Monday, July 28, 2014

5 comments Welp, Now Stats Geeks Have Ruined No-Hitters for Jerry Green

I hope Sabermetrics geeks are happy. They have ruined no-hitters for Jerry Green by trying to quantify what was the best pitched game in MLB history. What seemed initially like a silly exercise to quantify the best pitched game in MLB history has now ruined no-hitters forever and drawn the ire of Jerry Green. It's bad enough statistics exist and there have been new ideas introduced into MLB that confuse and vex Jerry Green, but now he needs to teach a history lesson about George Bradley and how Kershaw's no-hitter wasn't even a no-hitter. 

George Bradley was a right-handed pitcher who once upon a time pitched the greatest game in history.

Jerry Green doesn't like the Sabermetric geeks (and again, remember, it's perfectly fine to act like a bully and call Sabermetricians names...name-calling is mature and the same sportswriters who are shocked Richie Incognito bullied Jonathan Martin don't mind bullying those who don't agree with their point of view) only pay attention to statistics and have no regard for the history of baseball. He hates how they use statistics to back up their argument. Meanwhile he uses his opinion of a game he never saw as the basis for his argument that George Bradley may have pitched the greatest game in history.

On this day, pitching for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, Bradley held the Hartford Dark Blues without a hit in a 2-0 victory. It was the first official no-hitter in the history of Major League Baseball.

You could look it up.

The date was July 15, 1876.

A less mature writer would make an age joke here and claim that Jerry Green was at this game. I will do no such thing. 

This was considerably before Bill James learned to count to two.

And who taught Bill James to count to two? Probably a computer and that's why Bill James worships computers and numbers. A Speak & Spell helped me identify words, play hangman, and learn numbers. To this day, I prefer computers to humans. This is why computers, progress and numbers are evil. 

So it was somewhat before the creation of Sabermetrics with its collection of numbers freaks.

Again, I love the use of bullying words when discussing Sabermetrics. Would this be acceptable if Jerry Green said Jackie Robinson integrated baseball after those "equality freaks" complained? I get it's not entirely the same thing, but you get my point. It's fine to call a group of people a name as long as those people "worship numbers." 

This is the group of baseball intelligentsia who pay homage to James with the mystical belief that statistics never mattered until such arcane data as WAR and OPS were concocted.

I'd love to see some example of a Sabermetrician paying homage to Bill James and saying statistics never mattered until WAR and OPS were concocted. I would bet Jerry Green can't find an example, so he is absolutely lying in assigning Sabermetricians these qualities. I guess once you have been in the sportswriting industry for a while you can just make shit up. I can't wait until I've been writing on this blog for fifty years and I can accuse sportswriters of random shit I made up simply because I don't like them. 

Bradley’s gem also was somewhat before Clayton Kershaw’s recent no-hitter for the Dodgers was classified as the second-best baseball game ever pitched. If not the best. This was proclaimed in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, by a so-called expert on CBS Sports’ website and by a writer with ESPN.

I'm pretty sure all of these sites and newspapers were reporting this information based on the same source information, which is the metric Bill James had created in order to determine these sorts of things. Bill James is simply trying to quantify something. Personally, I find it interesting but don't necessarily take stock in what he is saying is fact or not. It's just a fun metric to use in order to attempt to quantify the best game ever pitched. There's no need for adult diapers to get in a wad or for dentures to come flying out of anyone's mouth (see, it sounds sort of mean when I bully in this manner). 

Their claim was based on Game Score, a metric that James conjured up to gauge pitching efficiency. He did it by gathering such facts as strikeouts, walks, hits allowed, outs recorded, etc., and placing them into a blender.

I love how these old school writers just can't stand it when two numbers are thrown together. They have no issue with strikeouts, ERA, batting average on their own, but once those numbers get thrown together into one formula HOLY HELL WHAT DO THESE STATS GEEKS THINK THEY ARE DOING BY PLAYING WITH FIRE LIKE THIS? INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE COMBINED! 

It included nothing about quality of opponent.
Then simply dismiss James' metric. Don't turn this metric into another boring screed about how Sabermetricians are geeks. 
So does Jerry Green mean that if Bill James had included the quality of the opponent in the metric then he would recognize the validity of Game Score? I seriously doubt it. 

The result is, according to Game Score, that only Kerry Wood had pitched a better game in the 138-year history of Major League Baseball than Kershaw did June 18, 2014. And Wood actually pitched a one-hitter.

One-hitter or no-hitter doesn't matter because the Game Score metric doesn't measure only games where a no-hitter was pitched. As Jerry Green mentioned, strikeouts, walks, and outs recorded are also factored into the metric. So the best game ever pitched according to Game Score could be a one-hitter.

For some peculiar reason that has eluded the Sabermetricians, there has been a glut of no-hitters in recent baseball history.

I don't understand the wording of this sentence. I don't think Sabermetricians have tried to quantify why there has been a glut of no-hitters in recent baseball history, so I'm not sure why this had "eluded" them. If Bill James did quantify why there were more no-hitters in recent baseball history would Jerry Green even listen to the reasoning or would he just blindly state the reasoning is based on new-age statistics that were created in a blender? 

Thirteen of the 285 no-hitters, the list started by George Bradley, have been pitched in the past three seasons. Seven of them in 2012 and three last year.

Let's do some math! 

There have been 285 no-hitters since 1876. That's 138 years of no-hitters, and on average (don't worry Jerry, I'm doing basic math, not combining two different formulas together), that's 2.06 no-hitters per baseball season. 
I'm going to ignore Jerry's small sample size and go with the number of no-hitters thrown in recent baseball history, which I will interpret to mean the last decade. That's fairly recent baseball history. Since the 2005 season there have been 30 no-hitters thrown, which comes out to 3.0 no-hitters per year. That's a definite increase over 2.06 no-hitters thrown per season.

Let's look at the decade prior to that. From the 1995-2004 season there were 17 no-hitters thrown. That's 1.7 no-hitters per season. Could it be because of the Steroid Era? Who really knows? My point, and I do have one, is it's almost impossible to determine with the information we have why there have been more no-hitters recently. Even if a reason was given, it would involve numbers and Jerry Green would dismiss the results due to numbers and a blender being involved. 

Kershaw was praised nationally for his poise, the fact that he has won two Cy Young Awards in the National League plus the claims that it might have been the best pitching performance ever.

See, here is the beauty of Bill James' metric. It doesn't factor in whether Clayton Kershaw has won 17 or 0 Cy Young Awards. So James' metric only measures what's happened in that specific game during that specific pitching performance. So no, Kershaw's Cy Young Awards have nothing to do with this specific pitching performance and Jerry Green fundamentally misunderstands the metric he is criticizing if he thinks it does. 

By coincidence, Lincecum also happened to have won two Cy Young Awards for the San Francisco Giants. Before Kershaw won his two.

It is a coincidence because how many Cy Young Awards each has won has nothing to do with the Game Score metric. 

And beyond that, Lincecum matched Christy Mathewson by pitching two no-hitters for the Giants’ franchise. Mathewson pitched his two for the New York Giants in 1901 and 1905.

I don't understand the relevance of this other than to note that other MLB pitchers have thrown two no-hitters before, which isn't being disputed. Space-killing is fun though. 

History is wonderful — even if WHIP and ERA+ did not exist when Mathewson and Joss were pitching three decades after George Bradley. And a century plus a decade before Kershaw and Lincecum.

Yes, history is wonderful. I don't think Bill James was saying that history isn't wonderful when formulating his Game Score metric. He was simply trying to quantify the best game ever pitched and if Jerry Green doesn't like the results then he can simply say that rather than fire up the old typewriter and start talking about how Sabermetricians are geeks. 

And despite Game Score classifying Kershaw’s performance as No. 2 in all the 300,000 and more ballgames ever pitched, I have one nagging doubt about it.

The game wasn't pitched in 1906! Dammit, that's when REAL no-hitters were pitched. 

