Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tom Cable: A Lesson In Underthinking

In one decision Tom Cable proved he's not fit for the job.

Many coaches can be rightfully accused of overthinking a situation but in rare instances overthinking leads to underthinking. Overthinking sometimes involves going for two in the second quarter to go up 9 points instead of 8 or putting on a hit and run with a large struggling lefthander at the plate when your hottest hitter is hitting behind him. If it works, great. If not, you look like an idiot. Well there is a trend in the NFL that has gained steam for some reason and it just redefines the concept of overthinking. It is the late timeout before a last minute kick.

If memory serves me correctly, this move was brought to prominence by Mike Shanahan in a game against the Raiders. He called a late timeout, Seabass kicked it anyway, it went through the uprights, the Raiders rejoiced but all was for naught because the refs ruled that Shanahan had called the timeout just prior to the kick. Of course the next time Janikowski teed it up he hit the upright and the Broncos went on to win. The move was celebrated as genius and copied by every half-wit coach in the NFL ever since. The move is really just an extreme extension of the “ice the kicker” mantra, the effectivenesss of which is purely subjective. Whatever you believe about the effectiveness doesn’t really matter for the purpose of my argument. The real problem I have is that using this technique should not be automatic, and in fact it loses its effectiveness in certain situations that come up frequently and STILL some idiots just use it because they feel they’re supposed to.

During the Raiders v. Jets game this past Sunday, the Jets were down 3 with about a minute left and were being led up the field by quarterback Bert Favor with no timeouts. With 8 seconds left on 2nd & 10, Bert threw an incomplete pass to Brad Smith. This left 3rd & 10 with 8 seconds left and put the Jets on the outside limit of Jay Feely’s range (about a 51-52 yard attempt). After a moment or two of indecision about whether to run one more play to pick up 2-3 more yards, the Jets hurried their field goal team onto the field as the play clock wound down. With the Jets barely able to get into position to kick and Feely rushing in to line up for his first 50 yard attempt of the season, Tom Cable called a timeout a fraction of a second before the Jets snapped the ball. Feely kicked it anyway and the ball hit the crossbar and bounced back no good. On his next try, he nailed it and sent the game into overtime.

Well what does this prove? Not a whole hell of a lot if you believe that icing the kicker is still the best route to go and Feely just happened to overcome it. But I would ask this: what is more disconcerting / distracting to a kicker? Calling a timeout so he can think about the kick or forcing him to rush onto the field and kick his longest field goal of the year in the last seconds of a game with time running out on the play-clock? Call me crazy but I prefer the latter if I’m the defending team. The kicker has no time to visualize the kick (not to mention that Feely stated after the game that he was able to measure the kick after his first try went awry), the line has very little time to setup and so many more things can go wrong when a team is rushed. I know that special teams players practice this stuff all the time and are “rushed” onto the field for every try, but this situation presents some extenuating circumstances that a normal try would not.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m making a whole lot out of nothing but to me this is the perfect example of someone who is unable to make a reasoned decision under stressful circumstances and instead falls back into trendy coach mode. It’s a move that reeks of overthinking on its face but is truly the product of underthinking and a lack of preparedness to deal with every situation that may come up.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"We're" Back! (we = me)

I've been off for awhile but with the Sox in the playoffs and football in full swing (not to mention that 'Cuse is f'n terrible), I figured it's time for me to re-enter to 'osphere. I'll probably start off slowly but things will get going as the leaves begin to turn.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Damaso Marte: Fastball So Good He Can Change History

A-Rod likened Damaso Marte to a Yanks lefty teammate from yesteryear. The only problem is that The Rod wasn't on that team.

I'm not sure A-Rod has done enough in his Yankee career to call himself a True Yankee (whatever the fuck that means), but even if/when he does reach this acclaimed status I don't think it allows him to "we" himself onto the Yankees championship teams of yore. But that's just what old Rod did yesterday when remarking about Damaso Marte:
Rodriguez was very impressed with Marte going after - and getting - Ortiz, which is something the Yankees haven't had much success doing.

"He has pretty electric stuff," Rodriguez said. "We haven't had that since [Mike] Stanton in the late 1990s."
No "we" haven't, Rod because "we" weren't on that Yankees team in the late 90's and Stanton wasn't on your Mariners Squad of the late 90's. It may not be easy to take, Divorcée-Rod, but you aren't automatically imputed onto a team you weren't on because you played for the yanks for a couple years.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Manny: "Manhandling" For Cash In The Clubhouse (Pun!)

It seems last evening Manny was practicing for life without baseball.

Even on days he's not playing Manny continues to be the be-all-end-all of goofy antics. Within his story relating the tale of how it came to be that Manny was not in the Sox' lineup yesterday in Seattle (it seems his right knee is acting up again), Globe reporter Gordon Edes couldn't help himself but add a quick little note about the scene he witnessed in the clubhouse while gathering information for the story:
Before the game, Ramírez told reporters his knee has been bothering him for about a week, but Francona said he had not been receiving treatment, not even for his hamstrings, in the last few days.

"I've just been trying to play it out," Ramírez said while jokingly singing for tips at his locker in the clubhouse, with his iPod docked to a speaker and a cup put out for donations from teammates. "I decided it was time to give it a rest."

Asked if he would be ready for the Yankees series, which begins tomorrow, Ramírez said, "I don't know. I'm day to day at this point."

Daisuke Matsuzaka, for one, was sufficiently impressed by Ramírez's musical talents that he placed some money in the cup.
I don't know what this town is going to do when Manny gets shipped out of here this offseason. No one in sports is as interesting on a day-to-day basis as Manny Ramirez.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ask And You Shall Receive

Wrestler Cactus Jack asks the crowd to provide him with a chair so he can beat his opponent with it. The crowd responds as only a wrestling crowd would be expected to. They throw every single chair in the arena into the ring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chase Utley Fits Right In

Boo? Fuck you!

This is so fantastic I don't even know where to begin. So great in fact was Chase's response that it spawned a t-shirt.

I've ordered a dozen.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Post Tells Brian Fuentes What Team He Prefers To Be Traded To Even Though He Has No Preference

Though Brian Fuentes explicitly stated otherwise, the NY Post declared that he would prefer to be traded to the Yanks.

In an article entitled "Fuentes prefers Yankees", NY Post writer Bart Hubbuch takes some liberties with a direct quote from the top available relief talent on the trade market, Rockies closer Brian Fuentes.

The article discusses Fuentes efforts to learn more about the NY baseball atmosphere after hearing the Yanks and Mets tossed around in the newspapers as potential trade destinations (apparently he called Mets closer Billy Wagner and asked him what it's like to play in NYC). About 2/3rds the way through the article, and having shown no indication that Fuentes was leaning towards the Mets or Yanks (other than the fact that he sought out Billy Wagner), Hubbuch makes a somewhat bold leap of faith as to Fuentes's preferences between the teams:
Given his choice of destinations, though, Fuentes said it would be the Yankees.

"I've never played in Yankee Stadium," he told The Post. "I have no preference, but putting on the pinstripes would be something special by itself."
Maybe I missed something there, but not only did Fuentes not say that the Yankees would be his "choice of destination," he spoke directly to the matter and specifically said "I have no preference...." Now, call me crazy but the rest of the statement in no way outlines his preference to either team ("putting on the pinstripes would be something special all by itself."). In fact, that statement is just nonsense. It offers no insight whatsoever and instead is simply a veiled declaration of reverence towards the organizational history, which I believe all free agents or trade-bait players are contractually obligated to do or else their agents will kill them.

The Post is known for creating much from not much, but how Bart Hubbuch got "I prefer" from "I have no preference" is not creative reporting, it's simply wrong.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Want Some Home Run Derby Intrigue? Let Dustin Pedroia Take 'Em On

I mean, the guy creates lightning with his bat. Can Dan Uggla do that?

Other than Chase Utley, the list of this year's Home Run Derby participants (brought to you by State Farm!) is a who's who of who's who? I mean, baseball diehards (the same people who passionately dislike everything about the All-Star Game from the selection process to the importance of the outcome) will recognize every name and cite with encyclopedic precision their favorite Fantasy Baseball moment of each player participating. But for the casual fan (the type the networks are trying to convince to watch), the names Lance Berkman, Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla and Grady Sizemore have about as much collective draw as Mike Greenberg did hosting the hit canceled game show "Duel."

What the contest needs is something interesting to bring back some of the juice that was lost when Divorcée-Rod™ (trademark pending) backed out because he didn't want it to F up his swing (No big whooop. It's not like you're the biggest player on the team hosting the game in Yankee Stadium's last season ever. I'm sure Mick and Babe would've backed out too, pussy.). With "The Rod" on the sideline, the Derby needs something big (or little) to add a little freak show quality to the event. In the same way the Dunk Contest upped the ante with Spud Webb and Nate Robinson when the best athletes started pulling out of the contest, the Home Run Contest would be much more entertaining if you added people who can do things they aren't supposed to be able to. Dustin Pedroia is that guy.

