Showing posts with label home court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home court. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

8 comments MMQB Review: Matthew Stafford is So Different Now, Except for He Probably Isn't

Peter King told us last week the Colts had a little Luck (DO YOU STILL GET IT?) in beating the Broncos during Week 7. Peter also was concerned the Rams would not get enough attention because the Cardinals had a home game in the World Series, as well as continued his trend towards overreacting to what happened the weekend before by handing the AFC West to the Kansas City Chiefs and giving the Broncos an AFC Wild Card spot. Peter can hear us scoffing at him now, but less than 50% of the season had been played at that point, so the playoff seeding is nearly set. This week Peter talks about Matthew Stafford "coming of age" (which means, "Calvin Johnson had a great receiving day"...sort of), goes through the comments section of MMQB for responses to the MMQB (not the MMQB, but THE MMQB) articles about concussions, and relays a story from Robert Klemko about really weird Japanese people. Peter also continues his trend of seeing what happened over the past weekend and then reacting as if this event from the past weekend is a definite long-term trend.

Two months down, two to go. Time flies when you’re having fun. The Lions had some fun Sunday, and the resurgent Staffords will lead the column …

So I guess since the Lions won a game this past weekend over Dallas this means the Bears and Packers going to be fighting for a Wild Card spot after the Lions win the NFC North division.

but some headlines first:

Absolutely not. Let's talk about how Stafford is a great quarterback now based on the fact he made a really heads-up play at the end of the game on Sunday, had as many turnovers as touchdowns and threw for 488 yards with 329 of those yards going to one receiver.

Mike Pouncey might want to get lawyered up. As Pete Thamel and Greg A. Bedard reported Sunday night, the Massachusetts state police served the Miami Dolphins center with a Grand Jury subpoena after his game in Foxboro Sunday. “What’s this about?’’ Pouncey said when a gray-suited officer handed him the papers. It created a strange scene outside the Dolphins’ locker room at Gillette Stadium, with stunned team officials totally blindsided. Pouncey, too, evidently had no idea what was coming.

I think it would be fair to say the officer "pounced" on him, no?

Just like Clark Griswold’s Jelly of the Month Club present, the Kansas City quarterback brought more joy to two fan bases Sunday. In lifting the Chiefs to a 23-17 victory over Cleveland at home, Smith continued KC’s perfect (8-0) season.

Alex Smith continued the Chiefs perfect season by holding the Browns to 340 total yards and accumulating a massive 331 yards for the Chiefs offense. He's a winning winner who only wins. He's an efficient quarterback, as seen by his completion percentage of 59.1% which is good for 24th in the NFL, his yards per attempt of 6.28 which is good for 29th in the NFL, his quarterback rating of 82.1 which is good for 18th in the NFL, and his yards per game passing of 224 which is good for 23rd in the NFL. Smith has done all of this against such difficult teams like the Jags, Texans, Eagles, Giants, Titans, Raiders and Browns. Smith has been his usual average self against some really below-average competition, so kudos to him.

If you can't see through all that sarcasm, I think the Chiefs are a paper tiger. I had them at 9 wins before the season began and I think I was wrong about that number, but playing Denver and San Diego twice, along with a game against the Colts is going to tell me how good the Chiefs really are. Hey, I could be wrong and the Chiefs are one of the two best teams in the AFC, but I think the second half of the season isn't going to be as kind to Alex Smith and the Chiefs.

The original trade was Smith for a second-round pick in 2013 and a third-rounder in 2014 … but the third- in ’14 would become a second- if the Chiefs won eight games or more this season. That happened by mid-afternoon Sunday, as the Niners were trudging off the field at Wembley Stadium in London after whipping Jacksonville 42-10. As if San Francisco draft guru Trent Baalke needed more ammo, he now could be looking at six picks in the first three rounds next May:

Take that, Gregg Easterbrook, Mr. "The 49ers should have kept Alex Smith." As Alex Smith wins game for the Chiefs he helps the 49ers get a higher draft pick.

This just in: Calvin Johnson’s good. He had a nice month in three hours Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit’s 31-30 shocker of Dallas: 14 catches, 329 yards (seven short of the all-time single-game record), one touchdown.

I would love to know what kind of quarterback Matthew Stafford would be if he didn't have Calvin Johnson out there catching the ball for him. I know it's not fair to wonder that since Stafford does have Johnson and if you took any quarterback's best receiver away he wouldn't play as well, but so much of Stafford's success lies in having Johnson out there. Stafford's worst games of the season were when Johnson wasn't healthy. I probably have no point.

Remember the good ol’ days? Way back in the first half of the first game of the season, when the Chip Kelly offense was all the rage?

No Peter, but I remember all summer when you were up Chip Kelly's ass about how he ran his practices and talked about how the Eagles are doing things SO MUCH differently than every other NFL coach does things. I remember when you said the Chip Kelly hiring was the biggest hiring from the college ranks since Jimmy Johnson. I also remember when I stupidly bought into the crap you and your fellow sportswriters were peddling and predicted the Eagles would win the NFC East.

There’s some thought that because there is no “home” team in England, and selling a bad Jacksonville team (the Jags will play a game there in 2014, ’15 and ’16 at least) will be problematic right now, a good option is every team alternating. Of course, that won’t be a good option the minute you tell a Packers, Steelers, Broncos or Seahawks fan he  or she has to lose a home game for the sake of expansionism.

Actually that won't be a good option for the fans of any NFL team who loses a home game for the sake of expansionism. I'll be damned if I want my favorite team to have seven home games because Roger Goodell insists on expanding to London.

But as one league operative told me recently: “If you guys [NBC, where I also work] can get 850,000 viewers for a Manchester United game on NBC Sports Network, why can’t we build a block of fans like that for football over there?”

Fine, build a block of fans in England, but don't take away home games to build that block. That's like if Manchester United lost a home soccer match and played here in the United States every year. Fuck that. The NFL can do whatever it wants to build a fan base in England, that's great, but NFL fans are already getting ripped off for two shitty preseason games, so they don't deserve to lose another home game for the sake of the NFL trying to expand. Show the games in England to build a fan base, don't take away home games from NFL teams. I know my opinion is probably in the minority.

Greg Jennings in the Revenge Game: One catch, nine yards, left the locker room before the media arrived following Green Bay’s 44-31 win at Minnesota last night. That’s 264 yards fewer than teammate Cordarrelle Patterson put on the board.

Poor Greg Jennings. It's so hard to be a great receiver when your quarterbacks all suck. Perhaps next time before Jennings runs his mouth about Aaron Rodgers he should find out if any of the quarterbacks on his Vikings team are any good or not.

I wrote last year about the possibility of a quarterback, in the not-too-distant future, throwing for 6,000 yards in a season. Aaron Rodgers, I theorized, would have the best shot. I’m not saying Peyton Manning’s going to do it this year, but let’s acknowledge the greatness of the first-half MVP here. In Denver’s 7-1 start,

It's a shame the Broncos are going to be getting a wild card in the AFC after starting out 7-1. At least Peter had the Broncos getting a wild card and the Chiefs winning the AFC West last week, perhaps Peter seen something shiny this week and has changed his opinion on this in the seven whole days since he last wrote MMQB. I'm sure as soon as the Chiefs lose, Peter will put the Broncos right back on top of the AFC West. 

But let’s say he adds one medium-range skinny post per game in the final eight games. Say, an extra gain of 20 per game. If Manning averages 385 yards per game in his final eight, he’ll hit 6,000.

Of course Peter is ignoring the fact Manning could already be throwing for his peak amount of yardage right now. In other words, his current passing yards per game may be Manning's ceiling for yardage in a game, but that doesn't stop Peter from theorizing how Manning could break 6,000 yards...but who’d have ever thought throwing for 6,000 would be remotely possible so soon after 5,000 started getting hit?

(Peter King in early May) "Right now, Chris Davis is averaging a home run every third game. But let's say Chris Davis starts hitting a home run every game. That's almost 100 home runs for the season. Who would have thought a player could hit 100 home runs in a season?"

Matthew Stafford’s coming-of-age moment.

“SPIKE! SPIKE! SPIKE!”

We’ll get to that.

This is the second time Peter has said he would get to this. How about he just gets to it and stops the long preamble?

Certainly, this was not Stafford’s first big comeback. This was his 10th fourth-quarter comeback. But this one just felt different to me. Something about the high-tension accuracy and the big-boy decision he made with the game ticking away.