Did a magnificently pitched one-hitter become a slightly smudged no-hitter?

I bet Bill James didn't think of this! His formula in a blender never factored in events that didn't occur during Clayton Kershaw's pitching performance that resulted in a no-hitter. How can the stats geeks respond to this? If the Game Score is an all-knowing metric then how come it doesn't factor in something that didn't occur during a specific game? Yep, a point goes to Jerry Green (in his own mind). 

Kershaw was aiming for a perfect game into the seventh against the woebegone Colorado Rockies. Then Corey Dickerson hit a slow grounder toward shortstop. Hanley Ramirez dashed forward and fielded the ball. Ramirez in a flash threw toward first. The throw pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag and the ball bounced to the fence. Dickerson wound up at second base.

Where is "errors committed" in your Game Score, Bill James? If that, as well as quality of competition, were included in this Game Score metric then Jerry Green would have no problem admitting he still thought your metric was bullshit and created in a blender. Why? Because new things are scary and numbers combined with other numbers is what will lead the United States into World War III. 

Even Vin Scully, the beloved TV announcer of for the Dodgers, hesitated. Wondering. Briefly. Then the call of the official scorer quickly was announced. An error.

Perhaps Scully hesitated because the official scorer had not announced whether it was an error or not? No, that would make too much sense. Obviously Scully's hesitation means this was really a hit-and-an-error that was called just an error. 

If the play had occurred in the first inning, it well might have been called the classic hit-and-an-error by the official scorer.

Or it might not have. Either way, Game Score only includes information that actually occurs during a specific game, which normally is something I would think Jerry Green could get behind. After all, how many times have I read the argument Sabermetrics doesn't pay enough attention to what happens on the field? Now, Sabermetrics pays attention to what happens on the field and the criticism from Jerry Green is Sabermetrics didn't factor in what didn't happen on the field. 

A scorer is supposed to call a play in the seventh just he would in the first or second — even in a pending no-hitter.

The play was put into perspective — by Kershaw himself, who was deservedly thrilled with his achievement.

“Under normal circumstances, that’s pretty close to a hit,” Kershaw said postgam, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

But it wasn't and the call was borderline that could have gone either way. So...................we move on and this has nothing to do with whether Game Score is a relevant, accurate metric or not since it only factors in events that occurred on the field of play.

Kershaw is not the normal pitcher. All of L.A. thinks he’s the best in baseball, with talent close to Justin Verlander’s. All of L.A. could be right. The Sabermetricians will figure it out.

And what's wrong with trying to figure it out? Why is this a bad thing? This is part of the fun of baseball, comparing two players who play the same position to find out which player is better. It used to be ERA, wins and strikeouts were used, but now different, WAY more scary metrics are being used. This makes Jerry Green sad. 

But whether this no-hitter was the second best game ever pitched. Who knows?

Statistics!

Nobody knows. Game Score is just an attempt to quantify the best game ever pitched and I'm not sure anyone, Bill James included, is stating the results are a fact and should never be argued against. 

Reality!

George Bradley posted some. Best game ever? Sure. For awhile. It was the first no-hitter when the National League — and thus MLB — was established in 1876.

That premier season, Bradley won 45 games and lost 19, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He pitched 573 innings. Apparently, managers did not bother with the pitch count back then.

George Bradley also didn't throw as hard and throw pitches that put as much stress on his arm as a modern pitcher might. I realize this is fairly irrelevant, but I feel I needed to mention it. 

Bradley threw 16 shutouts, including the no-hitter against the Dark Blues. He started 64 games and pitched complete games in 63 of them. He had a 1.23 ERA.

Feed all Bradley’s stats into Bill James’s magic metric mixer and what pops out?

I don't know. I'm sure whatever pops out Jerry Green will hate it. Is Jerry arguing against trying to quantify the best game pitched ever or is he arguing against Game Score? I can't figure it out. I don't see the problem with trying to quantify something just for fun. If Jerry doesn't agree with the method used, I wonder which method he would prefer?

I would encourage everyone to read the comments on this article. There is some serious dumbassery present. Comment sections are good for boosting a person's self-esteem and making themselves feel smart.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7 comments Bleacher Report Has Your List of the 10 Most Disappointing Rookies Right Here

I have to give it to Bleacher Report. They have really gained some credibility by hiring pretty good writers for the site. There is better content on the site these days. Still, you can put lipstick on a pig and it doesn't make it a woman, so there is still not-so-good content on the site, as well as each slideshow having the same annoying habit of the last slide being the first page of the next slideshow. A lot of this not-so-good content is designed for pageviews and to churn out columns. Today, we have the list of the 10 most disappointing rookies for the 2014 NFL season. What rookie is disappointing and what rookie is not disappointing is all a matter of perspective. Johnny Manziel isn't on the list, while Blake Bortles is on the list. Manziel could start this year and the Jaguars have already announced Bortles will not be starting. So the expectation Bortles won't play is there, yet he will disappoint in the author's opinion. I'm not sure how that's possible. So bookmark it and keep it handy, here is the official list of rookies who will disappoint during the 2014 NFL season. Just be sure to understand that a player can also disappoint if there are outsized expectations for him in the first place.

As the number of first-year players making instant impacts in the league seemingly rises each year, so too do the expectations that rookies—especially those drafted in the first or second round—face from day one.

Expectations are being raised, which naturally means more rookies will disappoint. Therein lies the rub in saying a rookie disappoints in his first season in the NFL. It's based on an individual's expectations for that rookie. Plus, whether a rookie does well in his first year or not isn't an indication he won't be a good player in the long-term.

Because of the lofty, often unrealistic projections that early-round draft choices are expected to match, a player can emerge as a solid contributor for his team in his first year and still be labeled as a disappointment.

So now the author is taking these lofty, often realistic projections and turning them into an entire column/slideshow while labeling these players as potential disappointments. See the issue here? The author is smart enough to know there are unrealistic projections placed on these players and then they are unfairly labeled as a disappointment. The author's response to this knowledge is to participate in the exercise himself, though he knows it's a fool's errand and is generally unfair. Anything to churn a few columns out. 

Each of these players have star potential and were selected in the first two rounds of the draft as a result. But they face expectations that will surpass what their current skill sets and surroundings will make them capable of accomplishing in 2014.

THEN THE PROBLEM IS THE EXPECTATION LEVEL, NOT THE ROOKIE'S PERFORMANCE!

This is infuriating. The author admits to having outsized expectations that he knows these players can't achieve, yet he still claims they could potentially be disappointments. If the expectations are too high, then that is the problem. How is this hard to see? 

Let's start the slideshow!

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have already stated that Bortles will be sitting his first season in the NFL. Other than actively helping opposing teams to beat the Jaguars by telling them the plays the Jaguars offense will be running, I'm not sure how he can be considered a disappointment for the upcoming season when he isn't given a chance to play.

The last four quarterbacks selected with top-three NFL draft picks—Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Carolina’s Cam Newton and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford—each started all 16 games of their rookie seasons and accounted for an average of 3,784 passing yards, 20.5 touchdown passes, 459.75 rushing yards, 6.75 rushing touchdown and 8.25 wins.

Bortles will face expectations for a top-three quarterback that have been significantly raised by the standouts selected at the top of recent drafts. Realistically, Bortles projects to be an average-at-best quarterback if he starts as a rookie, which in itself remains uncertain.

Uncertain meaning "the plan is to definitely have him sit" his rookie season, as reported here, here, here, here, here, and here. But hey, maybe it's just one big practical joke being played on the rest of the world by the Jaguars.

Should the team make the change to Bortles at any point this season, expect the rookie signal-caller to have growing pains. Throughout his three-year career at UCF, Bortles had accuracy issues along with sloppy footwork and mechanics, all of which still need to progress significantly for him to have sustained success as an NFL passer.