At 5'7" and about a buck 60 soaking wet, Dustin Pedroia is smaller than many of the bat boys and ball girls in most stadiums. When you see him on the field standing next to guys like Mike Lowell or A-Rod, it's just comical. He's small but on a Major League ball field his lack of size is exacerbated tenfold. But for all his failings in growth, the little shit can hit. In the last month, only 9 players in the Majors had a higher slugging percentage than Pedroia (50 ABs or more). For the season he's got more extra base hits than Vlad, has a higher slugging percentage than many 3-4 hitters (Ibanez, Beltre, Abreu, Tejada and Jack Cust, just to name a few) and swings like he's trying to hit the ball through the wall every time he takes a cut. In fact, baseball TV guys are contractually obligated to mention how hard he swings every time he steps to the plate (oh, they're not? well then why the fuck do the insist on saying it every fucking time he steps to the plate...? Ohhhhh, right... because all national baseball broadcasters are assholes. Well I guess that makes sense.). When you break the numbers right down, Pedroia is about as qualified as anyone else invited to the game.

But beyond the qualifications there are two reasons why Pedroia should be in the event. The first was alluded to earlier: it would be great to watch. Assuming he doesn't just tank and hit warning track flies all day, it would be a fantastic advertisement for the Derby. No one gives a shit if Josh Hamilton or Dan Uggla hits a dozen home runs and no one will talk about it after the next day (in the same way no one gave a shit when Fred Jones won the dunk contest a couple years ago). But if Pedroia were to make a run in the contest or even just hit a couple shots out, a 5'7" miniature baseball player who swings like a beer league softball player is a great watch. And watchability is the core ingredient to the Home Run Derby. The second reason Pedroia would be a great selection is probably even a better one: he can win.

Pedroia wouldn't have to change a thing about his swing to hit a bunch of BP balls out. With the amount of scrutiny recently placed on "changing swings for the home run derby" and the correlation to reduced production in the second half of the season, players are now reticent to swing for the fences in the Home Run Derby for fear that they will tweak their swings and screw everything up. Dustin Pedroia does not have that fear. He also has a great Yankee stadium swing. He's a dead pull upper cut contact hitter. Unlike the other big home run hitters, he doesn't swing and miss and always makes good contact. He's got half the strikeouts of most other guys (and 1/3 the amount that Dan Uggla has presently) so unlike the other dudes he's much more likely to hit the ball squarely when he swings hard. He may not have the power but he's got the consistency.

At the end of the day, if Uggla or Utley or Hamilton wins the Home Run Derby, it'll be another name in the annals of the Derby and a footnote in the resume of those dudes (or perhaps the lead note in Uggla's resume) and whoever planned to watch the Derby before the participants were announced will still watch. If a 5'7" little piece of shit with a 6'5", 330lb swing is announced a competitor, people who had no interest will watch the sideshow, Pedroia will compete his ass off and with a little luck the most improbable home run derby champ in history will beat the big fellas. I'll take that over the entry of yet another former juicing meatstick any day.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Now That's A Photo

That's just a cool picture, that's all that is.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Um Ron, Not Sure If You Noticed But That Rookie Pitcher You Shouldn't Have Put In Is Getting Shelled

Hey Ron....? RW! Ron... RON! Yeah, that guy you just threw into a one run game at Yankee Stadium has an infinite ERA. You might want to start warming someone up.

I don't know a ton about managing a baseball team and I know even less about Ron Washington, but one thing I do know is that you don't throw a rookie into a one run game at Yankee Stadium to face the heart of the order when he's never thrown a pitch in the majors. What I learned tonight about Ron Washington is that he did not know that.

With the Rangers in front of the Yanks 7-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh, a mere 9 outs from securing a sweep of the Yanks on the road, and the 3-4-5 batters coming up, Rangers manager Ron Washington had a decision to make. With Josh Rupe likely out (he'd thrown 2 innings the previous night), does he throw Frank Francisco who'd thrown a scoreless inning the previous night but would've been pitching on his third straight day? Does he throw Easy Ed Guardado, who is more of a setup man than middle reliever or does he go to Jamey Wright, the veteran journeyman reliever. The decision was made a little more difficult because closer CJ Wilson was likely unavailable after having thrown in the previous three consecutive games. So Guardado was the likely replacement (assuming they needed to close). A pickle indeed but one that managers face daily. And with all these options available to Ron, he instead chose option Z: rookie pitcher Warner Madrigal.

You see the thing about Madrigal is not that he's any worse talentwise than any of the above listed options, it's that he'd never thrown a pitch in the major leagues before this moment. So rather than ease him into MLB service, Ron throws him into the fire choosing him over his seasoned veteran alternatives. You can probably guess what happened. Well it went something like this: Abreu - doubled, A-Rod walked, Giambi doubled (scoring Abreu & A-Rod), Posada doubled (scoring Giambi), and then Cano singled leaving 1st and 3rd with none out. Now what is amazing about this is not that Madrigal had an infinite ERA at this point and had just blown his first major league ballgame, though it will certainly be quite a memory for young Warner, but at this point in the game Ron Washington DID NOT HAVE ANYONE WARMING UP YET! Fortunately for Warner, he got an out when Betemit grounded out (Posada scored on the play). But after bouncing a wild pitch to previously hitless rookie Brett Gardner, it seemed Ron Washington had had enough and there was action in the bullpen. A pitch later and Gardner had his first hit (and RBI) and a slow walk to the mound after that, the Warner Madrigal experience had mercifully ended and a very unloose Jamey Wright was rushed into the game. Wright promptly gave up a hit, a walk and a 3 run home run to A-Rod and what once had been a Rangers win was now a Yanks blowout. It may have been the single worst managing job I've ever seen (no apologies to Grady Little who got a bad rap).

I'm not saying Ron Washington and the Rangers could have prevented what happened to them tonight. The Yanks did seem like a team on a mission (a mission to hit terribly pitched balls very long distances) and it is likely that any pitcher thrown into that game would have been in danger. But putting in a rookie to face 3 batters who have combined for more than 1,000 home runs in a one run game at Yankee Stadium may not have been the best call. You live and learn, Ronald. I hope you learned something tonight. I know I did.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Celtics Did What?

If I was fatter and had more hair, this would be exactly what I looked like when I flipped to the Celts game at midnight tonight.

Unlike the rest of New England fandom, I've never really been a fan of the Celtics. I liked Larry and all but I was a Michael fan more than anything (and a Drazen Petrovic fan) as a kid and never really fell in love with the Celts. The only reason I have any interest in this NBA Finals is because I think Kobe is the most loathsome Superstar I can ever remember dominating a sport (at least Tyson was interesting) and I root for ANYTHING to beat Kobe (a speeding car, Russia, Colorado law, the Celts... whoever). So it was with this interest in mind that I tuned in at 9:30 to catch the first quarter of the game in the hopes it would be interesting enough to catch my attention. It was not. I turned to 9:30 U.S. Open coverage with the absolutely INSUFFERABLE Chris Berman numbing my mind after the Celts went down 15 8 minutes into the game. At midnight I turned back to see if the game was over and saw the Celts up 3 with 45 seconds to go. I almost shit my pants. The next sequence featured Kobe fouling Pierce and complaining like a bitch, a ton of missed shots with Kobe complaining like a bitch and an unorganized scramble at the end of the game that reminded me of a JV Girls game featuring Kobe scowling like a bitch. It was very enjoyable 5 minutes and while I don't care what the Celts did or how they did it, I hope to everything that is Holy that they do it again.

JD Drew Is Partying Like It's 1997!

These gals should have renamed their group "Handsome"... Right guys? am I right...? I'll show myself out.

Imagine it's 1997 and you're ripping down the street groovin to a new hit tune that you just can't get enough of from those crazy Brits "Chumbawumba" while still trying to get your head around your friend's suggestion that you sign up for what he described as "hotmail" so you can write to eachother on something called the "internet" (you are gay in this hypothetical world). All of the sudden you step in the street and get run over by a Toyota Camry, 1997's top selling car (yes, the world was a far different place in 1997) and fall into a coma. If you were to awake from that coma today, almost everything you knew or thought you knew would be completely different except for one truth: JD Drew is the best baseball player on the planet.

Coming into the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft (in distinct contrast to the MLB professional draft), JD Drew was perhaps one of the top 10 rated prospects ever to enter the draft. Here are a few quips from 1997 draft coverage (I scooped these news archives through Lexis or Westlaw, so providing links is pointless as most of you won't be able to access them and those that can could research it yourselves):
By all accounts, J.D . Drew is the most talented, most polished player available in today's major league draft.

He's regarded by many scouts as the best college outfielder ever. He's the only Division I player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. And he's simply a wonderful person, says his Florida State coach.


