Thursday, May 31, 2007

Wade Boggs Never Would Have Made It In The NFL

Is there anything Boggs can't do?

When Roger Goodell started disciplining obnoxious dregs of society like Chris Henry and PacMan Jones, I was with him. When he wanted to play a game in China, I could dig it. And even when he got the crazy idea to add a 17th game and move the Super Bowl to some Eastern European country, I defended him. But after this latest move, well Roger, you've just lost yourself a friend. Today, Goodell put out a letter to all 32 teams that effectively banned fun from ever happening on NFL time. Or at least the cause of a lot of fun--Alcohol:
"Effective immediately, clubs are prohibited from providing alcoholic beverages, including beer, in any club setting, including in locker rooms, practice or office facilities or while traveling, including on team buses or flights.

This prohibition extends not only to players but to all team personnel, as well as to other guests traveling with the team or who have access to club facilities..."
I don't want to sound like an alarmist here, but given that this move is an attempt by Goodell to protect his players at least while on company time (in transit or at their place of business), isn't the next logical step for Goodell to start reaching his greasy paws into tailgates and stadium beer sales to protect fans from themselves while attending an NFL sanctioned event? If Goodell's intention is to protect people from the ills of alcohol, banning alcohol on NFL team property or having roaming breathalyzers seems like it is likely his next pet project. I'm not saying post-game DWIs are not a legitimate concern (Lord knows I've never been sober enough to drive after attending a football game, though I've never been asked to.), but when does it end? I'm gonna be looking over my shoulder the next time I crack a beer in my living room while watching a game on a Sunday afternoon waiting for Goodell to knock it out of my hand and suspend my television privileges. And one last thing, Goodell justified the ban by noting the following:
"I believe that no constructive purpose is served by clubs continuing to make alcoholic beverages available, and that doing so imposes significant and unnecessary risks to the league, its players and others..."
Umm, was he not watching PTI when the Boggs revelation was uncovered? If that's not a constructive purpose, I guess I wasted 4 years of college being "unconstructive" or "non-constructive".... or whatever.

Tony Romo Better Keep A Close Eye On His Wheels

Romo was carrying her purse earlier in the night, but right as this picture was snapped he dropped it.

Maybe Tony isn't too familiar with Carrie Underwood's work, but I'd be a little reticent about ditching her for another gal unless I wanted my car keyed and my leather seats knifed like she does to that dude in her video. The all-too-short Romo-Underwood relationship is apparently on the decline. According to multiple sources as soon as Underwood wanted things to get serious, Tony bolted. He claimed he was so focused on football during the football season that he couldn't really commit to a relationship during that time. Yeah, so focused he fumbled the easiest play of the the biggest game of his life because he was thinking about how awesome his post-game press conference was going to be. But it doesn't end there. Other sources have it on good authority that the reason for Romo's cool down speech is because Joe Simpson wants to rekindle the ice cold flame between Romo and his daughter Jessica Simpson. Let me go on record as saying that a no talent ass clown like Tony Romo deserves either of these chicks about as much as I deserve an f'n Pulitzer. He blew the playoffs for the Cowboys, he's a cocky idiot and if not for one game where he threw 5TDs in a blowout against a horrible defense, he'd be one of the league's most average QBs (I'll dive more deeply into this next week). I would love nothing more than for Underwood to baseball bat the bejesus out of Romo's ride. That prick has it comin.

Lost In Translation

This picture has nothing to do with anything, it's just too great to leave unposted.

A-Rod cannot be held accountable for being rude, he just didn't understand how important common courtesy is in Canada. In last night's game, A-Rod was running towards third base between Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark and shortstop John McDonald as the two of them were tracking a pop up with two outs in the 9th. As A-Rod ran between them, he yelled something. The Jays claim he yelled "Mine!" and thus Clark thought McDonald was taking it so he backed off and the ball dropped. A-Rod says he yelled "Ha!" No matter what he said, it worked and the Jays are furious. I've got a couple points to make on this one (the final one being the explanation for the whole matter).