So if Bortles does play to due impatience/injury and he comes out and struggles, and I expected him to struggle as this author is telling me to do, then how in the ever-living fuck has he been a disappointment? He hypothetically struggled as I expected him to do. He met my expectations for him.

Bortles has the skill set to be Jacksonville’s future at quarterback, but don’t expect him to be the immediate savior of the team’s offense in 2014.

Mostly because he's not projected to be the Jaguars quarterback in 2014. But sure, if Bortles does play and doesn't play well then I will consider him a disappointment since I expected him to struggle.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

Sammy Watkins should immediately become a starting wideout for the Buffalo Bills offense and could contend for a 1,000-plus yard season and Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in his rookie season

Which would obviously be disappointing because a 1000 yard rookie season would put Watkins in some fairly elite company. Not as elite as the company used to be, but still pretty good company. Still, it's very disappointing that Watkins can't lead off his NFL career with a 2000 yard season and 85 touchdowns.

While Watkins was the No. 4 overall selection, he holds the weight of a No. 1 overall pick because of the price—first- and fourth-round picks in the 2015 draft—that the Bills paid the Cleveland Browns to move up to select him.

And of course if Watkins doesn't play well during his rookie season then his entire career is over and at no point during the rest of his career could he play well enough to justify the picks spent on him by the Bills. Makes sense.

Furthermore, Watkins plays a position that is not only one of the most high-profile spots on the field, but also where his production will be directly affected by the success or failure of Buffalo’s still-shaky second-year starting quarterback, EJ Manuel.

Watkins should be judged a disappointment because his starting quarterback is shaky.

he’ll have to compete for touches on a weapon-laden offense that also includes Mike Williams, Robert Woods, C.J. Spiller and Scott Chandler among others.

Great, so let's temper expectations for him then. Good, it's done. How will he disappoint again?

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if Watkins is outperformed by some of the rookie class’ other top wideouts, but anything less than excellence will be a disappointment given the steep investment Buffalo made to trade up and draft him.

If only there were NFL seasons after this year where Watkins could produce and perform to the expectations the steep investment made in him require. Too bad Watkins won't ever play again after the 2014 year though.
 
Dee Ford, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

The case could legitimately be made that Dee Ford was the best player available when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him with the No. 23 overall pick in this year’s draft,

So a case could legitimately not be made or would a case not legitimately be made? I just like the use of the word "legitimately" since it seems completely unnecessary in this sentence.

Drafted to play outside linebacker in Kansas City’s 3-4 defense after lining up as a 4-3 defensive end at Auburn, Ford faces a transition that often takes NFL players at least one year with which to become comfortable.

Okay, so knowing that.........................does this mean he will be a disappointment because he will take at least one year to adjust to the 3-4 defense? If so, that's silly since the expectation is that it takes a 4-3 college end a year in the NFL to adjust to playing OLB in a 3-4.

Even if the position switch comes naturally to Ford, he’ll still have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie. With an exceptional pair of starting outside linebackers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, both of whom were ranked by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) among the top six 3-4 OLBs in the NFL this past season,

Again, this is an issue of expectations and not an issue of Ford's performance. If it's expected that it will take a year to adjust to a 3-4 defense and he is stuck behind two really good outside linebackers then maybe he shouldn't be expected to have a huge impact this upcoming season.

That won’t give Ford, being that he is a top-25 pick who was a pass-rushing standout in the SEC, a free pass from high expectations.

And really, why should it? A "Rookies Who Will Disappoint" column HAS to be written, so there needs to be enough names on this slideshow to justify it being written. Therefore, Dee Ford will be a victim of high expectations placed on him by the author so the author can correctly claim he told us that Dee Ford would disappoint, when Ford really met any realistic expectation for his performance.

At the very least, Ford will need to notch some sacks and show he can bring pressure as a situational pass-rusher to avoid being labeled a disappointment after his rookie season.

At the very most, Ford should lead the NFL in sacks and be voted into the very next Pro Football Hall of Fame class. After all, he was drafted #23 overall.
 
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers

Saddled with the pressure of headlining a Carolina Panthers receiving corps that is essentially brand new,

Whatever "headlining" means, Benjamin isn't headlining the Panthers receiving corps unless he has proven he can do so. If Benjamin has proven he can "headline" the receiving group then he won't be a disappointment as a rookie. Also, the group is new to the Panthers but Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, and Tiquan Underwood are pretty veteran NFL players. So "essentially" the receiving group is shockingly mediocre but not new to the NFL.

Size isn’t everything, of course, and while it can help him win on throws where he can’t separate from defensive backs, he’s still going to have to be able to get open on a more consistent basis to emerge as a No. 1 receiver in Carolina.

And as learned previously in this slideshow, if Benjamin doesn't become a No. 1 receiver in his rookie year then he will NEVER be a No. 1 wide receiver. Therefore, he is a disappointment in his rookie season because he didn't step on the field as a No. 1 receiver.

Benjamin’s potential to create mismatches is promising, especially in the red zone, but the two-year collegiate player isn’t likely to reach the top of his game until at least his second season in the league.

So again, if this is the expectation for Benjamin then how will he not meet expectations? The answer is Benjamin will not meet expectations if there is an expectation that he will reach the top of his game in his rookie season.

And also, how many NFL players reach the top of their game in their rookie season? That's a ridiculous thing to expect from a rookie no matter the position.

That’s typically fine and expected for a wideout drafted late in the first round, but for a Panthers offense that touts Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant as its top veteran receivers, the team likely holds expectations for Benjamin that he might not be prepared to meet in year one.

Yes, the team "likely" holds expectations for Benjamin he is not prepared to meet. It's good to know this author for Bleacher Report knows the expectations for Kelvin Benjamin within the Panthers locker room and among management. It just so happens those expectations are really, really super-high, which conveniently allows the author to add another slide to his "Rookies Who Could Disappoint" slideshow.

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas Cowboys

As the No. 34 overall pick, Demarcus Lawrence technically went two spots outside of the draft’s first round, but the Dallas Cowboys made it clear they valued him like a top-32 pick when they traded a second-and third-round pick from this year's draft to move to the top of Round 2 to select the Boise State product.

Yes, "technically" Lawrence went two spots outside of the first round because he was drafted two spots outside of the first round, but he was legitimately a first round pick that wasn't a first round pick. Regardless of where the Cowboys valued him, he was a second round pick. Teams value players outside of the round they are drafted in all of the time. This doesn't mean this player should be expected to perform at a higher level because of this.

Placing first-round expectations on Lawrence leaves him in a position to be a rookie disappointment.

Well, then don't place first round expectations on Lawrence because he was a second round pick. Of course Lawrence will be a disappointment if unfair expectations are placed on him.

"If you place the expectations that he will be the best quarterback in NFL history then Johnny Manziel looks like he will be a major disappointment!"

As Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News suggested in May, Lawrence “probably won’t start as he gets his strength up,” and instead will start out his career as only a designated pass-rusher.

"And since we will place expectations that Lawrence will be an All-Pro next season then he will be a major disappointment for a guy who technically drafted in the second round, but will have first round expectations for the sake of a slideshow."

The rookie defensive end will have to emerge quickly as a sack artist or make rapid progress as a point-of-attack run defender to get on the field as an every-down player. Only then will the Cowboys’ trade up for him be justified and meet the expectations that come with that level of investment.

I'm enjoying the author's completely misguided idea that a rookie has to play well in his rookie year to justify his team trading up to draft him. It's as if no matter what the rookie does after his first year in the NFL it's not enough to every justify a team trading up to draft that player. That rookie year determines whether the trade up was worth it or not. It's a very short-sighted way of evaluating a trade and a player.

Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos

Despite having the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL this past season, the Denver Broncos traded up to the No. 56 overall pick in the second round of this year’s draft to add another playmaker: Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer.

Basically this author thinks any player a team had to trade up in order to draft is going to be a disappointment.

