Monday, June 30, 2014

4 comments Ten Things I Think I Think Peter King Has Not Thought Of: The Un-American Edition

It's time to dust off the links to articles that may not merit a full post, but definitely merit being discussed in this space. There is some Bleacher Report fun, one of the worst instances of PED speculation I have ever read, Manny Ramirez being an embarrassment, and Jay Mariotti calling Jurgen Klinsmann "Un-American." Jay the Patriot. Bob Nightengale even pulls a "Murray Chass" and says, "Hey, I just noticed these minor league players don't get called up until after they wouldn't qualify as a Super-2." As any good complaint about bad sportswriting should do, let's start off with Jay Mariotti.

1. Jay thinks that Jurgen Klinsmann's defeatest attitude (otherwise known as playing "mind games with the media in public while giving his team confidence in private") is very un-American. We all know Jay Mariotti should be the judge of what is and is not American. Jay had an issue with Klinsmann stating the American team couldn't win the World Cup, which I thought was simply him lowering expectations publicly for the U.S. Men's Soccer Team, but what do I know?

He doesn’t think the U.S. squad, the team he coaches, can win the golden trophy this year. I don’t believe the Americans will do much in Brazil, nor do you, nor does anyone else with even a modicum of soccer knowledge — but when the national coach blurts it out twice, before the first ball is kicked, I have to wonder why I should bother watching.

But if you don't think the Americans would win much in Brazil then why would you watch anyway? The assumption is Jay is watching the soccer game to see if the Americans can win and he wouldn't watch if he didn't think they could win. So if Jay doesn't think the Americans could win and he won't watch if they can't win, then why does he need confirmation from Klinsmann the U.S. squad could win the World Cup? Does Jay believe his opinion is wrong? If so, why does he hold an opinion he believes is incorrect?

“I think for us now, talking about winning a World Cup is just not realistic,” he said in Sao Paulo, mere days before the Americans take on their recent nemesis, Ghana, in first-round group play. “First we’ve got to make it through the group. So let’s stay with our feet on the ground and say let’s get that group first done, and then the sky is the limit. But a half a year before and even today before the World Cup starts — to say that we should win the World Cup is just not realistic.

The message was, "Let's not get ahead of ourselves and worry about winning the World Cup. Let's get out of group first." Seems like a reasonable message to me. It manages expectations and keeps the team focused on the current task at hand. Of course, focusing on the task at hand and not speculating about future victories is totally un-American.

The approach is embarrassingly un-American, if that’s what he’s getting at. Hired three years ago to fix a wayward U.S. program, the German national hero is speaking the truth about our ho-hum soccer condition at absolutely the wrong time, as if to take pressure off himself. This is a country that believes in sports miracles, none bigger than a 1980 Olympic hockey team with which he might want to familiarize himself.

It's un-American for Klinsmann to not unrealistically believe in miracles and give the nation false hope for the World Cup. How dare the U.S. coach not realistically manage expectations and choose instead to elevate expectations to where anything less than a miracle is considered a disappointment.

It’s hard to sell the sport to the American masses, as ESPN and Fox and NBC continue to do with great vigor, when our World Cup team keeps losing to Ghana. The least Klinsmann can do is let U.S. fans embrace their hopes and dreams, hollow as they are, before they’re officially punctured starting Monday in Natal.

This argument is absolutely ridiculous. Jay is essentially arguing Klinsmann should give the United States false hope about the team's talent in order to eventually be disappointed when the hope is shattered. Guess what else would happen? All of the talking heads would say, "Klinsmann promised a World Cup victory and he couldn't even get the team out of the group stage. Maybe he should be fired."

The idea a coach should give fans false hope intentionally is such a Jay Mariotti point of view. 

Foolishly left off the 23-man U.S. roster by Klinsmann, Donovan — merely the most recognizable and accomplished of American soccer players — thinks Klinsmann’s stance is all wrong. Not that Donovan is right in predicting the Americans will win the World Cup — he said so at a rally for the American Outlaws fan group — but it sure beats the Klinsmann blues.

Yeah, but Donovan is helping fans embrace hopes and dreams! That's all that matters in World Cup fantasy land isn't it?

“This will come as a surprise to nobody, but I disagree with Jurgen,” said Donovan, who likely will criticize Klinsmann early and often as an ESPN analyst if the U.S. doesn’t fare well. “I believe it and I think all of America believes we can do it. I agree with the American Outlaws — `We believe that we will win.’
 
“In my opinion, Germany’s one of the best teams in the world, and if we can beat Germany, why can’t we (advance from the group)?”

There is no "we" Landon, you aren't on the team. Also, it's a lot easier to talk shit about how the team can win the World Cup when you aren't an active member of the team. Donovan doesn't have to back up his words with actions. He can just sit and be a talking head while pointing out what the U.S. team SHOULD have done.

Oddly, Klinsmann named five German-American players to the team, all raised in Germany as the sons of U.S. servicemen. “Every year we are getting stronger,” he said.

And now Klinsmann is recruiting a bunch of foreigners to come in and play for the U.S. team. This ain't Germany, it's America! Go home and play with your Nazi propaganda you bunch of un-American American citizens!

