Saturday, April 14, 2007

(Late) Friday Feature: NFL Draft Preview (I of III)

The draft never invites hyperbole

So since I've got finals pending and don't plan on posting a ton over the next week or so, I figured I'd create something ahead of time and post it over a period of days. My true inspiration for the next three posts is the relatively shitty coverage of the NFL draft so far. I haven't seen much I agree with at all (though I do like mock draft The Fanhouse put together). I'm putting out a three part post starting with today's fairly brief "over and under" rated players section. I should start by mentioning that I have no access to film and the only scouting I've done is watch a ton of football last fall as well read every available article I could find on players. I should also say that my major beef with the traditional draft expert analysis is that they fall into the same traps year in and year out. They create mock drafts in February and don't change them significantly even when the only news coming out of team camps about those players is negative. For instance, have you heard ANYTHING positive about Leon Hall in the last two weeks? He looked horrible in the only game that mattered his entire career--this year's Ohio State game. He played in the Big Ten, so it's not like he was facing top talent in any of the other games he played in? The Big Ten sucks. Leon Hall looks like a decent corner, but to come off the board in the top 15, you have to be--or have the potential to be--great. He is not great nor does he have the potential to be great. Leon Hall SCREAMS solid and decent. He's Otis Smith or Aaron Glenn. Whereas if you ask people about McCauley from Fresno St. or Eric Wright from UNLV, those guys have the skill set and size to be outstanding. If I'm picking a corner in this weak corner class, I'll take a size and speed guy like the Raiders did with Nnamdi Asomugha over a more prototypical guy from a great program like a Carlos Rogers any day (those guys didn't go in the same draft but Rogers was a top 10 pick while Asomugha was picked in the 30's. Asomugha went to the Pro Bowl this past year). That's probably more descrption than neccesary, but I think you get what I'm talking about. It makes sense to me anyway. Without any further adieu, here are my 7 (10 was too many) most over and under rated players in the 2007 draft:

Get used to that stat line, Miami/Minnesota/Cleveland

1. Ted Ginn, Jr.
In the last 1 million years, has any smallish, speedy, injury-prone wide receiver EVER worked out? Santana Moss maybe, but after him you have to go back to Terry Glenn. Just ask Peter Warrick, Charles Rogers and Santonio Holmes. Plus, check out the Ohio St. Wide Receiving pedigree: Holmes, Michael Jenkins, Ginn, Jr., Glenn.... noticing a trend? (Fortunately, Gonzalez will change that).

2. Gaines Adams
This year's "Dewayne Robertson". Comes from a school that doesn't traditionally put out great players but played good competition. Decent size and is always cited as showing moments of greatness. Every now and again he can put together a dominant game. That was how people described Robertson, and he hasn't exactly produced. I remember last year, the D ends going early were big guys with flashes of brilliance and overlooked was the guy who led the NCAA in sacks because he was like 5'10. That sack leader was Elvis Dumervil and he was outstanding for the Broncos last year. Gaines is the top DE by default, not because he's that great.
3. Marshawn Lynch
Doesn't Cal always have some flashy back who ends up sucking the NFL? Marshawn Lynch is another "flashes of brilliance" guy who faded in the biggest games (USC, Tennessee, Oregon). He is also subject to a sexual assault investigation. The negatives outweigh the positives.
4. Leon Hall
I spoke about this already but in his biggest test against Ohio St., he got smoked. He is a solid player whose max potential compares favorably to that of Ronde Barber, which is high praise, but not high enough to be a top 10 pick. He's a first rounder, but isn't good enough to grab so early.
5. Joe Thomas
I may get burned badly by my Joe Thomas loathing, but his description mirrors Rob Gallery's. Great feet, outrageous athlete for his size but lacks the meanness and doesn't drive well enough on rushing plays. You want to know why Walter Jones and Willie Roaf are two of the best lineman in the last 20 years, EVERY rushing play is run to their side. Pass blocking is almost a given with them. In order to be a top 10 OT, you have to dominate. I don't think anyone has called Joe Thomas dominant. Plus, his ACL injury scares me a bit. I think he's the best Tackle available, but not the best lineman (my favorite lineman will show up in the underrated portion).
6. Paul Posluszny
His heightened draft ranking makes me so angry. I LOVED this guy two years ago. He looked like a freak. He took over games on a bad team and almost single-handedly kept a bad Penn St. team in games by pure intimidation. Then he tore his tore up his knee and looked slow and outmatched in 2006. He wants to be great and I would love to have him on my team, but not as a first rounder. He wasn't big enough to begin with (he's smaller than Sean Taylor) and his raw determination was what made him great. Now he's half a step slow. I'm not sure he'll ever regain it.
7. Brady Quinn
I've been over this before, but if Trent Edwards or Drew Stanton had gone to Notre Dame, they'd be ranked higher than Quinn. He does some things well but doesn't do ANYTHING really well. He's Ron Powlus & Rick Mirer.