With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and offseason free-agent addition Emmanuel Sanders sitting as the top three on Denver’s receiving depth chart, Latimer will have to beat out Andre Caldwell just to be the Broncos’ fourth wideout in the rotation.

So for the 900th time, then Latimer should not have great expectations placed upon him if he is expected to not see a lot of the field. If he performs as a fourth wide receiver would perform then he's met expectations, right?

As Latimer develops, he should come closer to taking full advantage of his physical capabilities and could emerge as a major weapon for the Broncos offense in time. As a rookie, however, Latimer might not have enough ability to force his way onto the field and make an impact on such a talent-laden offense.

So it's not that Latimer will disappoint, it's that he may not have an opportunity to show what kind of player he can be due to the talent in front of him?

You know what is really disappointing? That the author places expectations he knows are unrealistic on these players in the name of writing a slideshow.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, New Orleans Saints

Consider that Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a 6’3”, 218-pound player who converted to cornerback from wide receiver midway through his collegiate career, and it’s clear the New Orleans Saints will be hoping that their second-round pick (No. 58 overall) emerges as the NFL’s next Richard Sherman.

But don't worry, it gets better. Not only do the Saints expect Jean-Baptiste to be the next Richard Sherman, the author calls Jean-Baptiste a disappointment because he's not one of the NFL's best cornerbacks during his rookie year.

That said, any immediate expectations for Jean-Baptiste to play at the level of Sherman, who established himself as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks while helping lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl title this past season, are likely to go unfulfilled, at least during his rookie season in 2014.

SO YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT STANLEY JEAN-BAPTISTE WON'T BE THE NFL'S BEST CORNERBACK AS A ROOKIE? NO FUCKING WAY!

The author of this slideshow is calling Stanley Jean-Baptiste a potential disappointment as a rookie because he's not going to play at the same level as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. This isn't reality. It can't be. No one can be this ridiculous.

It’s true that Jean-Baptiste’s size and ball skills give him star potential, but it’s apparent from his game film that he’s still learning the nuances of playing cornerback.

Oh, so Jean-Baptiste is going to have work hard to become the NFL's best cornerback, as opposed to just walking on the field and being the best corner in the NFL during his rookie year? What a disappointment.

Regardless of whether or not Jean-Baptiste earns a starting spot, he should see solid playing time as a rookie because the Saints will want to use his size where it can give them an advantage. How much playing time he receives should be contingent upon his development, however, as he remains a raw talent who is likely to get exposed at times throughout his first year in the league.

You mean Jean-Baptiste will be exposed at times as a rookie cornerback like 90% of other rookie cornerbacks are exposed at times? And this is a disappointment, why again? Because the author was told write a slideshow about disappointing rookies and this is the result? Or because he doesn't understand the concept that a player can only be a disappointment based on the expectations being heaped on that rookie, followed by the author heaping unrealistic expectations on nearly every rookie in this slideshow.

This slideshow was legitimately not good.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

8 comments Bill Simmons Has a Friend Who Didn't Want Carmelo Anthony on the Lakers Team, So Obviously Most Lakers Fans Felt That Way

I wasn't going to originally cover Bill Simmons' column about Carmelo Anthony. I do try to limit the amount I write about Bill and I had just written another post written by him. Plus, I didn't take the time to read the Anthony article. It just seemed like another "deep thought" column about an NBA player that Bill seems to be trying to do more and more of lately. It was suggested on Twitter that I read it, so I did, and here we are. It's the typical Bill Simmons columns where he takes an opinion held by one person, extrapolates it to mean the opinion of others and then adds a little bit of his opinion disguised as a fact in order to prove his opinion correct. Few writers are as good as Bill Simmons in using his opinion to prove his own opinion as correct.

This wasn’t one of our happier years at the “You Can Absolutely Win a Title If Carmelo Anthony Is Your Best Player” Fan Club headquarters.

I didn't even know Bill was a member of this fan club. I can't recall him ever stating he was a member of this fan club either. Oh, and this column is titled "No Escape from New York." Get it? There was a movie called "Escape from New York."

Our man missed the 2014 playoffs in the rancid Eastern Conference, then received a rude comeuppance from his new Knicks boss, Phil Jackson, who lobbied him publicly to stick around at a discount price. The Bulls couldn’t carve out enough cap space for him. The Lakers couldn’t offer a good enough supporting cast. The Rockets never gained momentum, for whatever reason. Carmelo ended up re-signing for $122 million for five years, pretending that was the plan all along … even though it wasn’t.

Yeah, tough year. Carmelo had to walk away with $24.4 million per year and got to stay in one of the largest NBA markets. Fan club members should probably like that.

You know what really shocked me? Hearing Knicks fans and Lakers fans wonder whether it was a smart idea to splurge on Carmelo at all. Where are you REALLY going if he’s your best player?, they kept asking. 

What this translates to mean is, "I know a guy who is a Lakers fan and didn't want Carmelo to sign with the Lakers." Because we all know the opinion of Bill's friends are indicative of the larger population as well. I'm sure there are plenty of Lakers fans who didn't want the team to sign Carmelo, but to pretend the opinion of Bill's friends is representative of Lakers fans everywhere is silly.

Take my friend Lewis, a lifelong Southern California guy, one of those complicated superfans who’s nutty enough to grow a beard for the entire NHL playoffs, only he’s rational enough to freak out over Kobe’s cap-crippling two-year extension, but he’s also irrational enough to still believe the Lakers could eventually sign Kevin Love AND Kevin Durant. You can always count on him for a rationally irrational reaction, if that makes sense.

Very little of this stuff ever makes sense. But I'm sure Lewis is the perfect representation to base an entire premise around and then write an entire column based entirely on this premise. After all, beats working.

When news broke two weekends ago that the Lakers had become serious Carmelo contenders, I couldn’t wait for Lewis’s reaction.

And I can't wait to hear about Lewis's reaction. I hope Bill provides it word-for-word in text form so I get the full experience of Lewis's reaction. Also, it's obvious Lewis isn't famous because otherwise Bill would use his full name so that his readers knows he is friends with famous people. Jimmy Kimmel isn't "Jimmy," Adam Carolla isn't "Adam," and the examples could go on. As a general rule, Bill uses full names when it is someone the reader knows as a celebrity.

Instead, here’s the email exchange we had.

Me: Are u officially in Carmelo mode? Lewis: God no. Hope he goes to the Knicks.

HOW INSIGHTFUL! LAKERS FANS AS A WHOLE DON'T WANT CARMELO ANTHONY! QUICK, GET TO THE KEYBOARD AND WRITE AN ENTIRE COLUMN, BUT FIRST TRANSCRIBE THE ENTIRE EMAIL EXCHANGE.

Me: You don’t mean that. Lewis: It’s a bandaid on a broken arm. It locks them up with no flexibility for two years until Kobe goes.

He didn’t want Carmelo Anthony??? On the Lakers???

Putting more question marks at the end of a sentence isn't going to make it suddenly less true or even true when extrapolated to show how Lakers fans feel about Carmelo Anthony as a whole.

I surfed a few Lakers blogs and message boards and found similar ambivalence. Some fans wanted him, others didn’t understand the point.

The two most accurate opinions in order to get valid, well-reasoned opinions on a subject can always be found in two places.

1. The opinion of a friend.

2. The opinion expressed on message boards.

What could go wrong with making an assumption based on the comments from these two sources?

Many felt like the rationally irrational Lewis — they wanted the Lakers to land a top-five lottery pick (if it’s lower than that, it goes to Phoenix), wipe Nash’s expiring contract off their cap, then make a run at the Kevins (Love in 2015, Durant in 2016). That’s a smart plan, except (a) they could easily stink and STILL lose that 2015 lottery pick, (b) Love will probably get traded this season (and might like his new team), (c) nobody knows what Durant wants to do, and (d) nobody knows if the post–Dr. Buss Lakers are still a destination franchise.