What felt different to Peter is this comeback happened just this past weekend and Peter has started to overreact to the NFL games that just occurred, so the immediacy of the comeback makes it feel different to Peter. Sure, Stafford came back from more points down on the road against the Cowboys a few years ago, but this comeback just happened! It's just so different!

Now :21, :20 … Stafford motioning to the offense to hustle up the field. “I was looking back, yelling for [left tackle] Riley Reiff to hurry up,’’ Stafford said … :19, :18 … Now motioning madly for Reiff to get in place, while also yelling “SPIKE” and giving the universal “spike’’ signal, the hand gesturing hard to the ground, over and over … Reiff in place, at :16.

“So I’m on the line, and everyone in the stadium thinks I’m spiking it, and that was the plan,’’ Stafford said. “The other 10 guys [on offense] thought I was too. I thought I was—but then I saw a couple of their guys, almost standing up, and I just had this thought: Maybe I could make it by sneaking, or just putting the ball over the line. Maybe that was our best chance.’’

Plus, Stafford didn't have enough room to just throw the ball up in the air to Calvin Johnson as he prefers to do, so he had to try something different.

But no timeouts left. Clock running. If Stafford failed, there was a chance he wouldn’t get another play off.

I believe Peter is being overdramatic here. If Stafford failed then he and his linemen could have gotten up and possibly spiked the football. It's not like they had run anywhere, they just had to get up, get the ball re-placed and then spike it. Maybe not, but "there was a chance" Stafford wouldn't get another play off. There's also a chance the Lions could have gotten another play off. Naturally, Peter chooses the more dramatic of the options.

So why? Why do it? Why not the fade to Johnson, who could win a jump ball against most of the Dallas defenders—shoot, against all of them? If it’s incomplete, another fade, or a rollout pass.

Because Stafford has matured, Peter. He's like completely mature now.

“You just feel it,’’ he said. “Hard to explain. You just go to the line and you feel it sometimes, and I just felt: Our best chance is me taking to the ball and diving it over. I mean, all we were was three inches from the end zone.”

Snap … :14 … Stafford takes the ball, grips it as tight as he can, and with much of the defensive line looking on impassively, he thrusts the ball clearly over the line and brings it back. Touchdown.

This was a great play, but the Lions had just run a play that ended near the goal line with 26 seconds left in the game. The Lions offensive linemen ran 22 yards in that time, got the ball set, and ran a play in 12 seconds. It's completely possible, and probably very likely, if Stafford's attempt to score failed the Lions would get another play off in the approximate 10 seconds left in the game. So Stafford's play was very smart, but also not quite the risk that Peter is so much wanting to make it out to be. Peter loves a little drama though.

I know how sportswriters love their narratives and love to see a group of events turn into a story, so "Matthew Stafford has matured" is the likely narrative to come out of this game. More likely nothing has changed and Stafford had a big game because Calvin Johnson had a fantastic game, while Stafford happened to also make a smart play to win the game for the Lions. I still think the comeback against the Cowboys on the road a couple of years ago was the better Stafford comeback. Of course, immediacy usually wins, so this Cowboys-Lions game had to have been a turning point for Stafford in his career.

In the past week, we at The MMQB have tried to take the head-trauma debate deeper, with 19 stories exploring ideas about a safer game, the realities of playing a violent game, and the complicated issues facing youth and high-school football today.

My takeaways from the series: It surprises me that parents—and we interviewed 23 of them who spoke this way—cede the decision to play or not play high-school football to their sons.

That has changed in the time since I was a (quite marginal) high-school athlete in Enfield, Conn. If my father and mother thought the sport I was playing was excessively dangerous, they’d have interceded and recommended and/or demanded I not play.

PETER'S PARENTS CARED ABOUT HIM MORE THAN PARENTS TODAY CARE ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN!

I understand wanting to empower your children, but I’m not sure empowering 15- and 16-year-olds who make decisions based very often on emotion is a smart call …

Because it appears the alternative is to intercede and run the risk of your child growing up to be a oft-pretentious sportswriter who expects no human being at any point to interfere with his perfect existence on the planet and feels the need to comment when he perceives someone isn't acting in the proper fashion while on a plane, train, or automobile.

Now for some reactions to the writing we did.

From the comments sections...

Getting reactions from people in the comment section from a widely read sports article is perhaps one of the most useless and futile exercises to get constructive feedback that a sportswriter could participate in, but here we go anyway...

From “branlishan:” “There is a non-stop assault on football by SI and its writers. We get it now. Football is dangerous. If football is such a barbaric sport then why do you cover the games and bring attention to the glory of it all? SI should stop with the hypocritical garbage. Either line up behind the ‘ban football’ crowd and stop covering a sport that is so dangerous, or shut up. Because this non-stop assault never ends.’’

I hate it when sportswriters provide a non-stop assault of facts they have discovered when investigating a topic. Stop with the facts and give me more filler!

From “decredico,” to me: “You sat on this story for years and under reported it and you are part of the package that kept this off the radar for many years. You are a disingenuous hypocrite that should be excoriated and excommunicated and banished to writing for the local garden section of a small town newspaper.’’

This is why you ignore the comments section. I write about Peter King every week, but come on, it's not his job nor is he qualified to do research on concussions and then report on it in-depth. Peter could do the reporting, but the story hasn't been researched for years, so there is no way Peter "sat" on the story. People are idiots.

From “hlmencken56:” “We’re just a country full of cowards now. Everyone is a victim, and nobody should ever get hurt, or the risks always must be lowered.”

This isn't constructive nor instructive. Clearly, this idiot has never played football nor dealt with a loved one that has a traumatic brain injury.

Now for emails THE MMQB received on the topic of concussions...

“I have been a fan of you and your MMQB column for seven or eight years now and never miss one. I was really looking forward to your new MMQB page and for the most part I have really enjoyed it. However lately I have not nearly enjoyed MMQB as much. I feel like I have been given a concussion by being beaten over the head with your concussion reports. Please go back to the reporting of fun football.

Yes, don't let reality infringe on the fun part of watching football. Ignore the negative, report the positive. Stick your head in the sand and ignore the problems. Brilliant, brilliant line of thought.

You don’t have to ignore concussions completely, but man I feel like you guys are trying to ruin something that I enjoy so very much.

It sounds like someone doesn't enjoy hearing about the physical problems his "fun" sport causes on the NFL players that makes the sport not-so-much fun after a player has retired.

It’s like if every time I eat something bad for me, my wife is standing behind me telling me that it’s going to kill me.”

 —Brock

Well maybe it will kill you and you shouldn't eat it then. Why do I have the feeling Brock weighs about 400 pounds or has had multiple heart attacks, but refuses to change his eating habits? Clearly, he wants to stay in denial until he needs help, in which case he obviously wants someone to help him so he can get back to having "fun."

I'm getting way off topic, but Brock either needs to read and learn from the MMQB reports about concussions or ignore them entirely if he doesn't like the reality of what these reports say to him.

“As a parent with a 9-year old and 14-year old playing football, and as a coach and huge football fan, I think the real problem here is all the negative publicity that is causing unnecessary concern and alarm. I do believe that efforts must continue to be made through better equipment, medical supervision and education. However the media needs to stop talking about it. Parents should be talking about it, players should be talking about it, coaches should be talking about it, medical professionals need to be talking about it but the media needs to leave it alone!! If that happens, both the safety and future of the game will be protected!’’
—Kris, Abbotsford, British Columbia

So the media needs to quit talking about concussions and let parents, coaches, medical professionals, and players talk about concussions using the information provided by...who? Generally, if the media doesn't disseminate information about a topic it's not that easy to be provided information on that topic. If I'm a parent who wants to get information on concussions to decide whether to allow my child to play football or not, should I just starting calling medical professionals or go to youth league games to talk to random parents about concussions? This just seems nonsensical to say, "Hey, we should be talking about concussions, but not the sports media. The sports media should ignore concussions."

Fine Fifteen

Yep, still in seemingly random order and still too reliant upon what happened just this past week. 

1. Kansas City (8-0). I debated putting the Chiefs here, after they struggled to beat Houston and Cleveland at home in the last eight days while others up top—the Niners in particular—have been strafing the league mercilessly.

