been arrested. Has he?

I’m reading he said he had a bomb. Is that a fact? Did he literally say “I have a bomb?” Or did he say something else? I don’t know. Do you?

Lowell's reaction to whether Kaepernick had been arrested...

It's not the intention of this column to discuss his legal issues -- if there even are legal issues. So much is vague and unrevealed. To come out against Kaepernick or against the woman in the hotel drama would be irresponsible and unfair to Kaepernick, to the woman and to the legal process.

At no time does he express the least particle of concern for the young woman in question, a woman who apparently woke up in a hospital alone and disoriented, with no knowledge of where she was or how she got there.

Well, it seems Lowell has a pretty good idea of what happened in the Kaepernick situation, but is withholding judgment in the Smith situation. Lowell questions the police report in the Smith situation but believes the police report in the Kaepernick situation. Why would the police tell the truth? Why would a young woman lie? 

Lowell about not rushing to judgment in the Smith case...

I literally do not know what went down. It’s important not to rush to judgment. Be cautious until we learn more.

Lowell rushing to judgment in the Kaepernick case...

He should have expressed concern about the woman. He should have looked people in the eye. He should have spoken in complete sentences. He should have answered questions to the extent he could answer questions -- this is an ongoing legal matter.

It's crummy behavior to impugn a woman who arrived at a hospital alone and unconscious -- and had apparently been unconscious previously in his presence.

Isn't it interesting how Lowell starts spit out the facts presented as truth when it comes to Kaepernick, but questions the facts presented when it comes to Smith? It's almost like he has an agenda. 

5. Phil Mushnick doesn't defend Donald Sterling, except he sort of does. 

Longtime NBA followers, executives, employees and media know Clippers owner Donald Sterling as a moneyed fool. Not a terrible man,

The fact Phil Mushnick describes Donald Sterling as "not a terrible man" and has a history of saying things like the Nets should be called the Brooklyn N-Word's, then it's not hard to get the feeling Mushnick and Sterling aren't necessarily two peas in a pod, but probably have neighboring pods, possibly with balconies that connect. 

He’s someone best — and easily — ignored, especially at 81.

It might have been easier to ignore him if he didn't own an NBA team with a roster full of the same minorities he has shown time and time again he discriminates against. It's hard to ignore one of the owners of the 30 NBA teams. It's sort of a high-profile position. 

Yes, what he allegedly said was painful, indefensible and inexcusable, except why would we expect him, at 81, to be less loony and more discreet and clear-headed than he was at 75 or 78?

Oh yes, the guy who owns an NBA team and has a girlfriend who could be his granddaughter is too old and not clear-headed enough to know what he's saying. It seems Phil Mushnick is going with the "Livia Soprano" excuse for Phil Mushnick. He couldn't have known what he was saying because he's old! Old people don't know what they are doing or saying, so just ignore being clear-headed has never shown itself to be a problem for Donald Sterling prior to this incident. 

Visit any assisted living facility. Or think of that aunt or uncle all of us have known and suffered with a wince because we knew they were off. And they come in all races.

Yes, but there's no evidence that Donald Sterling was off. He comes off very clear in those audiotapes. Good try though. 

Not everyone, at 81, should reasonably or humanely be held accountable for whatever ugly comments come out their mouths.

At least keep that in mind.

Okay, well keep this in mind. Before using the "Livia Soprano" excuse, perhaps it's more easily believed if Donald Sterling had ever indicated prior to this incident he wasn't clear-headed or seemed off. I know, the facts are so annoying aren't they?

6. Rick Reilly writes a column where he pretends like he's not trying to rehabilitate his friend Lance Armstrong's image. 

Lance Armstrong is happy. In fact, he looks better at 42 than I've ever seen him, less gaunt in the face, thicker in the chest, bluer in the eyes. I found a man sitting in his den, surrounded by his seven Tour de France chalices, his 3-year-old, Olivia, on his lap, kissing him and laughing.
Really pissed me off.

Did it really, Rick? Did it really piss you off? It doesn't seem like it did and why should it?

"There's a lightness to my life now," he says. "I have no obligations. I have no schedule other than raising my kids, what time my tee time is, how far I'm gonna ride my bike that day. Life has become very simple very quickly. ... I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere. Nobody's waiting on the other end."

Rick doesn't take the whole, "Lance Armstrong is a good guy because..." angle in this column, but takes the "Lance Armstrong is at peace and knows he was wrong..." angle that tells the reader Armstrong is happy with where he is, which of course gives the reader the feeling Armstrong has accepted his fate. It's hard to stay mad at a person who accepted his fate and seems happy, no?

"I'm at the bottom, but I like establishing a base. When I was diagnosed, they told me I had testicular cancer. Then it spread to the abdomen. Then the lungs. Then the brain. I was devastated. But at that point, it was as bad as it could get. And I was like, 'OK, now, I know everything. Now I have to get better from here.' I'm in that place now. Not cancer, but now I know everything. I'm at the base."

