Saturday, April 19, 2014

2 comments Milwaukee Brewers Fans Give Ryan Braun an Ovation, Mayhem Ensues

Fans will usually cheer players from their team no matter what. There are obviously exceptions to this rule. For example, a player who is underachieving won't be cheered if his struggles continue, but usually these players are booed after making another out or doing something stupid. In general, fans of Team X will cheer for one of their team's players no matter what. This includes even if this player has been suspended for PED use. Apparently this shocks many sportswriters. Two sportswriters who are shocked are Jay Mariotti and Jim Caple. Jay Mariotti isn't just shocked, he's disgusted, while Jim Caple thinks the fans need to teach Ryan Braun a lesson.

I'll start first with Jay Mariotti, who just got done throwing up at the site of Brewers fans cheering Ryan Braun as he was introduced.

My first thought was to contact Stephen Glass. Or Lance Armstrong.

Neither of them would likely speak to you. No one cares to speak with you.

Or Pinocchio.

He's a fictional character and he probably wouldn't speak to you even if he were real. Maybe Jay would yank Pinocchio by his hair until he promised to speak with him.

Or other people whose lives have been ruined by lying and a public eye that won’t grant them mercy.

Jay knows how it feels to be wrongly accused of something, but he didn't lie about being innocent of the charges he pled guilty to. He totally was innocent.

Ryan Braun walked to home plate for the first time since he was revealed as a cheating, lying, performance-enhancing-drug-taking miscreant. He should have been booed vigorously,

No team's fans are going to boo Ryan Braun vigorously in this instance. Dodgers fans cheered Manny Ramirez when he came back from suspension, A-Rod even got some cheers in Yankee Stadium and no one likes A-Rod. A team's fans will cheer for players on their team until they are proven to not be good at playing baseball. That is what can get a player booed. Yet, Jay acts like this is new information which he knows is not true. There have been various instances of a player who used PED's getting cheered by his home crowd once he returns from suspension.

having used a successful drug-test appeal in 2012 to concoct a story that blamed a Milwaukee urine-sample collector who supposedly sabotaged Braun because he was anti-Semitic and a Cubs fan.

Jay thinks Braun should never have called someone a Cubs fan if that person wasn't really a Cubs fan. Show some morals.

We waited for the barrage of dissent in his return to Miller Park after serving a 65-game suspension last season. And waited. And waited.

Waited and waited? Brewers fans didn't get a chance to boo or cheer Braun until the first game of the season that was in Milwaukee. Braun got cheered in his first at-bat with the Brewers during the 2014 season. What the hell was Jay waiting for and when did Jay expect Braun to get booed during a time period where he didn't play a game at Miller Park?

Until suddenly, disturbingly, there was nothing but a standing ovation for Braun, this from a town that should have a grip on Midwestern values

Even though he has lived in the Midwest, Jay still adheres to the strict homogenous stereotype about Midwestern values that every person in that large region should have.

not to mention a stronger perspective about athletes who abuse integrity.

Why should Brewers fans have a stronger perspective about athletes who abuse integrity compared to every other MLB team that would cheer for their own team's player in this situation?

They could have let months, weeks, even a few days pass before showering him with warmth. Instead, in his first game back, they supported him. 

Wait, what? Why would Brewers fans waiting a few weeks before showering Braun with warmth have made any difference in whether cheering Braun is right or wrong? What kind of weird opinion on athletes that abuse integrity does Jay have? It's fine to cheer for a player who used PED's as long as the fans have punished the player for a certain length of time by not cheering for him? Is this the "stronger perspective" Jay is discussing? Jay says to force these athletes into a purgatory of types AND THEN cheer for the athlete and show support for his having used PED's.

Said Brewers teammate, Jonathan Lucroy, per USA Today: “It was good for him, he needed that. It was important for him to know that he’s still loved here, and wanted. This isn’t New York. The fans here are pretty forgiving. He screwed up, acknowledged it, and that’s all you can do.’’

The fans in New York are pretty forgiving too if that athlete can still produce at a high level. If A-Rod could crank out 35 home runs and 110 RBI's while batting .305 and being super-clutch then Yankees fans would find it in their heart to forgive him.

When the passion of civic and team allegiance overwhelms the common-sense rationale of what’s right and wrong ethically in America, you wonder about the state of fandom in the 21st century. What the hell is wrong with those people, anyway?

Exactly, these fans should have waited a few weeks and then let their civic and team allegiance overwhelm their rationale what's wrong and right. Instead of immediately determining what their morals think is right and wrong and forgiving Braun (as the fans seemed to do), they should allow their morals to slowly erode over a period of a few weeks and then forgive Braun for his actions. It's much better that way.

At least Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, has a history of good performance in Wisconsin. Mind explaining how new Baltimore slugger Nelson Cruz, Braun’s partner in crime in the Biogenesis scandal, was greeted with chants of “Cruuuuuuuuz!’’ at Camden Yards every time his name was announced?

I love Jay Mariotti's writing. He preaches to Brewers fans about what's right and wrong and how they need stronger integrity, but he's only arguing the Brewers fans gave away their integrity too soon. They should have waited a while and then handed their integrity in. Jay preaches about right and wrong, but really it's about further punishing the player for his actions. There's no right and wrong for Jay in this situation, it's about the fans being responsible for punishing Braun. Now Jay says that at least Braun was good at playing baseball with Milwaukee compared to Nelson Cruz only joining the Orioles this offseason, as if a player's affiliation with a prior team and good performance with his previous team mitigates his use of PED's. This is part of what is so fake with Jay Mariotti. He preaches about right and wrong, but he's not worried about right and wrong. He's worried about the fans punishing Braun sufficiently for taking PED's, Braun's actions after taking PED's, and whether the fans have a right to cheer Braun because he performed well for their specific team.

When Cruz, who served a 50-game ban, hit a go-ahead home run in a 2-1 victory over Boston, Orioles fans treated him like he was Cal Ripken Jr.

Fans generally always cheer for players who perform well for their team. I can't speak for these Orioles and Brewers fans, but they think these players have served the sentence that was (then) mandated based on an agreement between the player's union and MLB. These two players have done their time and they are eager to move on because Cruz/Braun are on their team. Baseball fans have learned to live with ambiguity.

Even Barry Bonds, despised in Pittsburgh when he left for San Francisco in 1992, heard his share of cheers mixed with boos at PNC Park, where some brainiac invited him to present Pirates star Andrew McCutchen with his 2013 NL MVP award.

Bonds left Pittsburgh 20 years ago. It's water under the bridge at this point. Plus, Bonds left because the Pirates wouldn't sign him to a market value contract, not because Bonds demanded he leave the city of Pittsburgh.

When even a few folks are cheering the all-time PED rat in Pittsburgh, something clearly is askew with the human condition.

Yeah, but Pirates fans waited twenty years and seven years after Bonds' retirement to cheer him. Didn't Jay indicate that was enough time for Brewers fans to start cheering Braun again? So what's his issue with Pirates fans cheering for Bonds other than the fact Jay doesn't even believe the things he writes of course?

Wait until the Cardinals return to St. Louis and new shortstop Jhonny Peralta, also suspended in the Biogenesis case, is cheered at Busch Stadium. I’m not sure five minutes passed at the start of free agency before the Cardinals, known for their organizational dignity, handed Peralta a $53 million deal.

Peralta signed with the Cardinals in late November. Free agency started three weeks before this.

It’s stunning, if also inexplicable, how the public can hold Rodriguez in such disdain during his season-long suspension while other disgraced players are forgiven.

While I agree with Jay on this strawman argument, I also can't help but remember Jay Mariotti is one of those in the public who holds Rodriguez in such disdain.

In his final year as commissioner, Bud Selig truly should be ashamed for not trying harder to curtail steroids use 20 years ago. But when he sits in the ballpark in his hometown and watches the ovation for Braun, it lets Selig off the hook. And that should never, ever happen.

So now the Brewers fans not cheering for Ryan Braun isn't about right or wrong, isn't about punishing Ryan Braun for his actions, but it is about punishing Bud Selig for his role in being complicit during the Steroid Era? So Brewers fans shouldn't cheer for Ryan Braun (at least not yet...wait a few weeks apparently) so they can punish Bud Selig. I get the feeling Jay doesn't even really understand what he did not like about Brewers fans cheering for Ryan Braun so he's throwing all of his reasons into one big pile where they are starting to not make very much sense.

“Fans are fans. That’s the way it’s supposed to be,’’ said Selig, per the Associated Press. “He’s their hometown player and it was a wonderful reaction. I wish everybody well.’’

I think Bud Selig realizes hometown fans tend to cheer for hometown players in situations such as this and there is nothing he can do about it. The fans pay for their ticket and have a general right to cheer for who they want to and when.

A wonderful reaction?

Excuse me while I hurl.

If he has to hurl Jay must have just gotten done proofreading this column. Jay doesn't like that the Brewers fans cheered for Ryan Braun. I'm not sure he knows why he doesn't like it. Jay goes from saying it's about right and wrong, then says "well Brewers fans should have waited longer," and then says they shouldn't have cheered at all to punish Bud Selig. Not well done at all, Jay. 

Jim Caple thinks it is the responsibility of the fans to not cheer for Ryan Braun and teach these PED users a real good lesson. He also has some ideas to ensure MLB players don't have incentive to use PED's again, which is an impossibility as long as baseball players are receiving compensation for their on-field performance.