But the Chiefs are undefeated. How can you pull an undefeated team from the top spot? Were the Chiefs impressive in not having lost any games just a week ago, but now they are unimpressive in winning games and that all of a sudden matters?

There are no style points in football, though, and the Chiefs are undefeated halfway through the season.

There are no style points?

3. San Francisco (6-2). Five straight wins by an average of 22.6 points. This team’s getting scary. 

Peter says there are no style points, yet he places the 49ers above three one-win teams and quotes by how many points the 49ers have won their last five games. There are no style points, unless there are style points.

4. Denver (7-1). Why San Francisco over the Broncos? Because I trust the Niners defense right now. I don’t trust Denver’s nearly as much.

Plus, style points. Of course Denver's only loss came to the team that is #2 in Peter's Fine Fifteen, while the 49ers have lost to the #2 and #5 teams in Peter's Fine Fifteen. But of course, there's no style points yet Peter puts the 49ers above a team that has one fewer loss and beat the 49ers head-to-head.

9. New England (6-2). So flawed. So hard to read. So hard to think this is an impact team in January—but the defense, even without Wilfork/Mayo/Talib, is a competitive group with players like Logan Ryan who don’t know they’re not supposed to be making game-deciding plays.

When a sportswriter lacks the ability to quantify why a team is playing well, he/she just writes crap like saying a team has players "who don't know they aren't supposed to be making game-deciding plays," as if this really means anything.

10. Detroit (5-3). One premier team with one premier quarterback (Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers) left in the final eight games—unless you count Baltimore, which, right now, you can’t call a premier team. That’s why I like the Lions’ chances to be the NFC North champ or the sixth seed in the NFC tournament.

See? The Lions win an exciting game against a 4-4 team and all of a sudden Peter King thinks the Lions could win the NFC North. I'm guessing if the Lions won another exciting game then Peter will have the Lions in the Super Bowl, as long as another new, shiny team doesn't win an exciting game during Week 9 of course.

11. Carolina (4-3). You can talk about the maturation and improvement of Cam Newton, which is good and true. But this is a pretty stingy team. Panthers have allowed 12 per game in the last five.

They have beaten the Giants, Vikings, Buccaneers, and Rams. What do they all have in common? They are all not very good teams. A 4-3 record against crappy opponents sure must be impressive to Peter for Carolina to be #11 in his "Fine Fifteen."

15. Houston (2-5).

Call me crazy as I rank the Texans over Arizona, Tennessee and Baltimore (which owns a 21-point win over Houston). I say Case Keenum and that defense constitute a playoff threat still … even though Indy (twice) and Denver (once) remain to be played.

Peter thinks the Texans are a playoff threat, but as the seventh best team in the AFC at this current time he doesn't think the Texans will actually make the playoffs of course. Also, I'm not calling him crazy, but merely saying Peter is probably overly-excited about the Texans winning more games so Peter can write about J.J. Watt more.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Josh Brown, kicker, New York Giants. Not a great fan of the field goal per se (see Stat of the Week), but in the first 55 minutes at Philadelphia, these were the only points: Brown, 40-yard field goal; Brown, 44-yard field goal; Brown, 33-yard field goal; Brown, 46-yard field goal; Brown, 27-yard field goal.

Only Peter King would name a kicker the special teams player of the week in the same MMQB where he essentially says that field goals are becoming too easy for kickers to make. I guess he believes field goals are too easy to make, but not too easy for a field goal kicker who makes five field goals to impress Peter.

Goat of the Week

Shaun Suisham, kicker, Pittsburgh. Kickers this season are making 94 percent of their kicks from inside the 40-yard line. Suisham missed 34- and 32-yard field goals, veritable extra points in today’s games. The Steelers lost by three. Pretty easy call.

Because field goals are so easy to convert and kickers never have a bad day.

“You have to understand the beast that’s playing quarterback. Once a guy like that gets in front of the whole defense, he’s a legit 4.4. It’s real.”

—Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark, after Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor ran for the longest touchdown in Oakland franchise history, 93 yards, in a 21-18 Raiders victory Sunday.

So now the Raiders just have to figure out a way to get Terrelle Pryor in front of the whole opposing defense and the Raiders offense will be unstoppable.

At some point, the NFL’s going to have to acknowledge the efficiency of field-goal kickers is just too good. And the league is either going to have to narrow the goalposts or put a different point value on field goals from different distances.

Don't you hate it when NFL kickers become too good at their jobs? Once a player gets too good, it's time to move the goal posts (literally and figuratively it seems).

This easy, as the season nears the midpoint:

From inside the 40-yard line: 230 of 245, 93.9%. From between the 40- and 49-yard line: 126 of 153, 82.4%.

Do we want the game to be so boring, to lack any suspense, when a kicker steps up to make a field goal?

Maybe Graham Gano just sucks, but I don't really think a field goal is a given when a kicker steps back to attempt one. I guess the percentages say a field goal is a pretty good bet when a kicker lines up for one, but I still don't feel like it is a given personally.

I can tell you the founding fathers

Yeah, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin would be pissed about the current state of field goal kicking in the NFL.

of this game never dreamed the kickers would be so great that they would be good on 87 percent of their field goals through nearly half a season.

Oh nevermind, the founding fathers of "this game" not of "this country."

I would imagine the founding fathers of football also didn't dream of a forward pass and quarterbacks putting up 500 yards passing in a game. I'm not disagreeing with Peter, just saying any change to the vision of the founding fathers isn't necessarily a bad change for the game of football.

Then Peter King remarks at how young Marcus Mariota is and says he wouldn't be able to legally drink a beer if he won an NFL game next year. Peter previously provided data showing how young Mariota is compared to other 2014 draft-eligible quarterbacks.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

The MMQB’s Robert Klemko had to fly from Chicago to Detroit Sunday morning to cover Lions-Cowboys, and he reported this to me when he landed:

Apparently there is an edict sent out by Peter King that all THE MMQB staff members must report annoying travel-related details to him immediately.

“I get on this plane from Chicago to Detroit, and these Japanese people, five of them, boarded the plane all carrying different stuffed animals. A teddy bear in an Army uniform, another teddy bear in a pilot uniform. I’d say they were in their late 20s, early 30s. One of them was a guy, and his bear was dressed in an American desert camo uniform.

“They were clutching these animals as if they were children. So I am sitting amidst them. The flight is taking off, and they’re not panicked or anything—but they’re whispering things in Japanese to the bears as if they were children. Then they just held them for the rest of the flight.

Wait, so these five Japanese people held on the teddy bears and whispered things in Japanese ALL WHILE MINDING THEIR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS? It doesn't get much worse than that. How can anyone be expected to stare at random strangers and micro-criticize their behavior when there is such an obvious distraction right there in front of his/her face? I'm sure there was a man on the plane who blatantly chose to watch the same television show on repeat for the entire flight and Robert Klemko didn't get to comment on this guy's behavior because these five Japanese people were minding their own business and doing something Klemko considers to be weird.

“I mean, they were holding them like they were breathing, like they were babies. Maybe they want kids and they are practicing for it. I don’t know. But there is something strange going on there.”

Perhaps THE MMQB should do a full investigation and report back in MMQB next week. I would imagine if these Japanese people wanted children they wouldn't have teddy bears as replacement children, but I know it merits a mention in MMQB as opposed to any sort of in-depth research on this topic that could be done online.

“I miss holding a baby – all my little guys are old.”
—@BarrySanders.

Yes, that Barry Sanders.

I guess Peter looked to find the most bland Tweet of the Week to include in MMQB. I would hope it is "that" Barry Sanders, because otherwise I could care even less that some random dude named Barry Sanders misses holding a child.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 8:

d. Take those trade rumors and stuff ‘em, Josh Gordon says with his play every week.

Actually every week Josh Gordon probably says, "I'm a very good wide receiver and a contending NFL team should definitely trade for me immediately" with his excellent play.

f. Thad Lewis, who is very tough.

Thad Lewis is tough. This is #analysis.

g. Look at that lunging touchdown catch by Dexter McCluster. What a talent he is, and he’s being used perfectly as an everything back by Andy Reid.

Dexter McCluster has been targeted in the passing game 40 times over 8 games and has caught 23 passes. McCluster has 5 rushing attempts for 10 yards. If Peter King says McCluster is being used perfectly, meaning a little over six times per game, then that's not exactly a compliment to McCluster's ability.

