Tuesday, January 8, 2008

If Dwyane Wade Doesn't Evolve, He's Gonna Go Out Like Earl Campbell

This is a picture of Wade after a recent game against the Bucks. Note the yellowing and rotting of the skin. Not healthy.

I don't know a ton about Earl Campbell other than the little I've read and heard about him as well as what I've been able to glean through the fantastic NFL Films footage of him shoving people out of his way as he high steps through helpless defenders and mercilessly drops his shoulder on d-backs while destroying everyone in his path with his violent and reckless running style. What I have learned is that he was perhaps the single greatest running back recruit to ever come out of the Texas high school system (Barry Switzer said Campbell could have come out of high school and dominated the NFL immediately), then dominated at U of Texas (winning a Heisman Trophy) and then stormed into the NFL with the same abandon and ran away (pun) with the NFL Rookie of The Year trophy an Offensive MVP and a Pro Bowl selection in his first year, 1978. Campbell would make the Pro Bowl 4 more times over the next five years, win a couple more offensive MVPs and leave dozens of defensive players in his wake as he brutalized the league and put up huge numbers despite constant 8 and 10 man fronts game in and game out. By 1984, Campbell was severely limited due to injury and by 1985 he was out of the game. He ended up playing 5 full seasons and 3 other partial seasons. When healthy he was one of the best to ever suit up because of his reckless style and competitive drive. But because of his competitive drive and reckless style, Earl Campbell left the game at 28 years-old never to return the same. Dwyane Wade turns 26 next week and if he keeps up his current injury pace, Wade might not even make it til 28.

The reason Dwyane Wade is great is the same reason Earl Campbell was: he has no fear. He attacks the rim as if there is no one standing in his way, let alone at least two guys with 80lbs and 8 inches on him. He gets to the line 10 times a game and has consistently been in the top 5 for that category over his career. But it's this passion for getting to the rim and getting fouled that has kept him from ever playing a full 82 game season and this season will be the third in a 5 year career in which Wade won't play in 75% of his team's games. He's got a bum knee, a tweaked elbow, a bad ankle, a fucked up finger and today we learned that Wade's shoulder "was dislocated to an extreme extent, and that Wade also suffered serious nerve damage." The kid hasn't played 300 games yet and he's had multiple surgeries and is icing his back every night like Larry Bird did on his death bed final two seasons. History has shown time and again that this constant beating will catch up to him, and quickly (see Campbell).

The bottom line is that he can't continue on like this. He just won't make it. It's unsettling if not borderline tragic that one of the league's top talents is destroying himself before our very eyes and no one is teaching him how to stop or slow down. He's gotta learn to play like the old school guys who turned it on only when the national TV lights were showing or in the home stretch of the last 30 games or so. Miami is not even close to contending for the playoffs right now. He should just relax and wait for the trading deadline to see what direction the Heat are going in this year. It would be one thing to kill himself to sneak into the playoffs with the 8th seed, it would be a hole 'nother ballgame to kill himself only to see Shaq get traded, Riley to "get sick" and watch the season go down the tubes in favor of a much needed rebuilding.

We love your enthusiasm, Dwee-Ane. But we'd like to see you ambulate past 2010.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Clemens Is Doing Everything He's Supposed To, So Why Don't I Believe Him?

This Clemens thing is getting awfully dicey, what with the lawsuit and possible second lawsuit and Congressional hearings and now the 17 minutes of otherwordly conversation between Clemens and McNamee. What the hell was the deal with that phone call. That was one of the weirdest things I've ever heard. It sounded like a teenage break up call with all the dead air and the "I don't knows" and the deep breaths....:

"Hey ...aaaaahh, I just don't know. I don't know. What do you want me to do...?"

"....I don't know. This... just...(sigh) I don't know... it doesn't feel right..."

"....what do you want me to do? I'm sorry... I don't know what to do...?"

"....aaaah... I'm just, not... I'm not happy... God....(deep breath) this sucks..."

"....yeah, I know.... is there anything I can do... I mean... what can I do...?"

"I just think... God this is hard... it's been so hard recently..."

"I know.... I'm sorry...."

"I think... maybe... I don't know... maybe we should see other people..."
And while it remains to be seen whether that little stunt hurt or helped Clemens, what's gotta most frustrating to Clemens defenders and most of all to Clemens himself is that none of this seems to be helping him. Short of McNamee coming out and saying he was lying his face off, I don't think there's anything Clemens can do to clear his name.