1. Even if A-Rod had stood behind Clark and screamed "Howie, I plan on catching the ball that is coming directly at you so you should run out of the way that ball is MINE MINE MINE and I'm going to catch it before you do so please move and let me catch it!!!!" the ONLY person at fault for dropping the ball is Howie Clark. If you fall for the Ol' "I got it" trick, maybe baseball just isn't your game.

2. 90% of baseball is about deceiving your opponent about what is going on. Do teams get pissed when the second baseman fakes like the ball has gone into the outfield on a stolen base throw from the catcher only to have the basestealer fall for it and get tagged out? What about the pitch out? Is Gibbons gonna complain when a team pitches out and catches his guy at second base? "HEY! THE CATCHER PUT DOWN ONE FINGER AND THEN WAGGLED IT INSIDE! THAT'S THE SIGN FOR AN INSIDE FASTBALL YET THEY PITCHED OUT AND CAUGHT MY BASESTEALER! BULLSHIT!" Get a grip. Your third baseman's a moron. Deal with it.

3. On the other side, A-Rod's post-game comment made him sound much more culpable than he really was. He just doesn't get it. A-Rod admits to yelling "Ha!" while running between the two players. When asked what his intent was while yelling he says, "I don't know what my intention was," Rodriguez said. "I didn't say, 'I got it' or anything like that." Really? You don't know what your intention was when you yelled at someone as they were trying to catch a two out pop up? I mean, it's ok if your intention was to distract him. You can do that. It's within the rules. Here's some advice for you A-rod: When you make comments like that, you sound like you're hiding something. You're like an innocent person accused of running a red light and then lying about whether your seatbelt was buckled. It's ok if your seatbelt wasn't buckled, it's not good but it has no effect on the outcome of the red light offense. But when you LIE ABOUT IT, your whole story seems less credible.

4. A-Rod is a complete moron. In explaining that his actions on the field happen all the time, A-Rod said, "That play happens to me three or four times a week, except it's not at third base, it's over in foul territory by the dugout..." Ummm, that's not the same at all. In fact, it's not really close to the same. When you run towards the dugout and the players in there are yelling at you, you don't mistake them for your teammates and aren't concerned that they are going to grab the ball from you. When you run between two players from the same team and make a comment that could be mistaken as one player calling the other off, the level of distraction is a wee bit more effective. But again, if you're dumb enough to fall for that, well, you're just too dumb.

Lastly, the real problem is the culture difference between America and Canada. Canada is a much more polite society than ours. In Canada, it is impolite to walk faster than a 4mph clip and talk at a volume over a loud whisper (in 1999 I was told it was impolite to throw my "Two-nies" ($2 canadian coins) on the stage of the Wonderland Club in Corwall, Ontario. Who knew it was impolite to tip strippers?). If someone casts a shadow on you in the streets of Ottawa they will immediately turn around and say "Sore-EEE boot that" (that's how they say it up there). They will then take you to the Beer Store, buy you a "2-4" of Labatt and give you a back rub. You could punch a stranger in the balls in Toronto and they'd apologize to you for it. Politeness is really their most sacred held belief. A-Rod violated this tenet of their society and nothing ruffles the feathers of Canadians more than impolite conduct. A-Rod lives in New York, so he can't really be held accountable for not understanding their culture's devotion to courtesy. It was just a cross-cultural misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the Jays didn't see it that way and they dished out Canada's most severe punishment: They stared at him. It may not seem like much, but that is how Canada punishes their sex offenders and car thieves. Next time A-Rod passes third, he should punch Clark in the balls.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Sports Guy Censored" Revisited