Brian Leonard = Man-crush

1. LaRon Landry
The kid is Ed Reed. A ballhawk who is completely overaggressive and a total stud. If I were ranking players, he'd be the third best player in the draft behind CJ and Okoye.
2. Amobi Okoye
This kid (he is a teenager afterall) is FLYING up the draft board. I think the Skins thought they'd be able to sneak away with him at 6 but that may not work out any longer. The kid has freakish upside. 19 years-old, tremendous athlete and smarter than anyone who has ever coached him (or ever will coach him). I LOVE this kid.
3. Ryan Kalil
Kalil will likely fall out of the first round because people are stupid. There is an unspoken rule about not taking an interior lineman in the first 20 picks because you can always find one later. Well last year the best lineman taken in the first round was Nick Mangold. Kalil is better than Mangold. If Detroit has any idea what it is doing, they will take CJ, then Kalil. That is unless some team is smart enough to scoop him up in the first round (Pioli, I'm talking to you at 28).
4. Jarvis Moss
He is he most talented DE in the draft. I don't think you'd hear anyone argue with that. He played for a big time program and his only question marks are character and "rawness". He's not Julius Peppers, but he's not that far off. I'm dead serious. He is too risky to grab in the top ten, but he should be top 15.
5. Marcus McCauley / Eric Wright - I LOVE these two guys. If the Pats can package their first round picks for Atlanta's first rounder and get one of Hotlanta's second rounders, they should grab Landry and McCauley and not look back. These guys can match up with the big receivers and run with the speedy little fucks. They are being overlooked because of the name on their jerseys, but they are going to dominate.
6. Anthony Gonzalez
This guy is polished, fast, smart and willing to gut it out over the middle. His play reminds me of Deion Branch, except he's faster than Branch. Whoever steps up and grabs him will get an automatic stud.
7. Brian Leonard
I admit that I have a biased hard-on for Brian Leonard largely due to the fact that he played his high school ball near where I grew up and he plays like his hair is on fire. He can be a feature back but will likely play second-fiddle and be a change of pace for his first year until someone gets hurt. He can do everything. He could carry it twenty times, catch it out of the backfield and serve as a Chris Cooley-like H-Back if necessary. His versatility and toughness make him too valuable to slip out of the top 35 picks.

Here's a little Landry for you, in case you weren't convinced by my praise:
Part II to come tomorrow.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Don Cherry is Reason Enough to Watch The NHL

Subtlety is not Don's strongsuit (PUN!)

First, we need to speak about that delicious pun in the picture caption. That came out of nowhere and is pure genius. Strongsuit! Get it? I should write cartoon captions for the New Yorker. Anyhoo, this week it was reported that Don Cherry is going to commentate during NBC's coverage of the NFL playoffs. I grew up with Don Cherry. He was my introduction to hockey when I moved to northern New York 20 years ago and all that was on TV after 10pm was CBC's Hockey Night in Canada bringing you the Winnipeg Jets vs. the Hartford Whalers. It may not have been the most educational experience in terms of learning hockey from great players, but the coverage was great theater. Don Cherry is a Canadian icon (for a tremendous read of Cherry, check out Scott Burnside's E-ticket piece). He's like Charles Barkley, Jimmy The Greek, Beano Cook and Deion Sanders' fashion sense all wrapped into one. He's on television for about 20 minutes per game but has more impact on how you view the game than any player or announcer. He hates european players. He holds grudges against players and can be unfairly critical of those players and he is not a fan of ANY rule change that discourages rough play. For better or worse, he holds nothing back. He is abrasive, insensitive and inappropriate, but throughout all of it he comes off as immensely likable. I'm not sure people have a ton of interest in watching playoff hockey (if you don't, you are missing some fantastic action) but if you're on the fence, Don should be the tiebreaker. He is worth every second. Here are a few of his better comments:
"Cherry, asked about Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Alpo Suhonen, quipped, "Alpo? Isn't that a dog food?"

"I remember taking a look at him and saying ‘Anyone who perms his hair has got to go’. So we sent him to Fort Worth." (On Don Saleski, who he coached in Colorado)

"I've been trying to tell you people for so long about the Russians, what kind of people they are, and you just love them in Canada with your multiculturalism," he scolded. "They're quitters and evidently they take a lot of drugs, too."

“Anybody who says they don't like fighting in the NHL have to be out of their minds.”

Cherry's notorious visor commentary: "Most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys."

Referring to the French translation of the Memorial Cup, Coupe Memorial, Cherry once famously quipped, "What's that? A car giveaway?" Cherry also referred to freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard, chosen as the (Canada's) flag-bearer at the 1998 Olympics, as "a French guy, some skier nobody knows about."