I know if the post-Dr. Buss Lakers are still a destination franchise. They are. They are located in California, still have a rich history, have celebrities who go to the games, and will have Kobe (who isn't the same, but he still holds weight) on the roster for the next two years. I have to believe that it's Bill's distaste for the Lakers that causes him to doubt they are still a destination franchise.

And it’s not like the Lakers are loaded with assets; they have Julius Randle, the promise of future cap space, the allure of Los Angeles and that’s about it.

I mean, if a guy wants to come to Los Angeles that's about all he needs. There is space to sign other players and he can live in Los Angeles.

They owe Kobe $23.5 million this season and $25 million next season — nearly 40 percent of their cap — without even knowing if he can play at a high level anymore.

Then when the cap goes up in two years Kobe is gone and the Lakers have a ton of room to make moves. For now, they have a guy who is insanely competitive and draws eyes to the team. And no, I'm not talking about Swaggy P, but Kobe.

Knowing that, how could any Lakers fan not want one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history? 

I don't think there are a lot of Lakers fans who wouldn't want one of the best scoring forwards in NBA history on the team. I think your friend Lewis didn't want him on the team. 

Why weren’t Knicks fans freaking out that they might lose their franchise player for nothing? Why were so many Bulls fans (and I know three of them) saying things like “I’d love to get Melo, but I hate the thought of giving up Taj [Gibson] for him”?

Bill knows three Bulls fans. THREE! I'm not sure he's ever thought that perhaps his friends are stupid and irrational. That could never be true though, could it?

How did Carmelo Anthony, only 30 years old and still in his prime, become the NBA’s most underappreciated and misunderstood player?

Because the media has beaten the "Carmelo Anthony is a great player, but isn't a winner who can lead a team to the NBA title narrative" and many fans can start to think the same way due to the constant onslaught of this narrative. I'm probably slightly guilty of it too. I would like for Anthony to play for the Celtics though. Not sure I would mind that.

Again, the idea that Bill's friends may be irrational and hold a minority opinion simply doesn't occur to him. It couldn't be true. Bill is very smart and so therefore his friends are smart because they are associated with him.

Now comes the part where Bill starts handing out opinions like they are facts and then treats his opinion as fact. He tends to do this often.

The problems start here: Carmelo Anthony is definitely better than your typical All-Star, but he’s not quite a superstar. You know what that makes him? An almost-but-not-quite-superstar.

Oh, okay. I didn't realize this was an official thing. It's always fun how Bill's hand out opinions as facts and then uses those facts to support his argument. It's very stereotypical only-childish of him.

He’s not Leo DiCaprio or Will Smith — he can’t open a movie by himself. He’s more like Seth Rogen or Channing Tatum — he can open the right movie by himself. There’s a big difference.

The only difference is that Will Smith does completely different movies from Seth Rogen. This is an annoying comparison. It only clouds the issue and tries to cover for the fact Bill is throwing an opinion out there and tries to make it seem like it's a fact. Some people do consider Carmelo Anthony to be a superstar.

Here’s something I wrote on July 8, 2010, the day that LeBron took his talents to South Beach.


I need my NBA superstar to sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, single-handedly guarantee an average supporting cast 45-50 wins, and potentially be the best player on a Finals team if the other pieces are in place, which means only LeBron, Wade, Howard, Durant and Kobe qualify. There’s a level just a shade below (the Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstar) with Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. (Note: I think Derrick Rose gets there next season.) Then you have elite guys like Bosh, Pau Gasol and Amar’e Stoudemire who need good teammates to help them thrive … and if they don’t have them, you’re heading to the lottery. You know what we call these people? All-Stars.
 
Sorry, Portland fans — I made a mistake not telling you to take a deep breath before you read that paragraph.

Carmelo Anthony does sell tickets, generate interest locally and nationally, has taken an average supporting cast to 45-50 wins (as Bill will later prove in this column, so how he doesn't understand Carmelo meets this definition is ridiculous), and hasn't had a chance to be in the Finals because the other pieces haven't been in place. What's dumb is Bill will, again, prove in this very article that Anthony hasn't had the supporting cast to be in the Finals. So he has no chance of being a superstar according to Bill's criteria until his supporting cast improves. Carmelo has taken steps this offseason to not put himself in a better situation with better teammates. More importantly, this fourth criteria means a player can't be labeled a superstar based on a factor that is somewhat beyond his control. I don't know if that should reflect negatively on the player or not.

But exactly four years later, those levels look like this.

Superstars: LeBron, Durant.

Almost-But-Not-Quite-Superstars: Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Paul George.

Again, this is an opinion based on criteria that Bill Simmons has thrown together. Bill is using his opinion (that there is a set criteria a player has to achieve to be named a superstar) and written this opinion in one of his columns as proof that his opinion of Carmelo Anthony as not a superstar is true. Am I the only that sees the insanity of this? Can't Bill see it?

"Oh, no Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar because I created this criteria stating he isn't a superstar based on subjective measures which were opinion-based. So taking my opinion-created criteria and then matching it up with my current opinion that Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar, you can see that I am right in believing Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar. Also, nevermind if criteria #4 means no player who hasn't appeared in the NBA Finals can be a superstar and it's not based on anything the player has or has not done in order to be considered a superstar."

A few semi-stunned notes about that revised list.

You created the list based on your own criteria. How can you be stunned at the results, you ass monkey? HOW? It's your opinion!

"My own opinion, which I have no control over, shocks me!"

First, two true superstars is the NBA’s lowest number since 1979, the season before Bird and Magic showed up.

I give up. I'm not going to argue this shit. Bill is discussing this list like it's not a product of his ego-driven opinion and is instead the results of a 10 year study based on facts.

Second, Anthony Davis is our only superstar in waiting right now … well, unless you feel like bending the rules and counting Joel Embiid If He Stays Healthy or my illegitimate Australian son, Ben Simmons (a frighteningly gifted high schooler who looks like Benji Wilson 2.0).

Kevin Love is 25, Paul George is 24. It's not like they are old. Also, way for Bill to plug a "30 for 30" while trying to drop knowledge about high school basketball players he's only seen YouTube clips of.

Our 30 for 30 about Benji is streaming on Netflix

Of course it is, Bill. Your column is one big YouTube link and advertisement for other Grantland content.

Third, we’re in the middle of an under-30 talent boom that’s as loaded as any run since the early ’90s, and yet we dipped from 11 superstars and almost-but-not-quite-superstars in 2010 to 10 of those guys in 2014. Six dropped out and five jumped in, not including Rose, who briefly careered into the superstar group in 2011 and 2012.

Bill is apparently going to keep talking about this list as if it holds anything other than the results of four criteria he created purely through the use of his opinion. It takes a special kind of ego to believe your opinion is a fact and then base a defense of another opinion based on your previous opinion.

And fourth, Carmelo’s 2014 level was a tougher call than everyone else’s combined. After all, he’s made one conference finals and zero Finals. He’s never won more than 54 regular-season games or made an All-NBA first team, although he did finish third in 2013’s MVP voting (no small feat).

Yes, he did meet every arbitrary criteria on the list, except for the criteria required which he has only a limited amount of control over. That criteria is the pieces falling together on a Finals team with that player as the best on that Finals team. Outside of choosing a team with a great supporting cast already in place (which Anthony did seem to have the option of doing), he doesn't have a ton of control over his supporting cast once he chooses a team.

Most damning, Carmelo has lost nearly twice as many playoff games as he has won: 23 wins, 44 losses. You can’t even use the whole “Look, Carmelo can drag any mediocre team to 44 wins and the playoffs!” argument anymore — not after last season.

The Knicks weren't mediocre last year. They were worse than that. Raymond Felton was the starting point guard and J.R. Smith was the second-best player on the team. I'm not a big Carmelo Anthony fan, but he dragged them to 37 wins. Take Anthony off that roster and they are contending for the #1 overall pick.

So what’s left? Can’t we downgrade him to All-Star and be done with it? 