On Opening Day in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun returned from last season's 65-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs and received a loud standing ovation from the hometown crowd. On Tuesday night, a fan ran onto the field to try to high-five him. For those two games, Braun earned roughly $124,000 of a contract that guarantees him at least $117 million in pay.

So ... that'll really teach him not to do it again, huh?

It's NOT the job of the fans to teach these players a lesson for using PED's and lying about it. It's not the fans' deal. MLB and the player's union have worked out an agreement where the players get punished for using PED's. The fans don't have to continue punishing the players beyond this agreed-upon span of games. The fans are those being entertained. We are the customer, not those responsible for the punishment of our favorite team's employees.

At spring training, when Braun addressed the media about his use of PEDs, he said he made a "mistake." That's not accurate. Braun did not make a "mistake." He cheated.

He made a mistake by cheating. That's clearly what he meant.

Milwaukee's welcoming response for Braun angers me, though, because he was caught after PEDs were firmly and officially banned, not just frowned upon. And he'd already narrowly averted a previous ban because of a technicality.

The technicality was that the drug collector didn't follow the correct procedures when collecting Braun's sample. The steps in the drug agreement were violated by the collector, and even if it doesn't make a lot of sense to the general public, these are the steps in the process agreed upon by the player's union and MLB.

If we -- media, fans, players, the league and teams -- truly want to rid the game of PEDs, then we must thoroughly punish players when they are caught breaking the rules.

It's not the job of the fans to punish the players. The fans are the customer. It's the job of MLB and the player's union to work out punishments for players who choose to use PED's.

Baseball addressed this last week by toughening the punishments for PED cheats, including banning them from playing in the postseason in a year in which they are suspended. Which is good, but we also should not then reward them with four-year, $52 million new contracts, as the Cardinals did with Peralta over the winter.

This isn't right though. The punishment is the suspension and I would be fine with not allowing players to collect their current contract amount for that season, but it seems to me that preventing a player from earning money in the future is far too draconian.

As long as players know that even if they're suspended, they still will receive multimillion-dollar contracts and the adoration of their hometown fans, what is the incentive not to cheat?

Even if the punishment was a lifetime ban from playing baseball in the majors there would still be incentive to cheat. As long as players get paid money and can earn more money for a better performance then there will always be an incentive to cheat. I recognize it's fun to criticize fans for cheering for these players who have used PED's, but fans aren't responsible for punishing the players. Even if the hometown fans didn't cheer these players they would still want to cheat in order to make more money.

I don't believe first-time offenders should be banned for life, but I want them to truly get the message that PED use is not tolerated. Here's how to send it:

Get caught cheating, and not only are you suspended without pay (as is currently the case), but your current contract should be voided.

So the solution will be to reward the player by allowing him to become a free agent? Of course not, that would be silly. Jim Caple has an idea to prevent Stephen Strasburg from intentionally failing a drug test so he could make $200 million on the free agent market.

When you return from the suspension, you also should lose whatever negotiating leverage you've accrued. You should not reach free agency until at least one full year after you otherwise would be eligible.

So what happens when a player two years from free agency outperforms his contract by making two straight All-Star Games and then fails a drug test? He's suspended the requisite 80 games, then comes back and plays at a high level. Fine, he's not a free agent, but what will the result in arbitration be? Will the arbitrator not allow the player to get a raise? Doubtful. Plus, this player now has an additional two more years of arbitration after that, which means his value will continue to rise. How do teams combat a young player's value from rising? By signing that player to a long-term contract. So the solution of allowing the player one more year before he hits free agency could give MLB teams more incentive to give this player a long-term contract. No MLB team is going to let a great young player just walk because he failed a drug test. Teams always want these players to prove they can return and play well after a suspension. If a player proves that, then giving that player an additional year of arbitration could very well give a team more incentive to hand that player a long-term contract.

But oh, Jim Caple is not done.

So that your team, which might have looked the other way at rumors of your PED use, does not benefit, it should not retain rights to your service beyond when it normally would. If that time frame expires before you are eligible for free agency, 

Which should happen in every instance of a player being caught using PED's since that player won't reach free agency until a year after that player is otherwise eligible. I think I'm confused. Teams always have a player's rights until he hits free agency and if free agency is pushed back one year then every player who has signed a contract or is still eligible for arbitration would not have his rights retained by his current team during this additional year of arbitration that Jim Caple has changed to essentially a year of restricted free agency.

you should go into a "cheaters' draft" in which each team, in reverse order of record, can pick you or not. Teams could choose only one cheat per winter. Hopefully, there never would be occasion for a second round of the cheaters' draft.

If I'm reading this correctly, teams will be punished for their players using PED's by losing the rights to these players and not having a chance to negotiate a new contract with these players. This doesn't seem right at all. I'm glad these PED cheaters aren't allowed to be free agents until a year after they normally would have been eligible and Caple's solution to make this happen is to essentially make these PED cheaters a free agent, even if a free agent with restricted options. Also, this idea of not allowing a team to retain the rights to a player suspended for PED use gives MLB teams even more incentive to sign these players to a long-term contract. This is the second time one of Jim Caple's solutions ends up rewarding the PED user by giving his current team more incentive to give him a long-term contract. We all know long-term contracts to players who have used PED's makes sportswriters howl with anger.

But fans also will boo an opponent who wins the Triple Crown and donates his salary to Habitat for Humanity. It's how they regard their own team's players that is at issue.

But how to punish the fans for cheering for their hometown players. That's the problem and clearly the fans need to be punished as severely as possible.

Obviously, fans can't be forced to behave a certain way or instructed not to cheer. But there are rules that could be enacted so that a returning cheat doesn't feel as welcome as Braun and others have.

I'm sure glad these punishments don't feel petty at this point.

No walk-up or entrance music for his at-bat or relief appearance. In fact, no introduction whatsoever.

No walk-up music! That will show the players! You can take away their million dollar contracts, but not letting them listen to Rage Against the Machine before they bat will surely stop PED use by MLB player in it's tracks.

Let that silence be a reminder that he cheated. If the fans still want to cheer him, so be it. But teams shouldn't encourage an environment for applause.

What about making the player wear a dunce cap instead of a batting helmet? That will really make the player feel stupid, plus if that player gets hit in the head by a pitch and dies, who cares, that player was a fucking cheater anyway.

I would include a Hall of Fame ban, but any player who tests positive for PEDs isn't going to get 75 percent of the BBWAA vote anyway.

Ok...I don't think this is a guarantee that the current way PED users are treated will be the same way PED users are treated in the future.

Sure, there are flaws in these suggested measures. For one thing, there would need to be some ways to prevent teams from manipulating the rules just to get out of an expensive contract.

The Yankees are very sad that Jim Caple is on to them.

But that and other issues could be ironed out.

"These are my ideas and my solutions, but I'll let others iron out the problems with my ideas and solutions. I've done my part."

It's always nice when sportswriters want a problem solved, propose ideas to fix this problem and then don't care enough to iron out solutions to the problems their new idea presents.

I'm all for giving a player a second chance after he makes "mistakes."

The player just can't keep his current contract and the collective bargaining agreement between the player's union and MLB will be violated in order to ensure this player is punished through not being allowed to be a free agent. Also, the player's walk-up music will be taken away in an effort to be as petty as possible. But otherwise Jim Caple is all for second chances.

But to really discourage the use of PEDs, players also must know that when they come back, all will not be forgotten, all will not be forgiven, and life in baseball will not be the same.

But after the player serves his suspension, isn't allowed walk-up music, and gets pimped out to one of the worst teams in MLB for one season before he becomes a free agent then life in baseball will be the exact same. That's the part Caple doesn't have a solution for. He wants a solution that permanently hurts a player who has used PED's, but that's just not possible outside of never allowing the player to play in the majors again. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

4 comments MMQB Review: Who Wants to Buy the Bullshit GM's are Peddling This Time of Year? Edition

Last time he wrote MMQB, Peter King brought us down with the story of Jim Kelly fighting cancer and the news his brother (who didn't like coffee and was a Yankees fan) also passing away during the previous week. Peter also made his predictions for the 2014 MLB season, told McDonald's their coffee can't stand up to that of Starbucks and reminded us all that the RAMS ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AT THE #2 PICK. Sure, the Rams really like a bunch of players at that spot, but they will totally trade out of the spot if it helps another team. Not that the Rams want to trade out of the spot, but if it helps another team they will be willing to take on more draft picks in a deep NFL Draft to help another NFL team out. Not that the Rams want to trade out of that pick, but if an NFL team does want that #2 pick make the Rams an offer now. In fact, feel free to blow them away with an offer. This is obviously a standard thing Peter does for most teams, helping them drum up some business for picks in the NFL Draft. He just hasn't gotten around to drumming up business for any other teams drafting in the Top 10 who want to trade back.

This week Peter tells us the five things we need to know about the NFL Draft (which obviously wouldn't include which players will go in the top 10, because Peter told us back in early March the top 10 players in the draft has already been decided, it's just a matter of where they go), interviews the new head of NFL Media because apparently he thinks his readers care about that, reveals a picture which shows him having a beard with a whi-fro (that's an afro for a white person), and most likely at Marvin Demoff's request follows up on his failed attempt to get Alex Mack out of Cleveland. 

