Thursday, July 31, 2014

7 comments It's Fine to Use Cocaine, Just Don't Die From It or You Don't Deserve To Be in the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame

John Feinstein doesn't think Len Bias deserves to be in the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame. He's too dead to deserve this honor. For some reason Feinstein brings Pete Rose into the discussion as well, possibly because he realized he didn't have enough material to write a column on why Len Bias doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. John Feinstein believes the character clause should come into play, and since Len Bias made the mistake of dying of a drug overdose, he doesn't deserve induction into the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame. Of course, John Lucas is in the University of Maryland Hall of Fame and he famously used drugs. That is totally different from Len Bias because John Lucas had the foresight to not die of his drug use. I mean, if you are going to use drugs, at least have the ability to not die. If you die, there goes your chances at making the Hall of Fame. 

The picture of John Feinstein that accompanies this article looks like it was taken in 1987. It may be time to update the pic. I'm pretty sure there is a Roxy Music poster somewhere in the background of the picture.

More than 28 years after his death rocked the sports world, Len Bias is going to be inducted to the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame this October, the school announced Wednesday.

What a travesty. Bias used drugs and wasn't even super-clutch enough to handle the drugs he was taking. By allowing Bias into the Hall of Fame, the University of Maryland is saying, "We support people who use drugs and aren't even tough enough to not die of drug use." That's not a message they should be sending.

Almost 25 years after being banned from baseball for betting on games, Pete Rose still is begging to be inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The question is this: Should either one of them be in any hall of fame?

And these two situations are completely analogous, that's the important thing to focus on. Dying of cardiac arrest caused by cocaine and betting on baseball. Definitely not an apples and oranges comparison.

Rose is baseball’s all-time hits leader — 4,256 — and if he hadn’t been caught betting on baseball, he would have been a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer five years after he last played in 1986.

If a frog had wings it wouldn't bump it's ass on the ground. If Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens had not used PED's then they would be in the Hall of Fame. If I were a foot taller I would have a better chance of being a professional athlete.

Bias is — almost without argument — the greatest basketball player in Maryland history.

(Lonny Baxter reads this sentence with a tear in his eye)

If he hadn’t died of a cocaine overdose soon after being taken with the No. 2 pick in the 1986 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics, he would have been in the school’s Hall of Fame the moment he was eligible.

But he died, and everyone knows that dead people SHOULD NOT be allowed to enter the Hall of Fame. You die, that's a character flaw. No Hall of Fame for you.

But greatness as a player has never been an issue with either Rose or Bias. 

Which is why Bias shouldn't be allowed to enter the University of Maryland Hall of Fame, a place reserved for players who showed greatness in athletics while playing for the University of Maryland. Sure, he was great and meets that criteria, but he's dead. What kind of great athlete can't handle a little cocaine? Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry handled their cocaine. Maybe Bias wasn't such a great athlete after all.

There is no doubt a stain of mendacity on Rose that never fell on Bias.

Look at Mr. Fancy with his big words. Mendacity. Well, Pete Rose lied for a decade about whether he bet on baseball and then only revealed that he did bet on baseball once he got the chance to make money from his admission. Len Bias was a college kid who used cocaine and died as a result. You can sort of see where the stain of lies is on Rose, but not Bias. Bias being a liar isn't an issue with his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Rose only stopped lying about betting on baseball in 2004 because he was peddling a book and because he believed — as he said as recently as this week — that if he finally fessed up, Selig would reinstate him. He didn’t do it because his conscience caught up with him but because he was tring to sell books and because he thought he would get off the hook if he said, “Yeah, yeah, you got me.”

Hey, I said it first!

There’s a character clause on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is why no one should ever vote for Rose or any of those who took steroids and lied about taking them.

I'm getting bored of rehashing the same argument over and over...but I also can't turn down having the same argument over and over. MLB didn't care about the character clause when letting assholes like Ty Cobb into the Hall of Fame. MLB didn't care about letting cheaters in the Hall of Fame when electing Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford into the Hall of Fame. Don't even get me started about the large amounts of players in the MLB Hall of Fame used "greenies" at some point in their career. It's laughable to discuss the character clause in terms of the Baseball Hall of Fame, as if everyone in the Baseball Hall of Fame is of the highest moral character and no player shall demean the group of angels currently represented in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There also is a character clause attached to the Maryland Hall of Fame. Apparently the committee decided 28 years was enough time either to look the other way or believe that dying of a cocaine overdose doesn’t represent a major character flaw.

Dying of a cocaine overdose doesn't represent a major character flaw. I like how Feinstein seems to differentiate between using cocaine and dying of a cocaine overdose. Sure, it's fine to use cocaine and then rehab yourself a few years later. John Lucas is a great example of this. Don't use cocaine and then die from this cocaine use, because you don't get a chance to get older and redeem yourself. Now your cocaine use becomes a character flaw. If you are going to fuck up, just be sure you live long enough to beg forgiveness for the fuck up.

Of course many people, including Lefty Driesell, who recruited and coached Bias, have convinced themselves Bias had never used cocaine before that night. Others have tried to make Bias into some kind of martyr. He was neither innocent nor a martyr.

I'm glad John Feinstein is able to have some real talk with us about Len Bias. He probably had used cocaine prior to that night, but no one really knows for sure. Bias isn't a martyr, but he is an excellent example of how drug use can derail a person's life and career.

It cost him his life — and it cost Maryland dearly.

Sure, drug use cost Len Bias his life, but his drug use really cost Maryland dearly. The Bias family could always make another baby that's a once in a lifetime athlete, but Maryland was going to need at least five to ten years to pull their program back together.

Driesell insists to this day that, in spite of his death and the way he died, Bias was good for Maryland, that many players wanted to go there because they were so enamored of him as a player. Gary Williams, who had to deal with the specter of Bias’s death when he arrived on campus in 1989, disagrees.

There were kids who were great players who were decent students who we couldn’t get in school because Maryland was trying to prove it was recruiting a different kind of athlete.

This is mainly why Len Bias shouldn't be in the University of Maryland Hall of Fame. His death led to the University raising their academic standards for athletes. How is Gary Williams supposed to coach his team if the players have to be academically eligible to get into the school? Thanks Len Bias, thanks for dying and encouraging the school to recruit a different kind of athlete. No University of Maryland athlete whose death causes the school to raise academic standards deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. No way. No how.

Of course reportedly part of the reason Gary Williams retired is because he wasn't happy that the University was not allowing some of the recruits into the school due to these recruits failing to have the requisite grades allowing them to gain entry into the University of Maryland. So Williams definitely has a type of player he recruits for better or worse and there are obviously exceptions. I think Williams really retired because he realized he had offered Alex Len a scholarship and this was such a black stain on his resume he had no choice but to retire.

I remember after we lost to Duke in the Final Four in 2001, feeling as if a lot of Maryland people still thought, ‘Well, that’s who we are. Something’s always going to go wrong.’

At least Gary Williams didn't have a victim's mentality about it. I wonder how Williams felt after Maryland won the national title the very next year? I'm sure Williams is happy with Maryland deciding to take the money and run off to the Big 10, where they will be an even more irrelevant football program and the basketball team will benefit by allowing fellow Big 10 teams inroads into recruiting in the Maryland/DC area. Guys like Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter who went to Maryland because it was comfortable and close to home can feel safer choosing Ohio State now that they know their family can see them play in Maryland once a year or so.

It’s as if some people want to forget that the reason he died was because he did something wrong. That’s a fact, and there’s no getting away from that fact. I saw the results of it up close.

Right, Len Bias did do something "wrong." It's a little insensitive to put it that way I think, but it's factually accurate. It would be like saying I shouldn't feel bad for Juan Dixon being an orphan because his parents did something wrong and left him behind. After all, they were drug addicts and had AIDS. I'm guessing if I said I wouldn't extend sympathy to Juan Dixon because his parents did something wrong then Gary Williams would think I'm an asshole. 

“If the publicity from this reminds some kids that this can happen, this does happen, not just to famous athletes, then maybe that way some good can come of it.”

I think that's pretty much what Len Bias' death did. It's a reminder even great athletes can use drugs and die from them. 