Florida State outfielder J.D. Drew is universally acknowledged as the best player in the draft. Drew is the coverboy on Baseball America's annual draft issue, the can't miss stud.

He put up some amazing numbers for the Seminoles. Drew hit .455 with 31 homers, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. In fact, he's the first collegian to ever go 30-30.

Drew is most often compared to Lenny Dykstra. In fact, "The Dude" got to see Drew in action this spring and came away impressed.

General Manager Lee Thomas and Scouting Director Mike Arbuckle flew to Tallahassee to see the prodigy, up close and personal.

"He's special," Thomas said. "There's nothing not to like. He's got all the tools and he's a real solid citizen."

Indeed. Baseball America rates Drew as the best athlete, the second best pure hitter (behind Rice 1B Lance Berkman), the third fastest baserunner, the third best defensive player and the fourth best power hitter.

Add it all up and it's a classic no-brainer.

The 6-1, 195-pound, left-handed hitter is the Phillies man."
When that guy (you) walking down the street got hit by the car and fell into the coma, JD Drew was the best baseball player scouts had ever seen. But unlike coma dude, the rest of us have spent the last 11 years searching for that JD Drew. What we've received over the last decade has been a mish mosh of injury plagued seasons and top flight talent (see the Drew's 2004 season with Atlanta) that if balanced would lean heavier towards the disappointment than it would consistent excellence. But fortunately for you (coma guy), you've woken up just in time to see what JD Drew was supposed to be and you are none the wiser.

Today, JD Drew is the best right fielder in the American League (apologies to Nick Markakis, Mags & maybe Vlad Guerrero). And to watch him play on his hot streak right now is to recognize just what everyone was talking about ten years ago (and hence what everyone was bitching about the last ten years). His game is absolutely effortless. He plays a borderline gold glove right field, he has an extremely strong and accurate arm (not a Vlad, Markakis, Ichiro gun), he doesn't screw up on the basepaths and is fast enough to get home from second at Fenway, which is a feat. But the real joy is in watching him swing.

When Drew is on (and not getting beat by sliders inside and down) he has one of the most effortless swings you will ever see. His swing looks like Wade Boggs but instead of driving the ball over infielder's heads, he's driving it over the wall. When he drives a ball it just friggin carries. He's a "wrist-flicking" lefty (as opposed to a "weight shifting" lefty like Bonds, Griffey and Papi) and his bat speed is outstanding. Fast enough that he can allow himself that extra split second to see the ball and make up his mind past the point when lesser players are hoping the pitch doesn't catch the corner while their bat skuffs up the shoulder of their uni. And for whatever reason he is completely locked in right now. Since June 1st, JD Drew is 18/36, with 10 BBs, 15 RBI, 15 R & 6 HR. I'd tell you his OPS but it doesn't even make sense (hint: it's close to 2.000). It's just absurd. And it's because of this unreal talent and ability to con teams into unreal contracts that people have never had a whole lot of sympathy for Drew (I wrote an unflattering piece about the man just last year), but maybe the criticism was unfair.

First of all, all the controversy about Drew's initial contract was Boras produced. Even the Philly media admitted as much in 1997 when they flat out BEGGED the Phillies to take him and in doing so pointed out that Drew himself didn't really give a shit about the money:
Drew seems embarrased by the money. He's a throwback. All he wants to do is play ball. But, even he admits, if Travis Lee was worth $10 million -- and scouts say he's as good or better -- well ...

But I do know this. J.D. Drew will be the pledge the Phillies take that they are serious about fielding a winning ballclub.

Please, don't punk out and take a Lance Berkman or Troy Glaus or Darnell MacDonald and then put the spin doctoring on it.

It should also be their rallying cry today. Yo, it's Spike Lee Time. Do the Right Thing. Pick Drew and show him the money.
What Phillies fans love to forget is that Drew was a puppet in Boras' plan to fight the constitutionality of the draft. What every other fan of teams that Drew has played for forgets is that in the healthy seasons of Drew's career (450+ PAs), he's a .290, 25+ HR hitter who drives in around 90 RBI a year. But because he's never healthy and he never talks to the media about his injuries, fans see him as an overpaid prima donna. I don't blame fans for that because I do the same thing when I think guys aren't "toughing it out." As an athlete, JD Drew "deserved" that criticism because athletes aren't supposed to be hurt. But last year, in retrospect, the treatment of JD Drew was the worst by far (by fans and life) and had Drew's story been made public, even the fickle fans of Boston (or maybe even Philly!) probably would've held back a boo or too and rightfully so.

In the beginning of the 2007 season for the Boston Red Sox, JD Drew suffered the toughest blow of his entire career and he wasn't really hurt. Drew's 17 month-old son Jack was diagnosed with developmental displacement of his hips and would require surgery and nearly 2 months in a full body cast. Drew didn't say shit about it to the media and fans had no reason to know about it as they booed Drew unmercifully throughout the 2007 season. To be sure Drew was underperforming, but after moving to a new city and taking on this event, it was probably understandable if Drew was a little distracted (a quote from Drew about the event sums up that theory, "It was hard walking out that door this afternoon," Drew said. "You hate to leave a little guy like that crying for his dad when you're walking out."). By September of last year Drew was the hottest hitter in the lineup and as no Sox fan will forget he hit the game winning Grand Slam in Game 6 and pretty much carried the Sox to the World Series. What was great about that moment is that Drew didn't take the Sox media bait about "vindication" and "silencing the boos", he just went about his business and praised the crowd as he'd done all year. Given what he'd endured (silently) all year, it says a lot about Drew that he never waivered throughout.

So now it's 2008 and Drew is in a good lineup, protected by Manny, he's healthy, he's happy and he's not distracted. To look at him today is probably to see the same guy the scouts saw in 1997 when he was scouted as the greatest college player in the history of the game. If this is the JD Drew renaissance maybe we shouldn't be shocked. After all, if you fell asleep in 1997 and woke up today, you would be wondering what all the full was about. This is the way it was supposed to happen. You'll excuse me if I get nostalgic for a little 1997 love, "Mmmm bop" indeed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hey Coco, Rihanna Left A Message For You

This doubles as the "Song of The Week" AND a great message to Coco Crisp after his absurd performance tonight in charging Jamie Shields. Charging the mound made absolutely no sense and became doubly bad when Jacoby went out with a wrist injury. Coco will likely get no less than 8 games when all he should have done was take first base and let Shields continue to get shelled (it was his fault he was thrown at in the first place and he knew it was coming). Instead he put on quite a show, very entertaining (including a great dodge of a Shields haymaker)...

Will Leitch To Leave Deadspin

Those muffled sounds you hear are the subterranean sobs from mothers' basements across the country mourning der leader.

I know I'm supposed to be studying Evidence (or anything law-related) right now but this news was too big to let slide. Founder and Editor of Deadspin, Will Leitch, will step down as Editor of Deadspin and will accept a position as Contributing Editor to New York Magazine.

The news is bittersweet as the loss of Leitch--who as much as anyone has contributed to the growth, relevance and popularity of the sports blogosphere as we know it today--leaves a deep and unfillable hole at Deadspin but it also gives support to the notion that blogging (coupled with a journalism degree and the succesful publication of multiple books) can serve as a respectable source of job experience for purposes of the publishing industry. It's also great for Will who is quickly moving up the media publication ladder and is as deserving of the success as any fellow in the blogosphere.

Selfishly, I'm sad to see Will go because whoever replaces him at Deadspin (a search is on for the replacement and I will not be throwing my hat into the ring, so Vegas can take my 5,000,000:1 odds off the board) will have to deal with lofty comparisons that cannot possibly be met and my guess is that the site will lose some of its draw and ultimately "fade into bolivion." I hope that is not the case but as these things go the real pull of blogs are the personalities. Will Leitch's mark was all over that site every day and his absence will be felt no matter the effort to walk in his footsteps. Deadspin is the most popular sports blog in the internets and it was Will's imprint that made that happen. I, personally, will miss his contribution to the blogosphere and it's my hope that along with continued success to Will that somehow the blogosphere continues to progress in his absence.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Posting (And Lack Thereof)

Actual footage of my afternoon by my hired sketch artist

Though I'd be surprised if anyone who used to read my shit regularly still comes here anymore (judging by my Google Analytics account, most people come here by searching for an image of a fat guy in front of a computer), I'd like to first apologize for my lack of posting and then apologize for the fact that this will likely continue through at least August and likely through October. Sorry.

Here's the deal: I've begun studying for the NY Bar. And though I originally thought this would lead to a month vacation before I really needed to get my shit together, the Bar course I'm taking (rhymes with Marbury) is a fucking BEAR and requires almost constant attention. It's like I've acquired a newborn. I'm up earlier than I was when I was working I go to bed later, I wake up to screaming at night (my own) and I'm eating soft foods. It's fucking brutal. It's because of this study shit that I'll be forced to effectively "take off" the next couple of months. What that means for anyone still reading is that I'll probably only be able to post twice-ish a week and one of those may be everyone's favorite "Song of The Week". The reason I've been posting those (and I know people don't like them) is because it's really easy to post them and for some reason when I kill a solo bottle of wine I feel like posting them. I'll try and stop.