I still laugh at Peter's blatant pimping out of Alex Mack. His motives were very transparent.

Five things you should know about the draft, 24 days before the first round begins:

Other than the names of the players that will be drafted in the top-10. That was decided months ago. I really can't wait until the top-10 players taken in the draft are different from what Peter stated a month or so ago and then he'll rave about how this draft was so unexpected and everyone thought one thing would happen but it didn't. What a shock that the predictability was ruined!

The Clowney camp has told at least three teams he won’t be working out for teams before the draft, preferring to let his on-campus Pro Day April 2 at South Carolina stand. I spoke to two general managers over the weekend about this, and one took exception to Clowney taking a pass on pre-draft team workouts and one didn’t.

In other words, one GM pretended this was a big deal when he knew it wasn't and one GM was honest and said he didn't care if Clowney participated in individual workouts.

He still will visit teams and interview with coaches and GMs, but his next show-and-tell football performance will be after the draft in a mini-camp, with whichever team picks him. Now, I don’t think this will prevent a team that loves him from picking him, but it might be a small factor in the decision by a team on the fence about Clowney.

If a GM can't look at Clowney's tape and see what kind of football player he is, then that GM needs to be fired. It's all there. Three seasons worth of tape. Go watch it.

As one of the general managers said, “I’d want the guy who’s going to be coaching him to put him through some of our drills, and see how he responds.”

He'll probably quit because Clowney is a quitter, right? Isn't that the narrative that he quits and takes plays off?

That’s how draft guru Gil Brandt sees it. Four quarterbacks and six wideouts in the top 32 for Brandt, if he had to pick it today. Contrast that to last year, when there was one quarterback, wideout or running back in the top 15—receiver/returner Tavon Austin, who went eighth to St. Louis. This year a very similar player in size and production, Brandin Cooks of Oregon State, could be the sixth wideout picked. 

But this wasn't a bad pick by the Rams nor did they get bad value for Tavon Austin. He was the best receiver last year, so the Rams took him. Peter was in the Rams draft room and he knows Tavon Austin will probably be the best receiver in the history of the Rams organization. I actually like Austin, but the bottom line is the Rams picked a slot receiver 8th overall in last year's draft.

Regarding the passers, Derek Carr of Fresno State joins the big three quarterbacks, and at receiver, the depth is so good that former unheralded guys like Cody Latimer of Indiana are creeping into view high in the second round now.

If the depth was good wouldn't that mean players like Cody Latimer would be creeping backwards in the draft? Wouldn't logic dictate that if the draft is deep at wide receiver then teams can get a quality wide receiver later in the draft, as opposed to if the draft wasn't deep at wide receiver, then it would make sense that Latimer was creeping up draft boards.

The stunner this draft season is a quarterback who threw 83 passes as a Rutgers sophomore in 2010, then didn’t play college football in 2011 or 2012 as he transferred from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt. “The hottest guy in the draft,” Brandt of Tom Savage. How hot is he? Late last week Savage’s agent, Neil Schwartz, had to tell two teams who wanted to set up a visit or meeting with the quarterback that he didn’t have any time left to do so. “There are literally no days left on his calendar for him to go see any other teams,” Schwartz said Saturday.

Oh, there's literally no days left. This isn't figurative? My head literally just exploded.

What I find most interesting is Peter is reporting Latimer is creeping up and Savage is creeping up, yet this is the time of the year when GM's lie and mislead everyone on which player(s) they are and aren't interested in. Almost nothing can be believed that GM's are saying around draft time. It's all lies. I'm not saying Peter shouldn't report what he hears, but everything that is being said this time of year should be taken with a grain of salt and not considered fact. Tom Savage is "the hottest guy in the draft" right now. Maybe, maybe not.

Savage is popular because he’s got an above-average NFL arm right now—some are calling it the best in the draft

"Some" means Tom Savage, Tom Savage's agent and Tom Savage's mom. It's always fun this time of year when NFL teams ignore film a player has and start focusing on physical attributes. Then next year they will TOTALLY not make that mistake again, until they do.

He spent Friday with the Oakland staff, and that’s a place he’d fit in well.

Why? Because Savage is a quarterback and the Raiders need a quarterback. Brilliant analysis.

Amazing to think a player so itinerant and with so little college success could be leap-frogging A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. But there’s a good chance Savage will.

That is amazing isn't it? It's almost like it's too good to be true or these GM's are out-thinking themselves. They watch film of a player, aren't impressed, then see that player in workouts and think, "Golly, he's probably a lot better than his film showed." Next thing you know, Darrius Heyward-Bey is drafted over Michael Crabtree or Christian Ponder is drafted in the first round of any draft that isn't the CFL Draft.

Todd McShay had Houston taking Savage with the 33rd overall pick.

Todd McShay is also guessing like everyone else. The difference is he gets paid to guess.

5. A few teams with quarterback needs have an interesting strategy. I’ve heard that at least four quarterback-needy teams—Houston (first pick),  Jacksonville (3), Cleveland (4) and Oakland (5)—are strongly considering passing on quarterbacks with their first picks and waiting until their second or third selections. Simple reason: They’re not in love with any of the quarterbacks, and there are too many other good players who are surer things than a quarterback you have sincere doubts about.

And there's no way this could be a smoke screen in an effort to get one team that does like these quarterbacks to try and trade up in order to acquire additional draft picks.

For that reason, there could be more quarterbacks taken in round two than round one. For instance, Jacksonville really likes Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois, and he’d likely be there high in the second round when the Jags pick again, at 39.

And of course there's no way this can be a smoke screen at all. I'm sure the Jags want everyone to know the exact quarterback they are interested in so another NFL team can swoop in and draft him before they can.

One more thing: The great value in this draft will be from about 20 to 50. So guess what team is in great position to capitalize on the depth in rounds one and two? San Francisco, with the ability and the recent history of moving around so well. The rich-get-richer Niners hold the 30th, 56th, 61st, and 77th overall picks. If they want someone in the forties, they’ve got the currency to get him. The Browns are in good shape to do some damage too, with picks 26, 35, 71 and 83.

So that means the Browns could trade up to pick 38 and nab the quarterback the Jags didn't want in the first place!

The chief operating officer of NFL Media is 41, a Mormon, a Brigham Young grad, checks Twitter before he does anything else in the morning, and you’ve probably never heard of him. But you need to know Brian Rolapp.

No, no we don't. 

Rolapp is behind the invention of a new media tool the NFL will launch in August called NFL Now, which will be able to customize your NFL consumption to your favorite team, your fantasy team, your favorite NFL Films stuff from its vast vault—so that every day, multiple times, you’ll be able to check back and see the latest from all sources NFL.

I do this already using revolutionary technology called "Twitter" and "the Internet" where I bookmark my favorite sites that give me information about my favorite team.

The MMQB: How do you get your news?
Rolapp: My news source—and I’m just a focus group of one—my routine is I check Twitter first to figure out what’s going on. I look at that, then I look at some of the other news feeds that I have, and my email for things like ratings on the NFL Network, and then I get to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times. It’s all on my tablet.

Look at Mr. Fancy Pants who uses several multimedia devices to get his information. 

The newspapers are delivered to my office, but essentially I put my feet on them. They serve different purposes. They’re coasters for my Diet Coke at lunch. Then there’s other sites that I’ll go to.

What a sick burn on the newspaper industry. How about Rolapp unsubscribes to these newspapers and then goes out and buys coasters for his Diet Coke? Seems like a better use of funds than buying a paper just to use as a coaster. 

The MMQB: What is the future of NFL Network? Does it stay in L.A. or does it eventually come to the East Coast, to the NFL Films’ home in New Jersey?

Peter is obsessed with the idea of NFL Network being in L.A. He just doesn't get why every business doesn't move to New Jersey. It's unfathomable to him that's 2014 and every single separate entity of a large business don't have to be located in the exact same city as each other. Plus, it's New Jersey. Why not move there over having your business in L.A.:? 

Rolapp: We haven’t really looked actively at moving. It’s an expensive proposition. We’ll look at it. There’s a lot of advantages to being in L.A. There’s great access to the people you need to run a network—producers to talent and everything else.

Wait, so there's actual talent out in L.A.? Peter doesn't believe this. He thought all of the talent in the United States resides on the East Coast and more specifically within a 50 mile radius from where he lives.

The MMQB: Will games on free TV ever go away?

Rolapp: Look, we have built a very good thing here by making NFL football available to as many people as possible. I don’t see free TV going away.

Free games won't go away as long as the television contracts with NBC/ESPN/FOX/CBS make the NFL more money than going with a network that will ask fans to pay to watch NFL games. As long as it is in the best financial interests of the NFL to make the games free, they will stay free. It's about making the NFL available to as many people as possible as much as it is about finding a way to make a ton of money while making the NFL available to as many people as possible.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

England is such a wonderful place, with kind and considerate people and the loveliest landscape. I rediscovered that on our trip to England for the burial of my brother Ken last week.

England is such a great place, Peter probably wonders why it doesn't move to New Jersey where all the talent is? Move to New Jersey and I'm sure England will be much happier.

Peter then discusses his brother's funeral and the big takeaway from this is he posts a picture of himself and his two brothers all with neckbeards. Maybe that's why Peter loves Andrew Luck so much, they are all part of the Neckbeards of America Society.