The question, ultimately, in deciding whether someone is a hall of famer is whether they elevated their sport, their school or their profession. Some sports’ halls of fame rely strictly on numbers, even though they often paint an incomplete picture.

Of course Len Bias did before his life could be a complete picture, which I think is an important thing to know. His life was an incomplete picture. Yes, hall of fames have tended to rely on outside actions of late, but the Baseball Hall of Fame and the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame have not in the past, or else guys like Gaylord Perry and John Lucas wouldn't be in each respective hall of fame.

Baseball was sullied and damaged by Rose’s actions, which should mean the privilege of being in the Hall of Fame is taken from him in spite of his remarkable achievements.

The same, sadly, should be true of Bias. There’s no questioning he lit up the Maryland campus for four years. But there’s also no questioning he left it in darkness for many years in the wake of his death.

So Len Bias should not be inducted into the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame, not because he used drugs, but because he died while using drugs. Death was his character flaw. If he had been man enough not to suffer cardiac arrest, and then redeem himself by playing basketball well in the NBA, then he very well could deserve to be in the Maryland Hall of Fame. But like a little bitch who can't hold his drugs, he died from using cocaine, so no Hall of Fame for him. 

Unlike Rose, Bias should be forgiven.

You are forgiven for dying, Len Bias! Congratulations! John Feinstein has absolved you from the sin of dying. 

But, like Rose, he should not be honored.

Pitied, certainly. But honored? No.

Because he died from using drugs? The University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame already has someone inducted who used drugs, so clearly the character clause (here's a shock) is arbitrarily ignored when convenient. The lesson here to "the kids" is that if you want to make sure you get into your college's athletics hall of fame, use all the drugs you want, just don't die from using those drugs. Read Keith Richards' biography, he'll show you how to do it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

8 comments MMQB Review: Peter Might Think 21 is Less Than 20 Edition

Peter King made his triumphant post-vacation, post-CFL MMQB return with an eye on the moral problems of our nation as whole, falling off the latte wagon, ready to discuss how Chris Kluwe is on the right side of the gay rights issue, and wondering whether Dustin Pedroia's first seven seasons in the majors were just him overachieving (for seven years...that's a long time to overachieve) and this season shows his real ability. This week Peter visits more NFL training camps, furthers his infatuation with Chip Kelly (every word out of Kelly's mouth is biblical to Peter), sort of defends his weak column from late last week on Ray Rice (because Peter is the real victim in all of this), and marvels at his own training camp visit schedule.

I find it interesting that Peter is so socially aware on so many issues (refusing to call the Redskins by their team name, being anti-gun in his column, and referring to Chris Kluwe as being on the "right" side of a social issue) that he gave Ray Rice such a light-handed slap in a column pertaining to his (Rice's) and the Ravens reaction to a 2-game punishment for striking his fiance. It seems to me Peter would have been more outraged if Rice had called his fiance a Redskin, bought a gun and then called her homosexual slurs instead of hitting her. I tend to hate groupthink, especially on Twitter, but I thought the 2-game punishment was a bit light as well and was surprised that Peter King, who has earned the right (apparently) in MMQB to speak out on issues he believes strongly in, went too easy on Rice.

Now on to a little Rob Ryan and Chip Kelly worship. Screw the Bible, this shit these two coaches are saying is the real gospel.

This is what a real training-camp practice sounds like, via the verbal stylings of New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his defensive coach, Bill Johnson.

“Hit today. Hit. Hit. Be physical. Be physical. Get the ball out! Lotta life. Let’s go. Let’s go D. C’mon now. First practice in pads. F—in’ pads!! Let’s go!”

This is as opposed to the fake training camp practice Peter saw with Buffalo last week where the defensive coaches were encouraging the defensive players to just slightly tap the opposing player and only politely asked if they could have the football.

The linebacker group joined the defensive linemen. One by one, the players lined up and attacked the individual sled. One after one, all of them plowed into it with their hands and upper bodies, lifted it up, and tossed it aside.
 
“All right!” Ryan said. “Now this is football.”

Just in case anyone on the Saints roster was confused and thought they were playing bocce or lacrosse, this IS football.

A second shot for everyone at the sled ensued. A few minutes later, players lined up on either side of the ball for an inside-running drill. No tackle, but the defense could stand up the ballcarrier with a hard thud and try to strip the ball. Lots of hype and excitement here, followed by a couple of runners shaking loose and getting outside.
 
Ryan: “F—in’ lettin’ them run through you like paper! Awful!”

Rob Ryan's defenses in Dallas, Cleveland and in Oakland have traditionally let teams run through them like paper. I would think he'd be used to it by now. I have a feeling the media won't quit on the Rob Ryan train until he is handed an NFL head coaching job. I'm sure Peter considers Ryan to be one of those overlooked coaches who unfairly haven't gotten a shot at a head coaching job. I bet Peter thinks Ryan should be added to his list from last winter when Peter was discussing the lack of diversity in NFL head coaching candidates.

Next play: Running back Khiry Robinson got eaten alive inside. Never made it out of the mugging throng.

New Orleans Saints: 2015 Super Bowl Champs.

And so it ebbed and flowed, the first padded practice of a promising season. It was a fun scene, but the most impressive 20 minutes I spent in Week 1 on the Training Camp Tour goes to…

Philadelphia Eagles
Saturday, July 26
Eagles facility, Philadelphia
Chip Kelly, unplugged


Nevermind, change that. Philadelphia Eagles: 2015 Super Bowl Champs.

I’ve had only two extended conversations with Kelly since he was named coach of the Eagles 19 months ago. To say I know him well would be folly. But I’m starting to get a feel for him.

Well, that's good to know Peter. I was concerned that you hadn't gotten to know enough about Chip Kelly. If I remember corrrectly, both times Peter talked to Chip Kelly at length he transcribed large parts of the interview in MMQB because EVERYTHING CHIP KELLY IS BRILLIANT! He's like Buddha, but less Buddha-ish, more Jesus-ish, but without talking about morality. He uses words in sentences that cause Peter to smile happily at just how different and brilliant Chip Kelly truly is. Kelly has an innovative offense so absolutely everything about him must be described in some way as innovative. He plays loud music while the team practices, which we all know immediately leads to a Super Bowl victory, and doesn't say boring things. He's fun, he's a good quote, so the media adores him.

I vividly remember the other two times Peter has spoken at length with Chip Kelly and both times he acted like Kelly was the smartest man he ever met. It's true that Kelly is a smart guy, but enough with the hero worship, just tell us about the Eagles training camp. We don't get that though. Peter only tells us about Chip Kelly. Sorry Eagles fans, you get nothing about your team outside of a review of Chip Kelly quotes.

Totally confident that his style will work in the NFL. Unlike Johnson, Kelly’s not brash on the outside. Like Johnson, he knows deep down his way will win. Johnson brought a small, fast defense into a league that was going bigger and bigger. It worked. Kelly brings a fast-break offense from Oregon, and in the second half of the season, with different personnel groupings and a quarterback who could keep it all straight, the team went 7-1.

And there's no way NFL teams will adjust to his style of play. I don't doubt the Eagles could make the playoffs again this year, but NFL defensive coordinators are very good at adjusting. I know this isn't fun to even think about for Peter because of all the great Chip Kelly quotes.

He also is the kind of guy who … I’ll put it this way. Imagine Ford was getting stale making cars (imagine that!), and execs there pursued a Honda VP to rejuvenate the company, and in the interview the Honda guy said five or six things that made the Ford team think, “Why didn’t we think of that?” That’s Kelly.
The five or six things he said Saturday that made me think:

Every word from Kelly's lips to Peter's ears.

The biggest surprise of his first year and a half on the job. “The hype. [Director of public relations] Derek [Boyko] asked me the question and said I couldn’t say it … What’s the worst thing about the league? I said the draft. I mean, the hype that goes into the draft is insane. Totally insane. The biggest thing for me is that everybody thinks whoever you drafted or whoever you signed is now gonna be a savior.

While I agree with Chip Kelly in part, the NFL Draft is the cheapest and most long-term way to build a successful franchise. So too much pressure can be put on players drafted early in the draft, but it used to be these players drafted in the Top 10 were paid like they were already the best at their position. So that contributed to a lot of the expectations that player would be a savior. Add to that the fact building through the draft is the best way to put together a long-term winning team and I'm sure Chip Kelly can see why there is some hype around the draft. A great draft can put a team in the playoffs. Just ask the Indianapolis Colts or the Seattle Seahawks.