"In the States, they wanted me to go on one time in Pittsburgh. Jaromir Jagr, it was when he had long hair and he was with Mario Lemieux and I said, 'There's Mario and his daughter.' It didn't go over too good. That was my last time in the States."

"I consider my style that of the men of the 1930s, where men had an elegant style, tight suits, tight collars, lots of jewellery, a clean sharp image. I must admit my style has been called foppish, but I like it."
That is entertainment folks. I can't friggin wait.

Craig Forth is the Worst Player in Professional Basketball Player

This picture represents every memory I have of Craig Forth's tenure with 'Cuse

Some have argued that Craig Forth is the worst player in Syracuse history. I wouldn't go that far as Billy Celuck preceded Forth and may have been the worst player ever to grace a college basketball floor, but I think it's fair to say that Forth caused Syracuse fans much angst whilst on the floor. This despite the fact that he was the starting center on their 2003 championship team. He seemed like a nice enough guy (though I've heard he was a complete dickhead) and tried pretty hard, he was just so bad. So I was a little amused to hear that he had scored a spot on the roster of the USBL's Albany Patroons. I'm not suggesting that the Patroons are in anyway an elite squad, but Forth was just so bad at basketball I can't believe he's going to share the floor with players like St. John's Redman, Felipe Lopez. It's not like the Patroons management didn't see Forth play. They are an hour away from Syracuse, they probably saw him play a lot. And it's not like his popularity in Albany is so great that he'll be a "draw." So why is he being offered a job? Can I try out?

Sometimes I'm REALLY Embarrassed to be a Red Sox Fan

"So Carl, I see you took your dogs down to the photo studio, dressed them up in Red Sox gear and paid to have their pictures taken. Pretty cool."

Being a Red Sox fan comes with enough baggage as it is. We have a questionable title (Red Sox Nation). We're supposed to have an accent (I do not). People at Yankee stadium taunt me with shouts of "CHOWDA! HEY CHOWDA! WHERE'D YOU PAHK YA CAH?" Yes, they are a clever bunch. We're supposed to be miserable when things are going well. The team is being marketed like they're a boy band with loyalty cards (Red Sox Nation membership), pink hats, and other ridiculous memorobilia. And with the constant coverage of everything "Red Sox", public sentiment has turned from thinking of Sox fans as lovable fanatic losers to treating us like we're spoiled, pompous.... for lack of a better phrase, Yankees fans. I really didn't think we could get much lower than the Red Sox dating reality show (in production) until I saw this. Pictures of Sox fans' pets in Sox gear. I have no patience for people that do stuff like this. Is there any room left on the Brewers' bandwagon?

Thanks a lot, Don.

Imus should apologize for causing Governor Corzine's car accident

Things are just swell in Imusville these days. A career ruined, a community who wants him dead and now he's partly responsible for the severe injuries suffered by New Jersey Governor John Corzine. Corzine was in a motorcade on his way to moderate the discussion between Imus and the Rutgers Women's Basketball team when the car he was travelling in was sideswiped by a truck. Corzine suffered multiple injuries and should fully recover, but the bigger issue is just what Don Imus has left in his bag of tricks. Is there no end to your scorn, Don?

First, I should point out that if you want a well-written piece on the subject, (as opposed to what I'm about to put forth) read Jason Whitlock's column today. It's about as honest and real a discussion as there is on the subject. Let me be perfectly blunt about this situation (and I'm sorry about getting all serious in this space), the fact that Imus lost his radio show for these comments is absurd. The fact that someone who is paid to express their opinion and push the boundaries of free speech loses his job for crossing that line makes no sense to me. But, at the same time, the fact that he was canned by both MSNBC and CBS was 100% the right move. Once the sponsors left, Moonves had no choice. Moonves is no idiot (he's a fellow Bucknell grad, so he has to be bright). So don't let his his bullshit line about a moral decision based on numerous conversations he's had with concerned groups fool you. Those "concerned groups" were American Express and Pfizer, not the Rainbow Coalition and the NAACP. Imus has made that company millions. As soon as his schtick lost them money, he's gone. And that was what was going to happen. But let's get to the meat of the issue here. Because it really bothers me.