Lastly, I'll try and keep posting things that really grind my gears as I have time to and hopefully by the time August rolls around I'll be back in the swing of things. And lastly lastly, I'm sorry if you searched for "Grady Sizemore's Cock" and instead got this post.

Baseball Replay Would Be Great But The MLB Is Right To Tread Cautiously

Opening the door for replay review of home runs could neuter the entire roll of the umpire.

I am in favor of using all available technology to improve the outcome of sporting events. With the advent of HD television and the amount of cameras at gamesm, the proper outcome of any controversial situation can be determined in less than a minute via video replay. Add that to the explosion of multilayered media "reporting" on such games, and it's not as though the missed call will go unreported or uncommented on. In this day and age, a bad call is learned of on TV a minute after it happens and opinions as to the impact of the call will be read by thousands within an hour. Before the players are off the field, the controversy will be in full bloom. So it seems absurd that with such an easy fix available and so much unnecessary criticism avoidable, why the fuck doesn't the MLB simply fix the problem and allow video review of home runs and foul balls? The answers are several.

The first point here is that this situation is different than football. Way different. In football, review is ONLY available for "non-discretionary" calls like out of bounds and fumbles and whatnot. Review is NOT available for plays where refs determine if a player impeded the progress of another player so much as to constitute holding or made contact sufficient for a pass interference call.

With baseball, NONE OF THE CALLS ARE DISCRETIONARY (except maybe a balk or check swing). If you hand over the ability to call home runs and foul balls to video replay, there is very little rational way to justify not handing over every decision to replay (major argument against being "tradition").

Here's the slippery slope trajectory: let's say we give replay the ability decide whether controverial home runs are actually home runs. This means determining whether or not they went over the wall, were interfereed with, or hit or went behind the foul poul. That's great. But what do we do about balls down the line that clearly land on or inside the line but are called foul (or vice versa). If we are going to change calls on home runs, why can't we change the call on fair and foul balls? The answer the MLB will give is that determining fair and foul balls on routine hits doesn't generally have as drastic an impact on the games as getting right the home run call. But that distinction is completely arbitrary. The correct call on a double down the line in a bases loaded situation could have much greater ramifications and importance than either Delgado or A-Rod's missed home runs, neither of which had any impact on the outcome of the game. The same rationale for getting right the home run call should and would apply to fair and foul balls. It would take 10 seconds to figure out and would be conslusively determined through the aid of video replay. This makes sense. If we can get it right with ease, why not?

So what then about a catch versus a trap? Or a tag versus missed tag? How about a base runner beating out a play at first? Or a base runner leaving early on a tag play. All of these calls are NON-DISCRETIONARY. The rule definitions are clear and the umps have no discretion to subjectively decide whether the play should go one way or the other. The ball is either caught or it's not and the player is either tagged or he is not.

In all of these situations the outcome of a game could (and has) come down to the improper call (think Don Denkinger. Why not allow the play be correctly called? It would probably come up at most once or twice a game and could be reviewed as quickly as a tennis replay. It would not impact the game's flow other than to allow the correct call to be made and thus to quell the pending outrage. If you can justify allowing home runs and foul balls to be corrected via replay because they can be conclusively determined and the affect on the game is meaningful, why can't you do the same for these other correctible calls (see where we're going here)?

But what everyone is really trying to avoid is allowing an automatic or computerized strike zone. It has become obligatory that when commenting about replay you must also say "well of course we don't want replay of balls and strikes." Well, why the fuck not? The same justification for replaying a home run via video replay applies for accurate determination of balls and strikes via computer. The decision of whether the pitch is a ball or strike is NOT TO THE DISCRETION of the the ump. There's a rule (a clear one at that): "The strike zone is a three dimensional right angle pentagonal. The bottom starts at the hollow of the batter's knees and the top is at a midpoint between the batter's belt and shoulders. If any part of a pitched ball intersects any portion of this zone, the ball is in the strike zone and should be ruled as a strike (unless hit.)" If the ball travels through that plane, it's a fucking strike no matter if you're Greg Maddux, Greg Smith or Gheorghe Muresan. If the technology is not available at present to accurately determine a strike for different heights and body types, eventually it will be available. So at that point, why not use it? The question isn't worth asking because at least in my lifetime that change will never happen.

The reason, I guess, is that for the same reason that parks are different sizes and there's a DH in one league and not in the other is that baseball is great for a lot of reasons and some of that is due to a tradition of "unwritten rules" and human error (for lack of a better phrase) that makes baseball beautifully imperfect. Baseball rewards great players in a way that other players are not rewarded in other sports.

Tom Brady is not going to get a non-discretionary call called his way because he is Tom Brady (unless you count the tuck rule, though that was correctly called and he wasn't really Tom Brady at the time) in the way that Mo Rivera will get an outside corner or Tony Gwynn never struck out looking because no umpire in their right mind would call a close pitch a third strike on Tony Gwynn; he's Tony Fuckin Gwynn for fuck's sake and his eye is better than theirs!

While the game would develop a level of consistency unmet in the current scheme--a scheme that can be unbearably frustrating when assholes like Rick Reed or Hunter Wendelstedt are behind the plate--that consistency wouldn't make the game any better. In my opinion, it would actually make the game worse (much worse) because the game is in part built on that tradition of "earning" the outside corners are earning a close walk through years of proving yourself as a player. There's a certain frustrating beauty to a tight/wide strike zone and seeing how professional players react to it. It's not perfect in terms of "getting it right" but it's a perfectly enjoyable part of the game.

I think where I was intending to go with this was merely to point out how easily the simple position of approving replay for home runs could quickly turn into an all-robot umpiring team. I'm not 100% sure where I stand on this because I am very uncomfortable with allowing the introduction of replay due to the "slippery slope" effect of its implementation. It's just as easy to make the argument for review of home runs as it is to make the argument for review of almost ANY call in the majors. So while the idiot public (myself included) and the MORE idiotic hysterical opinion media (Mike & Mike, Michael Kay & dozens of others) are screaming to the high hills for replay to be used because of recent issues, the MLB is right to be cautious. Though it may seem absurd today, reviewing home runs is a hop and skip up the slippery slope from putting Johnny 5* behind the plate. And clearly we don't want that.

*I'd highly recommend checking out that link. I won't ruin it, but if you haven't listened to the "Short Circuit" soundtrack in awhile or you weren't around for the phenomenon that was "El DeBarge," this will provide a refresher course.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Smittblog Song Of The Week

The song is "Bra" by the 70's funk band Cymande (pronounced Sah-mahn-day). If you think you recognize it you are either are De La Soul fan (the song was sampled in De La Soul's "Change in Speak" from the 3 Feet High & Rising Album) or you remember it from the club scene in the Spikke Lee joint 25th Hour when a young and severely fucked up Anna Paquin is trying to seduce a not-so-young (or hip) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Paquin's high school teacher in the film) at Monty's going away party at the Russian DUMBO club. For my money the second best scene of the film (clearly the mirror scene is the best scene for its pure balls) , especially the part when Hoffman leaves the bathroom after cheddarballing with Paquin and realizing he fucked up. Great scene, great song, great Hoffman. Not much more you need in a film for my money.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeouch, Forbesy!

Reporter Ryan McGeeney was merely standing on the field of competition and attempting to shoot photos of the shot put when he felt something on his leg. Well that "thing" turned out to be a javelin. Somehow, rather than freak out and scream like a girl (as I would have reacted), McGeeney hit the ground and took the above picture with javelin-in-leg. He later described the resulting feeling as "kind of tight feeling in the skin where I could say, 'oh yeah, it went through me,' but it wasn't real painful." Wasn't real painful...? Unless you get your jollies from receiving root canals our ritual ballhair burning, a javelin through the knee is f'n painful. I don't care who you think you are, Ry guy.

Sure Lester Was Great, But How About Varitek?

Tek is often the subject of unverifiable media ballwashing about his ability to "call a game." We may finally have a stat that suggests this ballwashing may be justified.

It is almost impossible to prove that one catcher behind the plate calling a game gives you an advantage over another. You could probably do a study using the same pitchers and the same opponents with different catchers and compare those pitchers' results (compare Posada to the Molina-Moeller combo, for instance), but the intervening factors are too many to prove with any reliability that the results were dependent on the catcher's ability to call the correct game. Despite this truth, you would have a tough time getting through any nationally televised Red Sox game without hearing an announcer laud Jason Varitek for his ability to "handle a pitching staff" and "call a game." They often cite his preparation and tireless work ethic as evidence of this ability as if no other catcher in the league prepares as much as he does (while it's possible that this is true, it's unverifiable at worst and unlikely at best). And while we may never have statistical proof that Jason Varitek is any better at calling a game than say Greg Zaun, there is one stat after tonight's Jon Lester no hitter that should make you step aand say, "huh."