So Lance Armstrong is saying getting testicular cancer put him at the same base as lying about using PED's, ruining people's lives in an effort to cover up his PED use and then finally admitting it on national television to Oprah? They both put him at the same place? Hmmm...interesting way to look at it if that's what he means. It seems a truly contrite person would recognize deadly cancer you lack control over puts you at a lower rock bottom than making the decision to lie for a decade about using PED's would put you. But hey, Lance isn't comparing these two things, even though he's sort of comparing these two things.

I see a much calmer guy, more patient. I see a guy who used to be surrounded by a dozen people, now alone. I see a guy who used to live and die by the hundredth of a second, now not entirely sure what day it is.

Lying and deceiving does take a toll on a person.

"I remember [when I was diagnosed with cancer] thinking, 'I might not see Christmas. I might not see my son [Luke, now 14] graduate high school.' But this doesn't threaten that. I'm going to see Christmas. I'm going see him graduate."

Oh good, well I'm glad things worked out for Lance and he is able to have perspective (focused entirely on himself of course) about how his lying hasn't ruined his life. Maybe he should check in with Frankie Andreu and see how he's feeling about all this.

Me: "Don't you realize how many people hate you over this?"

Him: "I just don't care. In the past, I cared what people said, thought or wrote. I thought it would affect my livelihood. But that's been decimated now. When I walk through airports now, a guy could say, 'Hey you f---ing a--h---! You're the biggest jerk on the face of the earth!' I'd say, 'Right on, pal.'"

I'm glad Lance doesn't care what people think. This is a huge change from when he was still lying about using PED's and didn't care what people thought as he blazed a trail of lies and deceit across the world, angrily challenging those who dared to out him as the fraud he truly was.

No endorser will touch him. Nobody wants him to speak, even for free. He is banned from any marathon, triathlon, bike race, 10k, 2k sneak, even if it's for charity. He'd like to write another book, work with cancer patients again, maybe have a role in sports. But that all seems eons away.
And yet it doesn't scare him.

This is very brave of Lance Armstrong to not be scared. After all, he's been at a rock bottom exactly like this when he was diagnosed with cancer. I am able to separate Lance Armstrong the person from Lance Armstrong the activist for cancer funding and research. One guy I like, the other I do not like. I'll spare you the rest of the column, but rest assured it turns out rehabbing Lance's image was really about Rick Reilly. Rick decides (in a not-subtle nudge to the reader) that he's gotten his pound of flesh from Armstrong so he shouldn't want any more.

7. Murray Chass, as he does every year, rails against the unfairness of baseball teams calling up prospects after May to get one more year of arbitration out of them. 

It's not against the rules and if the players want to change it then they should do so when time comes to discuss a new CBA. MLB teams should be able to do as they see fit with their players. Sometimes it's unfair, but it doesn't mean these teams are unethical or cheating in following the rules set out by the agreed-upon CBA.

There are no rules or provisions in the collective bargaining agreement that intrude on clubs’ rights to call up players when they choose. However, union officials in recent years have scrutinized club practices because clubs have increasingly used callup dates to affect players’ subsequent eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency.

Which isn't wrong because there are no rules or provisions in the CBA that intrudes on them doing this.

In recent years, when teams left their good young prospects in the minors for the first couple months of the season, they said, as if reading from the same script, that the players needed more time in the minors to work on this or that aspect of their game.

But when I asked Jeff Luhnow, the Houston general manager, why the Astros bucked the trend and called up Springer so early, he said, “He’s an exciting player. What we needed to see this year was getting off to a good start and making sure he was used to right field.

The Astros are in a different position from other teams who choose not to call up their top prospects from the minors. They have a very bad team and ratings in Houston are pretty low. They need to create some excitement that their building for the future is going to pay off and it's not like the players that were on the major league roster in place of Springer were exactly lighting it up on the field.

In his first 11 games, through Saturday, he was hitting .186 (8 for 43) with no home runs and two runs batted in. The Astros nevertheless expect major production from the 24-year-old right-handed hitter. Manager Bo Porter put him in the clean-up spot in the lineup in only his third game.

But I'm sure Murray thinks the fact Springer is struggling supports the reasoning that he didn't need more seasoning in the minors before being called up to the majors and it was totally worth it to lose a season's worth of arbitration eligibility.

If a team has a player in the minors who might pitch some games or might get some hits that would help a team win a division title or a wild-card spot but it leaves that player in the minors to undermine his eligibility for salary arbitration, the team is cheatings its fans and its other players. 

The fans aren't cheated if they understand the reason the team is not calling up these players partially in order to maximize their arbitration eligibility. I'm sure Nationals fans aren't complaining about the extra season they get with Stephen Strasburg on the team's roster.