I do not feel sorry for Imus at all. He's a smug, self-righteous prick who--as this week has shown--did not exactly ingratiate himself with his talk show brethren. So don't let what I'm about to say confuse you. I'm not an Imus fan. I'm also not a fan of ignorant and insensitive speech. I'm just less of a fan of what is tantamount to gorilla censorship by a consortium of people who claim to be about personal rights and liberties but instead are ever more obviously concerned with personal aggrandizement. Imus hosted a comedy show in the same way Howard Stern does and Opie & Anthony do and so on and so forth. He has for YEARS said offensive stuff about minorities, homosexuals, women (women especially) and pretty much any other group that finds itself the butt of jokes. His remark about the Rutgers women was ridiculous, inappropriate, insensitive and BORDERLINE racist. It was at the very least suggestive of racial stereotypes. He was wrong to say it and he admitted he was wrong. Now what's funny to me is that it has been suggested that had he instead said, "that Rutgers basketball team looked like thugs" or "they've got the braids and tattoos and look so tough they could probably beat the crap out of me" or something to that effect, that would be ok. Aren't those statements, without using the inappropriate language, suggestive of the same stereotypes but just a little more subtle? Certainly not as offensive, but when you break it down, wouldn't he be saying the same thing? And if the problem is--as has been suggested by the self-appointed voice of black people, Al Sharpton--that the tenor of Imus's statements was more wrong than the actual words he chose to use, why is one ok and the other not? My favorite part about this is that the media--and even Sharpton!--are praising these women for being classy and eloquent and forthright in their response to Imus's comments. What did you expect from them? Did you think Imus was right and these women required our protection because they couldn't adequately defend themselves? By praising them for their classy response, aren't you then suggesting that a typical response from african-american women put in this position would be shaking their finger while they're talking, wiggling their necks and shouting "uh uh! NO you ditn't!" It's like Chris Rock's bit about the praise Colin Powell received for his eloquence ("he speaks so well. He speaks so well! OF COURSE HE SPEAKS WELL, HE'S AN EDUCATED MAN!"). These women have dealt with this situation well because they are bright. They are in college and represent a level of academic achievement matched by less than 40% of the U.S. population. Praising them for being classy only reinforces the stereotype that you expected them not to be classy. It's fricking embarrassing. In fact, I would argue that the line between what Imus said and what people are saying about how these women are handling the situation is very dim, almost as dim as the people saying it.

Lastly, if you're going to direct your scorn at anyone in this situation it should be first directed at Imus, secondly at the sponsors of Imus's show and thirdly at Al Sharpton and the selective political correctness cabal. Les Moonves made a business decision after the sponsors cut bait. Was he going to stick by Imus out of loyalty and lose money? No f'n way. They didn't teach us that in Business Management 101 at Ol' BU. Imus's firing had nothing to do with the content of his statements. Had the statements been so inflammatory, he would have been canned immediately. Getting rid of Imus wasn't cowardly (as was suggested by the esteemed arbiter of social consciousness, Michael Kay). The cowards (if you want to call them that) are the sponsors for being bullied into pulling their spots. If the sponsors made their decisions based on serious moral misgivings, so be it. I can't fault them for that. But they didn't. It was a P.R. stunt and they were bullied into it by people who talk with forked tongues. If anyone should be aware of the dangers inherent to using insensitive language regarding racial issues, it should be Al Sharpton (do Tawana Bradley or the phrase "white interloper" ring a bell, Alfred?). Al Sharpton fights for social justice, equality and for a better understanding of racial issues. Those are worthy goals. In fact, they may be the most serious and dangerous issues facing the nation today. But tearing down people's liberties and constitutional freedoms by means of gorilla tactics in order to achieve those goals is absurd. Al Sharpton has every right to rake Imus over the coals and bring him on his show and embarrass him and whatever. He has no right to say that Imus can't say what he said. Imus can say whatever the F he wants. If you don't like it, don't listen. If his employer feels it's inappropriate and sponsors are pulling their support, he'll get what he deserves. But what Sharpton resorted to was irresponsible. And in fact, if he had thought it through, Sharpton would have been much better served to let Imus go through this public humiliation and come back two weeks later with his tail between his legs. Imus would be the symbol of insensitivity and you could let public opinion determine his fate. If he got canned after that, Sharpton's point would have been proven without him actually having to wave his magical wand of racial mob justice. Instead, we're now faced with the prospect of stricter boundaries on speech, less debate and the inability to take your grandfather out to dinner anymore for fear his inappropriate remarks will stir up the ire of Sharpton and he'll be forced out of his retirement home. If it's social justice you want Al, shouldn't you be in favor of increased debate and opposed to more censorship? Make no mistake, this story WAS about Imus and now IS about Al Sharpton. And that's just the way that arrogant prick wanted it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Real "Myths" of the NFL Draft

Todd McShay of (by way of by way of ABC by way of Disney by way of a cartoon mouse on a steamboat) recently wrote a little ditty intending to "debunk" some perceived "unspoken rules" of the NFL draft. Unfortunately, these "rules" (or "theories" or "myths" or whatever you want to call them) sucked. Not because McShay wasn't correct in his assessment of their value, but because they weren't really "myths" at all. In order for something to be a myth, someone must believe it. No one I know has heard of the "myth" that offensive tackle is the safest position or that safeties and tight ends aren't worthy of higher picks or that cornerbacks are devalued because of the chuck rule. In fact, that last one is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Cornerbacks are valuable because they are good. If you have a great cover corner like a Champ Bailey and you need a corner, are you going to not draft him and take an Offensive Tackle instead because the chuck rule might make the defensive back less effective? If a player is talented, you take him because he's better than everyone else. No matter how much they change the rules, it's still helpful have a cover guy who is better than everyone else. So in keeping with my neverending desire to shoot my mouth off about everything draft related, I'm going to provide people with some actual myths, or at least stupid things that people do when analyzing drafts. So sit back and let my words massage your mind.