We drafted [pass-rusher] Marcus Smith in the first round, and Jordan Matthews in the second round. Then you listen to people around here that say, ‘Well, we don’t like their draft. If they had taken Matthews first and Smith second, we would give them an A.’ Who cares who went one and who went two? It’s almost like there’s a lot of scrutiny on Marcus Smith because he went one, but Jordan gets a pass because he fell to the second round.

Sometimes I think Chip Kelly has been told frequently how smart he is and it sinks in a little bit so he starts to believe it. It doesn't matter who went one and who went two, it's just there is an opportunity cost of taking a guy like Marcus Smith in the first round. There are (perceived) better players available, so the draft experts thought he was a better fit in the second round, while they felt differently about Jordan Matthews. They thought Matthews could fit well in the first round. It's not about which players get a pass and which don't. It's about the opportunity cost of drafting Marcus Smith in the first round. There is also a cost differential in drafting one player in the first round and the second round, so in that aspect it makes a difference too.

“Jerry Rice dropped a lot of balls when he was a rookie. He was a strong kid. He took it. But now, for some of these guys, it crushes them. It’s no different than bringing a pitcher up before you should and he gets racked. He’s a stiff. Send him back to the minors. There’s a maturation process for everybody. There’s no other profession like it. The hype part is just constant.”

There is also a vast difference in the amount of money a person directly out of college working for a bank will be paid as compared to an NFL rookie. If a bank paid a person straight out of college $800,000 per year then there would be hype and a shorter maturation process. Comparing sports to other professions is a very misleading argument. Naturally, Peter eats it up.

Changing the practice week to a faster pace and heavier work load later in the week. “We’re not walking through. We’re running. Always running.”

Very deep, Peter. Very deep. I'm glad you included this quote. Chip Kelly is installing a high-energy, fast offense and he runs through practice. What an unforeseen circumstance.

Predictions. “No one knows. I don’t know. I don’t know anybody that does know. I was asked after the draft, ‘Give yourself a grade.’ I was like, ‘I have absolutely no idea.’ But it’s the truth! No one knows. I’ve said it all along. Everybody says, ‘What a great job by the Patriots getting Tom Brady in the sixth round.’ If you knew he was gonna be that good, you should have taken him in the first. No one knows. We all kind of luck out.”

Chip Kelly just took multiple sentences to say, "No one knows anything about the NFL Draft and whether the players we chose will end up working out." Those few extra sentences convince Peter that Chip Kelly is SO different from other human beings and is a national treasure. No one knows if they drafted good players, a team that runs a high-paced offense will practice at a high-pace and the draft is too hyped. No one else has ever had these thoughts.

And so it went.

Peter is fascinated by Chip Kelly. It's like Chip Kelly is speaking English, but he's speaking a clear form of English that Peter King has never heard before. Kelly is saying things and they are just more brilliant than what anyone else has ever said, because Peter's angle on Kelly is that he is different from every other NFL coach, so he has to continue to push this narrative past the point he should. 

When we talked about year two, he was very coach-like. No magic pills here. Just progress. Slow and steady progress. “Last year,’’ he said, “we grew as the season went on. We started off at 3-5 in the first eight, then finished 7-1. It was evident to us as coaches that we were growing weekly. It started to show up on the scoreboard.

How different from other NFL head coaches who are always talking about the magic pills their team will take to win more games. I remember Mike McCarthy stating that his team was taking the green pill this offseason so the team is naturally going to play better defense.

On the practice field Saturday, Darren Sproles was running around from three different spots—the backfield, the slot, out wide. Big target Matthews worked with the second unit—maybe not for long. DeSean Jackson will be missed, but as The MMQB’s Greg Bedard said watching the workout: “No one person will replace Jackson. Chip’s scheme will.”

And then Gregg Easterbrook will talk about how highly-paid, glory boy DeSean Jackson was easily replaced and fail to mention a 1st and 2nd round pick (Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews) were the ones replacing Jackson's numbers.

It’s going to be a fascinating year two. If the Eagles continue the fast-track of the last two months of last season, Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay and New Orleans are going to have competition for late January football in the NFC.

So are those Peter's five of the six representatives in the NFC side of the playoffs? Oh, and I guess the assumption is the Saints will manage to win their division this year? I feel like Peter has already handed the NFC South to the Saints, you know, since they didn't win the division last year that makes sense.

Washington’s a mystery team in a mystery division.

But you...you just said if the Eagles continue the fast-track of the last two months then they are going to be playing late in January? You also said the Eagles offense should be more productive this year than last year and used the 7-1 record and offensive line improving as proof of this. So, you clearly seem to think the Eagles will improve this season and an improvement on the team that won the NFC East would again win the NFC East. How is the NFC East a mystery division if it's obvious who will the division?

The big thing Griffin has going for him is the deepest roster of weapons in the NFC East. Couple DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, the former Cardinal (who looked elusive and very quick today), with a tight end with breakout-star potential, Jordan Reed, and a back with 2,888 yards in his first two years, Alfred Morris, and, I mean, who tops that?

Ummm...Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz/James Casey/Brent Celek (who Peter, again, stated would be more productive this year), and LeSean McCoy? It just sort of seemed like that's who Peter thought would top this.

“Physically,” Griffin told me after practice, “I was able to go through a whole off-season without having to worry about injury or rehab. I was able to refine my craft in the off-season. It’s a lot easier to do that when you don’t have six hours of daily rehab to worry about. I am not having to come out to see if I can do anything. I know I can. On the field, two years of playing experience really helps you at any level of football.”

Robert Griffin last year: I'm healthy and have the rehab video to prove it! I can make all the moves I need to make on the field.

Robert Griffin this year: I wasn't that healthy last year and this year I am really totally healthy. I can make all the moves on the field I need to make.

Baltimore Ravens
Thursday, July 24
Ravens facility, Owings Mills, Md.
Ray Rice resumes his career, chastened


He's humbled by his experience of battering his fiance. It's really a great learning experience for him.

1. How will he respond to the suspension, and to the world at-large that thinks commissioner Roger Goodell let him off way too easy? Rice was significantly down, I’m told, when GM Ozzie Newsome told him the news before practice Thursday.

Ray Rice was so sad that he was punished for battering his fiance. I can't believe Roger Goodell made Ray Rice such a sad little man.

Not that the length of suspension was a slap to him—but because of the weight of feeling he let so many people down. He will have to rebuild a shattered reputation brick by brick, and continue to work on his marriage, all while trying to jump-start a career that was blown off course by an awful 2013.

This is the type of language Peter used in his column. He kept calling Rice contrite and discussed how he would work hard to rebuild his reputation. For a writer who loves to stand in judgment at any possible chance he gets, it's amazing to me that a player who commits violence against women would get the "Well, he knows he's let people down and there is a lot of hard work ahead of him, on and off the field" act from Peter.

2. Is he really out of the woods with his wife, and can he be trusted to never hit another woman? Obviously this is the crux of the ongoing story. His wife Janay told Goodell this was a one-time event that would never happen again, and Goodell apparently believed her, though domestic-abuse experts say that as often as not a victim won’t tell the truth, so as to save her partner’s neck.

You mean like the type of person who will choose to marry the person who abused them AFTER he was arrested and charged with the abuse? These are the type of people who would try to mitigate the punishment against their abuser? So basically, Janay fits this profile perfectly. Fantastic. The NFL is giving Ray Rice credit for his wife staying in a potentially abusive relationship.

3. What about Rice the player? Rice was making changes to his physical life before he struck his fiancée, losing about 15 pounds this off-season. He was too heavy last year to be effective, and couldn’t make anyone miss. Now 204, around his rookie-year weight, Rice seems to be ready to be very good again—for 14 games, at least. “I honestly think he’s going to dominate the league the way he did two or three years ago,’’ one Raven said. Rice had 2,068 rushing/receiving yards as recently as 2011. He looks and moves like he can still be an impact player.