I don't know, Bill. It's your fucking list so do what you want. Me personally, I'm going to assume most fans of the Bulls, Lakers and Knicks wanted Carmelo Anthony to play for their team and feel good knowing this is probably true in the majority. After all, what if I have four friends that agree with my point of view?

For me, it keeps coming back to one question: Can you win the NBA championship if Carmelo Anthony is your best player?

The short answer: Yes.

You can.

Bill Simmons' opinion: You can win an NBA title with Carmelo Anthony as the best player on the team.

Bill Simmons' opinion: Carmelo Anthony isn't a superstar because he hasn't made an NBA Finals as the best player on that team.

So Anthony is a superstar once forces outside of his complete control come together. Bill thinks he's a superstar, but the criteria Bill created which he has no control over doesn't necessarily agree with Anthony being a superstar. In conclusion, I have a headache.

If you believe Carmelo can lead a championship team, you’re leaning heavily on that 2011 Mavs playbook — you’d need all the elements we just covered, and you’d need Carmelo to unleash a damned good Dirk impression.

Only one problem: Dirk was better than Carmelo is.

Oh no. What ever shall be done?

Dirk is one of the 20 best basketball players of all time by any calculation.

Absolutely not true. Here are some facts I just created to prove my opinion is correct. The criteria to be one of the 20 best basketball players of all-time are as follows:

1. Have won at least one NBA title.

2. Has either played for the Lakers, Heat or Celtics.

3. Is from the United States.

4. Thinks that English Muffins are the wimpy version of a bagel.

5. That is all.

So you can see that Dirk isn't even close to being one of the best basketball players of all-time because he fails on two criteria and I don't know what Dirk thinks of English Muffins, but I do know he is from Germany, so there's a good chance he doesn't appreciate bagels to the extent he should. As you can see, Dirk isn't one of the 20 best basketball players based on the set of facts I just created.

He won an MVP and a Finals MVP. He made four first-team All-NBA’s and five second-team All-NBA’s. He won 50-plus games for 11 straight years, topped 60 wins three times, made two Finals, beat LeBron and Wade in the Finals, and won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan’s prime.

And we all know, "Having won a Game 7 in San Antonio during Duncan's prime" is the MOST IMPORTANT cherry-picked criteria of all. Not even LeBron James has done this. Michael Jordan didn't do it. Magic Johnson didn't do it.

Amazing but true: Dirk never played with a Hall of Famer in that Hall of Famer’s prime.

See, now this is a fact. See how that works, Bill? It's fine to base an opinion off this fact, because the fact isn't an opinion, but has concrete proof behind it. There is a basketball Hall of Fame and Dirk hasn't played with a Hall of Famer while in his prime. Baby steps...

Bill starts listing Dirk's statistics as he is prone to do in order to kill space. Dirk is great, I'll leave it at that.

That’s why I dislike comparing Carmelo and Dirk. But I keep coming back to these two playoff lines:
2011 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.5 apg, 49-46-94%, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER
 

2009 Melo (16 games): 27.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 45-36-83%, 9.0 FTA, 24.3 PER

Bill dislikes comparing Carmelo to Dirk, but he doesn't hate it enough to base his opinion that Carmelo can be the best player on an NBA title team on a direct comparison to Dirk's 2011 Mavs. Then Bill directly compares Carmelo and Dirk's playoff statistics to each other. But yeah, he dislikes that comparison.

The 2009 Nuggets were Carmelo’s best team; they fell to Kobe’s Lakers in Round 3 with a poor man’s version of the 2011 Mavs. George Karl wasn’t Carlisle. Nene and Kenyon Martin couldn’t protect the rim like Chandler. They didn’t have a perimeter defender anywhere close to Marion’s caliber. They couldn’t shoot 3s nearly as well (only 31 percent for that Lakers series). They relied way too heavily on J.R. Smith, who imploded against Kobe and got outscored 204 points to 76 points.

This is the same J.R. Smith who was the second-best player on the 2014 Knicks by the way.

Again, in all caps … THAT’S THE MOST TALENTED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM THAT CARMELO ANTHONY EVER PLAYED ON.
The second-best team? You might remember them self-destructing just 14 months ago — it was the 2013 Knicks squad that won 54 games in a lousy conference with Melo, a past-his-peak Chandler, J.R. Smith, Ray Felton, a washed-up K-Mart, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, a hobbled Amar’e Stoudemire and the immortal Mike Woodson coaching.
Again, in all caps … THAT’S THE SECOND-MOST TALENTED PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM THAT CARMELO ANTHONY EVER PLAYED ON.

Now take that team, add another year to Chandler, add Andrei Bargnani, add another 15 pounds to Felton, and take away Chris Copeland. That was the 2014 Knicks.

So could Carmelo morph into 2011 Dirk if you gave him the right situation? We don’t know because he’s never been in the right situation.

Which is why it is silly to announce Carmelo isn't a superstar based on criteria where he could only be a superstar by being in the right situation.

As a last gasp, they used the Lakers as negotiating leverage (you better sign-and-trade Melo to Chicago or you’ll lose him for nothing!), only Jackson smartly sniffed it out. That left Carmelo with three choices:

Choice No. 1: Grab $122 million over five years from New York, play with another inferior team, miss the Finals for his 12th straight season, and pin the rest of his prime — which he’s never getting back, by the way — on Jackson’s promise that “We’ll Have Gobs of Cap Space in the Summer of 2015!!!”

This, along with more first round draft picks, is the promise the Celtics have made to the entire fanbase while attempting to trade the only player on the team who could be considered a star. I feel this requires mentioning.

Choice No. 3: Sign a four-year deal in Chicago for less money (starting around $14-15 million), become the crunch-time guy for an absolutely loaded Bulls team, and answer every question anyone ever asked about him.

At the same time, I wanted to know once and for all. I wanted to know how good Carmelo Anthony is. Because, right now, I believe the following things:
1. He’s one of the best natural scorers I’ve ever seen.
 

2. He’s one of the NBA’s eight or nine best players and has been for some time.
 

3. He could win you a title on his version of the 2011 Mavs.

Again, those are just opinions.

So far this entire column, including the decision that Carmelo is not a superstar and the idea that Lakers fans didn't want to sign Carmelo, are opinions as well. They are proven correct mostly using more opinions.

But what am I about to present to you? All facts.

1. His best team ever was the 2009 Nuggets. (Covered above.)
2. His best teammates ever: Chauncey Billups (post-Detroit version), Allen Iverson (post-Philly version), Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Amar’e Stoudemire (post-Phoenix version, right as his knees were going), Tyson Chandler (post-Dallas version), Kenyon Martin (post-Nets version), Nene (never an All-Star — not once) and the one and only J.R. Smith.

I'm not entirely sure Bill understands what an "opinion" is. I feel like Bill believes an opinion is a belief based on a future outcome and not a belief based on a prior outcome. While I can't argue necessarily with #1 and #2 above, they are both most certainly very close to be an opinion. Inarguable opinions, but opinions nonetheless.

4. He had only four teammates make an All-Star Game: Iverson (2007, 2008), Billups (2009, 2010), Amar’e (2011) and Chandler (2013).

That wasn't even the good All-Star version of those players either. Yuck.

5. He had five head coaches in 11 years: Jeff Bzdelik (never coached again),

Well, he was the head coach for the Wake Forest men's basketball team, but it's true he never did coach again. Bzdelik was the head coach, but mostly just managed the constant wave of transfers out of the Wake Forest program during his tenure.
 
Meanwhile, Dirk had three coaches in 15 years: Don Nelson (Hall of Famer), Avery Johnson (made a Finals and also won 67 games in a season) and Rick Carlisle (future Hall of Famer).

Wait, is this true? Rick Carlisle is a future Hall of Famer? I think he's a great coach, but a future Hall of Famer?