Myth No. 1 - Draft Experts Are Good at Mock Drafting
If we were as successful at our jobs as draft experts are at theirs, we'd be fired or incarcerated. In a pretty decent article written 3 years ago, Art Bietz (ironically of reviewed just how wrong the first round Mock Drafts are (in 2003 experts were right 10% of time, or were 90% wrong). My friend is a dentist. If he was wrong (or even close to wrong) 90% of the time, he'd be working in Mexico.... and probably doing pretty well. If you think that Dietz's sample size is too small, look at last year's draft, Kiper only got 4 picks correct and that's giving him the Ngata pick, which he had to the right team at the wrong slot. And that's all that Mel does!. Anyone can learn all the players' names and read statistics from a sheet in front of them on draft day. It would seem the skill--assuming there is one--is in correctly identifying what a team should and will do with their pick. If you can't do that, are you really analyzing anything? And if you aren't analyzing anything, what are you doing? Reading aloud?

Myth No. 2 If you pick the same position in the first round two years in a row, you can never select that position in the draft ever again. Ever.
This "myth" strikes me as the dumbest myth ever. The theory goes that if you draft a position too many times in the first round and it doesn't work out, you should take anything but that position the next year. As laid out in an earlier post, Detroit is facing this situation this year. The reason cited by the experts as to why the Lions can't pick Calvin Johnson is because they've failed in the past in picking WRs. So the logic is that because you need something and you've failed to get it, you should stop going after it, EVEN IF IT'S THE SAFEST PICK IN THE DRAFT? Isn't that the exact reason they SHOULD pick Calvin Johnson? Yes, the Lions need a ton of help on defense and sure their best move would be trading down, but that's not the discussion here. The only thing I'm pointing out is that to argue that the Lions can't take a receiver because they've drafted shitty receivers is insane.

Myth No. 3 - All Teams Draft Alike
This may seem completely logical but the way the draft experts setup their mock drafts almost NEVER takes into account the different ways in which teams draft. Experts usually evaluate drafts in two ways: 1. Best talent; or 2. Team needs. The fact is, some teams just draft differently. The Pats ALWAYS take a defensive or offensive lineman and usually do it in the first round. Now the reason the Pats go that route has a lot to do with the type of value available at that slot, but as an organizational philosophy they tend to load up on young talented lineman and scrap together the rest of their team through free agency. Regardless, every year, the powers that be peg them to take a corner back or linebacker. This year will be no different. The Pats have two picks in the first round and I guarantee you that if Jarvis Moss is sitting there at 24, the Pats are gonna take him even if whichever above-average defensive back they are "supposed" to take is still left on the board. Then you have a team like the Buffalo. They're run by a bunch of out of touch octogenerians and you have NO IDEA what they're going to do, so trying to predict their moves based on team needs or talent is useless. There is no way in HELL they take Patrick Willis despite their dire needs at linebacker. They just won't, so let's move on.

Myth No. 4 - Pre-Draft Rankings Have Value
This probably belongs in the "Draft Experts Stink" section, but I think it deserves its own paragraph. The order in which the positions are ranked will not even be close to the order in which they are selected. Outside of the top QB and maybe some other players who are off the charts (like Calvin Johnson), the player rankings are useless. The players will not be selected according to the rankings and the players at the top of those rankings will not outperform those below them. The truth is a kid like Kevin Kolb is just as likely to be successful as Brady Quinn, and Michael Bush or Lorenzo Booker are just as likely to be picked right after Marshawn Lynch as Antonio Pittman. You always see a guy who is listed as the No. 3 corner or Tackle slip into the middle of the second round and then shit the bed in the NFL while the guy projected as the 7th or 8th best guy gets picked ahead of him and stars (see Logan Mankins). The rankings have much more to do with crunching numbers than actual potential impact. This provides the reader with nothing more than it would if they were ranked based according to height. If you're going to rank the players in terms of value, give us something we don't know to justify it. Do you want to know why Brian Leonard is going to be more successful in the NFL than Marshawn Lynch? I'll tell you why: Because he gives a shit, has a chip on his shoulder and is as unique a talent as any fullback/h-back that has EVER come out in the draft. I don't give a shit if Lynch can run faster and made some linebacker from Stanford look stupid. He's a prima donna, he's got serious character issues and he's a major injury risk. So don't tell me that a kid like Leonard has less value than Lynch. I won't believe it. Anyone can put these rankings together. They don't mean shit and they are as reliable as anything anyone else could put together.