Well, I guess that is what is important. So Greg Hardy is only getting a 2-game punishment too, right? I mean, he wasn't even in a relationship with the women he battered. They were on-and-off-again. I'm sure Peter will be harsher on him because Hardy owned guns and didn't work hard enough in the offseason to show himself as contrite. Plus, his accuser may not state that all is well and it was a one-time thing. Hardy wasn't able to keep his accuser in a long-term potentially abusive relationship, so he doesn't get that extra credit mitigation from the NFL. Still, Hardy only has to get two games, right? It's ridiculous if he does, but based on Rice's punishment, two games should be Hardy's punishment.

Rice will leave the team after the fourth preseason game, and he can return after the Ravens’ Sept. 11 Thursday night game against Pittsburgh. You can’t play football with your tail between your legs. So he’s going to find a way to make sure he’s ready when he walks back into football in September, trying to recapture the drive he had three years ago as a player.

Peter's coverage of Ray Rice in this situation has been a minor embarrassment. He's tone-deaf to the criticism on Twitter he has received for what he wrote about Rice's suspension and has of course turned it into an attack on him as a person and not an attack on what he has written. Peter King is the real victim here.

New York Giants
Wednesday, July 23
Giants facility, East Rutherford, N.J.
How do you change everything at age 67?


So, I asked the oldest head coach in the NFL, what does it take to hit restart at age 67?

“I looked at our team and I just felt like what I needed to do from a leadership standpoint was stimulate our veteran players,’’ he said. “Stimulate Eli. Create some energy, some renewed vigor, some enthusiasm for the unknown. Eli had played in this system for 10 years. We won two Super Bowls with it. His numbers from time to time have been out of sight. He’s a leading guy in the two-minute offense for any number of years, when we had great running teams, we had balance, he’d been incredible. He’s been the MVP of two Super Bowls. Eli’s had to do it like a young guy coming in. That’s exactly what he’s done. For me, I have to force myself, just like all the players, to learn a new system. It is stimulating. It does create a little bit of pressure.

If Chip Kelly had said this, then Peter would marvel at the brilliance of it all. He's talking about energy and renewed vigor, while creating an entirely new system. Peter would wonder how a human being could speak such nuggets of genius.

Coughlin knows energy is one thing, wins another. He’s one win away from passing Paul Brown on the all-time NFL wins list (“Wow,’’ he said when he heard this),

Thanks for that "wow" quote, Peter. It really added something to the column. 

Buffalo Bills
Monday, July 21
St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, N.Y.
You want to feel pressure? Be EJ Manuel for a day.


In a recent Bills’ practice, young GM Doug Whaley, who cut his teeth watching some bombs-away quarterbacks win games and titles in Pittsburgh—most recently Ben Roethlisberger—sidled up to EJ Manuel and said, “Don’t be perfect. Be a football player.”

Manuel led all quarterbacks in football last year in percentage of pass attempts to running backs. That usually means a quarterback is checking the ball down, playing it safe.

Two things in defense of Manuel. How many times have we read sportswriters compliment a young quarterback for "taking what the defense is giving him and not trying to do too much when a great play isn't there"? All of a sudden it's a bad thing when success doesn't result, but when a quarterback like Cam Newton, Nick Foles or Russell Wilson makes the smart play to reduce the chance of an interception then he's just being smart out there and taking care of the football. Also, checking down to a running back isn't such a bad thing when the running back catching the pass is C.J. Spiller.

That’s going to be something Whaley and the coaching staff must monitor. You don’t want to browbeat your quarterback, but you don’t want Watkins to be running clear-out routes either.

And then when Manuel throws 25 interceptions this year, Peter King will browbeat Manuel in MMQB (like he did Geno Smith last year when Smith has nearly zero good options in the passing game) for taking too many chances and being careless with the football. Peter thinks Manuel should throw the ball down the field, but it's probably smart to do this only when it's not unnecessarily risky. I have a feeling as soon as the season starts Peter will start to criticize Manuel for throwing too many risky passes down the field if Manuel doesn't check down to the running back as often.

“The really great athletes makes their news on the field, not off the field. We expect better from him.”
 
—Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam, on his life-of-the-party quarterback, Johnny Manziel.
 
It’s clear the Browns are chapped by his lifestyle, which I’ll address in Ten Things on Page 4.

Jimmy Haslam is a fucking moron in drafting Johnny Manziel and then getting angry Manziel is making noise off the field. What did he expect? The media covers Manziel as much as possible and it's not like this was just going to stop once Manziel entered the NFL. He hangs out with beautiful women and parties. This wasn't going to just magically change once he had money. It's ridiculous to think it would. Haslam drafted Johnny Manziel for the hype and excitement and now he's getting salty at the fact he's drafted Johnny Manziel because there are other parts of Manziel he doesn't like. Too bad. You wanted him, you got him.

“Don’t sign Dalton. He sucks”
 
—Banner on a highway overpass near the Cincinnati Bengals practice fields at training camp Friday, referring to contract negotiations with quarterback Andy Dalton, not the biggest fan favorite after three straight Wild Card playoff losses in his three NFL seasons.

Man, how quickly Bengals fans have forgotten how the franchise was so terrible a decade ago. I guess a few years of moderate success and playoff appearances has caused them to forget they would have been thrilled with three straight playoff appearances back in 2003. Now it's just not good enough for them. Andy Dalton may suck, but the other options could suck worse. Of course Peter has to put in MMQB how much Dalton sucks. It's his mission to make sure everyone knows Andy Dalton is just a huge disappointment and should be paid minimum wage to play quarterback in the NFL.

So the Saints’ defensive coaches harped from the start of the first padded practice about taking the ball away. “Get the [explective] ball out!’’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan screamed as Khiry Robinson tried to power through the line on an inside run drill. And so on.

Apparently the idea of Rob Ryan yelling was so intriguing to Peter King that he had to include two separate instances of Ryan yelling. If Ryan yelled in the voice of Chip Kelly then Peter would just swoon to no end.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

First: thanks to GoRVing.com for the groovy 30-foot RV.

It seems Peter dropped enough hints that he wanted someone else to pay for his RV that a company finally relented and gave him a groovy (Sweet mother-of-all-that-is-holy, "groovy"?) RV. Few sportswriters know how to passively-aggressively beg for free shit like Peter.
  • Sunday July 20: Drive 330 miles from New York City to Pittsford, N.Y., to see the Bills for two days.
  • Monday night, July 21: Drive 330 miles back to New York. 
  • Tuesday, July 22: Off day.
  • Wednesday, July 23: Drive eight miles from New York to the Meadowlands for Giants practice.
  • Thursday, July 24: Drive 199 miles from New York to Owings Mills, Md., for the Ravens, and, after a long day there, drive 163 miles to Richmond in advance of Washington’s practice there Friday.
  • Friday, July 25: Watch Washington practice, work for awhile, then drive 88 miles to Woodbridge, Va., for the Potomac Nationals-Carolina MudCats minor-league ballgame. Then drive 118 miles to Newark, Del., to stay for the night.
  • Saturday, July 26: A bear. Drive 42 miles to Philadelphia for Eagles practice. Late in the afternoon, drive 198 miles to Winchester, Va., eat dinner at Violino Ristorante (thank you, internet), and drive 186 miles to White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. A Hampton Inn bed never felt so good.
  • Geographical-interlude highlight: We were in three states—Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia—in the span of one minute Saturday around 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 27: Drive 308 miles from White Sulphur Springs to Gaffney, S.C., just shy of Panthers’ camp for their Monday practice.
I wonder how many people during the past week said, "I wonder what Peter King's RV agenda is for this week?" I'm guessing not many. It's a lot of driving, but I'm pretty sure Peter is well-compensated and the key point is that he isn't even driving the bus. He's sitting and writing columns. I would feel much more sympathy if Peter had to drive this whole way, but someone else is driving. Peter is just sitting, writing, eating and drinking.


There’s something slightly creepy about that. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s strange.

Well, when the commissioner hasn't taken action regarding your off the field arrest, I guess you have some more money laying around. Nothing like buying people off for good will.


No comment from Peter here. He's submitting this Tweet without comment it seems. For a guy who has strong opinions on a lot of issues and a forum he has used in the past to express those opinions it's a little interesting Peter doesn't take a stronger stand on Rice, that's all. He's not afraid to defy Roger Goodell on occasion. He won't call the Redskins by their name, but it seems he takes the "Some people don't think the 2-game suspension" route instead of taking a stronger stand. Not that Peter has to take a strong stand, again, but it seems to me that violence against women and the NFL's reaction would be an issue Peter got as worked up about as he does the Redskins team name and whether the Marriott had hot coffee at 6am or not.