“We are going to take the game to Ghana and they will take it to us and it will be an exciting game and then we go from there.’’

Can’t wait, coach.

Klinsmann should just be sure to give everyone in the United States false hope so Jay Mariotti can write a column describing how Klinsmann is a piece of shit coach because he promised something he couldn't deliver. See, Jay only wants to write a column ripping Klinsmann to shreds when he fails. It's no fun for Jay to see a coach like Klinsmann lower expectations to a reasonable level and not allow Jay the chance to rip him behind the safety of his computer.

2. I know you wanted to know who the most underrated player on each MLB team is. Don't worry, Bleacher Report has the list for you. It won't surprise you to know there are some interesting players on the list. And of course EVERY MLB team HAS to have an underrated player for the sake of pageviews.

Let's start the slideshow!

What follows is a rundown of the most underrated player on every MLB team. As you'll notice, there are a ton of relievers on the list whose contributions are often overlooked. However, there are also aces who are overshadowed by more prominent teammates.

Baltimore Orioles
  
Most Underrated Player: Nelson Cruz, DH/OF

You mean the 2-time All-Star and 2011 ALCS MVP? That Nelson Cruz?

It's truly remarkable that the Baltimore Orioles were able to sign Nelson Cruz to just a one-year, $8 million deal.

The Orioles were able to sign Cruz to this deal because he was suspended last year for PED use and no MLB team wanted to meet the 4 year $75 million request that Cruz had for his next contract. He had already turned down a 4 year $56 million deal with the Rangers. So he's not underrated because he's underpaid. There's a reason he is underpaid. He asked for too much money coming off a PED suspension.

Cincinnati Reds

Most Underrated Player: Brayan Pena, C

The 32 year old catcher who has a lifetime line of .258/.291/.361 and has never had an OPS+ over 100 is underrated? That's interesting.

Backup catchers generally don't get much attention. That's certainly true of Brayan Pena of the Cincinnati Reds. However, with starter Devin Mesoraco sidelined with a hamstring injury, Pena has been a key contributor for the Reds. 
 
In 20 games, the switch-hitter is batting .328 with a .923 OPS. The 32-year-old's strong start at the plate is not a complete shock considering that he hit .297 for the Detroit Tigers in 71 games a season ago.

As I write this, Pena has a .255 batting average with a .656 OPS. It sounds like the author is stating Pena is underrated based on a small sample size for 2014. He's a good backup catcher. That doesn't make him underrated.

Detroit Tigers

Most Underrated Player: Anibal Sanchez, SP

Oh, so the guy who signed a 5 year $88 million contract is underrated? It seems like given that contract amount the Tigers seem to think he's pretty good.

On just about any other team in baseball, Anibal Sanchez would the undisputed staff ace. On the Detroit Tigers, though, the right-hander is just the No. 3 starter.

The fact there are more traditionally more talented pitchers in front of Sanchez doesn't mean he is underrated.

Houston Astros

Most Underrated Player: Chris Carter, 1B/DH

In 2013, Carter swatted 29 home runs, which tied for No. 11 in the AL. This year, Carter has gone yard four times and also added seven doubles. Of course, he's also struck out 40 times.

Derr, he hits a lot of home runs so he must be underrated. Derr. Home runs are pretty. Carter is hitting .191/.280/.440 on the season. He has hit 13 home runs though, so that's super-impressive and makes him underrated.

Milwaukee Brewers

Most Underrated Player: Carlos Gomez, CF

The guy who was an All-Star last year, came in 9th in the MVP race and won a Gold Glove...that guy is underrated?

The center fielder was tied for the highest WAR (8.9) in MLB a season ago, per Baseball-Reference.com. In 2013, the right-handed hitter collected 24 home runs and also stole 40 bases. This year, Gomez is once again off to a fast start. The 28-year-old has nine doubles, eight home runs and is 4-for-5 on stolen-base attempts.

He's a great baseball player who was recognized in three ways last year as a great baseball player even though he plays in a smaller market. Sounds like he is properly rated.

Minnesota Twins

Most Underrated Player: Chris Colabello, 1B

Chris Colabello isn't just underrated. For years, the right-handed hitter was outright ignored.

Because he's not very good. He's hitting .232/.280/.377 on the season. It seems the author chose any player who got off to a hot start in 2014 as "underrated." Perhaps the slideshow should be called, "A list of players who got off to a hot start and I will call them underrated but don't pay attention to this slideshow in a month."

This year, the 30-year-old has totaled 10 doubles and four home runs. He's also collected 28 RBI, which ranks No. 5 in baseball.

He was sent down to the minors in late May. I'm sure he's a really, really underrated minor league player though.

New York Yankees

Most Underrated Player: Alfonso Soriano, DH

I don't need to explain this one. He's made $158 million in his career.

The 38-year-old doesn't hit for high average, but he provides a constant source of power. In 2014, the designated hitter has already connected on seven doubles and five home runs. His home run total is tied for second on the club.

He hits home runs and home runs are pretty.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Most Underrated Player: Neil Walker, 2B

Neil Walker provides a lot of pop for a second baseman. 
In 2012 and 2013, the switch-hitter connected on 14 and 16 home runs respectively. This year, the 28-year-old is on pace for his best output yet. Walker has already gone yard six times, which ranks second on the team.