If you watched SportsCenter, you are aware that Jason Varitek is the first catcher since 1900 to catch 4 no hitters. A remarkable achievement and unbelievable statistic given how much luck is involved in throwing no hitters. Since Varitek has entered the league, there have been 15 no hitters thrown and Jason Varitek has caught 4 of them. It's truly amazing that he's been a part of so many no hitters in his career but it does not prove that Varitek is any better at calling a game than anyone else any more than the fact that Virgil Trucks threw two no hitters in the same season is not evidence that he was one of the best pitchers of all-time (let alone the best pitcher in 1952). But this stat may mean something: Jason Varitek has not only caught 4 no hitters but he was 7 outs from catching 7 no hitters(5 no hitters and 2 perfect games)!

Last year he was one out away with Schilling's 8 & 2/3rds of perfect game against the A's, he was 3 outs away from a Wakefield no hitter in 2001 and missed a Pedro perfecto against the Rays in 2000 by another three outs. A break here or there and he not only leads the history of the majors in catching no hitters, he is doubling up the next closest guy. Not only that, but since 2000 there have only been 9 no hitters broken up in the 9th inning and Jason Varitek has caught 3 of those. Of the 24 no hitters or near no hitters since 2000, Jason Varitek has caught 7 of those game. Now that's statistically significant.

Maybe all this about Tek knowing what he's doing is more than mere announcer ballwashing afterall.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gratuitous Manny

I'll try and post something about this in the next day or so but I had to post this video as soon as I could. It will likely be down by day's end (damn MLB and their damn "rights"). But a better video can be found here. Though this play was great, it pales in comparison to Manny's greatest play seen here:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Smittblog Song Of The Week

One of my favorite songs off of one of my favorite albums of last year. This song and "Map of The Problematique" are two of the best non-QOTSA "rock" songs I've heard in awhile. 3 dudes making about as loud and complete a noise as there is today.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Every Thing That Touches Joba Chamberlain Is Blown WAY Out Of Proportion

I don't really get why everyone (hyperbole) is getting so riled up about Joba's 8th inning exuberance but to listen to David Delucci and NY Sports Talk Radio you'd think he whipped his crank out on the mound and started helicoptering the shit out of it. People really need to settle down about this. Simmer.

Here's what I think (move away from the edge of your seat): everyone involved in this imbroglio is to some degrees wrong. The most wrongest is David Delucci. Joba's post-strikeout fist pump doesn't show anyone up. He's not pointing at the guy or yelling at him, he's just getting (overly) excited. Yes he does it too much and yes it's completely contrived and he just does it because it looks cool and now everyone expects him to do it, but it's completely harmless to the player on the "receiving" end of it. It blows my mind that Delucci somehow feels "disrespected" by a fucking 8th inning final out on-the-mound celebration. To pull the "play the game the right way" card here is absurd. But this isn't to say that Joba is blameless here.

With a 3 run lead in the 8th inning of a May 8th game and no one on, Joba Chamberlain is supposed to get the final guy of the inning out. And when he does he should be happy. He did a good job. But how he can possibly justify going bonkers and screaming at the top his lungs when he strikes a guy out in the 8th when facing no threat is a real headscratcher. An 8th inning strikeout is more a time for a muted fist pump or maybe a leg or glove slap (again, subtle). It doesn't get my blood boiling or anything that Chamberlain is somehow rubbing it in to the batter, but what does cause me pause is why he's so fucking excited. IT'S THE 8TH INNING IN A 3 RUN GAME WITH NO ONE ON! This is no time for crazy histrionics. It's like Bill Grammatica going nuts after kicking a 29 yard field goal in the 4th quarter to put his team up 17. I just find the whole thing so unnecessary and bush league.

You win the game or get a big out, go nuts like K-Rod or Papelbon. You strike out a career .260 hitter in a game you control barely a month into the season, you fucking walk back to the dugout and shut the fuck up.

Smittblog Song Of The Week

I'm not sure how long I'll do this but I'm going to start posting some of the songs I've been listening to up in this piece if only so I can have a record of the type of my flavor the month.

Above is Death Cab For Cutie with "I will possess your heart," the long version (also comes in the the 4 minute version. It come off their album "Narrow Stairs" coming out this Tuesday (May 13th). I can't speak for the rest of the album but I enjoy this tune.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Chris Paul Almost Makes The NBA Watchable

When Chris Paul is on the screen I am as transfixed on the boob tube as this kid on this strange gelatinous orb.

It'd be fair to say that I haven't watched the NBA with any regularity since MJ put down his last championship. For whatever reason the league lost whatever luster it had for me when Michael took off. The draw at the time was that every time Mike was on TV something unreal was bound to happen. And then he was gone and no one picked up the slack. It probably didn't help that the year following MJ's departure featured a 5 month lockout followed by 8 years of mediocre play led by dominating big men like Shaq & Duncan, the league just lost the imagination that used to draw me in when I was a kid. If you made an NBA Superstars video of the early 2000's you'd have half an hour of Duncan bank shots and 20 minutes of progressively less aggressive Shaq Dunks. Sweet. I'm told today that the NBA has the most talent its ever had. That may be true but even with the advent of the Kobe / Lebron era (I'm aware that Kobe's "era" began much earlier), I haven't really had any interest in watching. Those guys, while dominant, just lack something that I can't put my finger on (Kobe's luster was lost on me the day he decided to not take a single shot in a playoff game out of spite). Call it what you will maybe a little likable pizzazz that these guys lack... But whatever it is that they are missing is exactly what Chris Paul has; and he has it in f'n droves.

I'm not sure I've seen a more exciting athlete on TV in the last ten years. LT, Mike Vick, Lebby, Sid the Kid, college Reggie Bush, whoever. I'll put Paul up against any of them. If you haven't seen this kid play (and he is a kid at 23 years-old), you need to Tivo it or something. He's in the lane, he's throwing alleys and he's pulling up from anywhere making it look frickin seamless. He may be the most smooth player I've ever watched play... and I HATE NBA basketball (especially the Spurs who feature the least likable group of "stars" the world has ever known).

To put it in proper perspective, it's midnight on a Thursday, I just finished the last law school final exam I will ever take in my entire life (hopefully) and I haven't been alone with myself without a book in front of me for the last 4 weeks. And rather than abusing myself via the absurd amount of fresh porn that has built up in my absence (not to mention that Cinemax is presently showing "Hotel Erotica Cabo 10: Primal Urge"), I'm watching Chris Paul single-handedly keep the Hornets in a game against the best--and least exciting--team of the decade.

Now, maybe that simply means that I've lost my touch and just need to get back in the swing of things or maybe it means there are some things I need to work out in a lengthy therapy session, but the conclusion I've come to is that it means that Chris Paul is watchable to even the most casual of NBA fans under the most extreme of circumstances.

I'm not sure we'll ever see it replace the "NBA, it's FAN-tastic" slogan but for me: "Chris Paul, he'll distract you from masturbating" is pretty high praise.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Julio Lugo Sucks

Mr. Lugo, you are free to go now. Don't make this harder than it is. Just go. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE YOU COCKSUCKER!

After coming back from a 4 run deficit and taking the lead on a Dustin Pedroia pinch hit single in the 8th, the Sox put Papelbon on the mound and were on their way to a win. With a man on (infield single) and no outs, a routine ground ball was hit directly at Lugo. He charged it in time to get the lead runner out and possibly turn two (though it would have been a tough double play). At the very least he had plenty of time to get the batter (Renteria) out at first, and that's when Julio Lugo stepped in and took matters into his cold concrete hands. Instead of picking the ball up and throwing it to a base for what is known as a "force out," Julio decided to kick the ball around for a little while and not throw it to any base for his 10th error of the year. A sac bunt, a productive ground out and a broken bat bloop later and the Tigers had won. Thanks Julio. You are the worst.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Yanks Coverage >>>> Mets Coverage

The Mets took 2 out of 3 from the best team in baseball this weekend and won a great matchup between Johan and Dan Haren on Sunday. But if you read the NY Post, probably had no idea.

Listen, I'm well aware that this is a Yankees town. The Mets often play third fiddle to the whoever the Yanks' opponent happens to be in terms of coverage in the tabloid rags. I'm rarely surprised that the Mets don't get a ton of respect. I'm also aware that at this stage in the season the major story in NY (if not all of baseball) is the struggling Yanks and their awful "rotation." But even for NY today's coverage in the Post was comical.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are the best team in the majors. Their big time offseason acquisition was Dan Haren. The Mets are the consensus pick to take the NL East and are most folks pick to get to the World Series. The acquisition of Johan Santana is the reason for the hype. Yesterday, in the rubber game of what is likely to be the NL Championship matchup (I'm assuming the Cubs will blow it at some point), Dan Haren squared off with Johan Santana. The game did not disappoint. 2-2 into the ninth with a 9th inning error deciding the game and the Mets coming out victorious thus stealing the series in AZ. A pretty big story and a huge confidence boost for the Mets. In the NY Post today, there was one article. One. The back page of the Post, the Yankees' back-and-forth journeyman Darrell Fucking Rasner. Inside the Post, 5 articles about the Yanks. FIVE TO ONE! The Yanks touched up the last place Ms 4th pitcher at home and got 5 articles. The Mets best pitcher pitched great and the Mets won in a dramatic last inning and there is a single fucking mention! What a fucking disgrace.