If you remember a couple weeks ago, I was one of the folks who essentially felt that Clemens needed to come out stronger and sue McNamee or else he was tacitly admitting his guilt to everyone. I never thought in a million years he'd go through with it because he has so much to lose. I mean his entire reputation will be on trial in that case from every white lie he's ever told about the tooth fairy to every illicit PED he's every injected into his blood. Unless Clemens can provide hard evidence that McNamee is full of shit, he'll almost have to take the stand and given that his credibility is the only thing he'll have to base his claim on, that credibility will be assaulted with absolutely no regard for his or his family's wellbeing. It's an awfully high price to pay unless he is absolutely innocent of all the claims McNamee says he is, and even if he wins he won't actually win shit because McNamee is judgment proof and people still won't believe Clemens. So I give him a ton of credit for doing it.... but I still just don't buy it.

You see, in times like these I fall back on the tenant of Occam's razor. I've used this one before but it's a good principle to fall back on. The basic principle is this: "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best." In this instant, that rules out Clemens long-winded explanation. You see when Clemens was accused and Clemens' butt-buddy Pettitte came out and admitted that McNamee shot shit in his ass and others came out and said that report was true, the report gained immediate credence. Immediately it at least became very plausible that McNamee's story added up. And when Clemens first came out and said McNamee didn't give him anything and then he sort of changed his tune to say that he did give him shots but they were B-12 and lidocaine and then we learned that lidocaine is effectively a local anesthetic that doesn't get shot into your ass unless you have ass pain and then we heard the weird conversation where Clemens repeatedly confronted McNamee about "lying" and McNamee never waivered or offered that he wasn't telling the truth and instead only offered to console Clemens for all the bullshit that was going on around them, that story became more complex. In terms of Occam's Razor, you either believe the simple story that this trainer was juicing up two aging pitchers who worked out closely together, or you believed that the trainer was telling the truth about everyone else in the report but was lying Clemens. And you also believe that an aging pitcher instead got better due to a fiery passion for greatness while his workout partner was getting shot in the ass with PEDs and that he was innocently oblivious of these ass shots even though they spent every waking hour together and even though Clemens introduced McNamee to Pettitte. That explanation is not very simple. But that's not all. Aside from the denials I implored him to make, Clemens is acting like a guilty person.

In a classic guilty guy maneuver, Clemens is using the "if I really wanted to do 'X crime,' why would I be so stupid as to do 'Y activity.'" This is classic. I think they used this defense with OJ. "If OJ was guilty, why would he run away in his Bronco with Al Cowlings? Wouldn't that make it seem as though he were more guilty? In reality, he was just scared. A guilty criminal would never do something so publicly dangerous to his case..." That's an old TV defense attorney trick where you try to get your guy off with what's effectively the "do you really think he's that stupid?" defense. Clemens used this line of reasoning when he asked Mike Wallace why he didn't keep using it the drugs if they were so great or why didn't he breakdown physically and have his tendons fall off and ears grow out of his forehead. He basically suggested that if it was working, why didn't he continue to use them? He also made it seem as though when you inject PEDs into you, the immediate effect is that your limbs fall off. That seems a little counter to the "E" in the "PED" acronym (perfomance "enhancing" drugs). I really didn't get where he was going with that other than to make it seem as though he doesn't believe they have any positive benefit and also to setup a secondary defense that even if he did take them, he doesn't think they have any positive effect. Whatever the effect, I just found him entirely unbelievable. And that's what frustrates me most.

If you read back to my earlier postearlier post on the subject, you'll note that I wasn't prepared to be excited to hear any of the names in the Mitchell Report though I understand the necessity of reporting the names. I feel badly that Clemens got caught up in this even though I dislike him more than just about any player in the game. If he is innocent, I feel even more badly for him. I'm not sure there's anyway to clear his name unless McNamee recants on his deathbed or something. But if he is innocent, he's got an awful weird way of showing it. He's using some bizarre logic and his conversation with McNamee was so weird that at the moment I was about ready to give him the benefit of the doubt with the defamation suit and all, I found myself feeling more comfortable with my earlier gut feeling that Clemens was guilty. McNamee was distraught in that conversation and apologetic about the situation he put Clemens in but he never for a second considered going back on what he said and didn't suggest in anyway that what he said was false. But what I will say for Clemens is that he is going to awfully extreme measures to clear his name, and that in and of itself would seem to indicate just how innocent he at least feels he is, whether it's just that he's convinced himself of his innocence or not remains to be seen (if it will be seen at all).