Hit home runs? If so, the author will consider you underrated.

San Francisco Giants

Most Underrated Player: Brandon Hicks, 2B

A career .160/.263/.323 hitter is underrated? But why?

The right-handed batter is only hitting .208, but he owns a .330 OBP and has contributed five home runs including a walk-off.

He's not hitting .172 but he has hit 8 home runs, dammit! That's underrated!

Seattle Mariners

Most Underrated Player: Felix Hernandez, SP

Not at all, friend. Not at all. He plays on the West Coast for a team that isn't very good. He's not underrated because of this though. He has a Cy Young award as well.

Texas Rangers

Most Underrated Player: Martin Perez, SP

In 2014, Perez has already recorded two shutouts and reeled off a 26-inning scoreless stretch. However, the left-hander has now been tagged in back-to-back outings. His most recent poor performance came on May 5 when he served up five runs in five innings while pitching against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

He's underrated because one time he pitched 26 straight scoreless innings. This makes him underrated apparently. Not every team has to have an underrated player, but that's just how Bleacher Report works sometimes.

3. Christine Brennan thinks that Florida State is coddling Jameison Winston, an amateur athlete by the way, a little bit too much. They need to be tougher on him. He doesn't get paid to get in trouble with the law, he gets paid to win football games.

Were Jameis Winston a fourth-string punter rather than a first-string quarterback, he almost certainly would have long since been kicked off the Florida State football team, probably for good.

Boy, she is astute. It's almost like college athletes are held to a different standard from other college students. That couldn't be true though, could it?

If we've learned anything over the past six months in the ugly Winston saga in Tallahassee, it's that nothing — not an allegation of sexual assault, not failing to appear when you're expected to testify, not stealing crab legs from the local Publix — will stand between the so-called leaders of Florida State and their unending love of their winning football program.

I think this lesson was learned in regard to Florida State quite a few years ago. This isn't a recent lesson to be learned about the school's love for their winning football program.

And that goes for you too, Tallahassee police department, letting a sexual assault case sit dormant for nine months, just long enough for Winston to be well on his way to completing that magical Seminole football season.

They should remove him from both the football and baseball teams at least until he answers questions about what happened the night of the alleged sexual assault, as two of his football teammates did at a code of conduct hearing on Tuesday. They should tell him he needs to take time away from both sports to begin to deal with his mushrooming off-the-field problems.

I mean, stealing crab legs is stealing crab legs. It's pretty clear that the Publix allowed Florida State players some sort of free rein to do this sort of thing in the past. Winston wasn't exactly running out the door on the video showing him stealing the crab legs.

And there is the potential of civil action against him and FSU. The kid has barely left his teenage years and already has not one but two attorneys. I don't care how many awards he has won. This is not the way you want to start out life as an adult.

I like the idea that the school should teach Jameis Winston a lesson about how to start life out as an adult when Christine Brennan thinks the school itself is corrupt and covering up for Winston. It would be the corrupt teaching the corruptible.

It's well past time for FSU's leaders to provide an example for Winston by actually playing the role they are supposed to play — that of adults supervising young people — and showing him he is worth more to FSU as a person than just as an athlete. They should stop letting him slide. They should tell him the only course of action is to show up and tell the truth, come what may.

The assumption here is that Winston had not told the truth and was previously lying. Christine Brennan doesn't provide any evidence this assumption is true.

But now he's all lawyered up, so that's not going to happen. He's all but untouchable now.

Fucking lawyers always looking out for their clients using due process and the American judicial system to their client's favor. What a bunch of sharks. 

When Winston stole the crab legs, FSU did the right thing, at least for a little while. He was suspended from the baseball team, where he is a relief pitcher — for all of four days. He was back in plenty of time to finish up the regular season and play in this week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. I'm sure that comes as a shock to absolutely no one. It's the FSU way.

I mean, they were crab legs. It's not like he is stealing televisions or committing a large scale crime which would require jail time. Stealing anything isn't right, but they are crab legs. In terms of committing a crime, this is pretty low on the totem pole.

Yes, Florida State needs to be harsher, but if Christine Brennan is in anyway surprised that star football players get different rules to play by then she hasn't paid attention for the last 30 years.

4. Phil Mushnick is tired of the nonsense on baseball broadcasts and is also pissed off that the grocery store moved the wine aisle all the way across the store so he has to walk further to pick up his favorite Chardonnay. Mushnick is tired of baseball players not running when they need to be running. In fact, he's just tired and angry about everything.

It went unmentioned — and likely unknown by Kay, at the time — Arenado wouldn’t have had to slide had he run the entire way on a shot off the wall in left.

In town with the Dodgers last week was Matt Kemp, 2011 MVP runner-up who missed 89 games last season with ankle surgery. While that’s regularly noted by local media, its particulars are never addressed:

Here is Mushnick talking yet again about how Matt Kemp should have been running on this play. It's not enough to mention it in his column, but he thinks announcers should talk about how lazy Matt Kemp is every single time his ankle surgery is mentioned.

On a chopper between first and second, Kemp, on third, jogged toward the plate, presuming there would be no play on him. When the throw was made to the plate, Kemp, who should have easily scored, standing, turned it on too late. His awkward slide wrecked his ankle.