Not everyone has to agree two games is not enough, but express that opinion in the same forum you express every other opinion that crosses your mind during a given week. It only makes sense for Peter to do so rather than start to act like he's the one being attacked after he writes a not-weighty, somewhat tone-deaf column about Ray Rice. Again, this can only mean Greg Hardy would get two games for his arrest and that's not enough. But now, if Hardy gets more, that's bullshit. What? Because the women agrees she deserved to get beaten or it was a one-time thing that mitigates the action in some way?

I had no expectations for Rice's punishment. I feel two games isn't a sufficient punishment. It also annoys me the NFL seemed to mitigate his punishment because his wife said it was a one-time thing and had never happened before or since. It's like the NFL is giving Rice bonus points for his wife staying in a potentially abusive relationship. It's the act that is supposed to be punished, not whether the victim of the act is willing to forgive that person or not.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think this would worry me—a lot—if I were Cleveland coach Mike Pettine, and Cleveland owner Jimmy Halsam: the photo of first-round rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel tightly rolling a $20 bill in the bathroom of a bar, as reported by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. There’s no crime in that, obviously. But it’s certainly suspicious.

Yes, because we all know the NFL punishes consistent failed drug tests with a year-long ban. Wouldn't want that to happen to Manziel. I wonder if the NFL would mitigate Josh Gordon's year-long punishment if the drugs he used swore it was only a three-time thing?

3. I think if you’ve read me since March, you know I’m a champion of Manziel the player. I think he has a chance to be a terrific NFL player and game-changer. I don’t want him to go to a monastery every night. I want him to understand this is the big leagues, not the big party leagues. And image counts. It’s not everything, but it counts.

I think logic would dictate that if a college athlete is partying and enjoying a faster paced lifestyle then he won't suddenly change once he gets more money, becomes a professional athlete and gains more fame. Somehow through this whole process Johnny Manziel convinced writers like Peter King he is a totally different person now. I claimed it was his PR person helping out, but writers like Peter bought in. Now they are totally shocked that Johnny Manziel is still partying. Manziel wasn't going to change once he got paid. He's still going to be great on the field at times, make dumb decisions at times and go out and party for a few more years. It annoys me that writers like Peter King act like Manziel pulled the wool over their eyes when it was them who wanted to believe and buy-in to what Manziel was trying to sell.

7. I think the way the league operates this will not happen, but if I were Roger Goodell, I’d take time this week to explain why I suspended Ray Rice for two games and not more. The reason he won’t do this is because it will extend an ugly story for another couple of news cycles, because whatever he says he’ll get bashed over the head for it by people who think he went far too soft on Rice for domestic violence on his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. 

And of course Goodell doesn't have to explain himself. He probably won't. But I hope the reason he doesn't explain himself isn't because he is afraid of getting more bad press and criticism. That's sort of a weenie way out. 

But this is the one time, even if the criticism continued sharply, I think Goodell needs to come out and explain himself. Too many women, and plenty of men, feel outraged over this.

Meanwhile, Peter King wants us to know that Ray Rice is ready to dominate again this year, has lost weight, and wants to prove he's still a great player. That's his contribution to the discussion.

9. I think that was a touching thing you did, Christian Ponder and Samantha Ponder, naming your daughter Bowden, after Bobby Bowden, and surprising him with the news over the phone.

Almost as touching as congratulating them publicly for their touching action. Almost.

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

c. Carolina had the bases loaded with none out in the top of the first. Next batter walked. Potomac pitcher can’t find the plate. Goes to 2-0 on the next hitter. I announce: “Neil, the batter won’t swing here. Manager will make him take a pitch until this pitcher can throw a strike.” Words are just out of my mouth. Windup. Pitch. CRACK! A Puig-like laser lines into the trees high over the left-field fence. Boy, I know my baseball.

Boy, Peter sure is humble about his lack of knowledge regarding baseball. He's such a dunce! Now he will pretend he never said this and analyze what Jon Lester's new contract would look like. Remember, he's a moron about baseball, but treat this next passage with his opinion as the opinion of someone who is really smart about baseball.

d. Tough call, whether to pay Jon Lester. I have no doubt the Yankees would sign him if he became a free-agent after the season and the Red Sox didn’t come close to the New York offer. The knee-jerk reaction is to say, “You’ve got to pay him! He’s your ace!” I lean toward agreeing—but at what price for a pitcher who’s 31 next opening day? Look at the track record of paying thirty-something players $20-million-plus, and it’s not good at all. I think if Boston offers $105 million over five, or something like that, it almost certainly wouldn’t get the deal done. But $25-million a year, for a 31-year-old pitcher? Count me out.

Wait, so $21 million per year for a 31-year old pitcher is fine. Go for it and get it done. But that extra $20 million or $4 million per year, let's pump the brakes there! Peter thinks the track record of paying pitchers over 30 years of age $20 million or more isn't very good, so his solution is to pay Lester $21 million per year...but just not $25 million per year, because that's going way overboard.

See, Peter pays attention to the data he is throwing out to say the Red Sox shouldn't give Lester $20 million or more per year, then completely ignores the data he threw out and says the Red Sox should give Lester $21 million per year. Apparently Peter doesn't think $21 million is more than $20 million.

e. Coffeenerdness: Thought it was funny to see at the Hampton Inn in Lewisburg, W.Va., a coffee urn put out with breakfast labeled “robust.” It jut might have been robust if they put 8 ounces instead of 64 through the grounds. That coffee was as weak as a two-week-old Calico.

Hey, if only Peter would get this worked up about violence against women.

g. Caught snippets of the Hall of Fame speeches from Cooperstown. Greg Maddux should teach a graduate class in Cool at Harvard.

(Checks Harvard schedule of classes) There is no class in Cool at Harvard. Neither is there a class in "Throwing a baseball well to where the other team can't hit it," which is the real class Maddux should teach, if there was such a class.

The Adieu Haiku
Why I love these camps:
Rob Ryan’s a blast to watch.
And the voice. Priceless.


This is the third separate time Peter has mentioned loving the sound of Rob Ryan's voice. It's starting to get creepy.

I like how Peter put in this MMQB how grueling his travel schedule was, while also mentioning the cool minor league baseball games and other fun events he got to attend during the week. So it's a grind, except not really.

Monday, July 28, 2014

9 comments Welp, Now Stats Geeks Have Ruined No-Hitters for Jerry Green

I hope Sabermetrics geeks are happy. They have ruined no-hitters for Jerry Green by trying to quantify what was the best pitched game in MLB history. What seemed initially like a silly exercise to quantify the best pitched game in MLB history has now ruined no-hitters forever and drawn the ire of Jerry Green. It's bad enough statistics exist and there have been new ideas introduced into MLB that confuse and vex Jerry Green, but now he needs to teach a history lesson about George Bradley and how Kershaw's no-hitter wasn't even a no-hitter. 

George Bradley was a right-handed pitcher who once upon a time pitched the greatest game in history.

Jerry Green doesn't like the Sabermetric geeks (and again, remember, it's perfectly fine to act like a bully and call Sabermetricians names...name-calling is mature and the same sportswriters who are shocked Richie Incognito bullied Jonathan Martin don't mind bullying those who don't agree with their point of view) only pay attention to statistics and have no regard for the history of baseball. He hates how they use statistics to back up their argument. Meanwhile he uses his opinion of a game he never saw as the basis for his argument that George Bradley may have pitched the greatest game in history.

On this day, pitching for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, Bradley held the Hartford Dark Blues without a hit in a 2-0 victory. It was the first official no-hitter in the history of Major League Baseball.

You could look it up.

The date was July 15, 1876.

A less mature writer would make an age joke here and claim that Jerry Green was at this game. I will do no such thing. 

This was considerably before Bill James learned to count to two.

And who taught Bill James to count to two? Probably a computer and that's why Bill James worships computers and numbers. A Speak & Spell helped me identify words, play hangman, and learn numbers. To this day, I prefer computers to humans. This is why computers, progress and numbers are evil. 