Come on, Peter says "what a talent McCluster is" and then says he is being used perfectly. The guy barely catches 50% of the passes thrown to him and has 263 offensive yards on the year. If I'm being generous and including his punt and kickoff returns McCluster has 653 total yards and two touchdowns on the season. He's a good punt returner, but he's not exactly the offensive talent that Peter King seems to think he is.

h. Kevin Ogletree, who ran 70 yards to chase down Sean Lee on the Cowboys.

Or as Gregg Easterbrook will say, "the undrafted, unwanted hard-working Kevin Ogletree chased down the highly-drafted glory boy second-round pick Sean Lee."

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 8:

d. Garrett Hartley, doinking a makeable field goal on the Saints’ first drive.

I guess from now on anytime a field goal kicker misses a field goal from 40 yards or less then Peter King will call that field goal "makeable" and criticize the kicker for missing it. Great, there's no way I could be less enthused about this new development.

e. The normally accurate Alex Smith, overthrowing a wide-open Anthony Fasano in the end zone, forcing Kansas City to settle for a field goal in the first quarter against Cleveland.

24th in the NFL in completion percentage. I guess that's "normally accurate."

a. Tom Brady, throwing behind Rob Gronkowski and getting picked by cornerback Dimitri Patterson (a very good Jeff Ireland offseason pickup), leading to Miami’s first touchdown. 

f. Geez, Tom Brady: It’s so bad you’re throwing to Rob Gronkowski in triple coverage? The good side: Officials gave the Patriots a gift defensive pass interference call on the play.

Peter King does not like it when Tom Brady passes the football to Rob Gronkowski.

j. Why, oh why, Chip Kelly, when you’re one score behind with four minutes to go, your defense playing well and three timeouts left do you onside kick?

Because fortune favors the bold! Because Chip Kelly was inspiring the Eagles to win by saying he was trying to win the game with an onside kick. You know Gregg Easterbrook is going to leave out Chip Kelly's bold move to go for an onside kick from his TMQ, even though Gregg has said a surprise onside kick is a good idea and plays like this tell a team the coach is playing to win the game. If Gregg does mention that Kelly went for an onside kick, I'm sure he'll suggest the kicker should have done a little dance before kicking the ball to throw the defense off.

6. I think for a fully healthy Peterson to have 36 carries in the last three weeks, with Minnesota struggling so much at quarterback, is absurd.

Yeah, but Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder need to be able to sling the ball around the field a little don't you know?

7. I think there are so many teams that could use Cleveland wideout Josh Gordon, so many receiver-needy contenders,

BREAKING NEWS: Many NFL teams could use a talented wide receiver on their roster.

I realize Gordon could be a positive substance test away from a lengthy suspension, but if I’m the Patriots, and I still have my full load of 2014 picks, I’d offer Cleveland a fourth-round pick that could conditionally upgrade to a third- depending on performance and try to get Gordon.

Josh Gordon is signed through 2014 and is very cheap. I'm sure the Browns would be more than willing to trade Josh Gordon for a 3rd/4th round draft pick. It's not like the Browns got a 1st round pick for Trent Richardson or anything, so I'm sure they would accept a lesser pick for a more talented player who is cheaper.

8. I think the Eagles have to be the disappointment of the season. The offense in particular.

I guess the Eagles are a disappointment depending on how much exactly was expected of them based entirely on Chip Kelly being the head coach.

A Chip Kelly team first and foremost has to have consistency and efficiency at quarterback, and Philadelphia hasn’t had that all season.

Nearly every NFL team needs consistency and efficiency at the quarterback position to succeed. The Eagles and Chip Kelly's offense aren't the only ones who need this.

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

b. Memo to Darren Rovell (said with slight annoyance): The Riddell helmet/NFL divorce you wrote about, a story that was written by Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB on TheMMQB.com last Tuesday, was not written on SI.com, as you reported. It’s The MMQB.

Memo to Peter King (with a know-it-all attitude): This is what happens when you name your site THE MMQB and write a column called MMQB that used to appear on CNNSI.com. If you wanted to brand your new website in the best possible way, brand it to avoid confusion and not in a way that reminds the uninformed that there used to be a column posted on CNNSI.com that is called the exact same thing as your new website. Sure, I don't like Darren Rovell and he should have known this, but these are the things that happen when you confuse readers with the name of your new website that also happens to be the same name of a column you write for the new website that also appears on CNNSI.com.

c. Nothing against SI.com; I love SI.com. This column runs on SI.com at well as The MMQB. But the story was not written on SI.com.

And oh yeah, don't be upset when a person doesn't know exactly which site something posted on THE MMQB comes from when it is posted on CNNSI.com also. As I write this, the front page of CNNSI.com shows this very MMQB column and the link for THE MMQB has SI.com in the url. So, it's not hard to see where confusion can happen.

d. Thanks, Florence and the Machine, for “Shake It Out.” That’s my song of the week.

I'm sure they wrote the song just for you.

h. The obstruction call (he said through gritted teeth), though a stupid rule because umpires cannot use interpretation, was called correctly to end Game 3.

I know Red Sox fans will kill me for saying this, but even if the umpires could use interpretation I could see an argument that Middlebrooks meant to trip Allen Craig. If you watch the replay then you notice as he falls to the ground trying to catch the errant throw Middlebrooks' legs go up in the air. Then he lowers his legs and raises them again as Craig tries to run over him. Since Middlebrooks legs actually came back in the air after they were on the ground and just happened to be raised again as Allen Craig tried to run in the baseline, I could see where umpires could interpret intent to trip Allen Craig. Upon seeing the replay a few times, it seemed odd to me that Middlebrooks' legs went down on the ground and then happened to raise back up when Craig tried to run in the baseline over him.

j. Quote of the Series, from Jonny Gomes to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, concerning the fact that he was only in the lineup Sunday night because Shane Victorino’s back tightened up and forced him to the bench, giving Gomes the chance to hit the game-winning three-run home run: “I had to ‘Tonya Harding’ Victorino.”

k. Google or Bing “Tonya Harding” if that one slips past you.

Sure, just as soon as you Google or Bing "Wally Pipp." 

n. Beernerdness: Also had the good fortune to be at Game 2 of the Series on Thursday, and was nearly as lucky to be back in my favorite old neighborhood restaurant Picco, in Boston’s South End. Very good beer menu. Tried the Star Island Single, a Belgian ale from Smuttynose in New Hampshire, and it was almost like a light ale. Okay, and eminently drinkable, but not memorable.

This wasn't a memorable beer, yet Peter remembers the name of the beer, who made the beer, what kind of beer it tasted like and also remembers enough of the taste to give a review on whether he liked the beer or not.

Who I Like Tonight
 
Seattle 33, St. Louis 10. Bet you thought I’d say, “Boston 4, St. Louis 3,” didn’t you?

Nope, I didn't.

I'm not including the Adieu Haiku, because it is a haiku and a bad joke. It's a reference to the "illegal bat" call in the Patriots-Dolphins game. Fine, here it is.

I have always thought
the home for illegal bats
was in the belfry.


I bet you feel dumber having read that.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

13 comments The Premise of These Articles Stinks

Today is the 2nd birthday of this blog. If I had realized this earlier I might have done something special...that's probably a lie I tell myself though. 2 years ago this blog was started for no real purpose and today that lack of purpose still stands and is upheld every day in the posts that are made. That was a good celebration, now more reminder before I get to the post for today.

I started a Fantasy Baseball league in Yahoo if anyone wants to join. I have put the max teams at 10 but I would be willing to open it up to 12 teams if we had enough interest. The League ID is "420904" and the password is "eckstein." I did some default league settings with the intention of changing them later. So if anyone who wants to join has recommendations or preferences on how the league is set up, just use the message board for the league to say what you think. Anyone feel free to join and I will open it up to 12 teams if necessary. Also, I have started a NCAA Tournament Bracket Pick 'Em in a Yahoo league if anyone is interested in joining. The ID is "8624" and the password is "eckstein." Feel free to join and of course we won't be able to make the picks until the brackets are announced. We only have 3 people in the league right now and that is pathetic.

I don't even know where to begin with today's post. It's kind of all over the place, but that's just the way my mind works some days. If you knew how much time I spend trying to find a title for my posts, it would embarrassing for me. Once I write something, a title should come pretty easily, except it doesn't always. It takes me 5 minutes sometimes to think of a title for my posts, which really is too much time since everything the article is about is contained in walls of text below. Anyway, so I just went with the simple title for today, because it's true.