I know that the Yanks are a much more interesting story even when they are average (or especially when they are average) than the Mets are when they're good, but the Mets are going to stay baseball relevant deeper into the season than the Yanks will. So I don't know, maybe you want to familiarize yourselves and the public with what's going on with them?

PETA Takes On Horse Racing With An ABSURD Argument

According to the reasonable folks at PETA, Horse Racing is on par with dogfighting.

I'm not sure this is even worthy of a response because unlike a surprisingly large portion of Americans (according to a poll, 60% of Americans feel that thoroughbred horses are mistreated) my readers are all probably in agreement here, but it's strikes me as so ridiculous that I feel I have to respond.

Taking advantage of the publicity of the death of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby yesterday, the folks at PETA have come out in support of horses. Here is a portion of the statement released:
PETA is calling for the immediate suspension of jockey Gabriel Saez—who whipped Eight Belles mercilessly as she came down the final stretch, no doubt in agony from two front legs that were about to snap.
Now, a couple things strike me about this portion of the quote and I'll hit them first before I post and respond to the most offensive portion. Firstly, as was pointed out in several places today including Tirico and Van Pelt's radio show, if their problem with the jockey Saez is that he whipped the horse "mercilessly" (not sure I agree with the word choice, but I'm no Buzz Bissinger so I'll relent in that critique), why did they single him out? Didn't every jockey whip their horses? I understand that I'm being a little picky as I'm sure the response from PETA would be that their first choice would be to get rid of horse racing altogether, but the fact that Saez was singled out strikes me as very odd.

Secondly, the folks at PETA seem to be suggesting that the injury was preventable. And not in the sense that it would have been prevented had the horse never been involved in racing in the first place. They suggest that the horse was in agony on the final stretch because her legs were "about to snap." Now, I'm no Equilogist (nor am I a veterinarian) and I wasn't in the room when they carved up the poor lady, so I really can't speculate on the cause of the injuries, but apparently if you are a PETA member you can simply know by watching the race that horse was running in such a way that her legs were essentially matchsticks waiting to be snapped. Now how on fucking earth could a reasonable human being come to that conclusion when that horse finished fucking second at the fucking Kentucky fucking Derby (if she were in a ton of pain on the back stretch, me thinks she may have slowed a touch). It's not only blatant and baseless conjecture on the part of the PETA folks, it's so illogical as to undermine their greater point. In order to sustain this line of argument, EVERY FUCKING HORSE WOULD BREAK THEIR LEGS AND DIE. But this isn't the best part so I'm moving on.

Here was the most unsettling portion of the statement:
Despite the wealth associated with thoroughbred racing, for the horses—most of whom end up broken, cast off, or sent to Europe to be killed for the dinner table—it's a dirty business and no better than dogfighting.
I'll start by saying that I'm not going to even address the suggestion that Germans are eating horses or turning them into coffee tables (the quote could really be taken either way) as it really has nothing to do with anything. The part I want to get to is the Horse Racing = Dogfighting.

First, shut the fuck up. This is stupid. The PURPOSE of putting dogs in a ring together is for one to injure or kill the other. The unintended consequence of horse racing is injury. And because horses suffer so greatly from the recovery process associated with these injuries (or die anyway through infection or circulation problems), the humane treatment for these injuries is euthanasia. In dogfighting, the dogs get the shit kicked out of them in order to ready them for fights. Many die in training. Thoroughbred horses are perhaps the most pampered animals on earth next to the Kobe Beef Cattle. They are well fed, well bred and get to run around as much as they want. Dogfighting and horse racing couldn't be less comparable on so many levels. So while choosing a brutal sport involving animals that was recently in the news is clever and gives the reader a nice visual comparison, the analogy is so off that it just serves to discredit your greater argument. You can't make outrageous statements like this and expect me to take your greater point seriously. Any chance you had at convincing me that you have the capacity to be reasonable is out the door because my eyes are rolling.

You see, if you want to make the argument that the governing body of horse racing needs to take a look at this incident and see if the horse was ill prepared or the maybe horses today should be better tested prior to a race or whatever, that's fine. Who knows, those concerns may even be legitimate. But if it's the public's support you want, quit reaching into your case of crazy and making statements that are not intended to inform but are instead intended to scare people into taking your side. It cheapens your argument and loses your grip on anyone who would even consider taking your side. I have no idea if thoroughbred horses are being mistreated or if Eight Belles' death could have been avoided (I have my suspicions that this couldn't be farther from the truth) and because of the public deaths the last couple of years I'm almost willing to listen to arguments suggesting that something is amiss. But when the people who have taken it upon themselves to speak on behalf of the animals rid themselves of facts in favor of fear mongering and outrageous headline making, you lose all credibility with me.

Will Jones: Fat Kid Cardio

This feels a little contrived but it's awfully funny. It also reminds me of a younger version of a friend of mine, so that makes it extra funny for me.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ol' Buzz Bissinger Finds Deadspin's Will Leitch New & Scary, And Then Proceeds To Lose His Mind

I've posted the video in its entirety below but given that you come to my site, see a headline and then see a picture associated with that headline, I wanted to properly capture in picture the type of old angry media guy that Buzz Bissinger symbolized in his appearance on HBO's Costas Now last night. If you closed your eyes while listening to what Buzz had to say, this would accurately depict the picture in your head of the guy saying what was said(if you open your eyes, he looks like a crazed John Malkovich character with horrendous posture). But I'm getting ahead of myself...

For those who don't know, Bob Costas has a show on HBO that involves him taking on "sports" topics in front of a live audience with several panels of guests at 15+ minute intervals. The concept of the show is not a bad one and at least on the first day Costas had some compelling characters from all across the sports landscape (though 15 minutes was never enough to fully delve into any of the sometimes weighty subject material). On his first show, he took on "Sports & The Media" and brought on major players like Chris "Maddog" Russo (who was unapologetic and fantastic), Mitch Albom, Joe Buck & Dan Patrick, just to name a few. And while all that was fairly entertaining, the main event, surprisingly, was a heated battle between an enraged Buzz Bissinger and a cornered Will Leitch (with Costas playing the role of "piler on" over the "moderator role" it seemed the show intended and Braylon Edwards for some reason shoved into the mix) regarding the utility of the blogosphere. And almost before Leitch could get a word out (the first question was posed to him), Bissinger went bananas leading a sporadic profanity laced tirade that lasted several minutes. Predicably, Bissinger's beef involved your typical anti-blog cliches: no credentials, no ethics, no oversight, and no regard for traditional standards of journalism (oddly, only mom's basement was spared critique). Bissinger was not done there though, in a humorous moment, Buzz attempted to call out Leitch for not having read a random sports writer (WC Heinz, who Buzz feels is one of the greats of all-time) only to learn that Leitch had in fact read Heinz's most famous work, "The Professional." In a conversation wont of comedy, this was the high point.

Bissinger's biggest gripe, it would seem, is that blogs are poorly worded, grammatically incorrect and profanity laced drivel that add nothing to the conversation and only serve to humiliate and denigrate the poor unsuspecting athlete. And the man has a point, which is exactly why I don't understand why he gives such a damn. Much of the funniest stuff on the sports blogs is often the seedier side of sports. Whether it be Bronson Arroyo in a Northeastern dorm room, Santonio Holmes nude in the shower or stories of a Chris Berman pick-up line, these pictures & tales add very little to the greater conversation regarding the respective sports. Their only utility is entertainment at the expense of the athlete... and that's ok. What's more, it shouldn't bother members of the media one iota because this is the one area of sports coverage that the blogosphere is not stealing from main stream media ("MSM"). But beyond that, this tired argument suffered from the same misinformation and fear-mongering that permeates any discussion regarding the medium when a member of mainstream media is involved in the discussion BECAUSE NONE OF THEM HAS EVER READ A BLOG (Bissinger said that he doesn't read Deadspin but he "watched it" the day prior to the Costas show).

Here's what so enrages me about the arguments from MSM regarding blogs (or at least one of the major things): the main argument is that "many" blogs specialize in either hateful, untruthful or poorly written crap that is neither informative or interesting, so it shouldn't be read. In making this argument they cite no actual evidence of such postings and are likely relying on the good word of fellow curmudgeons who spout off the accusations via fountain penned letter and fire it off via telefax machine. If only they would take the time to look, they would find plenty of poorly worded and illogically formed sports arguments/opinions (hell, just check the archives of this site).