This is all that remains of Stokke-mania.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a little ditty about the Sports Guy's blog getting cut by a paragraph after he listed a link to high school pole vaulter Allison Stokke on his site (as well as a disclaimer telling people that they should not click on the link if they were above a certain age. He may as well have told people their lives depended on selecting the link.). It was the most viewed item I've ever posted, narrowly beating the Mel Kiper bit and All-Mediocre team. It wasn't necessarily a knock on Simmons or ESPN, but I did find it ironic that ESPN would kill this item while previously benefitting from pictures of 17 year-old Anna Kournikova in spandex on their site. I know there's a difference between Kournikova and Stokke in that when you are a professional athlete you are purposely putting yourself in the public sphere and as a public personality you lose some privacy rights as a matter of law, but I just found the decision to be a bit hypocritical and bizarre. I'll also concede that I felt a little funny writing about a high schooler in this space which is why I provided a link as opposed to posting the actual picture on my site (though the pic would have received far more hits). I'm not saying I'm holier than thou or anything, it just seemed sketchy enough that it was a line I didn't want to cross. So I guess I can empathize with's plight. Well, after this week's Washington Post article on Stokke-mania, maybe we were both right to err on the side of caution.

If you didn't read the article in the Post, it's worth a read. Basically, the article is an account of the meteoric rise to internet stardom of Allison Stokke and how she and her family are completely freaked out by it. In the article, With Leather's (a fantastic site that should be a part of everyone's rotation) creator Matt Ufford is interviewed and is given credit with "breaking the story" on Stokke. The article doesn't necessarily take Ufford to task for posting Stokke's pic, but given that the entire article is a sympathetic portrayal of an innocent high school senior who never asked for all of this attention, I'm pretty sure the inclusion of Ufford and his site wasn't for the purpose of creating a groundswell of support for his efforts. It's a tough situation because Ufford didn't do anything wrong by posting the pics but at the same time the Stokke family should rightly be a little freaked out that every track meet they go to from here on out will have a marked increase of overweight, sweaty 40 year-old dudes with telephoto lenses in the stands. I'm not sure anyone crossed the line with this and I guess I'm not really taking a stand on it, more than anything I can see now why ESPN chose to rip the paragraph out of the Sports Guy's blog. It's one thing for a site whose name is a reference to a Chris Berman pickup line to post a pic like that, it's a whole 'nother ballgame when Mickey Mouse is supporting salivating over high schooler.

Who Knew The Baseball Tonight Crew Worked So Hard?

I tried to Photoshop Krukker into HR's spot, but it didn't work out.

In Buster Olney's blog today, he provided the readers with a brief rundown of how last night's Baseball Tonight show got scrapped when the Mets - Giants game went into the twelfth and led almost perfectly into SportsCenter. It's a pretty mundane recap of the events but what struck me as interesting was the last line:
So the plan for "Baseball Tonight" on Tuesday was for the show to start at 10 p.m., or when the broadcast of the Mets' game ended, and it appeared for a time that we might be able to start at 9:30. Karl Ravech hurriedly switched his monitor from channel to channel. John Kruk spoke aloud about the Phillies' latest abomination. We were ready to go. Then the Giants tied the Mets, and the game went into the 10th inning. And the 11th. And the 12th. And we sat there in studio, waiting and waiting and waiting for a show that, in the end, never began. Six hours of show prep for … nada.
Six hours of prep? What does this "prep" consist of? Watching baseball on 12 TVs and wagering on how many pounds of food groups Krukker will kill before the cameras roll doesn't really soung like prep to me, but who am I to judge. And why does Buster prep for six hours when he's only going to say about 20 words the entire show anyway? But what I really want to know is when does Buster sleep? If he finishes BBTN at 11pm and IMMEDIATELY hops in his car to get home, there's no way he's home before midnight. He then usually gets his first blog entry out around 7am and that's after reading (or having an editor select for him) about 2-3 dozen articles across the nation. It probably takes him an hour or so to create that blog (though if it takes 6 hours to prepare BBTN, it may take him all night to prepare for his blog), so if my numbers are correct, Buster takes about a 3 hour nap from 1am to 4am and heads right back to Bristol to begin prepping for BBTN again. I hope they're paying you well Buster. That seems a little excessive.