If you don't click on the MMQB link when I post MMQB you will want to click on the link to see the picture of Peter with a neckbeard. The picture Peter posts (alliteration!) is taken of a young, lofty Peter King who is only beginning to learn through his collegiate experiences how to make himself an older, more haughty version of Peter King who criticizes tourists for taking pictures of the Apple logo. Here is the link to the picture.

I can't shake the feeling Peter is talking down to his audience and to the people he met in England. It may just be me, but he writes things like...

“Where ye from?” said one of the locals at the bar.

“New York,” I said. “The city.”

“This must be prettih slow,” he said.

“I love it,” I said. “Love your village.” Which made him happy.


The bar’s 11-year-old black lab, Jake, burrowed into us for some of our crisps. (Potato chips.)

Where it seems like Peter is talking down to his audience. He even puts the local's words in quotes in the exact accent that person used, while not putting his words in quotes using his own New Jersey-ish accent.

“I don’t really buy ‘Draft Day’—it’s a shallow and evasive movie …”

—Highly respected movie critic A.O. Scott of the New York Times, on the new movie about the NFL draft. Scott reports the movie was made “with what appears to be the very enthusiastic—not to say domineering—cooperation of the NFL.”

Would I rather watch "Draft Day" or actually watch all of the 2014 NFL Draft weekend with the volume as high as possible so I can hear Chris Berman's annoying baying seal voice in my ears at all times ? It's a tough choice. 

“We have talked about keeping our own players and this is a positive for us. Alex is a quality person and player that truly brings to life what playing like a Brown means.”

—Cleveland GM Ray Farmer, upon matching Jacksonville’s five-year, $42 million offer sheet for center Alex Mack, meaning Mack will remain a Brown for at least the next two seasons.

If you remember, Peter tried very hard to get Alex Mack away from the Browns by essentially saying if the Jaguars (hint, hint Jaguars...which is a hint they took) tried to sign Mack to an offer sheet, then the Browns would not match the sheet in the way Marvin Demoff had the offer constructed. Whoops, I guess it didn't work out that way. So Peter has to back track and save face by pointing out Demoff got Mack $18 million guaranteed (that's 100% of his earnings in the first two years!) in the first two years of his deal and forgetting that he was trying like hell to get Mack out of Cleveland by essentially writing an entire column stating Demoff can construct an offer sheet the Browns wouldn't match.

Nothing to see here. Mack wanted out, Peter tried to help his and Mack's agent get Mack out of Cleveland, and it didn't work. Time to focus on how much Mack will be making.

Then Peter provides a graph so everyone can know what a great job Demoff did getting Mack paid. Unfortunately, the point seemed to be to get Mack paid by a team who wasn't the Cleveland Browns.

It also appears Peter has learned how to embed a Tweet, so he is embedding Tweets of the Week now. I'm sure the new NFL Media chief showed him how to do this.

Perhaps Brandon Spike is being a little over-dramatic here. Of course I'm sure there are some idiot sportswriters who will point to this Tweet as further proof The Patriot Way is no longer working.

What Peter is saying by including this Tweet is the Browns have hurt their salary cap room by signing Alex Mack. They should have just let him go to Jacksonville and then they would have more cap room, Peter wouldn't have gotten yelled at by Marvin Demoff for not doing a good enough job of pimping Mack out, and Mack could be out of Cleveland.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think this is the way Jacksonville could have forged a contract that Cleveland would not have matched with center Alex Mack: agree to pay him $15 million in the first year, fully guaranteed, with the option to quit the deal after one year.

I'm serious when I think Peter wrote that article to pimp out Alex Mack on behalf of Marvin Demoff. I absolutely believe this happened. He's not happy his attempts to pimp Mack out to the Jaguars didn't work. I'm not sure why the Jags would have paid Mack $15 million for one year and then allowed him to be a free agent after that, but logic doesn't apply when King/Demoff need to work together and get Mack out of Cleveland. Why would the Jaguars essentially sign Mack to a one year contract for $15 million? Mack could just opt-out and become a free agent after one year.

If you don't believe me that Peter was trying to get Mack out of Cleveland, notice how obsessed with this contract Peter is in the back-half of this MMQB.

Many of you on Twitter have made the point over the past couple of days that Cleveland matching Jacksonville’s offer sheet means there couldn’t have been an offer to entice Cleveland to let Mack go.

3. I think all three sides in this deal won.

Of course you do, Peter. You wouldn't criticize your own agent for failing to get his client a contract he wants with a team he wants. The clear intent of that original column by Peter was that Demoff was going to write a contract the Browns wouldn't match. That was the intent. It didn't happen. So how in the hell did all three sides win?

a. Mack won, because he gets $18 million fully guaranteed over two years and the chance to be an unrestricted free agent at age 30 in 2016 (he’s never missed a start in five years), and he will have his third season at $8 million guaranteed if he gets a disabling injury in either of 2014 or ’15.

Right, but his agent was trying to get him to sign with another team. This idea had to originate with Mack, so he didn't completely get what he wanted.

b. Cleveland won, because the Browns keep a rock-solid player and leader in the middle of their offensive line for what will be about 7.8 percent of their 2014 cap and 6 percent of their cap in 2015. Now the Browns don’t have to explain to their fan base why they let a top player at his position, a home-grown one, walk.

c. Jacksonville won, because the Jags showed their fan base they’re serious about bidding, reasonably, for good players.

Yeah, but they failed. I guess that's a win. It sort of feels like a no-decision to me.

In two years, if the Jags find and develop a quarterback and are a contender, Mack could look at them and remember the favor they did him by offering him $18 million fully guaranteed for two seasons, and he could think about opting out of the last three years in Cleveland to sign in Jacksonville. We shall see.

See, Peter is ALREADY laying the groundwork to get Mack out of Cleveland. I will not believe he isn't doing Marvin Demoff's bidding. I refuse to believe it. The ink isn't dry on this contract that Mack "won" and Peter is still trying to lay the groundwork to get Mack out of Cleveland in two years.

4. I think the only blip on the Cleveland radar from this issue is Mack had to put himself out on the market and force the Browns to pay him market value for a top-five center,

Three of the "things he thinks he thinks" are about Alex Mack and his new contract. I can not be told Peter didn't have an ulterior motive when writing about Mack's free agent. I don't care what kind of slow news week in the NFL it was.

and if you’re Mack, a smart guy, you have to be thinking: The team I’ve played every game for at a high level had a ton of cap room available and didn’t choose to pay me until its hand was forced. I’ll remember that in two years.

I mean, seriously. Is it possible that Peter could have an ulterior motive more so than he does now? He clearly is disappointed his attempt to get Mack away from the evil Browns did not work. Peter first brags about the contract Mack signs, lays the groundwork to say Mack can leave the Browns in two years, and now is acting like the Browns did Mack wrong by giving him $18 million guaranteed over two years. Unbelievable.

6. I think the news nugget of the week—reported by NFL Media’s Albert Breer—was Johnny Manziel scoring a 32 on the Wonderlic test. That’s five points higher than Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson scored once upon a time, and probably goes a way toward confirming that Manziel could digest any offense.

Because we all know the Wonderlic is the best determinant of how well a quarterback will digest a team's offense. Obviously if Manziel knows if Bob has 19 apples and gives half of them away to Susie who gives him 7 of her 8 oranges, then this would give Bob 9.5 apples and 7 oranges with Susie having 9.5 apples and 1 orange he will be able to understand an execute an NFL playbook. It's nearly the same thing. 

9. I think more teams should do the human thing, the thing GM Doug Whaley and the Buffalo Bills are doing with the Easter holiday coming up and the draft pushed back two weeks on the calendar from last year: The Bills are giving their scouts and draft personnel a week off to be with their families, and to halt this paralysis-by-over-analysis that happens when you give more time to a process that already lasts a month too long.

Maybe this means the Bills won't over-think the draft like half of the NFL teams end up doing this time of year. 

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

c. I am a Nutmegger. The first 18 years of my life I lived in Connecticut. And so I have followed UConn sports closely over the years. I saw none of either basketball championship game, but the Huskies of both genders did their state proud last week. Congrats to the UConn men and women. Nine titles for the women now, and four for the men in the last 15 years. That is pretty amazing for a university in Storrs, Conn.

When has any business or school in Connecticut ever succeeded at anything right? The entire state is a dead area for business and education due to there being very few wealthy people located in the state.

d. Atlantic Coast Conference fathers must be so pleased about excluding UConn from the ACC. What a smart decision, listening to Boston College, which never wanted a rival as dangerous in recruiting and in games as UConn in the ACC. BC got its wish, and UConn now toils in some conference invented to give some athletic orphans a port in the NCAA storm.

The ACC chose to admit Boston College over UConn in 2005 and was a decision made completely about football (much to the chagrin of coaches like Coach K). That was almost a decade ago. The decision was also about football and the thought Boston College could bring in more money to the ACC than UConn ever could when it comes to football. It was a purely football decision (have I made that clear enough yet?), so Peter's criticism while accurate in terms of football, misses the mark for what the ACC was trying to accomplish when it came to improving the conference in terms of football revenue.

h. Coffeenerdness: I couldn’t drink Starbucks while in the hinterlands of England. My brother worked for three decades for Whitbread, which bought Costa Coffee. So I drank Costa. “Starbucks had a chance,” Ken told me on our visit in March. “We went looking for a coffee company a few years ago, and Starbucks could have been it. But they drove too hard a bargain, and so we bought Costa.”