Got that? A star missed 89 games because he didn’t bother to run to the next base! Crazy, but that’s now standard MLB play.

Yes, this is now a "standard" MLB play. Everywhere you look there are stars not running to the next base. In fact, some baseball players like Yasiel Puig are crawling to the next base or not even attempting to run the bases if he doesn't hit a home run. Puig actually heads to the dugout after a single because he wanted a home run and isn't going to waste his time hustling if he can't hit a home run and trot around the bases.

Over the weekend, the Cubs named Manny Ramirez a Triple-A player/coach. Hmm, now what advice could he provide aspiring big leaguers?

Gosh, I don't know. What advice could an absolutely fantastic hitter impart to aspiring big leaguers? I can't think of anything other than to share the knowledge that helped Ramirez become one of the best hitters in baseball history.

How to pose at home plate? How to turn doubles into singles, in playoff games, too? How to assault a 65-year-old traveling secretary for being unable to meet a late request to leave 16 tickets for buddies? Tips on how to be consistently, conspicuously, unconditionally selfish?

Exactly. I'm sure Ramirez is providing tips on all of these things. It must be nice to be as perfect as Phil Mushnick is and be able to spend the majority of your time pointing out everything that others have done wrong and then holding it over that person's head for their entire lifetime. Perfection is such a burden.

Wednesday during Dodgers-Mets, an SNY graphic on L.A. starter Zach Greinke: “No more than two runs allowed in any of last 21 starts, longest streak in MLB history.” Wow!

Fuck your snark, that is impressive.

Know how many complete games Greinke has pitched in the last four seasons? One. He’s a six-to-seven-innings starter. Yet, he has surpassed the greatest of greats, including those who regularly pitched nine innings and occasionally allowed three runs. Bob Gibson threw 28 complete games in 1968 — and again in ’69!

Don't worry, this is still an impressive record. Your impression of history isn't going to be threatened. Clearly, a caveat stating Greinke only pitches six or seven innings should have been included. We can't have anyone thinking today's pitchers are as great as pitchers were in Phil Mushnick's time.

Sense? Tuesday night, with the Dodgers in town, TV couldn’t help but show the first six rows behind the plate — best seats in the Mets’ house — went empty. The Mets and Yankees have that in common. At the same time, the Yankees were playing the last-place Cubs at Wrigley. Not an empty seat in sight.

I'm sure there is no price differential in seats in the first six rows at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and Wrigley Field. That probably wouldn't explain why the seats were empty. I'm not entirely sure why this makes Phil Mushnick so angry.

Headfirst slides? Why not? Knock yourselves out.

Why are you so angry? Why do you pick out the most inane things and then complain about them in your column? It's like hearing a senile, homeless man rant on the corner about how the trees are looking at him funny.

5. Speaking of Manny Ramirez, Dan Shaughnessy was embarrassed by the Red Sox tribute to him. "It's a farce!," says Shaughnessy.

Let me see if I have this straight: Manny Ramirez hit like Jimmie Foxx for 7½ seasons in Boston, but it turned out he was cheating with PEDs the whole time.

I'm not sure it's known whether he was cheating with PED's (it sounds like Manny was cheating with PED's in a biblical way, luring PED's into bed...I can picture him smoking a cigarette beside the cream and clear) the entire time he was with the Red Sox. Jimmie Foxx had an extra "x" in his name, so that has to count for some sort of cheating, right? It made him seem extra badass.

Ramirez also regularly ignored the kids from the Jimmy Fund

What about the kids? Doesn't Manny care about the kids?

After quitting on the Sox, he went to Los Angeles and hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in the final 53 games of the season. Without Ramirez, the Sox went on to lose the seventh game of the 2008 AL Championship Series to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Ramirez was also instrumental in the Red Sox winning two World Series, which is the reason he was honored...so there's that too.

On the night the Sox chose to honor the most important team in their 114-year history, they made Manny the featured character. After legitimate Sox gods Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, and Curt Schilling were asked to step aside — Bloody Sock Schill was making his first public appearance while in the throes of a serious battle with cancer — Manny came out from the Green Monster and had the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

Manny doesn't care about the kids AND he took the ceremonial first pitch from a person stricken with cancer. I'm surprised he didn't punch a baby in the face on his way out from the Green Monster. I also like how Manny isn't a "legitimate" Sox god. He certainly seemed legitimate when he helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series victories. It's funny how time has scraped Ramirez's legitimacy away.

Manny received the loudest ovation. 

Another example of the fans being assholes. They cheer for a granny-assaulting, PED-using, kid-snubbing, cancer survivor-snubbing, illegitimate Sox god. These people have no morals, but should feel free to continue to read Dan's columns and buy his books in order to make him more money.

Wow. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. We wish Manny the best as he goes forward in his new life.

No, you don't. No one likes a liar. Well, no one likes a liar who can't play sports well and Dan Shaughnessy doesn't seem like he can play sports well.

But management knows better. Must the Sox brass always appeal to the lowest common denominator? (Seen NESN lately?)

Read Dan Shaughnessy's column lately? I should go easy on Dan, he hasn't been able to manufacture a fake curse in order to sell books in over a decade. Times are tough for him.