Kobe Wants Out

This should end well

I realize that unlike me, many of you are not able to listen to sports talk radio all day, but what is going on right now on Stephen A. Smith's ESPN radio show is pretty riveting stuff. Kobe Bryant is telling Stephen A. that he wants out of L.A.. He's not dancing around the subject and saying that he could come back if things changed, he definitively stated that there is nothing the organization can do to make his situation tenable again. He said he hopes the organization will do the right thing and get him out of there. With the draft coming up, this creates some absolutely unreal trade scenarios. Imagine if the Knicks still had their first round pick and some of the talent and expiring contracts they let go and didn't trade for Francis and didn't have bloated salaries across the board and didn't hire Isiah. Had that not all happened, they could have really made a run for this guy.

B-Lo To Split Carries With Steven Jackson

I am way late to the game on this, but with all the MMA talk and A-Rod philandering I've been a little distracted. Apparently Rams coach Scott Linehan is ready to give Rutgers hero (and Smittblog man-crush) Brian Leonard 15-20 touches a game. Aside from being the nightmare scenario for fantasy football owners, the move seems a bit curious considering Steven Jackson is an every down workhorse and was a Pro Bowler last year. What makes the move even MORE unsettling to me is that if Brian Leonard is a guy who can take 15-20 touches out of the hands of a Pro Bowl running back on a very good offense, WHY THE F WAS HE DRAFTED IN THE LATE SECOND ROUND? How can a player that talented fall to the 52nd pick while a backup QB like Kevin F'n Kolb gets picked with the 36th pick! It just doesn't make any sense. If a team that doesn't need another running back like the Rams can find a way to get Leonard involved, why can't a team with limited RB depth (Philly) or actual RB problems (Tennessee, Jets or even Chicago) find a way to use him? I hate the NFL scouting process.

On a lighter note, the article linked to above did have a bizarre little anecdote meant to underscore just how well Leonard has picked up on things since he's moved to the greater St. Louis area:

Brian Leonard is proving to be a quick study. Less than two weeks after being drafted in the second round by the Rams, Leonard showed up Friday for rookie minicamp wearing a bright red Cardinals baseball cap. Welcome to St. Louis.

"I'll probably end up turning into a Cardinal fan," Leonard said. "I grew up in New York, so obviously I was a Yankees fan."

So who's his favorite Cardinal?

There was a long pause, and what seemed like a bit of panic. "Hmmm," Leonard said. "I could mention Yankees."

Then, finally, a name came to him. "Pujols," Leonard said.

Nice recovery.

Coach Scott Linehan hopes Leonard is similarly adept at picking up the Rams' offense.
Ummm, yeah. The ability to think on his feet and come up with the name "Pujols" when asked about the Cardinals really has to warm the heart of Linehan. Leonard's a regular Howie Schwab. Good thing he didn't get picked by the Chiefs.

Slow Clap For The New York Post

And things were going so well for the Yanks and A-Rod before this...

I don't really have a whole lot to add to this, but if you haven't read the Post article about A-Rod's late night tryst with the bleach blonde Canadian the other night, you really should. It's got all the elements of a great scandal: Strip club, blondes, two random dudes, the Four Seasons and a late night elevator door closing with A-Rod and the Blonde heading upstairs. This is WAY too good to be true.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Yanks Are Losing Because Derek Jeter Is Not Coming Through When It Counts. (Believe it).

Captain Clutch has been Captain Limpwrist in the late innings of close games this year.

After watching a bunch of Yankees games this year (I do revel in their misery), I couldn't help but notice that Derek Jeter has come up at or near the end of games and not done anything. After watching him fly out against the Angels on Sunday down one with two outs and runners on 2nd and third it really got me thinking: When's the last time Jeter did anything clutch? I mean, the guy is Captain Clutch, right? Well, you'd be surprised. Allow me to rewind for a bit....