At the end of the day, I find this situation very unsatisfying. It would be a terrible shame if Clemens was innocent here and had never done shit. In most situations like this I usually err on the side of caution and hold out hope the guy will be exonerated. For some reason I can't bring myself to do it in this situation. Maybe it's my bias against Roger for his post-Boston resurgence after letting himself go at the end of his Sox tenure. Or maybe it's because Roger's claim sounds so ridiculously similar to everyone else who has ever been accused of anything. I guess I fall back on old Occam (the name is actually spelled "Ockham" but has been bastardized over the years) and his fabulous razor. All things being equal, my money's on Occam over a lying sack of shit.

Getting Rid Of McNabb Would Be Stupid

I know there's no reasoning with crazy Philly fans about the fate of Donovan McNabb. Once they turn on you, there's no going back. And they have turned, so I'm not going to use my words to try and convince them that keeping Donnie is in their best interest, instead I'm going to use a comparison between Donovan McNabb and player X. Player X will be revealed at the end of the comparison. Here goes:

Donovan McNabb: 2004 NFC Offensive Player of The Year
5 Pro Bowls

58.7% Completion percentage
Double digit interceptions only 3 times in his career
Lowest interception percentage of any QB in history of NFL
Top ten in TDs 4 times
Top ten in passing yards / game 6 times
Top ten in passer rating 5 times
5 Straight Playoff Appearances - Never lost an opening round game
4 Straight Conference Championship games
1 Super Bowl Appearance

Not too shabby. Now let's compare him to player X:

Player X: 1 NFL MVP
4 Pro Bowls
63% Completion Percentage
Double digits interceptions 6 straight years
Top ten in passing tds 6 times
Top ten in passing yards / game 5 times
Top ten in passer rating 7 times
6 Playoff Appearances - Never lost and opening round game
4 Conference Championships
3 Super Bowl Appearances
2 Super Bowl MVPs
1 Associated Press Male Athlete of The Year
2 Gorgeous women in the same calendar year
1 Dreamboat
(If you don't know by now, Tom Brady is player X)

I know to compare McNabb to Brady is ridiculous but at least in terms of passing statistics, Donnie holds a candle to Tom Brady pre-Randy Moss. He had his highest completion percentage since 2004 this year was judicious with the football as has been his history. When you break it down, Donovan McNabb doesn't turn the ball over, he is mobile (and feeling healthier on that knee) and when healthy is a Pro Bowl caliber QB with at least 3-4 good years left in him. He is so far from the problem with that team that it's not even funny. You give him a decent receiver and Philly is back in the playoffs. Or you could go with that shitdick Kevin Kolb. At least then you'd know you'll be disappointed for another half dozen years.

Philip Rivers Is A Clown

I'm really having a tough time finding things to like about this San Diego team.

For me, the dislike of the Chargers started about a year ago when they lost to the Pats and then cried about it (literally). They then complained that the Pats "lacked class" because they made fun of resident roid rager Shawn Merriman's faggoty "lights out dance." Apparently they aren't familiar with the concept of irony. Is it classy that Merriman does his homosexual jig every time he nears a QB? Is that classy? And if you have a dance, and then subsequently name that dance, you are fucking BEGGING someone to make fun of you. Pussy. These actions were followed by the Chargers laughing at the Pats in public after spygate and killing them in the press, only to lose AGAIN, and CRY ABOUT IT... AGAIN. This team has some serious emotional problems. And no player on that team represents emotional disturbance like resident asshat Philip Rivers.

I know this isn't exactly breaking news as he had a previous situation with the Broncos, but Philip Rivers doesn't EVER shut the fuck up. He yaps throughout entire games. Did I miss the game in which he proved he doesn't fucking suck? Even in his last game (a supposedly "good game," or at least decent half of a game), he wasn't that good. When your "breakout game" features 1Td and 1Int, that ain't sweet. And on the season he wasn't a ton better with 15 picks against 21 tds. He's so thoroughly average and limited physically at QB that it is comical. And his poor play was a MAJOR reason the team played so shitty this year and couldn't repeat last year's record. Not to get into the fact that his teammates, namely LT, fucking hate him. So with all that going on you'd think he's be humbled. But nope, instead he's still talking shit all throughout the Titans game. And while he played well in the second half of that game, he can't possibly take as much credit for winning that game than he can for keeping the Titans in it with his shitty play in the first half.