Appearing on WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” Thursday morning, Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said,...“But the simple fact is that we were honoring the World Series championship of 2004 and the MVP in the World Series was Manny Ramirez . . . A choice had to be made among several candidates that were fitting and appropriate and I believe the decision turned on the World Series MVP. 

It's a logical way to determine who should throw out the first pitch. I know Dan Shaughnessy doesn't like the decision, but choosing between the other Sox players was difficult so the World Series MVP (the non-legitimate Sox god) threw out the first pitch.

“That seemed to be a rational decision. We would never please everyone.’’

Especially those people like Dan Shaughnessy who could never be pleased.

6. Now comes an absolutely terrible slideshow (not done by Bleacher Report) called "10 Most Likely Baseball Steroid Users Never Caught." Yeah, wow. This is the type of stuff that lawsuits are made of.

Albert Pujols: 

Let's be honest here. The odds of Albert Pujols being clean are slim. He's never been caught or linked to PED's, but something just doesn't add up.

Yes, let's be honest. Let's accuse Pujols of using PED's because that's the most honest thing that could be done in this situation. 

Nolan Ryan: 

Ryan retired in 1993 with the Texas Rangers. He played with Jose Canseco in his later years, which makes him even more suspicious.

He played on the same team as Jose Canseco. So did hundreds of other baseball players, so every single one of them has to be under suspicion, right? As I've detailed many times, if this shitty reasoning is used then what does it say about Derek Jeter? 

Mike Sweeney:  

Mike Sweeney had back problems through much of his career, but he was a big-time offensive weapon for Kansas City from 1999-2003.

Sweeney wasn't much of an offensive weapon prior to those seasons. In fact, it came as a big surprise to Royals fans when he became the hitter that led him to 5 All-Star appearances.

Sweeney wasn't much of an offensive weapon prior to those seasons because he was 24 years old and had never gotten more than 300 at-bats in a season, but don't let facts get in the way of creating lies about Mike Sweeney. 

Rickey Henderson: 

Maybe Rickey really was a freak of an athlete. Or maybe he was on steroids. We'll probably never know.

Maybe Napoleon Bonaparte was Emperor of the French. Or maybe he was a Tyrannosaurus Rex pretending to be a human. We'll probably never know. 

Adrian Beltre: 

This is a tough one because Adrian Beltre only has one monster season. But he's been so up-and-down that his career doesn't make much sense.

He's only had one monster season as long as you don't count his production from 2010-2013. I'm looking for the up and down part of his career. He's seemed pretty consistent to me. 

Cliff Lee: 

Cliff Lee was a mediocre pitcher from 2003-2007. In 2008, he won the Cy Young and has been great ever since. It is a bit odd that Lee couldn't figure things out until age 29, especially after pitching so many innings prior to that season.

Sandy Koufax didn't become a Hall of Fame pitcher until he turned 26 years old despite pitching almost 955 innings prior to that. Maybe he was on steroids too!

The author of this is an absolute moron. Like he didn't even do one bit of research and just sort of took a big shit all over his keyboard and this group of sentences is the result. Cliff Lee went 18-5 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.218 WHIP in 2005. He came in 4th in the Cy Young voting. He struggled in 2006 and was injured most of 2007. But no really, I'm sure he used steroids beginning in 2008.

Jacoby Ellsbury: 

Jacoby Ellsbury has much in common with Brady Anderson. They even play the same position.

Oh, well say no more. Obviously Jacoby Ellsbury used steroids because Brady Anderson was a proven steroid us---wait, no he wasn't. He never failed a test for steroids that didn't exist when Brady Anderson played in the majors. But they both played centerfield at one point during their career, so that's some hard-and-fast evidence right there. 

Maybe it was a fluke. Or maybe he cheated like Brady Anderson did when he hit 50 homers in 1996.

I wish you would get sued. 

7. Vernon Davis explains why he is holding out. In a shocking twist of events, it's not about him and his need for more money, but is totally about getting what he deserves. 

In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed. It was the biggest contract for a tight end in league history.

But Vernon Davis deserved the biggest contract for any football player in league history. He's holding out to right this wrong.

Four years later, and I’m playing at a higher level than I was then, which brings me to why I’m holding out.

Because you signed a contract for you to be compensated for your performance over a five year period and the fact you could improve your performance over this time period is the risk you took when signing the contract? Would Davis have given the money back if you didn't play at a higher level? I doubt it. I hate to bring this up, but Davis hasn't matched his production since signing that contract in terms of receptions and yards. He did have 13 touchdowns this past season, but I would argue he is earning his contract and hasn't exceeded what the 49ers paying for by giving him a $37 million contract extension. At his best, I would say Davis' level of play hasn't declined and has stayed consistent, but I'm not sure that's enough for a contract extension.

It’s all about getting paid what you deserve.

And you are getting paid what you deserve. You are getting paid like one of the top tight ends in the NFL. Congrats!

I want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be on the field this summer working toward that goal, but I have to worry about my future first.

Hey, I understand. I really do. It's just I wouldn't say you are playing at a higher level now than you were when you signed the contract extension.