Wait, I thought Peter said in his MMQB two weeks ago that his brother didn't drink coffee? Why would his brother go looking for a coffee company? I'm guessing the "we" is the hinterlands of England? I don't understand how they "bought" Costa though. 

m. I am a basketball doofus, but if you gave me a vote for the professional team of the century, I’d pick the San Antonio Spurs. Gregg Popovich and his guys are amazing. You can’t keep them down.

"I know nothing about this sport, but here's an opinion I expect you to take seriously."

Peter does this sort of shit all the time.

The Adieu Haiku

Bedard can’t Haiku.
But what a job last Monday.
I got Wally Pipped!

But if you got Wally Pipped then that means you wouldn't be back writing this week and Greg Bedard would be writing MMQB from now on. It seems Peter still doesn't understand being "Wally Pipped" means. He used it incorrect a few months ago as well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

0 comments Phil Mushnick Probably Hates Puppies Due to Their Exaggerated Sense of Optimism

Phil Mushnick hates everything. He crapped on Adrian Peterson after the death of his son and believed Florida Gulf Coast University to be the end of humanity as we know it because of the way they celebrated their achievements on the basketball court. Just a year later college basketball still hasn't recovered from the damage Florida Gulf Coast has done to the sport. Even the name "Phil Mushnick" sounds like the name of a person who hates everything. It doesn't sound like the name of a happy person and reminds me of cold oatmeal on a dreary, rainy day. So maybe it's his name's fault that Phil seems so unhappy.

So Phil has two weird, overly nitpicky issues with the world today. One deals with sports lingo and the other deals with DeSean Jackson being a gang member. We all know by now that Phil likes racist lingo, so he obviously will also totally think Jackson is a gang member. What's interesting is Mushnick was defending the Texas Tech fan pushed by Marcus Smart, saying the media was too quick to label him a racist. Yet, Phil is quick to call Jackson a gang member when there's no proof this is true. Interesting how that works.

First, I'll start with the inane sports lingo that hurts Phil's delicate ears and offends his sense of crotchetiness.

We’ve been too hard on ourselves, blaming our runaway imaginations and caught in a trap with our superstitious minds. There is a Dept. of Linguistic Nonsense within TV networks.

Sort of like the nonsense that was the first sentence of this column?

There is because there must be.

And so it was.

Having suffered the latest new-age nonsense football season — standard, self-evident, hardly-worth-speaking acts such as jumping were decorated with fantastic claims of “verticality” and “high-pointing the football,” basketball is now under siege.

You know how you know Phil Mushnick is an older gentleman? He clearly has few cares in the world and these small little problems annoy him because he now lacks bigger, more important problems. It's why my mother can tell a 10 minute story about a refrigerator repairman making a snide comment about her fridge. She lacks bigger issues, so the fridge comment is the bigger issue. As an older gentleman, Phil lacks much bigger problems so the lingo announcers use really annoys him.

Friday night on CBS, Kentucky was up on Kansas State 29-23 with 44 seconds left in the first half, thus nearly 21 minutes left in regulation. Yet, that’s when the NCAA Tournament’s lead analyst, Greg Anthony, announced, “It’s a two-possession game.”

Oh my God, he said that? It's accurate sure, but doesn't Greg Anthony realize the ramifications of saying how many possessions Kansas State needs to tie the game up? This makes the damage Florida Gulf Coast did to college basketball last season seem minor in comparison.

It would be preposterous to even consider K-State’s strategy at that point would be to stop Kentucky from scoring on its next two possessions then shoot — and make — two consecutive 3-point shots to tie the game.

Yes, it would be preposterous to consider that strategy, but not nearly as preposterous as worrying about whether an announcer says "it's a two-possession game" or "it's a six point game." That's a real concern.

Yet, by saying “it’s a two-possession game,” rather than “it’s a six-point game” or, better yet, saying nothing and allowing the score graphic to serve its purpose, Anthony went with the latest foolish fashion

I didn't even know this was a fashion to say "It's a X-possession game." I guess this is why Phil gets paid the big bucks to point out these trends in his 100 word columns. Saying "it's a two-possession game" instead of "it's a six-point game" is really six of one, half dozen of the other. In the realm of minor deals, this is a very minor deal. Both statements are true, one annoys Phil for some reason that will forever remain unclear outside of a vague reference to "foolish fashion."

— up there with “score the basketball” — telling us K-State was now just two possessions — both 3-pointers — away from tying the game 

Saying, "it's a two-possession game" is essentially a way of pointing out Kansas State is within striking distance of tying the game up. It's a phrase.

(Coach Blatherskite: “We tried to make it a seven-possession game before the half, but we kept turning it over. We have to do a better job of reducing the number of possessions we’re down, especially three-point possessions, in the second half.”)

Just hilarious. I'm surprised Phil doesn't get a job writing comedy routines. Even Jay Leno would cringe at this joke.

Minutes later, Len Elmore, analyzing the Virginia-Coastal Carolina game on TBS, noted, with Virginia up three, “It’s a one-possession game.”

That would have held some meaning if there were, oh, 43 seconds left, but Elmore’s observation — words he’d never have considered saying a few years ago

Len Elmore has foolishly given in to this announcing trend rather than stick to saying it is a three-point game and essentially relaying the same information as if he had said "it's a three-point game." Semantics, it's what Phil Mushnick is all about.

— was seriously spoken with nine minutes left!

Nine minutes left! There were 540 seconds left in this game. 15% of an hour was left in this game. 22.5% of this game was still left and Len Elmore had the audacity to point out a #16 seed was one possession away from tying up a game against a #1 seed, which obviously isn't important considering a #1 seed has never beaten a #16 seed. Why would this information be relevant at all?

Yesterday, Stanford up 18-16 six minutes left in the first half, Anthony again chose the long-form way to say nothing, expertly noting it’s “a one-possession game.”

And of course if Anthony had noted it's "a two-point game" then this comment would have been much insightful given the fact few viewers can subtract 18 from 16 and figure this information out on their own. Stating it's "a two-point game" is also saying nothing.

The easy and simple are now served larded in excessive, silly words and expressions, as needless as they are ridiculous.

(coughs) Like this article.

Saturday, TNT studio host Matt Winer reported Iowa State’s Georges Niang will miss the rest of the NCAAs with a broken foot. “A versatile player,” said Winer, “he’s going to be missed, going forward.”

I can't believe Matt Winer said this. Shocking really.

“Going forward”? That’s another one, as if … aw, forget it.

What Winer meant was "going forward" through the NCAA Tournament Niang will be missed. Obviously he will be missed in the future, but as Iowa State tries to advance in the NCAA Tournament his presence will be missed "going forward" though the tournament. That's what he meant and it makes sense to say this.

Neither Jim Nantz nor Greg Anthony saw fit to note Sunday that Stanford, up three and with chances to commit a foul with under :08 left, allowed Kansas’ best long-range shooter a shot to tie the game near the buzzer!

Probably because they were too busy pointing out it was a one-possession game!

Now Phil Mushnick rails against me-first antics and also jumps to the conclusion that DeSean Jackson obviously was a gang member. Because Phil is clearly an expert on gangs and gang behavior, he KNOWS DeSean Jackson is a gang member. 

Q: When is the logical, decent time to start a weekend MLB game in NYC in April? 1 p.m., no?

I don't know, why is that a good time to start a weekend MLB game in New York City? Also, I like how Phil writes "decent" in there as if any other option would be fairly considered indecent.

Well, four weekend April night games are scheduled — two Yankee Sunday 8:05 numbers for ESPN, two Saturday 7:10 jobs for SNY’s Mets.

Oh no, have you called the police and reported the Mets/Yankees for public indecency? What did they say about this?

Baseball’s gold standard, on Bud Selig’s watch, remains gold. Patrons now can choose between being taken for granted and going to hell.

I think this may be a little bit of an overreaction to two 7:10pm and two 8:05pm start times for baseball games.

We’re lost in the woods.

"Everything was better when gays kept it to themselves, blacks had their own water fountains, and women were allowed to vote but only when they weren't cleaning the house. Society is lost now. The only thing to do is complain about it and hold covertly racist opinions."

Why would it be shocking if DeSean Jackson, is affiliated with a gang, and thus likely to be party, witness or have knowledge of blood and body-bag crime?

Because this doesn't seem like the natural path for one of the NFL's best receivers to take when he has plenty of options available to him because of his athletic skill and ability to generate income from that skill? Why wouldn't it be shocking that DeSean Jackson is affiliated with a gang?

At this point, in a world gone nuts, there must be dozens of NCAA, NFL and NBA players who belong to drugs-guns-murder street gangs,

No hockey players though, because they are mostly white and we all know white athletes would never belong to drugs-guns-murder street gangs. There's no way some of those Russian hockey players would have ANY ties to the Russian mafia, which apparently Phil Mushnick doesn't count as a drugs-guns-murder street gang because they are just so damned organized! Hockey definitely has never had a gang problem. Not at all. 

“Omerta,” as per gang-bangers, is childishly known as “don’t snitch.” But violators suffer similar results: They become dead people, friends and/or family often included. 

And none of this has seemed to happen in the case of DeSean Jackson, hence why it would be shocking that he is a member of the Crips. I know it's easy to jump to conclusions when they fit a preconceived notion, but Jackson wouldn't be the first athlete to know gang members but not have an actual affiliation to them or participate in their gang activities.