In an effort to make this argument yesterday, Bissinger and Costas assaulted Leitch with excerpts from Leitch's own site (though none of his actual writing, which was probably too well written for the argument to be made) and pointed out how vile and inappropriate the posts were. Bissinger went bananas, excoriating Leitch as if he were pushing crack on 8 year-olds for a living. But as Leitch so aptly pointed out, "these blogs" that Costas and Bissinger were referring to, if not well written or interesting, disappear. If there was a blog out there that started false rumors about female bowlers through the posting of a series of run-on sentences, people wouldn't read it. That may not prevent the uninteresting and grammatically improper untruths from being posted, but it would dampen their effectiveness. And if these folks were to look in the mirror they'd realize that THIS IS THE EXACT SAME WAY EVERY OTHER PUBLICATION / MEDIA OUTLET IS JUDGED. People write and say crazy shit ALL THE FUCKING TIME (check out the UFO or Al Franken / Ann Coulter sections of the bookstore) and if it's uninteresting or untruthful, it will go away (sometimes in a lawsuit). If people in talk radio can't stay on topic or formulate a sentence, people will stop listening. Simply because there are bad blogs out there (whatever your definition of "bad" happens to be) does not mean that the medium is plagued with badness. I don't think Bob Costas sucks because Brian Baldinger sucks. The same holds true for online sports opinion makers.

What's most amazing to me is that after having made these arguments for the last couple of years, MSM has failed to realize A. that the two mediums can co-exist (well, in fact. So well that it reminds me of a great scene from the film Accepted, the transcript of which you can find in the below post) and B. that in this time they haven't read any of the stuff on the internet yet they are for some reason so angry about it (this is especially so with Bissinger who is absolutely incensed but has never read a blog). The first point is what I think is most lost on MSM. As Leitch mentioned in the intro to the Shawshank style laundry room A-Raping with Costas playing the role of Boggs "discussion", people don't get the story of last night's game from the paper any longer. That information is too easily accessible and pawing through 8 paragraphs of game story that leaves out some of the most important portions of the game untouched in an ink bleeding newspaper is not worth the trouble. This is especially true now that you can get the information in so many different ways. If you want to learn about tonight's Red Sox game tomorrow, you've got a game thread on SOSH, the play-by-play on or or wherever. If you want to know what decisions affected the game you've got literally dozens of blogs and message boards across the nation to give you the information. Why the fuck do I need to listen to Dan Shaughnessy tell me why he thought the game went awry (or not awry, which he never writes about). I don't. I need the boxscore and a little information if something crazy has happened. I can find that through my trusted blogging friends. I don't need a sports writer to tell me about the game.

Where sports writers do help is in stories that bloggers just can't get. Soon to be former Boston Globe writer Gordon Edes wrote a fantastic short expose' on the life of a middle reliever (the story focused on the travails of Bryan Corey and was a really interesting look at the crazy lifestyle of a middle reliever and his family with the constant call ups and DFAs. Worth the read if you have a moment). In order to write this kind of story, you have to have the creativity to come up with it and the access to contact Bryan Corey and not receive a restraining order in the mail following that contact. Sports writers have this and Gordon Edes is one of the better ones. If Sports writers took the time to write slice of life articles or were relevant enough to write opinion articles that were able to gain the trust of the reader (either online or in paper), then that would be great. But it would never dull my desire to get my information from people my own age who may have a funny take on the exact same game/episode/play that can't be printed in a PG media format. And herein lies the problem.

It seems to me that we the media consumers have always had the desire to have it "all." Before the internet, "all" meant a max of two competing newspapers with 3 articles about your team a day each and perhaps an article about your team in SI or The Sporting News. "All" also included a short blip in the local newscast about your team usually featuring the final score and maybe a nugget about your team's star player if it were particularly newsworthy. It wasn't that we didn't have a capacity or desire to know more about our team in that game or otherwise, it was simply that it wasn't available in an easily accessible format (other than the local establishment). You think people wouldn't have eaten up a publication that featured drunken pictures of Mickey Mantle at local bars or Joe Namath spouting off to a fan? If it were easy to publish and display those snippets of information in the hopes that thousands of people could access it for virtually on cost, the sports consuming populace would have eaten it up. Today we have all that and more. We have opinions about opinions and pictures of every athlete in every compromising situation as well as funny takes on even the most mundane sporting events (daily!). And the reason all of this is available (and I think this gets lost in many of the arguments) is that the people putting this stuff out there, for the most part, are doing it for free in their spare time. Their only interest is to entertain the faceless masses (or perhaps catharsis in some cases). They are not doing it to gain revenue or acclaim and thus are unconstrained by corporate overseers and the filters they present. This is good and bad. It's good in that you can now get a take on anything you want. You can find people who agree and disagree with you on almost any subject. It's interesting and engaging. The bad can sometimes mean that people go too far and post hateful and inappropriate material. The difference, in both cases, over today and yesteryear is that the access to both the good and bad is almost infinite. And thus the consumer is responsible for filtering the information and deciding for themselves what they will allow themselves to be swayed by. And THIS to me is where the greatest fault of the MSM lies (that's probably the third time I've noted their "greatest fault" but I'm too tired to correct it... lazy irresponsible blogger).

Buzz Bissinger and Bob Costas think you and I are idiots. They think that when we read fake rumors (redundant?) on Pro Football Talk or ugly message board vitriol that we cannot distinguish it from the truth nor do we have the ability to accurately discern how to react and form our own opinions. This is what the MSM used to do. If there was a rumor out there, they'd vet it and provide us with their best guess. If there was a statement made by a player or an action that was sure to cause a fan response, the sports writer used to tell us how to react. Today we have 50 people explaining what to believe about rumors. Today we have thousands of people explaining how we should react to polarizing sports subjects and because of that we have hundreds of different ways to react. I make up my own mind about how to react and sometimes I share it. If my opinion or take on it is in any way similar to yours it may or may not help you shape your opinion. You don't have to agree with with me but you may appreciate my perspective. So why is that bad? Why shouldn't the marketplace of ideas govern how opinions are made. The more the merrier I say. And because no one's opinion is more important than others, if the only complaint from MSM is that my syntax and sentence structure is poor, you can fucking sue my 4th grade teacher. She sucked anyway (clearly). But to argue that the blog provides a dangerous forum for unapproved opinions because of poor grammar or unimaginative writing is insane (not to mention irrelevant given the MSM alternatives out there today).

Look, Bissinger has a point. If F. Scott Fitzgerald were writing the game story for the Sox every day, I'd be a loyal reader and probably wouldn't need to watch SportsCenter to know what happened the night before (and even then I'd read SOSH to learn if Tito had properly subbed Coco for Ellsbury against McGowan). Sadly, we don't have a Fitzgerald or even a Joe Heller (who would've been a FANTASTIC sports blogger). Instead we're stuck with Fuck Stick Marriotti writing about sports and smug pricks like Bissinger explaining to us how the game should be enjoyed. I share nothing in common with these two assholes and their perspective on the games is meaningless to me. There are people out there who from their couch can give me more relevant insight into a sporting event for free than any classically trained journalist ever has, and for that I feel lucky.

I'm sorry old balls journo dude, I have a high capacity for consuming fan perspective blog posts and dick jokes. Lots and lots of dick jokes.

Here's the Bissinger - Leitch debacle:

Speech From Accepted

(Ed. Note: The transcript of the portion of the speech I referred to above from the film "Accepted" featuring Justin Long and Jonah Hill.

Bartleby Gaines: Nah, I'm not going to answer your question, 'cause you guys have already made up your minds. I'm an expert in rejection, and I can see it on your faces. And it's too bad that you judge us by the way we look and not by who we are. Just because you want us to be more like them when the truth is we're not like them. And I am damn proud of that fact. I mean, Harmon College and their - and their 100 years of tradition. But tradition of what? Of hazing kids and humiliating anyone who's a bit different? Of putting so much pressure on kids they turn into these - these stress freaks and caffeine addicts.

Dean Van Horne: Your phony school demeans real colleges everywhere!

Bartleby Gaines: Why? Why can't we both exist? Huh? You can have your grades, and your rules and your structure and your ivory towers, and then we'll do things our way. Why do we have to conform to what you want?

Dean Van Horne: Your curriculum is a joke, and you, sir, are a criminal.