Most of my teammates and many players in the NFL understand that. A few don’t. Behind closed doors, they’ll say they’re all about the team and would run through a brick wall for the organization. But when you look closer, they’re doing things to contradict themselves.

At least Davis is being honest that it isn't all about the team to him. Personally if I'm the 49ers, even if this is the truth, it makes me nervous to hand out to Davis another contract extension since he's on the wrong side of 30 and is admitting he worries about the team after himself. The truth is great, but it also sucks.

I can’t listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.

And really, who could live on $37 million? I wish Davis the best of luck in his attempt to get more money, but I think he's getting paid what he deserves right now.

8. Howard Bryant thinks Kevin Durant needs to drive to the basket more. While one can see his point, Durant's competitive advantage is that he is really tall and it's hard to block his shot when he shoots jump shots. He is a skinny guy, so driving to the basket would also cause wear and tear on his body that he could have difficulty withstanding. Also, Durant's inability to drive to the basket isn't why the Thunder didn't win the NBA title this year. I think that's important to know.

Offense was built from the inside, which opened up the outside shot, not the other way around. That was especially true in the playoffs, when referees rewarded an attacking offense with free throws and let aggressive defenses dictate:

The analytics say those days are dead. They say the 3 is the key. On a team with Larry Bird and Danny Ainge, the champion 1983-84 Celtics attempted 229 3-pointers. This season Kevin Durant attempted 491 3s by himself. The game resembles a long-distance shooting contest. Yet when the trophies are raised, the winning formula is older than a pair of classic Chuck Taylors. That is why the lasting image of Durant was of him walking off the court after losing to the Spurs in the Western Conference finals, no closer to a title now than when he entered the NBA seven years ago.

Could it be because the Thunder team is built around Ibaka (who was injured in the playoffs this year), Westbrook (who was injured in the playoffs last year), Durant and a bunch of role players that really aren't that great and can't be counted on to score? Nah, it's because Kevin Durant won't drive to the basket.

The biggest questions, however, surround Durant himself.

The numbers say he isn't the problem. The numbers say he is efficient. The numbers say he isn't just a behind-the-arc gunner: No one shot more free throws than the 805 he attempted this season.

Howard Bryant's theory is Durant needs to go to the basket more often to get fouled, yet Durant shot more foul shots than any other NBA player. So it seems like he's doing a good job of getting to the foul line by being a gunner and he is preventing his relatively skinny body from taking a beating. Durant isn't built like Jordan, he definitely isn't built like LeBron.

But history says it is impossible for a superstar to win 25 feet from the basket; Durant's game runs counter to what playoff basketball rewards. Yes, the Heat take plenty of 3s, but LeBron sharpens his game for the playoffs. He penetrates more, becoming tougher to defend and thus going to the line more.

But again, Durant's advantage is that his shot is almost impossible to block when he's taking a jump shot because he is so tall.

About 23 percent of James' shots were taken from behind the arc in the regular season and in the playoffs leading up to the Finals, but his foul shot attempts increased from 7.6 to 8.7 per game.

During this year's playoffs, 29.6 percent of his shots were from 3, and he went to the line 8.6 times a game.

So the problem is Durant doesn't get to the line as much as LeBron in the playoffs, though those pesky statistics say that Durant went to the free throw line almost exactly as much as LeBron. So Durant needs to be more like LeBron and get to the free throw line even though he's already getting to the free throw line in the playoffs as much as LeBron does.

If he wants to join the ranks of James, Jordan and Bryant, he must attack as they did. When it was go time, they went -- to the basket.

Again, Durant isn't build like these guys were built. Not that he can't go to the basket, and it's never a bad idea to drive to the basket, but I'm not sure this is the big need for the Thunder to take the next step and win an NBA title.

Whatever the solution, the current plan isn't working. Durant might be the MVP, but when it comes to championship basketball, the wheel cannot be reinvented. Many have tried. All have failed.

The current plan isn't working because the Thunder don't have very good role players. Outside of Reggie Jackson they have no one who can score and Steven Adams had to play big minutes in the playoffs once Ibaka went down. The wheel can not be reinvented, which is why part of the solution for the Thunder to play championship basketball is to improve the players around Kevin Durant, Ibaka and Westbrook.

9. Bob Nightengale wonders if there is a conspiracy to keep minor league players in the minors until they don't qualify for Super-2 status. Yes, there is. It's pretty much a no-lose proposition. It's not against the CBA, it saves the team money in the long-term and ensures a prospect plays as much minor league baseball until he is ready to play in the majors. At least Nightengale stops short of accusing these teams of lacking integrity.

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, who debuted just a week ago, is already impacting the National League, getting a hit in every one of his seven games.

In a cruel paradox, the better Polanco performs, the more scrutiny the Pirates may face.

If the Pirates don't return to the postseason this year, particularly if they miss out by only a game or two, the scorn will come in waves.

It's not a cruel paradox. It's a strategic decision the Pirates organization has made in which they are choosing to forgo immediate success for two months in favor of having an additional year of Gregory Polanco. And as I always say, if Polanco ends up being a great player then none of this Super-2 or not crap will matter. He will be signed to a contract extension by the Pirates which buys out his arbitration years.