Final Myth - There is any accountability for being wrong about draft picks
This goes for both experts and those who actually pick the players. As pointed out above, there is no accountability for draft experts. They could be a million percent wrong, and they'd be doing the same thing the next year. And I don't fault them for it. I'm entertained regardless. Just don't tell me these guys are "experts" when they are never correct. The greater point is that there is no accountability even for those whose JOB it is to pick the players (the GM for lack of a better title) are rarely held accountable. Matt Millen is pretty much the only person who seems to get any notoriety for making bad picks. Think about it, other than Scott Pioli and the head coach / gm combos like Holmgren and Parcells when they were doing it (and maybe AJ Smith and Ernie Accorsi before he retired), can you even name 5 other GMs in the NFL? The head coach and the player are the only ones held accountable for draft picks and player development. Eventually, even the GM gets fired when there is mass turnover or failure, but that's well after players are released and the head coaches are fired. Why do NFL front office gents get a pass? It doesn't make sense. Shouldn't they be held MOST accountable? I'm not sure if this is actually a myth or not because the idea that front offices are held accountable for draft mistakes is about as believable as the story about Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials dying after mixing pop rocks with Coke.

Maybe these were more misconceptions than "myths" per se, but seeing that McShay's "myths" were even shittier, I feel comfortable with calling them myths.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This should play well in Peoria

Create your own caption!

I am going to give no context for the above photo. If you don't know what's going on, I invite you to create your own caption for the above photo of A-Rod receiving a massage from another shirtless man in the Comment section below. Good luck.

(Photo courtesy of Bernard King)

Jose Guillen is so pissed he wants to fight a bat boy

Jose Guillen displaying his reasonable side

Many people probably saw the highlights on SportsCenter of the confrontation between the Red Sox' Brendan Donnelly and the Mariners' Jose Guillen. Donnelly struck Guillen out on 3 pitches, Donnelly stared at Guillen, Guillen said something to Donnelly and then started towards the mound with the bat still in his hand and had to be restrained and thrown out of the game. Donnelly then went on to (according to Donnelly) "accidentally" plunk Kenjo Johjima on the very next pitch and was thrown out with Guillen. The "bad blood" stems from 2004 when Guillen was benched by Mike Scioscia in Anaheim and the pitchers on the club (including Donnelly) stuck up for Scioscia in the papers and the situation ended with Guillen being traded. Guillen responded (quite cleverly I might add) the next year when the Nats played the Angels by alerting his manager Frank Robinson to the fact that Donnelly puts pine tar in his glove before he goes to the mound. Robinson told the umpires to check the glove, they found pine tar and Donnelly was thrown out, but not before he went apeshit on Guillen on the field leading to an emptying of the benches and a particularly enjoyable manager shouting match.

With that background in mind, it was no surprise that these two aired out their grievances in the only way they know how: through the media. Guillen said Donnelly made a "gesture" and called Donnelly a cheater while Donnelly claims he didn't gesture but has "a lot of antics" on the mound, whatever that means. Pretty standard stuff, except that Guillen didn't stop there. He went on to say that if Donnelly wants to settle this, they should settle it like men. And apparently the way the settle things in the D.R. is by beating the shit out of the opposing bat boy:
"If he wants to take care of this problem, our clubhouses are pretty close, so he can have one of the batboys come get me outside and we can take care of this as men. That's it. That's all I have to say."
Say no more Jose. You're preaching to the choir buddy. Sometimes when I get really pissed off at someone I too want to fight a child. In fact, this whole thing makes me feel better about myself. I'm just glad I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Are the Raiders Nuts? Actually, yes.

This is actually a picture of Strom Thurmond's corpse dressed in Raiders gear taken last week. He died 4 years ago.

John Clayton is now reporting that Calvin Johnson is the new favorite for the number 1 pick amongst the Raiders' front office folk. The only problem is that the old man wants to take Jamarcus Russell because of his arm. This comes no less than a week after Peter King wrote that the brain trust in Oakland wants to take Russell but Al Davis wants Calvin Johnson. So which is it? That's easy: both are correct. You have to remember that Al Davis moved Art Shell into the front office after this past season (he's vice-president of football operations & development....). So just imagine what goes on in the board room everyday when these two brain surgeons are breaking down talent everyday. Here's a sneak peak:
Al Davis: We gotta get this Russell kid. He can throw the ball a mile.

Shell: .......

Al: You're right Art. This Johnson kid is off the charts. He'd be number one any other year.