I have 3 articles that I thought stunk and 1 act by a group of fans that I just didn't understand, and now I want to talk about it.

Johnette Howard starts it all off with inventing a new curse for the Red Sox.

It’s not a move that’s likely to approach the cosmic significance of the Curse of the Bambino,

This was not cosmic, but instead was a curse invented by Dan Shaughnessy to sell books. Just so we are clear on that.

the Boston Red Sox — whose front office rarely makes big mistakes — will regret letting free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira fall to the archrival Yankees last winter.

It's the "Curse of Tex!"

It’s staggering when you think about it: The balance of power in the AL East and all of baseball swung because the Red Sox balked at paying Teixeira an extra $1.5 million a year

Two things:

1. Saying the balance of power swung in all of baseball is a bit of an overstatement. The Yankees won 1 World Series with Teixeira at first base. They may win another World Series, but at this point they haven't had the chance to do this yet. The Yankees are still beatable. I know it is a lot of fun to make it seem like they aren't beatable and do things like try to change the divisions around so the Yankees can't dominate until the end of time, but we are getting ahead of ourselves a bit. There are still good baseball teams in the American League and the National League capable of winning the World Series.

2. An extra $1.5 million per year WOULD NOT have signed Mark Teixeira. If the Red Sox had offered more money, the odds are very good the Yankees would have made a counteroffer that would have exceeded the Red Sox offer. It's not like when the Yankees get outbid for a player's services they just back away and look for another player to sign. The Yankees would have ultimately outbid the Red Sox for Teixeira's services, I have very little doubt about that. They outbid the Braves for AJ Burnett last winter and they would have done the same for Tex's services.

So refusing $1.5 million per year DID NOT cause the Red Sox to lose out on Tex. Bidding against a hungry and playoff-deprived Yankees front office caused them to lose out on Tex. I don't know if the amount of money offered would have made a huge difference in the end because the Yankees would have tried to top it.

For $1.5 million a year, the Red Sox deprived themselves of a switch-hitting, extraordinarily consistent first baseman who not only hung up an MVP-caliber season for the Yankees last season, but fits the Red Sox’s profile of the perfect player even better:

I think Mark Teixeira fits every team's profile of the perfect player, not just the Red Sox. And also, if the Red Sox had raised the offer to beat the Yankees offer, the Yankees would have just beaten that offer. How is this hard to understand? More importantly, when have the Yankees ever been outbid for a player they really wanted? So how did $1.5 million per year make a difference again?

He hits for power, hits for average, plays great defense, comes up big under pressure and earns raves as a good clubhouse guy.

That does sound like a Red Sox guy for sure! No other team in Major League Baseball wants a guy like that on their team at all. This is why the Red Sox are such a great team. Other teams see a guy who hits for power, hits for average, plays great defense, comes up big under pressure and earns raves as a good clubhouse guy and thinks, "What the hell do we need that guy for? We have Mike Jacobs playing first base, that's all we really want."

“I don’t want to think where we’d be without him,” Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez said many times last season.

He was actually talking about his half A-Rod/half horse portrait he keeps over his bed. I guess Mark Teixeira was pretty helpful to the Yankees too.

This year is supposed to bring a fresh start for the Red Sox. It just doesn’t feel like that when you listen to the doubts that keep floating up from Fort Myers.

The doubts caused by moronic writers who are still stuck on the 2009 free agency winter spending spree the Yankees had instead of focusing on the players the Red Sox currently have. Hey, that's you Johnette Howard!

Most writers when they detail the "doubts" floating up from Fort Myers would quote some players or other Red Sox-affiliated people on the doubts they have, but Johnette Howard isn't most writers. She just sort of lets this comment hang out there with no real verification of the "doubts" that are floating.

if Lowell is even still around — are hoping to compensate for their questionable offense with what they rightly think can be the best starting pitching in baseball. They’ve added John Lackey to a mix that already included Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

Pitching? What good is that if the team can't spend $1.5 million more dollars that would hypothetically and probably not have gotten Mark Teixeira? No one wants pitching. Pitching doesn't win championships.

At some point this season, they can finally make their long-rumored trade for Padres’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to get another big bat.

Well, I guess the Red Sox could get the Mark Teixeira (somewhat) clone, but what about the "Tex Curse?" Can Adrian Gonzalez beat the "Tex Curse?" Adrian Gonzalez is cheaper than Teixeira and the Red Sox can use the $1.5 million that wouldn't have gotten Tex signed to re-sign Adrian Gonzalez after they trade for him. What's the fun in that though? Throw in the conversation I had with Anonymous in the comments for the Saturday MLB Previews this week and there is even a question of where the hell the Red Sox would even put Gonzalez on the field. Plus, there is the whole "Tex Curse" thing hanging over the Red Sox now so even if Gonzalez could be traded for, it would never work because of the "Tex Curse."

Adrian Gonzalez' statistics.

Mark Teixeira's statistics.

Tex is a superior player, but not by that much.

But a lot can change between now and the trading deadline. What if the Padres don’t deal their homegrown star?

Then they are morons. They are going to deal Gonzalez. They have to. Jed Hoyer used to be in the Red Sox front office and he knows the prospects so he knows best (assuming he can find somewhere to put Beltre and Youkilis) what he wants from Boston and if the Red Sox decide Beltre isn't working out and they want a good hitting first baseman to move Youkilis to third base, there is room at that point. That's assuming the Red Sox/Beltre marriage isn't working out. The Red Sox can compete without Adrian Gonzalez contrary to popular opinion.

The Padres are going to trade Adrian Gonzalez to some team. This makes too much sense not to happen.

What if the Yankees get too far ahead in the AL East?

Then one player wasn't going to make a difference in the season anyway. Any more panic questions?

What if Teixeira has another season that rubs in all he could be doing it for Sox instead?

Then the world as we know it will end. This is the beginning of the "Tex Curse."

But 2009 proved the Red Sox might have another problem: The 34-year-old Ortiz had a hot-and-cold season that suggested his age or life without steroids is catching up to him.

Actually, Ortiz was cold at the beginning of the season, but he was a pretty good hitter towards the end of the season. There is decent reason not to worry too much about him, but I agree the Red Sox could use another hitter in the middle of the lineup.

Boston’s best hope might be just to get into the postseason somehow, because once there, the Sox's superb pitching makes them better built to dominate in the playoffs than over a long season.

So the real problem isn't the Yankees having Mark Teixeira but ensuring the Red Sox win the Wild Card? Because if the Red Sox make the playoffs they are going to be difficult to beat? So the entire premise of this article is pointless?

In a seven-game series, a rotation of Beckett, Lester, Lackey and A Starter To Be Named is good enough to silence anybody. Even the Yankees.

So this worry has nothing to do with Mark Teixeira and not signing him nor does it have anything to do with the Yankees? As long as the Red Sox make the playoffs, they should have a chance to win the World Series. Again, so what's the point of this article?

Still, not signing Teixeira has to be a huge regret, even if no Red Sox will ever admit it.

Perhaps they don't admit it because its not true. The Red Sox are probably smart enough to know they couldn't have outbid the Yankees for Tex.

But the Sox abruptly left the meeting when Boras told them their offer wasn’t good enough. It was startlingly out-of-character when Henry fired off a tart statement later that same night announcing the Red Sox were out of the running for Teixeria.

Probably because they knew at that point they wouldn't be able to offer enough money to get Tex.

“All signs pointed to him going to the Red Sox,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said back then. It wasn’t until five days later, when the Yankees offered Teixeira $160 million over eight years and Boras called Cashman back about an hour later to talk details that Cashman thought, “I felt momentum. I remember calling Hal (Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing partner) and saying, ‘We’re the lead dog.’ ”

Because they were offering more money that the Red Sox couldn't match, or wouldn't match, because the Red Sox knew the Yankees wanted him and were willing to pay what it took for him.

Maybe the Red Sox figured they’ve been excellent at making tough calls on stars such as Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, and they’d survive this as well.

The Yankees have one 1 World Series with Mark Teixeira. It is incredibly too early to hit the panic button and think all is lost. For the record, Johnny Damon contributed to the Yankees World Series title as well and for some reason Johnette Howard doesn't think the Red Sox rue the day they let him go. Granted, he is not the impact player Teixeira is, but Damon was still a fairly productive player and he helped the Yankees win a World Series last year.