So naturally, folks want to know, why wasn't he called up sooner? Was his debut intentionally delayed to avoid paying an extra year of arbitration? Was he penalized for not agreeing to the seven-year, $25 million contract offer earlier this year? Did the Pirates risk a potential playoff berth to save millions?

I have defended teams keeping players in the minors until after they can't qualify as Super-2's before. I will continue to do so until it is against the CBA that is negotiated. It's a long-term strategy. I can't get behind keeping a player in the minors because he won't sign a long-term deal prior to being called up. That's shady and is some bullshit.

Players with two years of service time and rank among the top 22% of their class are eligible for four years of salary arbitration, and not three years, which can be worth millions. If the arbitration rights simply began at a full three years (which the owners would love) or two years (which the players would love), it would avoid the appearance of any deceit.

"I thought it was a grave mistake when we went to the Super-2 [in 1990],'' Coonelly said, "and I continue to believe it's a grave mistake, especially in a market like Pittsburgh. I would really be in favor to going back to three years. Or even two years. Or even getting rid of salary arbitration entirely.

The arbitration system can be stupid at times, but I'm not sure about getting rid of it entirely. But see, this is the part Murray Chass leaves out when he rails against teams keeping players in the minors too long. He forgets the part where the players negotiated the current Super-2 rule and not all owners like the rule. Obviously the owners want a bargain that is more advantageous to them, but this Super-2 rule was negotiated and agreed to by the player's union.

If a player is really ready, no matter the financial implications, you want to believe the team will bring him up. If not, you really hope it's for the player's development, and not for the good of the club's bank account.

Here's the problem...when is a player "ready"? A player could tear up the minor leagues and come up to the majors and struggle, then get sent back down for more minor league seasoning. It happens.

"You have to take it on the faith that the clubs are doing the right thing for their team and their organization,'' Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija says. "You hope that they are truly keeping guys down because they need more time in the minor leagues.

"If they don't, it's just absurd. Why wouldn't you try to put your best team on the field?''

Teams have budgets to manage. That's why they don't put their best team on the field. The arbitration system in baseball can be ridiculously stupid. Jeff Francoeur got paid $3.4 million in arbitration despite the fact he was coming off a season where he was one of the worst regular players in the majors and hit .239/.294/.359. Once that arbitration clock starts things can get silly for a team dealing with a budget.

The Pirates insist they're doing the right thing, and the timing for Polanco's call-up has everything to do with his development - with only 295 plate appearances above Class A before the year - and not money.

"Gregory Polanco, barring something completely unexpected,'' Huntington said, "was not going to make the team out of spring training.''

And that's the thing, a guy like Polanco has only had 295 plate appearances above Class A ball. Is it really such a smart thing to throw him on the major league roster because he tears up the minors for the month of April? Players go on tears and then the pitchers adjust to these players. It made sense to see Polanco adjust to the pitchers who were adjusting to him, then call him up once he proved he could make the necessary adjustments and was ready for the majors. And yes, the Pirates saved money as well. I'm sure the Pirates fans won't mind if it turns out Polanco doesn't sign a long-term deal buying out his arbitration years and the team gets an extra year of Polanco prior to arbitration.

10. Ross Tucker doesn't like to put stock in Johnny Manziel. It's because of all the usual reasons of course.

Tucker does the typical, "I have no problem with Example A or B of Manziel partying, but here is Example C that I have a problem with."

I didn't have any problem with the picture of him hanging with Rob Gronkowski and a bunch of ladies in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. Good for him. 

The inflatable swan and a bottle of champagne thing probably didn't look great to some people, but I thought it was funny. 

His latest off field stunt, however, now has me legitimately concerned. 

Tucker is no longer amused or illegitimately concerned, he's now legitimately concerned. It's not because of Manziel's partying of course. His concern is about Manziel's partying.

There's a video making the rounds all over the Internet from a party for Manziel's friend Drake in Houston in which Manziel holds up a stack of cash to his ear like it is a phone and tells the camera he "can't hear you because there's too much money in my f------ hand!" 

Manziel's signature move is to rub his fingers together like he's got money in them. He's done this for a while now. Ross Tucker obviously would know this. So...why is this concerning then?

Even if you are a hardcore Manziel supporter, you have to admit it's a bad look for a guy that's supposed to be the new face of the franchise for the Browns. Stacks of cash? Dropping an f-bomb on a video? Eyes barely open, presumably because he's so inebriated? 

"All those other times Manziel has clearly been inebriated in public and has made reference to making money are no big deal. This instance disturbs me though...not that I'm looking for a reason to be disturbed by Manziel and want to make it seem like I'm not searching for a new reason to question Manziel's behavior, of course."

Manziel’s behavior is getting progressively worse and eroding the public confidence in both the player and organization. That's a problem. 

Training Camp hasn't even started yet. What confidence in Manziel did the public have previously? Did they watch college football over the past two seasons? I'm not saying I wouldn't be annoyed if I was a Browns fan, but this is what Manziel has done over the past two years. It's not new. Why the sudden, "Hold on a second, this infatuation with celebrity and money while showing confidence in himself is a red flag!"? This is the guy the Browns wanted and drafted. He hasn't changed.