7. He suffered bad luck two different times — when an already loaded Pistons team unbelievably picked Darko over him in 2003, and when his agent didn’t follow LeBron’s and Wade’s lead by putting a three-year out into Melo’s first contract extension (with Denver). In the summer of 2010, Melo could have stolen Bosh’s spot in Miami or jumped to the up-and-coming Bulls, only he couldn’t get out of his deal for another year. Those were his two best chances to find a true contender. 0-for-2.

But alternatively, when he had the chance to take less money this past offseason and join the Bulls, a team that was a true contender, he chose to take the money in New York. Carmelo had a chance to find a true contender and his choice was get more money in New York with the Knicks. Bill can't lose sight of this.

9. Carmelo is averaging 25.3 points for his entire career. Only 13 players averaged at least 25 points, and only 10 have a higher average than Melo: Jordan (30.1), Wilt (30.1), LeBron (27.5), Durant (27.4), Elgin (27.4), West (27.0), Iverson (26.7), Pettit (26.4), Oscar (25.7) and Kobe (25.5). Yes, that’s a list with six Hall of Famers and four future Hall of Famers.

And most of these guys can be considered superstars too, which leads me to the dead horse I won't beat. Carmelo may not be a superstar, but he's got a lot going for him statistically that could lead a person in that direction. What he doesn't do is meet Bill's subjective criteria to be considered a superstar.

Then Bill compares Carmelo favorably to Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce, Adrian Dantley, and Bernard King. This, naturally, leads to a brief discussion of the Boston Celtics because Bernard King played well against the Celtics. This impresses Bill to no end.

Bernard doubled as the most frightening non-Jordan scorer I’ve ever seen in my life — he took the 1984 Celts to a Game 7 by himself, for God’s sake. My team threw Kevin McHale (the NBA’s best defender at the time) and Cedric Maxwell at him, with Bird helping and Robert Parish protecting the rim, and it just didn’t matter.

There is the brief discussion. This column wouldn't be complete without a small Celtics remembrance from the 1980's.

Carmelo? He’s 92 percent as frightening as 1984 Playoff Bernard was. 

Not 91% or 93%, but 92% as frightening as 1984 Playoff Bernard was. These are very specific statistics based on whatever number comes out of Bill's brain at the time. You want facts? There's your facts.

14. You realize that Carmelo is better right now than he’s ever been, right?
• Years 1-2: 20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 43-30-79%, 17.2 PER, 35.7 mpg, 28.8 usage, .094 WS/48
 

• Years 3-9: 25.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 46-33-81%, 21.4 PER, 36.3 mpg, 32.0 usage, .140 WS/48
 

• Years 10-11: 28.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 45-39-84%, 24.6 PER, 37.9 mpg, 33.9 usage, .177 WS/48
As his offensive workload has increased, he’s figured out how to become even MORE efficient by expanding his shooting range to 25 feet … only he’s never stopped getting to the free throw line, either.

But again, don't consider him a superstar. He couldn't even take the Knicks to the playoffs this year. You like how Bill talks out of both sides of his mouth a little here? He says Carmelo is great and goes to great lengths to prove it, but he also makes sure he has a mention in this column that maybe Carmelo should be moved down into the All-Star ranking of Bill's arbitrary rankings.

So what’s left? Can’t we downgrade him to All-Star and be done with it? Isn’t 11 years enough time to know — to truly, unequivocally know — whether it’s with television shows, music groups, girlfriends, quarterbacks or basketball players?

So Bill is sort of covered no matter how Carmelo's career pans outs. He has said perhaps Carmelo should be downgraded to All-Star level and then goes on and on about how great of a player Carmelo still is. All bases are covered.

And you know what else? Carmelo never received enough credit for playing efficiently as a hybrid small forward/stretch 4, especially last season,

This from the guy who asks the open-ended question of whether Carmelo isn't even an almost-but-not-quite superstar, but instead is just an All-Star.

Everyone bitched about his “ball-stopping” — something of which he’s definitely been guilty, from time to time, over the past few years — but when your coach is in a basketball coma and your entire offense has degenerated into “throw the ball to Melo and he’ll have to create a shot,” what do you expect? Every opponent went into every Knicks game saying, “As long as we don’t let Carmelo kill us, we’re winning tonight.” And he still threw up 28 a night and played the most efficient basketball of his career. 

As I am prone to doing when reaching near the end of a Bill Simmons column, I have to ask, what was the point of this column? It's shockingly rambling, even for a Bill Simmons column, it doesn't appear to prove anything other than Carmelo Anthony is better than "we" think, and the basic premise (that Carmelo's potential will never be achieved because he chose to go back to New York rather than take a pay cut and go to Chicago) is only mentioned and never actually stated explicitly by Bill. So this column is rather indicative of Bill's worst rambling qualities.

If you think of him like a Hall of Fame wide receiver — say, Larry Fitzgerald — Carmelo’s career makes more sense. 

No, it doesn't. It makes more sense to simply state Carmelo never reached his potential because he never played on a team that allowed him to achieve his potential, rather than start using an overcomplicated analogy that says this same thing, only with more work involved to reach the conclusion.

Fitz tossed up monster stats with Kurt Warner throwing to him. Once the likes of John Skelton and Kevin Kolb started passing through his life, he wasn’t throwing up monster stats anymore. But nobody ever stopped believing Fitz was great.

Fitzgerald had 954 yards with Carson Palmer throwing him the football last year. Does Fitzgerald require a Hall of Fame quarterback to reach his potential or something?

We made excuses for him that weren’t even excuses.

"We" didn't make any excuses for Fitzgerald. Stop using "we" to indicate what "you" believe.

Why didn’t we ever feel sorry for Carmelo? It’s simple — he placed himself in this situation.

Oh, so that's why "we" didn't feel bad for Carmelo. I was wondering why "we" didn't feel bad for him. In this case, I didn't feel bad for Carmelo because he could have left this summer and chose not to. That's a lot of money to give up though and Phil Jackson isn't a tough guy to put some faith in.

There’s a good chance he will play his entire career, then retire, without ever finding the right team. Unless the Knicks miraculously strike oil next summer, his own version of the 2011 Mavericks can’t happen.

Another reference to that 2011 Mavericks team led by Dirk, the same reference and comparison that Bill dislikes so much and has made so often.

There was an alternate universe here — Chicago, for less money, for a chance to become Olympic Melo for nine months per year. He would have been flanked by Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic, Kirk Hinrich and a top-five coach (Tom Thibodeau). He would have found his 2011 Mavs.

The comparison to Dirk again...by the way, that Bulls team is better than the 2011 Mavericks. This is especially true if Derrick Rose comes back healthy.

Thirty years from now, long after he has retired and hopefully spent his more than $300 million nest egg wisely, Carmelo will be sitting on the porch of one of his nine houses, nursing a drink, staring out at an ocean and thinking about the unknown. Should he have picked Chicago? How much money is enough money? What’s the price of peace? What would it have been worth to know — to really, truly know? Was he good enough? Could he have gotten there? Did he have it in him?

Or he will be sitting there thinking about all of the money he made playing basketball professionally and that's nice to have? He can also look at his Olympic Gold medals and know he won an NCAA Championship for Jim Boeheim as well. There are some things he can hang his hat on outside of deep thoughts about the price of peace.

Instead, he’ll have to settle for people like me: the ones maintaining that he WAS good enough, only it’s an opinion and not a fact.

Right. Much of this column was based on an opinion (like how many superstars are in the NBA) that Bill masquerades as facts.

In A Bronx Tale, Sonny famously tells Calogero that “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Well, what happens if you didn’t waste your talent, but it kind of got wasted anyway?