With him, the Red Sox would be the frontrunners.

That is very possible. The Yankees would probably have Adrian Gonzalez or another great hitting first basemen at this point though. Also, with how Tex hit in the playoffs last year the Red Sox still may not have beaten the Angels. So the Yankees could have won the World Series with another good first baseman in this hypothetical world where Tex plays for the Red Sox.

Without him, they’re back to being haunted again by another slugger they let get away.

You mean like they were when Babe Ruth was traded away, which led to the direct result (naturally) that the Red Sox didn't win another World Series until 2004? Red Sox fans considered yourself permanently screwed by the "Curse of Tex."

-JemeHill thinks the punch thrown by the Baylor women's basketball player isn't that big of a deal compared to other punches thrown in sports.

All punches are not created equal.

So if the punch doesn't do a whole hell of a lot of damage, it's no big deal? I see that JemeHill looks at the outcome of a situation to determine the punishment. I am not sure how I feel about this.

As much as people would like to equate Baylor's Brittney Griner punching Texas Tech's Jordan Barncastle with LeGarrette Blount decking Byron Hout following last September's Oregon-Boise State football game, the fists belonging to Griner and Blount are both separate and unequal.

Right, one happened in a women's basketball game no one cared about or watched and the other happened in a nationally televised game between two highly ranked teams on the opening game of the NCAA football season. One involved a woman, the other involved a man. Those are really the only differences.

Griner's fist connected with Barncastle's nose after the two jostled in the lane.

There was no "connected" about it. Brittney Griner swung her arm in a huge attempt to hurt the Texas Tech player. There wasn't any doubt what that was an attempt to do.

It was a typical example of rough play between aggressive players -- who also happen to have a chippy history. In fact, the two reportedly had a verbal confrontation after a game last month.

Clearly not preventing the punch was the official's fault then. They should have known about the history and prevented it from happening...obviously, or someone should have done something. Either way, Brittney Griner's punch was not a big deal to JemeHill.

Griner's punch is hardly in the same league as Blount's,

I guess I am missing the difference. In both cases punches were thrown and landed.

and it's certainly not remotely close to the reprehensible actions of Elizabeth Lambert, the New Mexico soccer player who became infamous because of her MMA-esque takedowns during a heated match with Brigham Young late last year.

This is one of JemeHill's favorite things to do when she is arguing a point. She loves to mix her message up with another incident so the reader's focus isn't on the actual incident she is discussing but how that incident compares to another incident. It is an attempt to help prove her point here by lessening the severity of Griner's act compared to another sports-related violent act.

"Elizabeth Lambert was more out of line than Brittney Griner so Griner's punch shouldn't be treated as harshly."

Blount, like Griner, was provoked. But Blount coldcocked Hout after the game ended,

So it is worse to hit an opponent AFTER the game is over than it is to hit an opponent during the game? I would say I understand this, but I really, really don't. I don't exactly see how hitting an opponent during a game is not as serious as hitting an opponent after a game.

and then made matters even worse by exhibiting belligerent behavior toward fans as he was being escorted off the field.

So the belligerence towards the fans made the punch that much worse? If Blount had punched Hout in the face and then calmly walked off the field as he was called racial slurs and whatever else he was called then everything would have been cool? This doesn't make sense to me.

I never believed Blount's irresponsible and irrational behavior should have cost him the entire season,

Well, then you were right. Congratulations, let's get back to the purpose of this article.

And while I believe Lambert's punishment was fair (she was suspended indefinitely), let's not forget that we watched Zinedine Zidane head-butt Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final.

See what JemeHill does? She starts getting off topic in an attempt to dismiss how serious the punch Griner threw was.

"But nobody did anything to a soccer player 4 years ago in an event that wasn't held by the NCAA! How can you suspend Brittney Griner when the World Cup doesn't suspend it's players for violent acts?"

The World Cup and a women's college basketball game are two completely separate events governed by two completely different governing bodies, who punish players in completely different ways.

The wrong thing for Baylor and the Big 12 to do is to overreact and suspend Griner for the conference and NCAA tournaments if it's done just to prove the point that a woman should be subject to the same punishment as a man for unsportsmanlike conduct.

It has nothing to do with her being a woman or her not being a man. It has to do with the fact a punch was thrown during an NCAA game and LaGarrette Blount was suspended for half the season (actually more) so why is a 2 game suspension sufficient for Brittney Griner?

What's wrong with a woman and man being subject to the same punishment for the same crime when talking about college athletics?

In 2004, five players from the Kansas and Missouri basketball teams were suspended for a postgame fight. It was a melee. A punch was thrown, a player was kicked -- and nobody lost her season.

This is irrelevant. In the 1880's people were hanged in public days after being convicted for a crime, it doesn't mean that punishment should set a precedent for all criminal trials from that day forward. It is fine for a organization like the NCAA to get more or less lenient as the years progress in regards to a punch being thrown during competition. The NFL has progressively gotten more bold with its punishments and the NCAA may want to do this as well. 6 years has gone by since this melee occurred and only 7 months has gone by since Blount threw his punch.

The NCAA or Pac-10 never got to punish Blount because the school did that for them.

Griner's actions are worth a two-game suspension.

So while Blount gets a suspension that lasts over half the season, Griner's punch is worth missing a little over 5% of the season? Screw fairness, this doesn't even make sense.

If you don't think Griner being a woman has anything to do with this, then you're being naive. It isn't fair, but an aggressive woman -- particularly one who is 6-foot-8 -- is going to be judged more harshly than a man.

Actually, if she were suspended for half the season during the next season, then she would still be punished less harshly than a man. That hasn't happened. I completely disagree an aggressive woman will be judged more harshly than a man. More importantly, who cares how she is judged? What's important is the punishment doled out to her to prevent this from occurring as much as possible and showing the NCAA takes punches thrown at opponents seriously.

I don't care what happens to Brittney Griner. They could not punish her and I wouldn't mind, but if we are setting standards for behavior and the NCAA wants to show they are serious about punches thrown, they will give her a stiff suspension. Sure it was a woman throwing the punch, but it was also a woman receiving the punch.

Griner is known for showing the kind of emotion that some consider borderline taunting, and it's irritated a lot of people.

In other words, she behaves the same way as the guys, whose antics are not only tolerated, but often celebrated.

No one has a problem with how she plays the game. Don't create a double standard where there isn't one. This whole issue isn't about how Brittney Griner acts on the court, it is about the fact she threw a punch at an opponent.

True equality isn't giving Griner the LeGarrette Blount treatment, but treating her punch as an unfortunate incident for a great athlete.

So true equality is a not treating a woman athlete the same as a male athlete? Only in JemeHill's world would this make sense.

-Tim Marchman ranks the NBA General Managers. This isn't such a bad column as much as I don't agree with some of the rankings.

In Marchman's defense he does acknowledge there is no real good way to evaluate GM's, but I still shall continue...

Sadly, there isn't any good, objective way to rate general managers. Take the following rankings, then, as largely subjective and based on a few simple criteria having mostly to do with player moves and setting an overall direction for the organization, which are only a part of what a general manager actually does.

After that, not doing stupid things counts most. The reason for this is that while mere uninspired time served won't destroy a team, doing actively malignant things such as making clearly ridiculous trades or signing costly, terrible free agents can ruin a team's chances for many years.

Remember this statement. Doing actively malignant things like ridiculous trades, signing costly and terrible free agents is something that should move a GM down in the rankings. "Should" being the key word here.

3. Brian Cashman, New York Yankees

Sorry Yankee fans who like Brian Cashman, but if criteria like "making ridiculous trades" and signing costly, terrible free agents" is criteria for moving a GM down the list...Brian Cashman needs to be down this list. I wouldn't put him down that far on the list, but not at #3. I am not putting Brian Cashman down because I think he should be high on this list, but just not at #3.

The Randy Johnson trade wasn't shrewd, the Kevin Brown trade wasn't shrewd, the signing of Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa, etc. were not good moves, and even to a lesser extent signing Jose Contreras didn't work out. The only reason the Yankees are able to recover from these moves is that Cashman has made some good signings and the Yankees have enough money to where they can sign new players and these bad moves don't hurt them permanently. Otherwise, Cashman would have come close to tanking the Yankees in the mid-2000's if the Yankees didn't have resources to recover from some of his (or who else's) free agent decisions.