So it was somewhat before the creation of Sabermetrics with its collection of numbers freaks.

Again, I love the use of bullying words when discussing Sabermetrics. Would this be acceptable if Jerry Green said Jackie Robinson integrated baseball after those "equality freaks" complained? I get it's not entirely the same thing, but you get my point. It's fine to call a group of people a name as long as those people "worship numbers." 

This is the group of baseball intelligentsia who pay homage to James with the mystical belief that statistics never mattered until such arcane data as WAR and OPS were concocted.

I'd love to see some example of a Sabermetrician paying homage to Bill James and saying statistics never mattered until WAR and OPS were concocted. I would bet Jerry Green can't find an example, so he is absolutely lying in assigning Sabermetricians these qualities. I guess once you have been in the sportswriting industry for a while you can just make shit up. I can't wait until I've been writing on this blog for fifty years and I can accuse sportswriters of random shit I made up simply because I don't like them. 

Bradley’s gem also was somewhat before Clayton Kershaw’s recent no-hitter for the Dodgers was classified as the second-best baseball game ever pitched. If not the best. This was proclaimed in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, by a so-called expert on CBS Sports’ website and by a writer with ESPN.

I'm pretty sure all of these sites and newspapers were reporting this information based on the same source information, which is the metric Bill James had created in order to determine these sorts of things. Bill James is simply trying to quantify something. Personally, I find it interesting but don't necessarily take stock in what he is saying is fact or not. It's just a fun metric to use in order to attempt to quantify the best game ever pitched. There's no need for adult diapers to get in a wad or for dentures to come flying out of anyone's mouth (see, it sounds sort of mean when I bully in this manner). 

Their claim was based on Game Score, a metric that James conjured up to gauge pitching efficiency. He did it by gathering such facts as strikeouts, walks, hits allowed, outs recorded, etc., and placing them into a blender.

I love how these old school writers just can't stand it when two numbers are thrown together. They have no issue with strikeouts, ERA, batting average on their own, but once those numbers get thrown together into one formula HOLY HELL WHAT DO THESE STATS GEEKS THINK THEY ARE DOING BY PLAYING WITH FIRE LIKE THIS? INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE COMBINED! 

It included nothing about quality of opponent.
Then simply dismiss James' metric. Don't turn this metric into another boring screed about how Sabermetricians are geeks. 
So does Jerry Green mean that if Bill James had included the quality of the opponent in the metric then he would recognize the validity of Game Score? I seriously doubt it. 

The result is, according to Game Score, that only Kerry Wood had pitched a better game in the 138-year history of Major League Baseball than Kershaw did June 18, 2014. And Wood actually pitched a one-hitter.

One-hitter or no-hitter doesn't matter because the Game Score metric doesn't measure only games where a no-hitter was pitched. As Jerry Green mentioned, strikeouts, walks, and outs recorded are also factored into the metric. So the best game ever pitched according to Game Score could be a one-hitter.

For some peculiar reason that has eluded the Sabermetricians, there has been a glut of no-hitters in recent baseball history.

I don't understand the wording of this sentence. I don't think Sabermetricians have tried to quantify why there has been a glut of no-hitters in recent baseball history, so I'm not sure why this had "eluded" them. If Bill James did quantify why there were more no-hitters in recent baseball history would Jerry Green even listen to the reasoning or would he just blindly state the reasoning is based on new-age statistics that were created in a blender? 

Thirteen of the 285 no-hitters, the list started by George Bradley, have been pitched in the past three seasons. Seven of them in 2012 and three last year.

Let's do some math! 

There have been 285 no-hitters since 1876. That's 138 years of no-hitters, and on average (don't worry Jerry, I'm doing basic math, not combining two different formulas together), that's 2.06 no-hitters per baseball season. 
I'm going to ignore Jerry's small sample size and go with the number of no-hitters thrown in recent baseball history, which I will interpret to mean the last decade. That's fairly recent baseball history. Since the 2005 season there have been 30 no-hitters thrown, which comes out to 3.0 no-hitters per year. That's a definite increase over 2.06 no-hitters thrown per season.

Let's look at the decade prior to that. From the 1995-2004 season there were 17 no-hitters thrown. That's 1.7 no-hitters per season. Could it be because of the Steroid Era? Who really knows? My point, and I do have one, is it's almost impossible to determine with the information we have why there have been more no-hitters recently. Even if a reason was given, it would involve numbers and Jerry Green would dismiss the results due to numbers and a blender being involved. 

Kershaw was praised nationally for his poise, the fact that he has won two Cy Young Awards in the National League plus the claims that it might have been the best pitching performance ever.

See, here is the beauty of Bill James' metric. It doesn't factor in whether Clayton Kershaw has won 17 or 0 Cy Young Awards. So James' metric only measures what's happened in that specific game during that specific pitching performance. So no, Kershaw's Cy Young Awards have nothing to do with this specific pitching performance and Jerry Green fundamentally misunderstands the metric he is criticizing if he thinks it does. 

By coincidence, Lincecum also happened to have won two Cy Young Awards for the San Francisco Giants. Before Kershaw won his two.

It is a coincidence because how many Cy Young Awards each has won has nothing to do with the Game Score metric. 

And beyond that, Lincecum matched Christy Mathewson by pitching two no-hitters for the Giants’ franchise. Mathewson pitched his two for the New York Giants in 1901 and 1905.

I don't understand the relevance of this other than to note that other MLB pitchers have thrown two no-hitters before, which isn't being disputed. Space-killing is fun though. 

History is wonderful — even if WHIP and ERA+ did not exist when Mathewson and Joss were pitching three decades after George Bradley. And a century plus a decade before Kershaw and Lincecum.

Yes, history is wonderful. I don't think Bill James was saying that history isn't wonderful when formulating his Game Score metric. He was simply trying to quantify the best game ever pitched and if Jerry Green doesn't like the results then he can simply say that rather than fire up the old typewriter and start talking about how Sabermetricians are geeks. 

And despite Game Score classifying Kershaw’s performance as No. 2 in all the 300,000 and more ballgames ever pitched, I have one nagging doubt about it.

The game wasn't pitched in 1906! Dammit, that's when REAL no-hitters were pitched. 

Did a magnificently pitched one-hitter become a slightly smudged no-hitter?

I bet Bill James didn't think of this! His formula in a blender never factored in events that didn't occur during Clayton Kershaw's pitching performance that resulted in a no-hitter. How can the stats geeks respond to this? If the Game Score is an all-knowing metric then how come it doesn't factor in something that didn't occur during a specific game? Yep, a point goes to Jerry Green (in his own mind). 

Kershaw was aiming for a perfect game into the seventh against the woebegone Colorado Rockies. Then Corey Dickerson hit a slow grounder toward shortstop. Hanley Ramirez dashed forward and fielded the ball. Ramirez in a flash threw toward first. The throw pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag and the ball bounced to the fence. Dickerson wound up at second base.

Where is "errors committed" in your Game Score, Bill James? If that, as well as quality of competition, were included in this Game Score metric then Jerry Green would have no problem admitting he still thought your metric was bullshit and created in a blender. Why? Because new things are scary and numbers combined with other numbers is what will lead the United States into World War III. 

Even Vin Scully, the beloved TV announcer of for the Dodgers, hesitated. Wondering. Briefly. Then the call of the official scorer quickly was announced. An error.

Perhaps Scully hesitated because the official scorer had not announced whether it was an error or not? No, that would make too much sense. Obviously Scully's hesitation means this was really a hit-and-an-error that was called just an error. 

If the play had occurred in the first inning, it well might have been called the classic hit-and-an-error by the official scorer.

Or it might not have. Either way, Game Score only includes information that actually occurs during a specific game, which normally is something I would think Jerry Green could get behind. After all, how many times have I read the argument Sabermetrics doesn't pay enough attention to what happens on the field? Now, Sabermetrics pays attention to what happens on the field and the criticism from Jerry Green is Sabermetrics didn't factor in what didn't happen on the field. 

A scorer is supposed to call a play in the seventh just he would in the first or second — even in a pending no-hitter.

The play was put into perspective — by Kershaw himself, who was deservedly thrilled with his achievement.