That is called a lack of integrity.

No, it's called "Managing your team's roster in the short-term and long-term so as to be fiscally responsible and competitive over these times."

Some fans have argued that they would rather have their team have the player for a seventh season before free agency rather than lose him after six seasons. But that is short-sighted thinking.

Actually, this is the exact definition of long-term thinking.

Most baseball people would say the chance of winning doesn’t come along often enough to sacrifice a chance to win by failing to do everything possible, including brining up a player who could make a difference.

Most of these teams that don't call up a prospect aren't just that one player away from either winning a World Series or not making the playoffs at all. I know Murray prefers to think of these prospects as coming up and making an immediate impact that dramatically changes the team, but that's not always the case.

Union officials watch the game go on but are unlikely to challenge the practice with a grievance. As wrong as it is, it would be a tough case to win.

Mostly because there's nothing in the CBA that says MLB teams can't control the roster in this fashion as they see fit. That doesn't stop Murray Chass from writing this same article every single year.

8. The Mets sent out a fan loyalty letter that has Mike Vaccaro very angry at the team.

It's a silly letter, so let it go. But as I said when I covered the Matt Harvey column, it seems that sportswriters will grab onto any controversy in order to push a column out. In this 24 hour sports cycle even the smallest of events can be blown up into a huge ordeal.

So now, to celebrate this feel-good start to the season, this is what the men who operate the Mets ask of you:
A loyalty oath.

It was silly, it was stupid, and it was not important enough to take up an entire column screaming about.

“As players, we can tell you that what happens in the clubhouse and what happens in the stands — players and fans together, believing in each other — makes a tremendous difference with what happens on the field.”

Translation: We’re winning and the stadium is empty. What’s wrong with you?

The team wants fans to show up. They are trying to guilt them into doing so.

Attendance has dwindled every year since 2009, when a smaller ballpark maxed out season seating at around 3.4 million. You know why? Because the Mets are one of two teams — the barely Quad-A Astros being the other — who have had losing seasons in every one of those years.

It sounds like this letter is just a conduit by which Mike Vaccaro can bash the Mets front office and ownership. It's not really about a letter, it's about the Mets not fielding a competitive team.

And this letter is a good way to hasten the growing ennui. Questioning the fealty of fans, challenging them to prove their worth not only as Mets fans but True New Yorkers? Why? Because of one winning homestand?

Other MLB teams so different things to get fans to the stadium. The Braves essentially give away tickets and other teams create a "nation" where the fans feel like they are a part of a group and this encourages them to show up to games. It's all marketing. This letter was stupid, but was just a way to ignite the passions of Mets fans.

Win, and the people come. Win, and the people spend. Win, and there is no need to gather signatures so they can be presented to the players before a Subway Series game as proof that people still care. 

Goodness, read that sentence again: Who would ever think this is a good idea? What’s next, a pep rally? A sock hop? A bonfire in the quad?

You get the point. This letter got Mike Vaccaro really fired up. Well, Vaccaro probably wasn't really fired up but he is able to bash the Mets ownership and management on autopilot and this letter was a good, cheap way to do this and he went for it.

9. Would Mike Vaccaro rather the Mets call out their fans like this? 

If they had, I'm sure Vaccaro could have found a way to bash Mets management for taking the negative route and calling out Mets fans for not attending games. In fact, if the Mets had done this then very few words of Vaccaro's column would change. It could essentially be the same column. So no matter which route the Mets take, positive rah-rah, or negative in calling out their fans, I would bet they lose in the eyes of Mike Vaccaro. But since I'm not Peter King, I won't dedicate two different numbers to the same topic. On to the Nets and their Tweet...

I guess what Brooklyn management forgets to remember is the Raptors have been in Toronto longer than the Nets have been in Brooklyn. Plus, the Nets have competition in New York for the heart and love of NBA basketball in the form of the Knicks. The Raptors have no competition in Canada. Plus, the Raptors haven't been very good of late, so it's easy for Toronto fans to get pumped up about a playoff appearance. The Nets were expected to do well this year. Basically, it's probably not a good idea to try and call out fans via Twitter if you are the management of said team. It's probably okay for a player to call out the fans, but it seems odd when the organization does it.

10. I not sure I have ever experienced the hysteria that surrounded the Charlotte Hornets. I grew up a Boston Celtics fan, but I went to Charlotte Hornets games and it was loud and fantastically exciting. Very easy to get caught up. I remember the December 1988 game against the Bulls clear as day. Anyway, here is an oral history of the 1988 Charlotte Hornets. What's remarkable to me is how the Charlotte area fell out of love with the Hornets (thanks again, George Shinn!) as quickly as they fell in love. Again, I'm a Celtics fan but it still makes me sad to think about it all.