I am not saying Cashman is a bad GM, I just think he should be down this list because the years of 2001-2008 were a bunch of mediocre signings and trades by Cashman with decent trades thrown in sometimes. It wasn't the era of the 3rd best General Manager in baseball.

His four world championships don't hurt, but the really impressive thing is that since he secured full control over baseball operations after the 2005 season, the Yankees have spent their money wisely, signing studs like CC Sabathia rather than sure bets for decline, and traded smartly, dealing the fruits of a much-improved farm system for players still in their prime, such as Curtis Granderson.

The CC Sabathia signing was a no-brainer for pretty much every team. There wasn't much of a threat of Sabathia being a bust wherever he went. He was going to the team that paid him the most. The Granderson trade was pretty good, I admit that, but again that is a more recent move. This ranking ignores some of Cashman's previous bad decisions.

Also, I realize Cashman hasn't had completely control over the team the entire he has been in New York, but when ranking GM's nobody knows for sure who really is responsible for the moves many of these teams make. So I would rank the GM's based on what happened in their tenure as GM. I am sure other people had a hand in the free agent signing failures the Yankees have had, just like I am sure other people had a hand in the free agent signing successes the Yankees have had. All credit and blame goes to the General Manager for both of these usually.

Remember Cashman also hasn't drafted and brought an impact pitcher in the Yankees rotation up from the farm system since 1995, Chien-Mang Wang no longer counts, and he hasn't developed a great hitter in the farm system in a while either. Regardless if the Yankees tend to improve their team through free agency or not, organizational development and choosing of prospects to draft is part of the GM's duties as well. That is a part of his job as GM that Cashman hasn't done well or at least he has traded these guys away before they could make the Yankees' team. I would lower him a little bit on this list.

5. Jack Zduriencik, Seattle Mariners

Since taking over the reins in Seattle, he has turned the Mariners into a contender, engineering their abrupt transformation from one of baseball's dullest organizations to one of its most progressive, such as by focusing on defensive studs such as Jack Wilson, Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Kotchman.

Zduriencik had most of his success in the Brewers system when he wasn't actually the General Manager and it is a bit early to say his more defensive change to the Mariners team has worked out. Maybe after we see whether his progressive approach worked he can be ranked this high.

8. Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers

The way Daniels has built up his farm system and kept the Rangers fairly competitive in the AL West, I think he should be moved up this list a little bit. Teams are using the Mark Teixeira trade and some of Daniels' other moves as a blueprint for how to rebuild a team.

16. Jim Hendry, Chicago Cubs

It's tempting to overreact to a lousy 2009 and to heavily count bad contracts doled out to players such as Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley against Hendry, but the truth is that he built a consistently successful team that had every chance to win a World Series at its peak and just didn't, through no real fault of his. The Cubs are now likely in for a hangover as the core of that team ages, but given the team's history he was right to go for it all.

So even though many of Hendry's recent moves haven't really worked at all, it is fine because the Cubs have a loser's (mentality) history and going for a World Series at all costs was the right thing to do? This Cubs team was "at it's peak" for only a year or two, so it's not like they had a long run of success.

The Cubs have won 67, 88, 89, 79, 66, 85, 97, and 83 games since Hendry took over in July of 2002. It's not terrible by any stretch of the imagination but I can see 1-2 years they really had a chance of winning the World Series. I don't disagree with the ranking, just don't get the explanation completely.

The Cubs haven't been bad, but I didn't understand how Tim Marchman thought the Cubs were on the edge of a World Series for a while during Hendry's reign. Then I saw his bio at the bottom of the article.

Tim Marchman lives in Chicago and can be reached at tlmarchman@gmail.com.

I am going to guess he is a Cubs fan. I am also going to guess he is one of those "This is our year!" type Cubs fans.

19. Ruben Amaro Jr., Philadelphia Phillies

I honestly have no idea how to rate Amaro. One pennant in one year is a nice record, and having landed two of baseball's five best pitchers -- Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee -- in trade within a few months is even better given that these were moves he alone gets credit for. On the other hand the truly strange trade sending Lee to Seattle and the odd, if so far successful, decision to sign 37-year-old designated hitter-masquerading-as-an-outfielder Raul Ibanez to a long-term contract have to count heavily against him.

Wow. Really? The great year Ibanez had last year is being completely ignored while the focus on his defense is what Marchman chooses to focus on. I thought the Ibanez signing was a great deal for what they paid. The Cliff Lee trade not being included, I think Amara Jr. has made some decent moves to help the Phillies compete now and in the future.

27. Brian Sabean, San Francisco Giants

Sabean's skeptics were driven insane for years as no matter how many terrible, decrepit players he signed to absurd contracts, he always had Barry Bonds to make everything right. Once Bonds retired, the Giants immediately fell apart, and the skeptics gloated. Now they're a decent team again because they've developed a pair of aces in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. It doesn't matter; the skeptics are still right.

I am not going to argue that Sabean didn't make some bad signings through the years, but I love how the fact the Giants are good again is completely glossed over by Tim Marchman. Isn't Sabean responsible for or at least overseeing the development of players like Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Buster Posey and others? So he should get a little more credit for the Giants revival despite some of his bad moves in the past, right? I guess not.

29. Ed Wade, Houston Astros

Did you realize that six of eight Astros regulars were 33 or older last year? That five of the six pitchers who got the most starts -- two of whom were Brian Moehler and Mike Hampton -- were 30 or older? And that the team has arguably the worst farm system in baseball? Wade isn't to blame for all of this. But he certainly hasn't done anything about it.

Ed Wade has to be last. I was amazed at how bad he was when I did the Astros team preview. This team was a terrible mix of players in my mind.

Overall, not a bad list of GMs though. I can't say Marchman did a bad job.

-Last thing for the day, and maybe loyal reader "Go" can tell me more, but I was very disheartened to see the Maryland Terrapin fans stormed the court after beating Duke last Wednesday night. Not to sound like Rick Reilly (he just wrote an article on this) but they should not have rushed the court.

Rushing the courts says to me, "We as fans did not expect to win this game and it requires a larger celebration than usual because of this." It tells me the team that won the game and had their fans rush the court consider themselves to be generally inferior to the team they beat and because the did beat that team, it is a cause for a big celebration...and perhaps rioting.

Let me list the reasons why I feel Maryland Terrapin basketball fans should have some pride and should not have stormed the court and then rioted in the streets (but why?) after the big win:

1. Maryland is a pretty accomplished basketball team. They last won a National Title in 2002. Duke last won a National Title in 2001. No matter how accomplished Duke is supposed to be, Maryland is a pretty accomplished team as well.

2. They have a Hall of Fame coach as well. It's not like they were being led by some newcomer who didn't have a clue, Gary Williams is a Hall of Fame coach. He is 7th among coaches in all-times wins.

3. Both Duke and Maryland are 12-3 in the ACC this year and are tied for the conference lead. In fact Maryland has won 23 games this year, while Duke has won 26 games.

4. Maryland was a ranked team playing at home against another ranked team. It's not like the Terrapins aren't a good team. It's Senior Night, they have a great senior class graduating (including Vasquez who is being seriously considered for ACC PoY even before the game) and the crowd was going crazy, why would they not expect to win this game?

5. My last reason why I think Maryland shouldn't have rushed the court is that the way the ACC is set up, each team has "rivals" they play twice every single year...one home game and one away game every year. Duke's "rivals" are considered the University of North Carolina and...not N.C. State which is located maybe 30 miles from Duke University...not Wake Forest, which is only located 100 miles or so from Duke University...but the University of Maryland is the other "rival" that Duke plays every single year. This is because Maryland and Duke have a history of competitive and tough games against each other. Hell, they have even met in the NCAA Tournament Final Four before (2001).

I have all the respect in the world for Maryland and I thought they were going to win the game against Duke on Wednesday night. I just don't get why they still see themselves as underdogs against Duke, because it clearly isn't that way. Mostly, this goes back to how I hate it when fans rush the court. It was a big win for them, but Maryland is a good team.

Good teams don't have fans that rush the court because they expect to win games, so it's not a shock or cause for a great celebration when they do. I don't say these things about Maryland because I don't respect them, but because I DO respect them and obviously think higher of the team than some of the fans do. I know it was Vasquez's last home game and it was an emotional win, but rushing the court is still synonymous with upset victories. It's about having respect for how good your team is and it is fun to celebrate on the court, but is also synonymous with upsets and I don't know if any victory Maryland has over Duke is an upset anymore.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2 comments Can't See the Tree for the Forest (Green)

haha, see what I did there? Because Boston wears...nevermind.