“Under normal circumstances, that’s pretty close to a hit,” Kershaw said postgam, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

But it wasn't and the call was borderline that could have gone either way. So...................we move on and this has nothing to do with whether Game Score is a relevant, accurate metric or not since it only factors in events that occurred on the field of play.

Kershaw is not the normal pitcher. All of L.A. thinks he’s the best in baseball, with talent close to Justin Verlander’s. All of L.A. could be right. The Sabermetricians will figure it out.

And what's wrong with trying to figure it out? Why is this a bad thing? This is part of the fun of baseball, comparing two players who play the same position to find out which player is better. It used to be ERA, wins and strikeouts were used, but now different, WAY more scary metrics are being used. This makes Jerry Green sad. 

But whether this no-hitter was the second best game ever pitched. Who knows?

Statistics!

Nobody knows. Game Score is just an attempt to quantify the best game ever pitched and I'm not sure anyone, Bill James included, is stating the results are a fact and should never be argued against. 

Reality!

George Bradley posted some. Best game ever? Sure. For awhile. It was the first no-hitter when the National League — and thus MLB — was established in 1876.

That premier season, Bradley won 45 games and lost 19, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He pitched 573 innings. Apparently, managers did not bother with the pitch count back then.

George Bradley also didn't throw as hard and throw pitches that put as much stress on his arm as a modern pitcher might. I realize this is fairly irrelevant, but I feel I needed to mention it. 

Bradley threw 16 shutouts, including the no-hitter against the Dark Blues. He started 64 games and pitched complete games in 63 of them. He had a 1.23 ERA.

Feed all Bradley’s stats into Bill James’s magic metric mixer and what pops out?

I don't know. I'm sure whatever pops out Jerry Green will hate it. Is Jerry arguing against trying to quantify the best game pitched ever or is he arguing against Game Score? I can't figure it out. I don't see the problem with trying to quantify something just for fun. If Jerry doesn't agree with the method used, I wonder which method he would prefer?

I would encourage everyone to read the comments on this article. There is some serious dumbassery present. Comment sections are good for boosting a person's self-esteem and making themselves feel smart.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7 comments Bleacher Report Has Your List of the 10 Most Disappointing Rookies Right Here

I have to give it to Bleacher Report. They have really gained some credibility by hiring pretty good writers for the site. There is better content on the site these days. Still, you can put lipstick on a pig and it doesn't make it a woman, so there is still not-so-good content on the site, as well as each slideshow having the same annoying habit of the last slide being the first page of the next slideshow. A lot of this not-so-good content is designed for pageviews and to churn out columns. Today, we have the list of the 10 most disappointing rookies for the 2014 NFL season. What rookie is disappointing and what rookie is not disappointing is all a matter of perspective. Johnny Manziel isn't on the list, while Blake Bortles is on the list. Manziel could start this year and the Jaguars have already announced Bortles will not be starting. So the expectation Bortles won't play is there, yet he will disappoint in the author's opinion. I'm not sure how that's possible. So bookmark it and keep it handy, here is the official list of rookies who will disappoint during the 2014 NFL season. Just be sure to understand that a player can also disappoint if there are outsized expectations for him in the first place.

As the number of first-year players making instant impacts in the league seemingly rises each year, so too do the expectations that rookies—especially those drafted in the first or second round—face from day one.

Expectations are being raised, which naturally means more rookies will disappoint. Therein lies the rub in saying a rookie disappoints in his first season in the NFL. It's based on an individual's expectations for that rookie. Plus, whether a rookie does well in his first year or not isn't an indication he won't be a good player in the long-term.

Because of the lofty, often unrealistic projections that early-round draft choices are expected to match, a player can emerge as a solid contributor for his team in his first year and still be labeled as a disappointment.

So now the author is taking these lofty, often realistic projections and turning them into an entire column/slideshow while labeling these players as potential disappointments. See the issue here? The author is smart enough to know there are unrealistic projections placed on these players and then they are unfairly labeled as a disappointment. The author's response to this knowledge is to participate in the exercise himself, though he knows it's a fool's errand and is generally unfair. Anything to churn a few columns out. 

Each of these players have star potential and were selected in the first two rounds of the draft as a result. But they face expectations that will surpass what their current skill sets and surroundings will make them capable of accomplishing in 2014.

THEN THE PROBLEM IS THE EXPECTATION LEVEL, NOT THE ROOKIE'S PERFORMANCE!

This is infuriating. The author admits to having outsized expectations that he knows these players can't achieve, yet he still claims they could potentially be disappointments. If the expectations are too high, then that is the problem. How is this hard to see? 

Let's start the slideshow!

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have already stated that Bortles will be sitting his first season in the NFL. Other than actively helping opposing teams to beat the Jaguars by telling them the plays the Jaguars offense will be running, I'm not sure how he can be considered a disappointment for the upcoming season when he isn't given a chance to play.

The last four quarterbacks selected with top-three NFL draft picks—Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Carolina’s Cam Newton and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford—each started all 16 games of their rookie seasons and accounted for an average of 3,784 passing yards, 20.5 touchdown passes, 459.75 rushing yards, 6.75 rushing touchdown and 8.25 wins.

Bortles will face expectations for a top-three quarterback that have been significantly raised by the standouts selected at the top of recent drafts. Realistically, Bortles projects to be an average-at-best quarterback if he starts as a rookie, which in itself remains uncertain.

Uncertain meaning "the plan is to definitely have him sit" his rookie season, as reported here, here, here, here, here, and here. But hey, maybe it's just one big practical joke being played on the rest of the world by the Jaguars.

Should the team make the change to Bortles at any point this season, expect the rookie signal-caller to have growing pains. Throughout his three-year career at UCF, Bortles had accuracy issues along with sloppy footwork and mechanics, all of which still need to progress significantly for him to have sustained success as an NFL passer.

So if Bortles does play to due impatience/injury and he comes out and struggles, and I expected him to struggle as this author is telling me to do, then how in the ever-living fuck has he been a disappointment? He hypothetically struggled as I expected him to do. He met my expectations for him.

Bortles has the skill set to be Jacksonville’s future at quarterback, but don’t expect him to be the immediate savior of the team’s offense in 2014.

Mostly because he's not projected to be the Jaguars quarterback in 2014. But sure, if Bortles does play and doesn't play well then I will consider him a disappointment since I expected him to struggle.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

Sammy Watkins should immediately become a starting wideout for the Buffalo Bills offense and could contend for a 1,000-plus yard season and Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in his rookie season

Which would obviously be disappointing because a 1000 yard rookie season would put Watkins in some fairly elite company. Not as elite as the company used to be, but still pretty good company. Still, it's very disappointing that Watkins can't lead off his NFL career with a 2000 yard season and 85 touchdowns.

While Watkins was the No. 4 overall selection, he holds the weight of a No. 1 overall pick because of the price—first- and fourth-round picks in the 2015 draft—that the Bills paid the Cleveland Browns to move up to select him.

And of course if Watkins doesn't play well during his rookie season then his entire career is over and at no point during the rest of his career could he play well enough to justify the picks spent on him by the Bills. Makes sense.

Furthermore, Watkins plays a position that is not only one of the most high-profile spots on the field, but also where his production will be directly affected by the success or failure of Buffalo’s still-shaky second-year starting quarterback, EJ Manuel.

Watkins should be judged a disappointment because his starting quarterback is shaky.

he’ll have to compete for touches on a weapon-laden offense that also includes Mike Williams, Robert Woods, C.J. Spiller and Scott Chandler among others.

Great, so let's temper expectations for him then. Good, it's done. How will he disappoint again?

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if Watkins is outperformed by some of the rookie class’ other top wideouts, but anything less than excellence will be a disappointment given the steep investment Buffalo made to trade up and draft him.

If only there were NFL seasons after this year where Watkins could produce and perform to the expectations the steep investment made in him require. Too bad Watkins won't ever play again after the 2014 year though.
 
Dee Ford, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

The case could legitimately be made that Dee Ford was the best player available when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him with the No. 23 overall pick in this year’s draft,

So a case could legitimately not be made or would a case not legitimately be made? I just like the use of the word "legitimately" since it seems completely unnecessary in this sentence.

Drafted to play outside linebacker in Kansas City’s 3-4 defense after lining up as a 4-3 defensive end at Auburn, Ford faces a transition that often takes NFL players at least one year with which to become comfortable.