Bartleby Gaines: You know what? You're a criminal. 'Cause you rob these kids of their creativity and their passion. That's the real crime! Well, what about you parents? Did -did the system really work out for you? Did it teach you to follow your heart, or to just play it safe, roll over? What about you guys? Did you always want to be school administrators? Dr. Alexander, was that your dream? Or maybe no, maybe you wanted to be a poet. Maybe you wanted to be a magician or an artist. Maybe you just wanted to travel the world. Look, I - I - I - I lied to you. I lied to all of you, and I'm sorry. Dad, especially to you. But out of that desperation, something happened that was so amazing. Life was full of possibilities. A - and isn't that what you ultimately want for us? As parents, I mean, is - is that, is possibilities. Well, we came here today to ask for your approval, and something just occurred to me. I don't give a shit. Who cares about your approval? We don't need your approval to tell us that what we did was real. 'Cause there are so few truths in this world, that when you see one, you just know it. And I know that it is a truth that real learning took place at South Harmon. Whether you like it or not, it did. 'Cause you don't need teachers or classrooms or - or fancy highbrow traditions or money to really learn. You just need people with a desire to better themselves, and we got that by the shit at South Harmon. So you can go ahead, sign your forms, reject us and shoot us down, and do whatever you gotta do. It doesn't really matter at this point. Because we'll never stop learning, and we'll never stop growing, and we'll never forget the ideals what were instilled in us at our place. 'Cause we are SHIT heads now, and we'll be SHIT heads forever and nothing you say can do or stamp can take that away from us! So go!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Max Kellerman Pilfers The Sports Guy's Idea, Page 6 Eats It Right Up

Sadly, I don't think Max Kellerman fears prosecution as intra-ESPN theft is a victimless crime.

I do not like Max Kellerman. I don't like his radio program or his overly precise consonant annunciation (if you listen to his radio commercials, you know what I'm talking about) and I especially don't like that he sipped the "Boeheim" shot (5 parts vodka, 1 part orange soda in a tumbler) we bought him at Rathbones only to leave it unfinished (and later laughed at me when I drunkenly suggested that the Blue Jays would win a pennant in the next 4 years, fucking prick). When his show comes on 1050am radio at 10am every morning, I turn the radio off and switch to the webcast of Cowherd's show out of Austin, Texas. For some reason I derive great joy from making this switch every day. So it is with great pleasure that I point out that Kellerman blatantly stole--and is now publicly receiving credit for--Bill Simmons' celebrity news Fantasy Game.

In today's New York Post, Page 6 notes that Max Kellerman "created" a game akin to fantasy football for the gossip pages:
"April 26, 2008 -- YOU'VE heard of fantasy football and fantasy baseball, where fans assemble all-star teams which compete based on their players' statistics over the course of the season. Well, last year, the people at the Kellerman and Kenny Show at 1050 ESPN Radio came up with a Page Six version of the game. Three partnerships held their draft on yesterday's show."
Of course, if you've read any of the Sports Guy's material over the last couple of years, you'd know that he came up with this exact same concept a full year earlier:
"So (Posted May 9, 2006) I'm going to create an Us Weekly fantasy league just for her. It's a million-dollar idea that could make me rich, if I weren't too dumb to figure out how to trademark it. More important, it will save my marriage. I can't afford to get divorced, it's way too expensive.

Here's how it works: 10 teams, auction format, $200 cap, five male and five female celebs per roster. Scoring is head-to-head for 22 weeks, playoffs over the last three (so you can have two seasons per year). OK, let's say you pay $55 for that chain-smoking tramp Lindsay Lohan. If she makes the cover of Us, you get 10 points (three for the inset photo). Every other Lohan picture inside is worth one. If she appears in the "Fashion Police," you're docked three. That's it. Simple. You can add or drop your celebs each Monday. Like maybe you want to dump Jake Gyllenhaal (because the whole "Brokeback" thing has played out) and grab Josh Hartnett (because he's dating Scarlett Johansson). Then again, you might want to hang on to Gyllenhaal. He's single and his number might be up in the Lohan deli line."
Now I will say that I'm not 100% sure that Kellerman didn't pay homage to Simmons when he suggested the game on-air last year (though judging by his shot-taking decorum, I'm guessing he didn't say shit), but regardless it's a pretty shitty situation for one of ESPN's own to get credit for the other's idea in such a public forum. I'm sure this is not lost on Simmons and I'm sure he'll take a half-assed and passive-aggressive "swipe" at Kellerman on his podcast at some time when the issue has fully blown over (similar to his "Obama" mention during the Eisen podcast), though of course no one will ever fully acknowledge that there's any bad blood because ESPN's dirty laundry never sees the light of day .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For Some Reason The NFL Draft Seems Awfully Lame This Year

If you have any questions about the definition of the word "lame," these guys could probably point you in the right direction.

Normally I am friggin geeked for the NFL Draft by the Thursday before the big day. I've read every mock draft and reviewed them with a fine toothed comb (making witty comments to myself like, "you idiot Don Banks, there's no f'n way Rodgers-Cromartie falls out of the top ten. This isn't the CFL draft!" And I laugh and I laugh...) and have listened to enough of Mel Kiper's predictable speaking cadence that I can finish his sentences with proper voice inflection. This year I'm just not all that into it. I don't know whether it's the teams at the front of the draft or the players coming out, but for some reason this draft just lacks a certain umph.

My guess is that the reason the Draft is lacking this year is because the players at the front of the draft are completely unknown quantities. The only one anyone really has any familiarity with is Darren McFadden and he's not even in the discussion at 2 or 3. Instead we've got a the Tyler Hansborough of D Ends (gritty, motor guy with a big heart) and one of the most talented D lineman in recent memory whose limbs are apparently constructed out of wet toilet paper. Even the top QBs don't have a ton of marquee value because none of them (other than my draft favorite, Chad Henne) are from programs anyone's ever watched. The WRs suck the RBs have a ton of depth (all the way through Mike Hart who is projected in the 4th/5th) and the real playmakers (like DeSean Jackson and Aqib Talib) have been red flagged to death. Other than Chris Long and Jerod Mayo, there's not a player in this draft that people seem to like. I hate to admit it but we may have reached our saturation point for NFL Draft information. There's so much out there about these kids that when the Pats pick their guy, I'll be so confused as to how to feel that I'll probably be emotionless. All that being said, it won't stop me from picking my over and underrated guys in this draft and project the first 15. While I didn't do too badly picking the over and underrated guys (in fact, I was f'n dead on) I sucked at picking the draft last year but I still enjoyed it so I'm doing it again. Here goes something....

1. Glenn Dorsey - if he's healthy, he's Warren Sapp. He's never healthy.
2. Vernon Gholston - Mike Mamula says hello.
3. Devin Thomas - JuCo kid with 6 catches in 2006. One year at Mich. St. and he's a first rounder?
4. Limas Sweed - Mike Williams part deux.
5. Felix Jones - The guy is 5'10" 205lbs. He's almost my size. I could not play in the NFL.
6/7. Joe Flacco / Brian Brohm - Great peripherals and disappointing college careers, unless you count eating. Joe Flacco could give Jared Lorenzen a run for his money in a pudding eating contest.

1. Rodgers-Cromartie - Big, fast, great hands and raw. He may be the first shutdown corner to come out of the draft since DeAngelo Hall.
2. Clady / Alberts / Otah / Williams - The OTs in this draft are gonna be good.
3. Jerod Mayo - He's a physical specimen and played tremendous in the toughest conference in the NCAA.
4. Calais Campbell - I have a man crush on him. 6'8", athletic and tore through the ACC two years ago.
5. Chad Henne - He reminds me of Matt Hasselbeck. So I guess he'll play on an above average team in a bad conference and not win a big game, just like college!
6. Rashard Mendenhall - First jewish running back in the NFL.

NFL Draft Projections
1. Miami Dolphins - Jake Long

2. St. Louis Rams - Glenn Dorsey

3. Atlanta Falcons - Vernon Gholston

4. Oakland Raiders - Chris Long

5. Baltimore Ravens - Sedrick Ellis

6. New York Jets - Matt Ryan

7. Cincinnati - Darren McFadden

8. Kansas City - Chris Williams

9. New England - Branden Albert

10. New Orleans Saints - Mike Jenkins

11. Buffalo Bills - Devin Thomas

12. Denver Broncos - Ryan Clady

13. Carolina Panthers - Jeff Otah

14. Chicago Bears - Rashard Mendenhall

15. Detroit Lions - Keith Rivers

16. Arizona Cardinals - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

17. Kansas City - Derrick Harvey

18. Houston Texans - Aqib Talib

19. Philadelphia Eagles - Jerod Mayo

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DeSean Jackson

21. Washington Redskins - Malcolm Kelly

22. Dallas Cowboys - Leodis McKelvin

23. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jamaal Charles

24. Tennessee Titans - Devin Thomas

25. Seattle Seahawks - Mario Manningham

26. Jacksonville Jaguars - Calais Campbell

27. San Diego Chargers - Kenny Phillips

28. Dallas Cowboys - Marcus Harrison

29. S.F. 49ers - Gosder Cherilus

30. Green Bay Packers - Antoine Cason

31. New York Giants - Brandon Flowers

If I have time tomorrow or Saturday, I'll give some explanations for all of this but for now I'm sticking to it.