Shell: .......

Al: Not a bad point Art, we do need a QB more than we need another WR.

Shell: .......

Al: Art, you are a genius. Moss and Johnson would be unstoppable.

Shell: .......

Al: Dammit Art! Quit fucking with my mind. If you want Russell so bad, why didn't you say so in the first place. The guy's got a cannon for an arm.
And so on. This draft is gonna be unreal.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ok Peter, this is starting to get weird

A couple weeks ago, I jokingly suggested that's Peter King was reading my blog and stealing my ideas when he suggested that the Pats should trade one of their first round picks for Lance Briggs no less than 5 days after I'd suggested the exact same thing in this space. King's reaction to the Briggs situation was entirely predictable considering he's a Pats homer, the Pats have two first round picks and King has been all over this Briggs thing since day one. So if anyone was going to suggest a fairly obvious trade possibility immediately after Briggs announced his desire for a trade, it was going to be Peter King.

Flash forward to this past week when I wrote a piece about how I thought it was odd that Olindo Mare was worthy of a sixth round pick while Trent Green was only getting 7th round offers. I went on to note that it was particularly odd that the Saints were trading a late round pick for a kicker considering they stole Marques Colston in a late round and finished by listing some of history's best late rounders like Brady, Sharpe and TD. The Mare trade itself wasn't exactly headline news and had it not been for my daily peruse of's Spring football coverage (Mare is a former Orangeman), I never even would have heard about the deal. So I guess I was a little surprised to see Peter discuss the trade on his MMQB today and take the same angle about Brady being a sixth round pick (actually, turns out the pick the Saints traded was the exact same pick the Pats used on Brady--199). I know it's April and any news about the NFL this time of year will make King's column but a trade about a kicker and a 6th round pick for a Sports Illustrated column? That seems a little obscure for a King column. It had nothing to do with Montclair, Mary Beth, Latte's or bowel movements, so it wasn't exactly "King Wheelhouse." I know that just because more than one person writes about an event that the first person to offer a fairly obvious opinion about that event can't call "copycat" on anyone voicing a similar opinion, but this is now twice that PK wrote the same thing I did less than 5 days after I wrote it. And this wasn't necessarily an event that deserved any attention (I made fun of myself for writing about it and this isn't a Saints or Dolphins blog). So I guess I'm a little curious about whether or not PK is one of my dozen or so loyal readers. I'm not mad at you Petey, just wondering if we're you and I are cut from the same cloth. Because if we are, I'm going to see a gastroenterologist stat!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Calvin Johnson to Detroit at No. 2 is a No Brainer

The guy can make a one handed catch while wearing orthopedic shoes for cripes sake!

In this year's draft, there are two sure things: 1. The Raiders would have to be on drugs not to take Jamarcus Russell; and 2. Calvin Johnson is perhaps the best wide receiving prospect ever, and IS the best overall player in this draft.

Jamarcus and CJ have a lot in common in terms of showcasing talents that are off the charts (Russell throws 60 yards from his knees and Calvin Johnson hit the 45 inch vertical leap marker with ease and could have gone higher except that the measuring apparatus doesn't go any higher). Any other year these two guys would go top 2 without a second thought, but for a number of reasons, NONE of which have anything to do with objective analysis of positions and the like, the pundits won't even consider the idea that Millen and the Lions will select this year's best player.

The way I see it, the Lions have two choices, trade out of the No. 2 slot and load up on defensive talent or take Calvin Johnson and immediately have the most intimidating wide receiver tandem in the league. For me it is clear that Johnson is the ONLY pick that makes sense at 2.

First, the fact that Millen's previous wide receiver gambles haven't worked out only STRENGTHENS the argument to take Johnson at No. 2. Many pundits have suggested that the Lions cannot possibly consider Calvin Johnson because their turd of a GM's taudy WR drafting history. I contend Millen's history only strengthens the argument to take Cal Johnson. Follow me here: if you have no confidence that Matt Millen can evaluate talent properly because of his past gambles, why would you want him to gamble and not take the best player in the draft? There is no debate that Johnson is the best or second best player in thsi draft. Why would you feel comfortable with Millen taking anyone other than Calvin Johnson? If the Lions bypass the consensus No. 2 pick they are entrusting Matt Millen to evaluate the team's needs and find someone better. Isn't that exactly what you want to avoid? Taking Calvin Johnson takes the decision-making right out of Millen's hands and gives the the best WR in a generation. What is wrong with this?