The condition of money-mutilated college sports placed Jackson, on full scholarship, at prestigious Cal-Berkeley, where, perhaps, he first met Crips in the library or when invited to play on their intramural softball team.

Absolutely hilarious. It's not at all possible the DeSean Jackson grew up around Crips and that explains how he knows them. I like how Phil wants to be so certain that Jackson is affiliated with the Crips. It's important to rush to judgment in situations like this.

Jackson’s an enormously talented receiver or no one would care if he lived — maybe even to 30 — or died.

Son of a bitch, Phil is acting like Jackson is deeply affiliated with the Crips and when he isn't catching passes he's out gang-banging in his local neighborhood. This entire sentence works under the assumption that Jackson is a member of the Crips and is in immediate danger of dying (which of course who cares if he dies or not, right?) in a hail of gun fire.

But if his off-field act tilts toward the criminal, his on-field conduct is a form of premeditated, first-degree assault on his sport.

Brilliant writing here to tie in Jackson's clearly obvious gang connections with Mushnick's extreme dislike for athletes celebrating their achievements on the field. Why doesn't Jackson just go and wear a fur coat on the sidelines like only the modern me-first athlete would?

He’s among the NFL’s most self-involved post-catch me-dancers, exceedingly self-impressed, regardless of the score or other pertinent team circumstances.

It seems Phil Mushnick wants DeSean Jackson to be a gang member simply because he doesn't like the way Jackson behaves on the field.

Jackson’s on-field behavior is so repugnant, NBC chose him to star perform a me-dance in the intro to every Sunday night NFL telecast.

That is repugnant to celebrate after catching a touchdown pass. Clearly, DeSean Jackson deserves to die in the most violent fashion possible. Fortunately, he is an active member of the Crips and takes part in killing human beings, so he will probably be murdered fairly soon. What a great day for Phil Mushnick that will be.

The Jets remain interested, regardless? If so, no surprise. The Woody Johnson Jets have shown an eagerness to pursue every talented creep who becomes available as a matter of can’t-indulge-him-any-longer expendability.

I know, look at them trading for Tim Tebow just a few years ago.

New Jet Michael Vick, a felon, tweeted support of his ex-Eagles teammate: “Want to wish my bro [Jackson] much success where ever he land his next opportunity.”

Oh my, Mike Vick supports DeSean Jackson. The obviousness that Jackson is a low-life criminal has never been made more plain.

He’s another who should avoid tweeting rather than universally suggest that he’s another college man — Virginia Tech — with literacy issues. Why not just call Jackson, wish him luck?

I don't know, maybe the same reason Phil Mushnick doesn't call DeSean Jackson and tell him his behavior on the field is repugnant or the same reason Phil Mushnick compliments people in his column rather than call these people. Maybe Phil should call Mike Vick and tell him he thinks he has literacy issues. Phil uses this column to compliment people, saying things like this:

Not that TV’s shot-callers would know or care, but Jim Spanarkel, who neither shouts nor hollers, specializes in saying useful things.

Saturday on CBS, early in Michigan-Texas — Michigan up 11-6 and out-running Texas, Spanarkel claimed the Longhorns were short on oxygen. “There are a couple of guys out there who are waiting — desperately — for a timeout.”

Two seconds later, Texas missed a shot, Michigan rebounded then out-ran Texas the other way to score a quick, easy layup.

If Vick should just call Jackson (because all felons have each other's phone number of course), then why doesn't Phil just call Spanarkel?

Then, because he hasn't nitpicked this issue enough, Phil takes time in this column to complain about announcers saying "it's a X-possession game."

With 3:10 left in the first half of Louisville-Kentucky, Greg Anthony reported, “it’s “a two-possession game.” Good thing he did. Otherwise, writes reader Jeff Butler of Stratford, Conn., “I might not have stuck around for the end.”

It's sad to see someone agrees with Phil. These are his readers.

Two minutes later — 21 of them left in regulation — Anthony, who again might have allowed the score to speak for itself, said it’s “a one-possession game.”

Because this is so much sillier than just saying "it's a two-point game" or something similar to that. They say the same thing of course. What else should we expect from Greg Anthony? He was part of the UNLV team in the early 90's that was just a bunch of gang-bangers and felons playing basketball when they weren't out killing people.

Monday, April 14, 2014

3 comments Bill Simmons' "Fuck It, I Give Up on Writing Original Material So Here's a Mailbag" Volume 6: Six Mailbags in Seven Weeks, Bill is Exhausted

Bill winds down his series of NBA mailbags this week, presumably to disappear back into the netherworlds of Grantland where he will take some of the ideas presented by his readers in these mailbags and try to get an entire column out of one. Bill hates writing, I still hold true to that statement. His readers love to read his writing, which presents quite the issue for him. In this week's mailbag Bill empties out his mailbag, beats the same jokes into the ground (the picture of Joe Dumars holding two phones), and lazily churns out the material he already knows his readers like. So here are some more "real" emails that Bill has in no way made up.

Do you realize that, on Tuesday, May 20, your buddy Bill will appear on a one-hour NBA Countdown show that happens to include the live 2014 NBA draft lottery results?

I see Bill has whipped his dick out and started waving it around at the very start of this mailbag. Very humble of him.

Do you realize they’re also having me do the NBA draft with Rece Davis, Jay Bilas and Jalen Rose again?

Do you realize that ESPN is expecting me to be coherent for both of these live events?

If you can't put aside your own personal biases in order to do your job, then perhaps it is best to find a different job where you won't allow your own personal biases affect your performance. Just a thought that falsely assumes Bill is a professional.

It’s like a science experiment. Maybe they’re trying to get my head to explode so they can wipe my contract off the ESPN books. It’s the next best thing to using their amnesty on me. 

Well, when a player seems to be going from playing productively (writing a lot and getting pageviews) to coaching (becoming editor-in-chief and not being focused on writing) then sometimes the best thing to do is to urge that player to move on to the next stage and squeeze him out.

As for this particular column, as always, these are actual emails from actual readers.

Sure they are. I believe this.

Q: Can you fire up the “SIMMONS FOR GM” campaign again, my friend? This team needs new blood, and what better way for the new ownership group to show the community that things will be different than bringing in a guy who will make changes, 100 percent guaranteed? How about it, Simmons? I don’t want to have to cheer for the Seattle Bucks, man. Do they even have deer there?
—Jake Klipp, Milwaukee

Oh God, here we go again. Bill sees some of his ESPN co-workers getting head coaching jobs and now he believes he really could become an NBA GM. I used to be against this idea and no longer am. I want to watch it happen. I want to watch Bill use all of his NBA knowledge and put "Who says 'no'" trades to other NBA GM's just to see what happens. I don't doubt Bill would surround himself with really smart people, but I just don't believe he could be an NBA GM. Still, anytime he has a chance to fire up the "Simmons for GM" campaign Bill will do it to tickle his ego.

SG: Don’t worry, you won’t have to cheer for the Seattle Bucks. As I tweeted last weekend, the Seattle guys (Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen) aren’t getting the team — even though they were willing to go higher than anyone else, they dropped out because Herb Kohl (the longtime Bucks owner and a fearless champion of mediocre basketball) wouldn’t sell them the franchise unless they agreed to keep it in Milwaukee.

Bill proceeds to go on telling Jake from Milwaukee (not State Farm) some insider-ish information and continues waving his dick around a little bit. If you care enough to know what Bill is discussing, he states one sale of the Milwaukee Bucks may go through or it may not.

(Sadly, I’m pulling myself out of the running for the GM job that I wouldn’t have gotten, anyway. Unless they give me the Phil Jackson deal — $60 million over five years, you get to stay in L.A. — I’m out. And I have 13 fewer rings than Phil Jackson. I don’t think it’s happening.)

Well, plus you are a sportswriter who has absolutely no history of showing he can run an NBA franchise as the GM. Logic would dictate that if an NBA team was going to hire a sportswriter as their GM they would want to hire a sportswriter who knows more of the nuts and bolts of the NBA rather than a sportswriter whose knowledge is based primarily on his opinions. Logic would also dictate an NBA franchise would hire this sportswriter as a lower-level executive rather than just elevate him to GM over other candidates who have spent more time in the NBA trying to get a GM gig and are more qualified. But it doesn't matter, Bill has pulled himself out of the running for the GM job he knows he wouldn't have gotten. Gotta start more towards the bottom first, Bill.

Q: How have you missed one of the best F.U. mode stories in recent memory? The Bulls trade Joakim Noah’s best friend on the team (Luol Deng) in an effort to avoid the luxury tax, but with Joakim’s possible incentives for earning all NBA first team honors, he could bump the Bulls up and over into the luxury tax. As a Bulls fan, nothing would make me happier.
—Zach, Lemont

SG: You’re right! I was already voting for Noah for first-team All-NBA anyway; now I’m voting for him in all caps.

This is your not-subtle reminder that Bill has an All-NBA vote. He's on fire in this mailbag. Two questions in and he has declined a GM position, handed out insider information about the sale of the Bucks, mentioned he is doing the NBA Draft for ESPN and reminded his readers he has an All-NBA vote. It seems Bill really needs his readers to know how important he has become. 

Since we’re here, I have to fill out my NBA awards ballot by April 17. 