You know you've reached certain level of respect when the fellas at the Red Sox Megablog SOSH create a nickname in your honor. For Jeter, it's "CI" (Captain Intangibles). This is in reference to the frustrating argument that Jeter is great beyond the numbers and there is no statistical category that is able to capture his true value. Yanks fans for years have argued that Jeter is "clutch" and makes "big plays" and so on and so forth. You'll get no argument from me that Jeter is a great player and is a surefire hall of famer, but the maddening part of the argument is that there really is no way to determine his value (and don't give me VORP. That is a BS stat that I will get to some time later this summer). Well, the statmeisters came up with a stat called "close and late" that is meant to capture the batting splits of those players that step up in big moments. It is defined as follows:
Close And Late - results in the 7th inning or later with the batting team either ahead by one run, tied or with the potential tying run at least on deck.
Surely Jeter would excel in this category. Jeter should dominate this stat with his intangible clutchness (though the stat itself was likely created in the wake of the evaluation of David Ortiz's MVP value). Well, not really. Over the last three years, Jeter's overall average is .315 while his average in close and late situations is .291. Still respectable but it doesn't really bespeak of "clutch" in the sense that if Jeter's "clutchness" was what set him apart from other players, he should improve when the going gets tough. Well in fact, in the last 6 seasons (including the current season), Jeter has never had a close and late average higher than his batting average and his K percentage goes up about 10% in close and late situations. It should also be noted that in that same time period he has been voted in the top 25 of the MVP voting four of those years (and likely will again this year). Close and late doesn't really cover the exact gamut of the type of clutchness I'm looking for, so I did some digging of my own to figure out what's been going on with him this year. Well, take a look see:

In 2007, I found that Derek Jeter has come up in the 8th inning or later while representing the tying (or winning) run 19 times. In those 19 at bats, he has 3 hits and 1 RBI. With the three walks he's accumulated in those plate appearances, that's about a .185 avg (his "close and late" average this year is .296 and he has 1 RBI in that split as well). That's not very good for someone so clutch. So just how important is that? Well, if he had four more hits in those situations prior to tonight's game (which they just lost by one run, again), they win four of those games and are 25-24 and only 8.5 back. Jeter's lack of clutch is losing them games. A five game differential (assuming one of those was against the Sox) is the difference between a train wreck and a 3 car pile up. The Captain may be the best hitter in that lineup right now (Posada clearly can't keep this up), but he is doing them no favors when it really counts.

It Pains Me To Do This

Making fun of fat people isn't funny anymore? Can someone forward me that memo.

Dear God, I should have known better than to post an opinion on a subject worshipped by people who can't differentiate between opinion and fact. So after my seemingly innocuous knock of the MMA main event (a match which was universally described as disappointing at best), I took some shit from a pair of commenters who attempted--admirably if not successfully--to give me shit for not recognizing that MMA fighters use smaller gloves (though they would argue that they brought up several killer points and those points can be found in the comment section of this post). Well, I was prepared to respond to their critiques via comment, but since I ended up writing so much I decided to create a new post for the two of them. This will be kinda like a Sports Guy Mailbag except I will curse a little and defend myself for calling someone fat. I know this goes against much of the blogosphere's unwritten rules of decorum, but here goes anyway:

Commenter Brian: "Mike (a previous commenter) brings up two valid points disproving your inane blog post."

Brian, I didn't see two valid points based in fact (or common sense for that matter), I saw an opinion. And an opinion doesn't "disprove" anything. My opinion is that a heavyweight boxer wouldn't lose consciousness from a glancing blow to the chin because he is programmed to take those punches no matter if the guy he's fighting is wearing brass knuckles or a fucking goose down pillow on his hand. Like Mike, you Brian are also stating your opinion. I respect it but disagree. Also like Mike, you Brian aren't telling me something I don't know. Argue your point. Don't just believe you are right because your MMA Mag tells you so.

Commenter Brian: "If you realized it before writing that post the gloves MMA fighters use are much smaller than boxing gloves. So boxers can take more punishment than ultimate fighters. Thats not even research you have to do on that matter, its just common sense."

Pointing out that MMA fighters have smaller gloves is like pointing out that NBA centers are tall. It doesn't require a ton of "research." We agree on that. I never said they didn't. Like I said above, I just think Lennox Lewis or Evander Holyfield wouldn't have been on the canvas after that punch no matter what sized glove the guy hitting them with it was wearing (that's my opinion). Also, by pointing out that a boxer can take more punishment and therefore (I'm filling in a few blanks for you) is likely to participate in a boxing match for a longer period of time than an MMA fighter is able to stay upright in his match, you are making my point that a main event boxing match is a better fight to pay to watch because the main attraction fighter won't take a nap 2 minutes in.