Okay, so knowing that.........................does this mean he will be a disappointment because he will take at least one year to adjust to the 3-4 defense? If so, that's silly since the expectation is that it takes a 4-3 college end a year in the NFL to adjust to playing OLB in a 3-4.

Even if the position switch comes naturally to Ford, he’ll still have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie. With an exceptional pair of starting outside linebackers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, both of whom were ranked by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) among the top six 3-4 OLBs in the NFL this past season,

Again, this is an issue of expectations and not an issue of Ford's performance. If it's expected that it will take a year to adjust to a 3-4 defense and he is stuck behind two really good outside linebackers then maybe he shouldn't be expected to have a huge impact this upcoming season.

That won’t give Ford, being that he is a top-25 pick who was a pass-rushing standout in the SEC, a free pass from high expectations.

And really, why should it? A "Rookies Who Will Disappoint" column HAS to be written, so there needs to be enough names on this slideshow to justify it being written. Therefore, Dee Ford will be a victim of high expectations placed on him by the author so the author can correctly claim he told us that Dee Ford would disappoint, when Ford really met any realistic expectation for his performance.

At the very least, Ford will need to notch some sacks and show he can bring pressure as a situational pass-rusher to avoid being labeled a disappointment after his rookie season.

At the very most, Ford should lead the NFL in sacks and be voted into the very next Pro Football Hall of Fame class. After all, he was drafted #23 overall.
 
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers

Saddled with the pressure of headlining a Carolina Panthers receiving corps that is essentially brand new,

Whatever "headlining" means, Benjamin isn't headlining the Panthers receiving corps unless he has proven he can do so. If Benjamin has proven he can "headline" the receiving group then he won't be a disappointment as a rookie. Also, the group is new to the Panthers but Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, and Tiquan Underwood are pretty veteran NFL players. So "essentially" the receiving group is shockingly mediocre but not new to the NFL.

Size isn’t everything, of course, and while it can help him win on throws where he can’t separate from defensive backs, he’s still going to have to be able to get open on a more consistent basis to emerge as a No. 1 receiver in Carolina.

And as learned previously in this slideshow, if Benjamin doesn't become a No. 1 receiver in his rookie year then he will NEVER be a No. 1 wide receiver. Therefore, he is a disappointment in his rookie season because he didn't step on the field as a No. 1 receiver.

Benjamin’s potential to create mismatches is promising, especially in the red zone, but the two-year collegiate player isn’t likely to reach the top of his game until at least his second season in the league.

So again, if this is the expectation for Benjamin then how will he not meet expectations? The answer is Benjamin will not meet expectations if there is an expectation that he will reach the top of his game in his rookie season.

And also, how many NFL players reach the top of their game in their rookie season? That's a ridiculous thing to expect from a rookie no matter the position.

That’s typically fine and expected for a wideout drafted late in the first round, but for a Panthers offense that touts Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant as its top veteran receivers, the team likely holds expectations for Benjamin that he might not be prepared to meet in year one.

Yes, the team "likely" holds expectations for Benjamin he is not prepared to meet. It's good to know this author for Bleacher Report knows the expectations for Kelvin Benjamin within the Panthers locker room and among management. It just so happens those expectations are really, really super-high, which conveniently allows the author to add another slide to his "Rookies Who Could Disappoint" slideshow.

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas Cowboys

As the No. 34 overall pick, Demarcus Lawrence technically went two spots outside of the draft’s first round, but the Dallas Cowboys made it clear they valued him like a top-32 pick when they traded a second-and third-round pick from this year's draft to move to the top of Round 2 to select the Boise State product.

Yes, "technically" Lawrence went two spots outside of the first round because he was drafted two spots outside of the first round, but he was legitimately a first round pick that wasn't a first round pick. Regardless of where the Cowboys valued him, he was a second round pick. Teams value players outside of the round they are drafted in all of the time. This doesn't mean this player should be expected to perform at a higher level because of this.

Placing first-round expectations on Lawrence leaves him in a position to be a rookie disappointment.

Well, then don't place first round expectations on Lawrence because he was a second round pick. Of course Lawrence will be a disappointment if unfair expectations are placed on him.

"If you place the expectations that he will be the best quarterback in NFL history then Johnny Manziel looks like he will be a major disappointment!"

As Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News suggested in May, Lawrence “probably won’t start as he gets his strength up,” and instead will start out his career as only a designated pass-rusher.

"And since we will place expectations that Lawrence will be an All-Pro next season then he will be a major disappointment for a guy who technically drafted in the second round, but will have first round expectations for the sake of a slideshow."

The rookie defensive end will have to emerge quickly as a sack artist or make rapid progress as a point-of-attack run defender to get on the field as an every-down player. Only then will the Cowboys’ trade up for him be justified and meet the expectations that come with that level of investment.

I'm enjoying the author's completely misguided idea that a rookie has to play well in his rookie year to justify his team trading up to draft him. It's as if no matter what the rookie does after his first year in the NFL it's not enough to every justify a team trading up to draft that player. That rookie year determines whether the trade up was worth it or not. It's a very short-sighted way of evaluating a trade and a player.

Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos

Despite having the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL this past season, the Denver Broncos traded up to the No. 56 overall pick in the second round of this year’s draft to add another playmaker: Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer.

Basically this author thinks any player a team had to trade up in order to draft is going to be a disappointment.

With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and offseason free-agent addition Emmanuel Sanders sitting as the top three on Denver’s receiving depth chart, Latimer will have to beat out Andre Caldwell just to be the Broncos’ fourth wideout in the rotation.

So for the 900th time, then Latimer should not have great expectations placed upon him if he is expected to not see a lot of the field. If he performs as a fourth wide receiver would perform then he's met expectations, right?

As Latimer develops, he should come closer to taking full advantage of his physical capabilities and could emerge as a major weapon for the Broncos offense in time. As a rookie, however, Latimer might not have enough ability to force his way onto the field and make an impact on such a talent-laden offense.

So it's not that Latimer will disappoint, it's that he may not have an opportunity to show what kind of player he can be due to the talent in front of him?

You know what is really disappointing? That the author places expectations he knows are unrealistic on these players in the name of writing a slideshow.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, New Orleans Saints

Consider that Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a 6’3”, 218-pound player who converted to cornerback from wide receiver midway through his collegiate career, and it’s clear the New Orleans Saints will be hoping that their second-round pick (No. 58 overall) emerges as the NFL’s next Richard Sherman.

But don't worry, it gets better. Not only do the Saints expect Jean-Baptiste to be the next Richard Sherman, the author calls Jean-Baptiste a disappointment because he's not one of the NFL's best cornerbacks during his rookie year.

That said, any immediate expectations for Jean-Baptiste to play at the level of Sherman, who established himself as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks while helping lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl title this past season, are likely to go unfulfilled, at least during his rookie season in 2014.

SO YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT STANLEY JEAN-BAPTISTE WON'T BE THE NFL'S BEST CORNERBACK AS A ROOKIE? NO FUCKING WAY!

The author of this slideshow is calling Stanley Jean-Baptiste a potential disappointment as a rookie because he's not going to play at the same level as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. This isn't reality. It can't be. No one can be this ridiculous.

It’s true that Jean-Baptiste’s size and ball skills give him star potential, but it’s apparent from his game film that he’s still learning the nuances of playing cornerback.

Oh, so Jean-Baptiste is going to have work hard to become the NFL's best cornerback, as opposed to just walking on the field and being the best corner in the NFL during his rookie year? What a disappointment.

Regardless of whether or not Jean-Baptiste earns a starting spot, he should see solid playing time as a rookie because the Saints will want to use his size where it can give them an advantage. How much playing time he receives should be contingent upon his development, however, as he remains a raw talent who is likely to get exposed at times throughout his first year in the league.

You mean Jean-Baptiste will be exposed at times as a rookie cornerback like 90% of other rookie cornerbacks are exposed at times? And this is a disappointment, why again? Because the author was told write a slideshow about disappointing rookies and this is the result? Or because he doesn't understand the concept that a player can only be a disappointment based on the expectations being heaped on that rookie, followed by the author heaping unrealistic expectations on nearly every rookie in this slideshow.

This slideshow was legitimately not good.