Congrats in advance, Gregg Popovich (Coach of the Year); Victor Oladipo (Rookie of the Year, if only because I can’t vote for someone who lost 26 straight games); Gerald Green (Most Improved); Taj Gibson (Sixth Man); and Noah a second time (Defensive Player of the Year). 

Oh ok, so a player can't be the best rookie in the NBA if his team loses an arbitrary amount of games in a row. That makes very little sense, but I'm glad Bill is basing this individual award on a team result. That's very progressive of him.

By the way, this question was about discussing one of the best F.U. stories in recent memory and Bill doesn't even bother acknowledging what the question was about and focuses more on reminding his readers he has a vote for NBA awards and discussing what he wants to talk about instead...namely discussing his "Book of Basketball" as proof of how important he thinks the MVP vote is and determining which players should be on which All-NBA team.

On paper, giving an MVP vote to someone who isn’t actually the league’s best player — like Barkley over MJ in 1993, or Malone over MJ in 1997, or West over Reed in 1970, or even Nash over Kobe in 2006 — is one of the 12 best ways to make me irrationally angry. If you’re the best player, you’re the best player. There shouldn’t be any qualifiers or caveats.

But here’s the difference with 2014 Durant: For six solid months, a pissed-off Durant in fifth gear night after night after night has been better than LeBron Shifting Gears Depending On The Night. That’s a fact.

I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but read that sentence again and tell me how that's "a fact." Does that read like a fact?

Throw in Durant’s unbelievable offensive burden, Westbrook’s injuries, Scott Brooks’s bizarre coaching and OKC’s up-and-down supporting cast (Ibaka excluded) and it’s no contest. Please, if you’re reading this 10 years from now or 50 years from now, you need to understand — we didn’t get bored of voting for LeBron, and we didn’t briefly lose our minds.

Except 30 years from now it's possible no one will remember Westbrook's injuries, Brooks' bizarre coaching and the up-and-down supporting cast. They will only remember LeBron was the best player with no qualifiers or caveats and wonder how Durant was MVP over LeBron just like Bill wonders how Barkley got the award over MJ in 1993 or West won over Reed in 1970. But of course, Bill probably doesn't realize this because he's so focused on the immediacy of the MVP vote while not having the benefit of this immediacy when criticizing the votes during previous years.

As for everyone else — Blake is clearly 3, Noah is clearly 4, and that no. 5 spot could easily slide to James Harden, Stephen Curry, Paul George or even Goran Dragic. If Dallas wins 50-plus games and makes the playoffs (in play), I’m voting for Dirk — 22 a night, 50-40-90 splits, the crunch-time stuff, the leadership, the intangibles.

Because, again, Dirk's personal achievements this year should be judged better or worse depending on how good the supporting cast around Dirk is. You know, just like how Bill elevates Durant to MVP because his supporting cast was up-and-down, Dirk gets may not get the no. 5 spot because his supporting cast isn't good enough to make the playoffs. It makes sense.

Other than Jae Crowder, everyone in Dallas’s nine-man rotation had more value four years ago. Right now, Monta Ellis and Vince Carter are overachieving.

They are overachieving while playing the game of basketball. So why shouldn't Dirk be in the no. 5 spot for MVP if he takes a team with a bad supporting cast to the playoffs? That's if Bill votes for Durant for MVP based on the lack of dependability from his supporting cast. Using this theory, shouldn't Dirk be in the Top-5 of the MVP race? Also, (spoiler alert) Bill puts Dirk on his third team All-NBA. Dirk isn't good enough to be on the second team All-NBA, but he's a Top 5 MVP candidate. Sure, makes sense. 

First-Team All-NBA: Durant, LeBron, Noah, Chris Paul, Harden.
Second-Team All-NBA: George, Griffin, Dwight Howard, Curry, Dragic.
Third-Team All-NBA: Kevin Love, Nowitzki, Al Jefferson, Kyle Lowry, Tony Parker.

I couldn’t demote Paul George because of a prolonged offensive slump and give that spot to Love, who’s in a permanent slump defensively and might miss going .500 for the sixth straight year.

Ah yes, more individual awards being partially based on the talent surrounding Kevin Love. How did Bill get a vote for the NBA awards again?

Q: So who was the LVP for the 2013-14 season? —B.S., Los Angeles

SG: Fine, I wrote that one. 

Quite possibly not the only question Bill wrote in this mailbag.

5. Kobe Bryant: If only for Jedi mind tricking his team into a L-U-D-I-C-R-O-U-S $48.5 million contract extension when he knew his body wasn’t anywhere close to being what it was. (And as soon as he came back, he broke down again.) At least he led the young guys by example on and off the court — oh wait, nobody’s seen him for four months. Keep getting dem checks, Kobe.

Never forget that Bill hates Kobe Bryant. If there was justice then Bill would have put the entire Sixers front office at #5 because they did such a good job of tanking this season. Bill hasn't had a real good chance to bash Kobe all year, so he takes dem opportunities when he gets dem.

Q: I’m a big OKC fan and watch most of their games. The way that teams guard Kevin Durant is unlike anything I have ever seen. He is basically denied the ball from the moment he crosses halfcourt. Against the Rockets on Friday, he was denied by two people at certain points during the game. Have you ever seen another player guarded like this?
—Kevin Gill, Richmond

SG: Please add that entire paragraph to KD’s 2014 MVP files. By the way, I’m pretty sure nobody would defend Durant that way if Harden still played for OKC. I’m almost positive. (I know, I know.)

Then Bill uses this image:

Which I have to give him credit for since I probably should use that image quite often on this blog...most likely when discussing Bill Simmons and his writing.

Q: A friend of mine “Stan” married this crazy lady “Tina”. They were engaged for a year when Stan took the ring back because she was nuts but decided to give it back to her a year later. 

I'm already bored. This sounds like a question of personal nature, so I would urge this reader to not ask Bill Simmons questions of personal nature because it only serves to make Bill believe he's still 25 years old.

So I explain this situation to a friend and she names Tina the Re-Fiance and it instantly becomes the term of choice to describe her among our circle. Upon hearing of Mike Brown’s re-hiring by the Cavs my girlfriend turns to me and deadpans “Well we have The Drive, The Catch, The Fumble, The Decision….now we have The Re-Coach.” Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 Cllllllllleveland Cavaliers!
—CD, Cleveland, OH

SG: A few readers reminded me of this one … in my 2009 NBA book, I created a 12-man “Wine Cellar” team around the premise, “Aliens just invaded Earth and we have a time machine — we can grab any 12 players from any of their ‘vintage’ years, pull them into the current year and battle the aliens with them.” But the coaches of that Wine Cellar team? 2007 Gregg Popovich, 1988 Rick Pitino (pulled from college to spearhead our killer second-team press), 1977 Willis Reed (big-man coach and our enforcer, just in case the aliens start a bench-clearing brawl), 2006 Mike D’Antoni (my words: “offensive guru”), and 2009 Mike Brown (my words: “defensive guru”). This is in print and everything. (The lesson, as always: I’m an idiot.)

Wow, something that doesn't hold up just four years later in a book title "The Book of Basketball," which sounds like a pretty definitive title to me. That doesn't sound good for the long-term outlook of Bill's book.

Q: Any thoughts on the NBA creating the equivalent to a Senior Tour for older players? With well documented retirement planning issues, wouldn’t this be a no brainer?

Yes, if you don't have a brain this seems like a good idea. Part of the joy in watching the NBA is watching the world's best athletes. Watching middle-aged men play doesn't have quite the draw. It's also very hard to stay in shape as an athlete gets older. Injuries occur at a much more frequent pace.

Could Michael dunk on Patrick Ewing at 50? How much would Shawn Kemp or Antione Walker take to play in this league? 100K a year?
—Sherif Elmazi, Hong Kong

Bill uses this question to pimp out two a Grantland feature and a Grantland podcast. Bill is very good at synergy and using his columns to get readers looking at other content on Grantland.

SG: I stumbled upon the answer to this question during my All-Star Weekend podcast with Dirk Nowitzki.

That’s the part we always forget, as well as the most illuminating part of Steve Nash’s The Finish Line series for Grantland. When they get older, WE don’t realize how much it takes for THEM to play.

So even if the Senior Tour is a fantastic idea on paper, the amount of work it would take for ex-players with crazy NBA miles on them already to play basketball regularly, stay relatively healthy, avoid debilitating injuries … it’s just not realistic.

I'm glad Bill took the time to answer this question. Very productive use of mailbag space. But hey, he got a plug in for two other Grantland features so all is not lost.

Q: What’s your opinion on Rondo and Boston’s 1st round pick for Kyrie?
—William Demitro, Chicago

(Bengoodfella begins salivating at this prospect, then realizes Irving hasn't always been a great teammate in Cleveland and the 1st round pick of the Celitcs could end up being Jabari Parker and becomes disoriented and collapses into a pool of sadness at this Sophie's Choice trade and the fact the Cavs would be ripping the Celtics off)

SG: I just hung up the phone on William Demitro. Slammed it down, actually. You’re not getting my top-five pick unless it’s for Kyrie straight up. And even then, I’m not that excited. Do I really want to give up Jabari, Wiggins or Embiid for someone who’s giving off major Steve Francis/Steph Marbury fumes?