He told everybody that would listen during the pre-draft process, that the "Johnny Football" persona and lifestyle was behind him. I guess not. It looks more and more like that was one heck of an Eddie Haskell routine that Manziel pulled off, possibly pulling the wool over the Browns' eyes. 

You mean Manziel was telling people what they wanted to hear during the pre-draft interview process like I said he was doing? No way. You mean Manziel didn't magically change and not really want to make stacks of money after he was drafted and actually started making stacks of money? If Ross Tucker was fooled by Manziel during the pre-draft interview process then it is only because he wanted to be fooled. Come on, he's still a kid and he's still an exciting quarterback prospect.

Current Lions backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky chimed in as well, asking someone to "Find me a QB with his off the field lifestyle that has had a lot of success." 

Joe Namath.

Also, Dan Orlovsky, at least Manziel knows where the hell the back of the end zone is and doesn't step out of it like an idiot. I mean, Dan Orlovsky is the go-to guy on how a quarterback can juggle his lifestyle and still have success? Does he know the dimensions of the end zone yet?

That's just it. You can't. Even if you say guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are bad examples because they are in their mid-to-late thirties, what about youngsters like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III? 

Manziel is not the first quarterback to ever have fun. Plenty of them have and still do. They are just smart and discreet about the way in which they go about it because they understand the public attention that goes along with their job. It comes with the territory and they accept that. 

Okay, now I'm confused. No quarterback has had the lifestyle Manziel leads off the field and had a lot of success, except Ross Tucker says plenty of quarterbacks have fun, but they are discreet about it. So the difference is that Manziel is dumb enough to have fun in front of a camera, but other NFL quarterbacks have had a fun lifestyle and had success as an NFL quarterback? Is that what I'm reading?

I remember calling the starting quarterback of the team I was on one time during my career on a Saturday in the offseason and he told me he was at Home Depot getting supplies to make a beer funnel. He liked to party. He just did it at private residences around people he could trust. If we went out, he never had more than two beers. He would've liked to have had more, but he knew he couldn't. He said the message boards and blogs would be all over him. 

So again, I'm not defending Manziel's actions, but the difference is he has fun in front of a camera and other quarterbacks party in private? Manziel definitely has a discretion problem, but the fact the public doesn't know about the off the field lifestyle of other quarterbacks doesn't mean other NFL quarterbacks haven't led a similar lifestyle to Manziel and still had success in the NFL. It sounds like Ross Tucker is backing this assertion up a little bit.

The truth is, I hope he does have success. I'm a radio talk-show host. That'd be great for me. Johnny's great for me. Plus, Browns fans are extremely loyal and passionate. They deserve a winner.

Too bad it's looking less and less like Manziel's going to be the guy to bring it to them. 

He's not thrown an NFL pass yet. Let's see how much partying he does once Training Camp starts and the time comes to actually be an NFL quarterback. Manziel hasn't changed, I'm not sure why there is an assumption he would. He's a guy who likes partying, money and being around celebrities. Ross Tucker really thought Manziel becoming a millionaire would curb the partying, love of money and being around celebrities? I don't understand how Tucker never had a problem with Manziel's partying until this newest instance of partying. 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"But history says it is impossible for a superstar to win 25 feet from the basket; Durant's game runs counter to what playoff basketball rewards."

...I'm waiting to hear some proof of this supposed basketball truth. I'm going to list some NBA players who most assuredly did not play 25 feet from the basket, and you tell me how many championships they won: Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone.

Kevin Durant is an all-time great NBA scorer. His career probably isn't even half-over yet, but it's true, he's all-time great at what he does. Very, very few players have ever combined his efficiency with his volume. So for some bozo writer to come along and say he needs to do anything differently is the height of absurdity. The Thunder went 2-2 against the Spurs with Ibaka in the lineup, while the Heat got blown off the court with all of their star players (and LeBron "driving to the basket"). The Thunder, even with a relatively weak supporting cast, are a really good team in large part because Durant is so unbelievably good at what he does. But no, he definitely needs to get better because someone named Howard Bryant says so, with no actual proof of why that is so.

Kyle said...

This is just a nitpick, but I think Carlos Gomez is the most underrated player in all of baseball. Since 2012, he's 7th in all of baseball for WAR by a position player. Last year, when you mention he finished 9th in MVP, he actually finished second in WAR but I never really saw him considered as a legitimate candidate. I know there's more to analysis than just WAR, but I think it's a good barometer and despite being decently well recognized for his play, I still think he flies under the radar for most people.
Sorry, I just love Carlos Gomez.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that is a good point. I wish I had made that point. My favorite part about the article is Bryant says Durant needs to make a few moves to get closer to the basket and get more fouls shots, just like LeBron. Except, Durant gets to the foul line in the playoffs as much as LeBron. So however Durant is getting to the line, it's working obviously.

Kyle, who is overrated or isn't overrated is probably a matter of opinion. I don't at all consider Gomez to be underrated in any way, but that's because I know how good he is. He finished lower in the MVP race last year, but he was voted an All Star and got a Gold Glove so the fans and the media seem to recognize that he is a pretty good player.

I don't know, it seems to me like Gomez gets some respect in various ways. I have a hard time considering him to be overrated. We can agree he's a great player though.

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