Lastly, I know this isn't a very well reasoned or articulated argument / complaint, but I fucking hate this kid. I just can't stand people who talk shit and can't back it up, and he is that kid. Therefore I hate him. At least that part makes sense.

If You Thought June Jones Could Be Talked Into Staying At Hawaii, You May Want To Get Tested For "Retard"

Hawaii learned this lesson the hard way.

Everything about Hawaii's football's 2008 "Dream Season" was so cute. It was cute how they had an overrated Heisman candidate who shit the bed against the only decent defense he's faced in his entire career and it was adorable how they all did that crazy dance before the game and it was no less cute than a button that they thought they had a chance to beat Georgia in a BCS game. Their whole season made Grandma's across the country just want to run out onto the field and give those third rate football players a collective cheek squeeze and a nickel from their purses for being so adorable. But then reality set in and Colt Brennan lost the Heisman badly and Georgia beat Hawaii like they stole something and all of the sudden they went from "cute" to that weird looking kid with the huge forehead and lazy eye in the picture on your co-worker's desk that everyone talks about behind his back but no one has the balls to ask him about. Not-so-cute. But even after those tough lessons learned, Hawaii thought the cute season would roll over into the offseason and that "cute tactics" would overcome wheelbarrows of cash. They were sorely mistaken.

June Jones ran a wide open style of freewheeling football that got players drafted and locals excited at Hawaii. In 2007-08 he caught lightning in a bottle and got through his cake schedule undefeated and all of the sudden Hawaii was in a bowl game and on the proverbial map. And while that success brings with it exposure and opportunity for the university, and that's a good thing for the program, it's also a huge problem in terms of keeping your now nationally renowned coaching staff in a program that traditionally doesn't pay its coaches jack shit. But Hawaii thought that because of this great season and all the positive press and the positive energy in the community and all this bullshit they could hold onto June Jones without having to match the salary offered by SMU and instead could resort to non-monetary tactics. Oops:
"Jones was touched by the outpouring of support from Hawaii fans, including Gov. Linda Lingle, but he was ultimately lured by SMU's facilities and bigger budget. Jones called Hawaii officials Monday to tell them.

'In 30 years representing athletes, I've never seen the emotional reaction from a state like Hawaii," Steinberg (Jones' agent) said. "There was a flood of e-mails and calls exhorting him to stay.'"
You see Jones loved his time at Hawaii, but he's not idiot, money talks and Hawaii was never going to make the monetary commitment to improve the program beyond where he had taken it. And he didn't pull any punches when asked about it:
Besides more money, Jones will be in the middle of the rich Texas recruiting base, and he'll get better facilities -- SMU recently built a new brick-faced stadium and a modern training center.

"There's absolutely no comparison," Jones said. At Hawaii, "the office that I sat in was the same office that Dick Tomey sat in in 1986. The carpet was the same ... You're talking about the NFL and a Pop Warner team."

"No matter what he ever did or no matter how much he won he wasn't going to have the right money or facilities," Colt Brennan told ESPN.com's Joe Schad. "I'm sad to see him go but after just having experienced the Sugar Bowl I understand how this is a business."

Steinberg said the coach accepted a five-year deal worth about $2 million per year. He said Hawaii offered about $1.6 million per year.

On Sunday, a source told ESPN's Joe Schad that the deal at SMU is expected to be booster-funded. SMU athletic director Steve Orsini reportedly has sold as many as 20 boosters on the concept of donating as much as $100,000 per year for five years.

His contract puts him on the same pay scale as new Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman ($1.8 million). Baylor, a private school like SMU, recently signed Art Briles to a deal that could pay him $1.8 million a year with all incentives included.
So yeah, it was a cute idea to get your governor involved and make all sorts of noise about how serious you are about committing to football, but June Jones is no idiot and he could see how empty those promises were and at the end of the day the only thing that mattered were dollars. This should offer a great lesson for those flash in the pan teams each year. The year after you have that "one great season," don't kid yourself into believing you've got something going unless you've got the dough to back it up. Because cute don't last forever. Look at Macaulay Culkin for cripe's sake...