But this can't be. If there is one thing I knew about Irving at Duke is that he was a great teammate. He was injured most of the season he was at Duke and always was one of the first on the bench celebrating a great play. If I had to have guessed one bad thing about Irving coming out of college it's that he may have ended up being a better teammate than a basketball player. I even wrote this: 

Irving was the pick and I think he is a great leader and teammate. Cleveland will love him.

I wrote this.

Irving is easily the best point guard in this class and he is also a natural leader. I am admittedly biased, but I firmly believe he is ready (toe-permitting) to go to the NBA and be an All-Star. It doesn't matter to me that he hasn't played much in college. He will be an All-Star in the NBA and I see no, other than chronic toe problems, he shouldn't be the #1 overall pick. He can shoot, pass and lead a team in the NBA.

Irving rehabbed hard through a toe injury in college (potentially hurting his draft stock) so he could play with his teammates in the NCAA Tournament. I really want to think Irving is being brought down by the teammates around him and whatever issues he has with Dion Waiters. If I was sure about one thing regarding Irving coming out of college, it is that he is a really good teammate and leader. I have a hard time believing that disappeared. I have been wrong before though.

Here’s the problem with trading Rondo — he’s never re-signing in Sacramento, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland or wherever. None of those teams are overpaying to rent Rondo for a year. Boston’s best chance on decent value: If Houston flames out in Round 1, maybe send Rondo there for Jeremy Lin’s expiring deal, Chandler Parsons and Houston’s first-rounder.

And of course Daryl Morey would agree to this. Who says "no" to this trade?

If we get the no. 1 pick, they should retire Rondo’s number next October.

I didn't know that Bill played for the Celtics or was affiliated in any way with the organization.

Q: Uhm, OK, Mitch Richmond is a nice player and a super person, but can you explain why Maurice Cheeks is not in the Hall of Fame?

SG: Forget Cheeks — Richmond getting in over Sidney Moncrief and Paul Westphal was dumbfounding. It’s not even close. I covered the Westphal/Moncrief résumés in my book, but here’s a quick recap.

I think Bill will still be referencing his book 25 years from now.

Westphal: best player on a Finals team (’76 Suns); sixth man on a champ (’74 Celts); three first-team All-NBAs and one second-team All-NBA during a super-competitive era (1977-80); five-time All-Star and an especially fun All-Star Game performer; traded straight-up for DENNIS JOHNSON in their primes;

Who Westphal was traded straight-up for is irrelevant.

edged Doug Collins as the starting 2-guard on the White Guys Who Played Like Black Guys team; 

Again, this is irrelevant and is a reason completely made up by Bill.

Moncrief: NEVER TRADED; iconic SI cover in college;

These are two irrelevant reasons back-to-back.

I was there for all three guys: I didn’t even think it was close.

Bill wasn't even a teenager when he watched Westphal play, so I'm not sure his "I was there" statement really holds a lot of value to me. Memories of an NBA player prior to his teenage years doesn't seem like they are very clear memories.

Q: I saw in the headlines today that Joe Dumars intends to resign. Any ideas how he can break the news to his friends, family, and co-workers all at once? —Ryan Mathis, Spokane, WA
SG: I think I have one!

It's the same picture he's shown in every mailbag of Joe Dumars holding two phones at one time.

This season, his “fine” is an A-minus. Anyway, when you see this dude in person, you never feel like he needs a nickname. He’s just KD. He’s one of the 10 natural wonders of the world right now — a 6-foot-11 scoring machine with absolutely no historical parallel. It’s like saying, “I just went to the Grand Canyon — it wasn’t memorable enough, we need to nickname that thing!”

Well, in theory "Grand Canyon" is the nickname of the large canyon that is located in Grand Canyon National Park. It's just a huge canyon that doesn't have a name, so it is nicknamed the "Grand Canyon." I think the name is the nickname.

Q: What’s the best-case scenario for Washington in the playoffs and going forward? Is there a worse GM-Coach pairing in the league than Grunfeld-Wittman? Wait, is there a worse head coach in the history of the league than Randy Wittman? He’s coached over 500 games and has a winning percentage of .362. How do we get rid of these guys!?
—Martín, Washington, D.C.

SG: Your Wittman stat stunned me, so I had to look it up. Exactly 57 NBA coaches have lost at least 300 games.

Tom Nissalke: 248-391, .388 winning percentage
Wes Unseld: 202-345, .369 winning percentage
Randy Wittman: 187-329, .362 winning percentage

That’s right, the two least competent coaches of the 300-Loss Club passed through the Washington basketball vortex! How is that even possible???

It's possible because the Washington basketball team hasn't always chosen the best head coaches? That's like saying (hypothetically, not factually), "Over the last 20 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have the highest percentage of first round draft picks that have never played in the majors. How is that possible?"

Q: What is your favorite part of this amazing to watch Suns team ?

SG: I vote for (E) the relentlessness of that Dragic-Bledsoe combo, and (F) all the times Dick Stockton will get the Morris twins confused if TNT sticks him on a Phoenix playoff series. But I loved the “Plumdog Millionaire” joke — it’s an urban dictionary term (not flattering), it’s a gin cocktail recipe, and now, it’s the go-to headline for all Grantland pieces about the Plumlees. I love the Plumdog Millionaires!

What a coincidence! Bill answers a question which allows him to pimp out a Grantland article related to the Plumlee brothers. I think at this point Bill's column are only useful in that they allow him to use his audience to send out links to other Grantland columns. He answers questions in his mailbag specifically for the purpose of sending out a link to a Grantland column it seems.

Q: What if I told you nine years ago that the star of Fever Pitch would successfully host The Tonight Show, while the perceived next-in-line found himself stuck on a fledgling cable TV talk show and embarrassing himself hosting the MTV Movie Awards? “The Joke’s On You” – 8pm Friday night, only on ESPN.
—Billy Bahnsen, Patchogue, NY

SG: And that’s preceded on Thursday by 30 for 30: Bad Boys (ESPN, 8 p.m., if you like basketball and don’t enjoy this one I would find it startling) and Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix (ESPN, 10 p.m.), with me, Jalen, Isiah and Doug Collins doing a “postgame show” of sorts. Just carve out those three hours, please.

I mean, it's getting to the point that Bill can't even be bothered to answer the mailbag questions if they don't involve a chance to link a Grantland column or mention another project he's working on. Bill is just a great big ball of ESPN synergy at this point as opposed to an actual writer. His writing has taken a backseat to all of his other endeavors, and when Bill does write, his writing seems to be for the purpose of pimping out his other endeavors. Yet, Simmonsites still seem to think Bill is the best and puts out top-notch material.

Q: I feel like I’m taking crazy pills with this whole Blake-Griffin-getting-in-fights thing. Analysts consistently praise him for staying so calm as people tussle with him night after night (Jon Barry during the Denver game being the latest example). What’s the one constant in all of Blake Griffin’s scuffles??? BLAKE GRIFFIN!! THE GUY WHO’S BEEN DIVORCED 12 TIMES PROBABLY IS PLAYING A ROLE IN THE FAILED MARRIAGES!!!! WHY DOESN’T ANYONE GET ON GRIFFIN’S CASE FOR INSTIGATING 6 FIGHTS A WEEK?
—Ben Ginsburg, Los Angeles

SG:...And frankly, all of those comparisons helped his MVP case in my mind — I nearly bumped him to no. 2. Jalen and I covered this topic extensively in our 20-part “Bill and Jalen’s 2014 NBA Playoffs Preview,” which premieres on Grantland on Monday. Please clear three-plus hours off your schedule in advance.

See? Bill Simmons' writing simply exists at this point to pimp out Bill Simmons' other projects. It's maddening that his Simmonsites still think he gives a shit when he doesn't. He doesn't care. He wants to answer a few questions and direct his readers in the direction of where his true interests now lie.

Q: Leading up to the NCAA championship, all the talk was about John Calipari and how great he is. Why did it take so long for Kevin Ollie to become a hot coaching candidate linked to the NBA? I mean, he inherited a team that was losing players and led them to a championship in LESS THAN TWO YEARS. 

To be fair, the UConn team that Ollie inherited wasn't completely devoid of talent. Boatright was still there, DeAndre Daniels stuck around and Shabazz Napier didn't transfer. The biggest player UConn lost was Alex Oriakhi who was going to be a senior anyway. Just saying, there wasn't a lot of talent that fled from the roster.

Carry on...

This is like when a buddy of yours says, “Yo, you should come to the party, my fiancee is inviting some of her friends too, and they’re hot, especially Megan.” Then you show up to the party, and you start talking to Megan, because you should, (after all she’s the touted one), but then you meet her friend Emma, and you start thinking to yourself, “shouldn’t I be talking to Emma?” I mean, yeah Megan is hot, but isn’t Emma just, better?

I don't even begin to understand this. It seems like a very complicated and overly-involved way of saying the best NBA coaching candidate isn't the person that was thought to be the best NBA coaching candidate. It's a very "Bill Simmons" way of making a comparison.

Full disclosure, I was thinking of Megan Fox and Emma Stone when I chose those names.
—Kaustubh, Mountain View

Full disclosure: I'm not sure anyone cares.

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

Yup, they reflect their leader and personal hero/daddy figure.

I guess I should feel lucky Bill didn't end this half-assed mailbag with a YouTube clip or pimping out another one of his ESPN/Grantland projects. It's becoming embarrassing how much Bill is mailing in his columns about sports these days.