Second, the Lions are not taking Joe Thomas. Let's get that right out of the way. Last Spring, the Lions put the franchise tag on, and then later signed, their standout left tackle Jeff Backus to a 6 year deal. Backus is a borderline Pro-Bowler and had he not been signed last year, he would have easily been the best offensive lineman available in this year's free agent market. This offseason, as part of the Dre Bly trade, the Lions acquired right tackle George Foster from the Broncos. Foster is 26 years-old, started 45 of 48 games for the Broncos and combined with Backus makes the tackle position the only strength on the entire Lions team. They've also upgraded their interior line depth this offseason but could certainly use more depth through the draft at center and guard. They are not going to draft a tackle at the No. 2 spot so he can battle it out for a spot on opening day with two very good veterans when they have so many other holes at other spots and so much talent available in the draft.

Not to mention that while Joe Thomas may be ranked as the top tackle in the draft, you have to be a little leery of a guy who had ACL surgery 18 months ago and is regarded as being an average run blocker. That doesn't scream No. 2 pick to me.

Third, the Lions are not a pick away from becoming legitimate. They've done some decent things in the offseason with the offensive line help and the RB depth with Bell and Duckett, but they are such a disaster defensively that they are years away from contention. Taking an offensive lineman is something you do to sure up a team you feel is just a player or two away from legitimacy. The Lions are a roster upheaval and three years away, minimum.

Fourth, though they may not be one pick away from playoff contention, the Lions are one pick away from being exciting and relevant. Imagine, if you will, Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson stacked on the left side or split to either side. How do you cover them exactly? Most teams only have one cover corner even remotely capable of covering a receiver like Williams or Johnson and that's only if they know they have help over the top. If they take Johnson, the Lions immediately possess the most athletically gifted receiving duo in the league. Every time they line up on the field together a turtle's head will sneak out of the ass of the opposing defensive coordinator. And with apologies to Mike Furrey, who is a serviceable 3rd receiver in the mold of Chrebet, Stokley or Bobby Engram, the Lions could use some help at the wide receiver position. If Johnson is anywhere near what he's supposed to be, just having him on the same field as Roy Williams is almost worth taking the pick. Plus, regardless of what happens with the rest of the picks or next year's picks, you get to have Calvin Johnson on your team--the best player in the 2007 draft. Lions fans have been waiting for something to cheer about for years. This gives them reason to cheer.

Fifth, who else do you want them to pick? The Lions need defense but the top 5 isn't loaded with an "it" guy and with the No. 2 pick you have to take an "it" guy. Other than Laron Landry (who may be a decent pick for them) and my man-crush Amobi Okoye, there is really no one defensively that makes that much sense for them. They have some need at QB, but unless Russell is there, they don't need to rush that position. Plus, who is available? Brady Quinn? He is perhaps the most overrated prospect in the history of the draft, next to Tony Mandarich. Someone, and I can't remember who, explained Quinn's overratedness this way: Would he receive such universal acclaim if he was Brady Quinn, Senior QB - Oregon? No chance. Whereas even if Jamarcus Russell was coming out of Illinois or some other shitstick big ten program, he'd be the No. 1 pick anyway. Russell's appeal goes way beyond the uniform he wore in college. He has elite skill the likes of which has never been seen before. If you were asked to summarize why Brady Quinn is a top ten QB, what would you say? What big win did he have in college? Is he overly mobile? Is he dead-on accurate? Does he have a big arm? Can he read defenses? Under what objective criteria is Quinn a top ten pick? The answer is there is none other than hype.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, if Millen picks Calvin Johnson and it does not turn out well, Matt Millen will be fired. He can't afford to make such an unpopular pick and have it not turn out well. With a wide receiver you can tell almost immediately just how solid a pick it was, whereas if he picks Joe Thomas, the pundits will laud him, the Lions will get a B on their draft card and Millen will make comments about building for the future. That's all well and good but what it does is give management an excuse to keep him on another year to see if that improvement actually takes hold. So what you'd get is an unelectrifying No. 2 draft selection, you don't get CJ and you get Matt Millen for a minimum of another two years while this thing plays out. Is that really what you want? It just doesn't make sense.

Now, I'm not necessarily saying that this is what they should do. I think a team like Atlanta would be willing to give up their 1st, a 2nd and a 1st or 2nd next year for the rights to CJ if he's there. That would give Detroit 4 of the first 66 picks and could go a LONG way towards rebuilding that team defensively. But if Detroit is going to stay at No. 2, there is no one else on the board worthy of taking, and it's not even close.

I'm also not suggesting that this is what's going to happen. Millen is an asshole and is apparently bullet proof. At this point I wouldn't be surprised if we heard Goodell stand up and say, "With the second pick, the Detroit Lions select Daniel Sepulveda, Punter - Baylor." If I were Matt Millen, I'd do it just to see how bullet proof I actually was. It'd be like that girl from Heroes sticking her hand in the blender. Why the F not?

(Update: If you saw the Sunday Conversation with Jamarcus Russell, he threw the ball 50 yards from his ass. Chad Pennington can't throw a ball 50 yards on the moon.)