Commenter Brian: You write: "Mike brings up two valid points disproving your inane blog post and you choose to respond by attacking his grammar." Then you write: "You made yourself look even more ignorant about the subject YOU posted by completely skirting the issue Mike writes about." Only later to write (in your dramatic concluding paragraph): "If you realized it before writing that post the gloves MMA fighters use are much smaller than boxing gloves." Huh?

Ok, I don't want to feed your fire here but like I pointed out to Mike in an earlier comment, don't call someone's writing "inane" and call them "ignorant" and then write a sentence like that last one noted above. You ever hear the one where the pot calls the kettle.... I'm just gonna move on.

Commenter Brian: "And I love how you say "I normally don't respond to comments..." then follow up with a list of attacks that has nothing to do with the original argument."

Also, when I said "I don't normally respond to comments," that's true. If you read through the 100+ posts I've written, this is the second time I've responded. That's actually factually correct. Even you would have to admit that's a +1 for me on that one.

Commenter Brian: "Someone argues against one of your posts and you go on some grammar crusade, telling him he is fat?"

I'd argue that Mike wasn't "arguing against" one of my points but is instead calling me an idiot for not realizing that MMA fighters have smaller gloves, but that's kinda beside the point. Had you done any research yourself about Mike, Brian, you'd realize that he was fat and his ENTIRE BLOG IS DEDICATED TO DESCRIBING HIS ATTEMPTS TO GET IN BETTER SHAPE. If you think that's it's not fair to knock someone for writing about puppies and their attempts to lose weight, well we'll have to agree to disagree on that one. It sounds like we have differing standards of what's funny. You, for instance, like stuff that is not funny. That's fair...

Penultimately, neither of you responded to my major point that if the best MMA can do is have their top dog take a shot to the chin and get TKO'd in under two minutes, I don't see the appeal. Though I do concede that the event with the multiple exciting undercards is enticing to a viewer who likes that style of fighting. It's hard to market a sport without a star with staying power. In Boxing, Holyfield's appeal was his ability to get back up and fight. Tyson's appeal was that he had the unique ability to end a fight with one punch. In both cases you were likely to get about a half an hour of top notch entertainment from the two guys you paid to see. Even the best fighters in MMA don't consistently stay on the television screen for longer than 3 minutes. I would argue that that's a hard fight to market. If you're marketing the event (as opposed to the main event), you're asking people to pay money to watch a bunch of no names wrestle eachother in spandex. Without good storylines, this will forever be a niche sport.

Lastly, before posting again, please read: this.

Again, thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I Thought MMA Was Supposed To Be The Next Big Thing?

Lil' Mac could've found the Liddell's glass chin quicker than Jackson did.

I'm sure Chuck Liddell has more tough in his ass hairs than I have in my entire body but that "fight" last night was one of the weakest events I've ever seen. Why anyone would pay a red cent to see a guy take a weak right hook on the chin and then fall to the ground like King Hippo is beyond me. The totality of a UFC event is probably more exciting than a boxing match because there are multiple fights and the action is fast and furious, but the headlining event will never compare. The maximum amount of time these fights last is about 4 minutes and that's if the guys pussyfoot around for 3 of those minutes. In Boxing, people receive shots to the chin like that almost EVERY ROUND. Not only do those punches usually not end the fight, but the guy rarely falls down after receiving them. And even if they do fall down, they usually get up. I'm not saying Liddell wouldn't have been able to get up from it, but he lost consciousness when he took that hit and that 1 second when was falling was all it took to end the fight because Jackson didn't hesitate to finish him off. The series of events that ended the biggest fight in UFC history (from a marketing standpoint) was much more disappointing than the Mayweather - De La Hoya fight. The face of the sport crumpled to the ground after taking a routine punch. I'm not saying Chuck Liddell's a pussy, I'm just sayin that if this is the best this sport's got, well that kinda sucks.