I am thankful for a change; I can take issue with the substance of an article than merely the stylistic trimmings. Here, Randy Hill makes a pretty astounding point (or at least alludes strongly to it) we'll get to in a moment, but it's his absolute bravado in throwing away an incredible piece of evidence that simply demands to be in this article that causes me to post today. What is his point? What is that jewel of evidence? Stay tuned!

*Batman wipe*

Doc has to juggle health and home court

have to steal a Simpsons quote here; "juggle health and home court like so many juggling balls...two I suppose."

The prevailing nickname "Doc" was not attached to Glenn Rivers due to any expectation of future medical prowess.

It was a hoops thing we can trace to Rick Majerus.

As coach of the defending NBA champion Boston Celtics, Rivers wouldn't mind being able to summon the gift of healing. But it seems that such hands-on, almighty miracles are limited to the purview of college basketball coaches. Or so we've been led to believe ... by the college coaches.


there isn't a measurement system alive for how little I care.

Anyway

yes, back to what you're paid to write about...

Doc Rivers does not have the skill to fix Kevin Garnett's knee, Rajon Rondo's ankle or even Rondo's jump shot. The first two physical maladies are part of a five-player injury plague that may have transformed the Cs into a team capable of settling into the Eastern Conference's No. 2 playoff seed.

I put it to you, Randy, that they always had that capability. Even with these players fighting fit, I'm willing to stick my neck out and say they have the capability to be the second seed in the East. In fact...I'm not even sure losing players helps them in their ability to achieve such a lofty goal. You do know what capability means right? An ability...being able to do something. Unlike being disabled - a handicap. I'm being pedantic I know but seriously, too clever by half.

And while that may not be just dandy to the team, its support staff or its fans, Doc and his crew are telling us the possibility of losing home-court advantage for a potential conference-finals series is far from a repeat killer.

we're finally getting to the point - this is at least debatable.

It has been posited that by winning two playoff games in Detroit and one in Los Angeles last year, the Cs are immune to a road funk that attended their first two postseason dates for 2008.

immune? So, they can't lose on the road at all? What constitutes a funk? My basic point here is that I think it's considered a pretty absolute truth that it's harder to win on the road than at home. Here I don't think I'm being pedantic - I don't know what "immune" means. Does it mean they will never lose on the road? Or merely that they won't always lose on the road? There seems to be a fair bit of grey area there that in the playoffs, with only a handful of extremely meaningful games, would be a pretty significant sticking point.

You probably remember the great hullabaloo surrounding the eventual champs as their regular-season swagger surrendered to a combined 0-6 playoff run through Atlanta and Cleveland.

I grant you it was only six games, and the big criticism of both myself and Hill here is small sample sizes, but it's the playoffs, all we have at our disposal. But yeah, only six games, true, but 0-6 from a #1 seed on the road has to be worrying...especially when three games were against a 37-45 team - be they close or otherwise. They've also lost as many road games already as they did all last year. It's definately a concern at some level.

But in interviews with Boston-area beat writers, Rivers assured us those struggles were a product of a team that had yet to establish a playoff identity.

oh, nevermind then, their coach thinks they are fine. This is the equivalent of "my Mom thinks I'm cool!". Man, I am all about Simpson's references today - apologies.

Although Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce certainly seem to define the essence of postseason grit now, the collective was playing without June portfolio before joining forces in the summer of 2007.

partial credit.

OK, so now that this identity has been forged in the fires of championship triumph, Boston should be good to go, regardless of venue, eh? Well, that's not a bad concept.

well I think it deserves at least a look at, it's debatable, as I said.

Just to satisfy our curiosity

well no, to write a decent article but I suppose it's good that you are making the effort, irrespective of how flippant you think it is.

let's take a look at how the Celtics are doing on the road during this regular season. Interestingly, with 17 games left to play and eight of those away from Boston, the Cs have as many road defeats as they absorbed all of last season.

right.

Do we detect fraud in this sales job to promote an ability to muscle up while wearing the green jerseys? Nah, the Celtics have had those aforementioned injury issues and are attempting to develop young players into rotation regulars.

It's also no hayride being the hunted.

investigation over. No need to worry about those road defeats! Why, that's merely a product of being a worse team than last year and other teams being better than they were a year ago!

...wait...wait a minute.

But after last week's home-court uprising against the (for now) top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers and a flop vs. Orlando's Magic two days later, Boston finds itself two games behind the Cavs in what everyone assumes is that season-saving home-court chip.

This means it's time to spit on the hands and get down to regular-season-ending work, right?

Well, Doc insists having home-court advantage is not worth the risk of playing key Celtics before they're completely healthy.

it's another display of that famous Doc Rivers judgement.

That's some pretty nice wisdom, of course, but with KG out for another week and Rondo still gimpy, Rivers' first-seed-chasing option may be obliterated. Or is it?

for fucks sake. I didn't say anything up to now, but this whole "well it looks like this case is closed -OR IS IT?" bullshit is cheap journalism. Stop it. It's really irritating.

After Wednesday's loss in Miami, the Celtics meet (in order) the Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks (road), Chicago Bulls (road) and Heat again (home). Only eight of the last 18 games will be contested against teams with winning records.

Rivers may be able to win a large percentage of these games if the NBA's interpretation of the economic bailout has a positive impact on Boston.

you know, I said I had no stylistic problem with the article, but after the last two segments, honestly, what the hell are you talking about?

By the way, that interpretation is referred to as the "buyout" and enabled the Cs to suit up vagabond big man Mikki Moore and point guard Stephon Marbury, who had been exiled by the New York Knicks.

really? Really? Mikki fucking Moore. You know, this is a trend I'm starting to really hate in the NBA, the whole "Robert Horry/PJ Brown" effect being blown way out of proportion. It's a variant on the "look how subtle I am, how deep I can look into a team" rubbish. It's something that pissed me off about the James Posey fanclub. Mikki Moore, I am here to tell you if you haven't followed basketball for eight years, is fucking terrible. I know all our readers are at least average level sports fans, and I bet even some of you never heard of him. As for Marbury, if you wanna hitch your wagon to that star good luck to you. It's probably a good idea if I don't tell you he's averaging 2.8ppg and 2.4apg so far.

Good "glue guy" though, I hear.

Moore and Marbury were hired to attempt replication of the P.J. Brown-Sam Cassell efforts from the 2008 playoffs.

thats a sad and pathetic sentiment right there Randy.

With the team training room now pushing the fire marshal's limit, the pace of their Celtic assimilation has been accelerated.

Moore: 4.0/2.0, yet to register a block
Marbury: 2.8/2.4, shooting 33.3%

this is "acceleration"?

Rivers may have been planning to use them more than reason would dictate, anyway.

In the process, a game or two may have to be conceded.

Also note that if Marbury can't figure out how to handle on-ball defensive pressure without turning his back on the guy guarding him, we may see Rondo and his ankle in a tent revival.

this is great. As though the key for Marbury is this tiny, nuanced part of the game, and then things will be fine. I see like a montage of Marbury gradually getting better at this, working all night with coaches, practising turning to get milk out of the fridge.

The problem is they are terrible, Randy, terrible.

While faithful Celtics fans grit their teeth at the image of Cleveland's LeBron James dusting off the crab dribble or Wally Szczerbiak channeling Bingo Smith for Cavaliers home games, Doc is preaching big picture and even threatening to create a little down time for Pierce and Allen.

here is your big picture and the promised stat. The home team has won the last eleven straight games in the Cavs/Celtics series. I know I read that somewhere but couldn't find the link, so I just looked at the schedule. The last time the home team didn't win was January 3rd 2007, so this Boston team has never beaten Cleveland in Cleveland. The 28-1 at home Cleveland. That Cleveland also finished 5-1 at home in the playoffs last year. They play well at home, you don't want to play them there. And Cleveland is the only relevant team in this scenario, and Hill hasn't mentioned them once until now.

Whatever, I can't even read the rest of this article, the stat isn't mentioned, nor a real look at how awesome Cleveland have been at home. Absurd.

Also, thank you for everyone for voting on Ben's poll and continued patronage to this site.