But Anthony did waste his talent according to Bill. Twice Anthony had the chance to join a contending team with a stronger roster and both times he set it up to where he didn't up choosing this path. So Anthony did waste his talent in a way, and Bill even states that in this column. Anyway, speaking of wasted talent, this is the end of another Bill Simmons rambling column. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

10 comments MMQB Review: Peter Comes Back from Vacation Firing on All Socially Aware Cylinders Edition

Two housekeeping notes...first off, Peter King is back and Gregg Easterbrook is back. Summer will be over, which means I will hopefully be able to get the post rate up to 5 per week. Also, I'm still filling spaces in the fantasy football league and will give it a few more days. Otherwise, there may be as many as five spaces open in the league for those that want to join. I will post the information once I make sure those who played last year don't want to participate this year. 

Peter King has returned from his month long hibernation/coffee binge to continue writing MMQB and do a tour of NFL training camps. He did come back for one week during his vacation to do an all-CFL edition of MMQB, which I didn't cover here, mostly because I don't know enough about the CFL to refute anything Peter wrote. It also prevented me from using the "Canadian issues" tag on a post, which is always a sad state of affairs. This week Peter talks about the Buffalo Bills, all this hope NFL teams have, inexplicably ranks the NFL teams before training camp begins and continues to write the Adieu Haiku much to my chagrin. What I find interesting is Peter used the tag "Cam Newton" for this MMQB. Being a Panthers fan I was interested to see what he wrote about Newton thinking it had something to do with his new Drakkar Noir fragrance or anything else of interest. Well, there's really nothing. He has a sentence about how Newton is recovering from surgery and that's pretty much it. Not sure I understand his use of that tag since he doesn't really talk about Newton. Peter also tagged "Chris Snee," and doesn't have much of a discussion on Snee. He has at least more than one sentence about Snee though.

Let's dive back into the world of caffeinated and turkey burger eating world of Peter King!

Sunday night was precisely what the NFL wants out of the preseason. The night of the first practice of the NFL summer simply couldn’t have gone better. Hope was for sale everywhere on the St. John Fisher campus here, the same way it will be in 31 other camps starting with the Giants today in New Jersey, and there were thousands of consumers, happy to buy that hope.

Fools! They are all fools! They will spend their money, waste their time, and lose their voices cheering for a team that will go 6-10. Meanwhile Roger Goodell counts his money.

One guy called me over to show me the Ralph Wilson tattoo he just had etched on his arm this off-season, in tribute to the late Hall of Fame owner of the team.

Oh, so the Ralph Wilson tattoo wasn't a tribute to Joe Montana?

There was the promising quarterback (the Bills hope), Manuel, getting the benefit of the doubt from the adoring crowd. He’d missed six games last year due to injury, and never played as well as the Bills had hoped, and he enters this summer with a giant question mark over his head.

This is as opposed to the vast array of rookie quarterbacks who enter the NFL, get injured for almost half the season, and then still manage to prove there are no questions about their ability.

Speaking of Watkins, he’s the belle of the football here.

SEE WHAT PETER DID THERE?

WARNING: THIS IS REAL PROFESSIONAL SPORTS WRITING, AMATEURS WHO CAN'T HANDLE THE USE OF PUNS NEED NOT APPLY.

And they love GM Doug Whaley for overpaying to move up to get Watkins in the first round last May. To move up five spots in the first round, from nine to four, Whaley paid next year’s first-round and fourth-round picks to Cleveland. 

No, they love Dough Whaley for moving up and getting Watkins. They don't love that Whaley went and overpaid for Sammy Watkins. Besides, who is to say it was an overpay? I don't know that I recall Peter calling the Falcons moving up to get Julio Jones as an overpay. It's certainly worked out pretty well for the Falcons.

The Bills, following the lead of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, played loud tunes—U2, Macklemore, Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, House of Pain—for more than half the practice. 

Were the Seahawks the first team to play practice with loud music or something? I feel like I recall other NFL teams practicing with loud music, but Peter is obsessed with the fact Pete Carroll plays loud music while his Seahawks team practices. Peter seems to think this is some magic elixir that helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl. And quite frankly, I would be very de-motivated to practice hard if I heard some U2 or Black Eyed Peas coming from the sound system. Still, I remember other teams practicing with loud music prior to the Seahawks. I feel like Peter is trying to tie the loud music into winning football games.

There were other reasons to be excited. Running back Bryce Brown, supposedly a spare part acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, ran like he had rockets in his shoes.

Who the hell said that Bryce Brown was a spare part? Peter is doing a lot of editorializing early in his return to writing MMQB. Bryce Brown has played pretty well in the games where he was actually given a shot to get more than five carries. It's not easy backing up LeSean McCoy. Where does the idea Brown was a spare part come from?

The Bills haven’t made the playoffs in this century. They’ve had nine straight losing seasons. Imagine not winning 10 games in the past 14 years. Fourteen!

They never should have fired Wade Phillips. Huge mistake. 

This is a better team than most if not all of the teams the Bills have fielded since their last playoff season, 1999. It’s a group that can win now if the quarterback plays at a B-plus level.

Considering Peter just got done telling us that the Bills haven't won 10 games in 14 years, (Fourteen!) it may not be saying much that this is the best Bills team since 1999. It just may mean this team could win 9 games this season.

In other words, Dareus is a total mess.

Asked how troubling it is that Dareus didn’t report to camp in shape given how many strikes he already has against him, Marrone would say only: “He’ll be in shape, ready to play.”

Got that rookie contract coming up soon. Gotta pull a Trevor Ariza and bust your ass for a season to get a long-term deal, then Operation Shutdown/Smokey and the Dareus Bandit can continue.

Manuel feels it.

“At Florida State, we were so used to winning, it was customary. When I got here, you could just feel it, how much they want it. First day of camp, a Sunday night, you see the stands packed, you hear them for over two hours … People say Buffalo’s this, Buffalo’s that, Buffalo’s cold. To me, if you win, it’s the best place on earth. Like Tallahassee. It’s a college-town atmosphere here.

I think Peter King would say that the Bills have been playing as an NFL team at a college football-level over the past 14 years.

All you have here is the Bills.

Well, and the Buffalo Sabres.

Obviously the Sabres too.

You just said (looks back at transcript), "All you have here is the Bills" and then said "obviously" there are the Sabres too. It must be not that obvious the Sabres are there too, because you just completely forgot about them. That's like saying all the Broncos have his Peyton Manning, then saying obviously there is Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller too. It makes not of sense.

But if the Bills win, it’s a whole different city.’’

Football is more popular than hockey. Got it. I'm going to need to move on before I make an FSU joke.

So we’ll see if Manuel and Watkins can hit the ground running together. The first team period was a start. Said Manuel:...So on draft day, I’m out at a restaurant with my father in south Florida, and when I saw on TV that we made that trade and drafted him, I jumped out of my chair. C.J. Spiller calls me right away and says, ‘We got our boy! We got our boy!’ Because we’d been talking about it since January. My phone went almost dead, because 18,000 people called me at one time.

That must be a hell of a call waiting backup. I get irritated when one person tries to call me and I'm already on the phone.

(Note: This hasn't happened since approximately 2003)

It’s going to be great to watch him grow.”

And he is going to need to grow, because the history of sub-6'2" wide receivers drafted in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft isn't illustrious.

Standing in the end zone, Whaley smiled. “They love me now,” he said.

And tomorrow? They’ll still love him. It’s hope season for seven more weeks, for 31 other franchises. Just the way the NFL wants it.

(Roger Goodell rubs his hands together excitedly, then doesn't suspend an NFL owner after he confesses to stabbing a woman to death while drunk because "we will wait for all the facts to come out"...then Goodell hands out a one game suspension to a player for repeatedly violating the dress code)

The Fine 15, Pre-Camp Edition

Now this is odd. A Fine 15 some 46 days before the season starts. But there’s nothing like a little controversy to sell papers.

I guess it's nice to see Peter is at least being upfront about putting a pre-Camp Edition of the Fine 15 (and is it "Fine 15" this year and not "Fine Fifteen"?...I ask because "Fine 15" sounds like a movie Marvel will make in 2025 with every single one of their licensed superheroes in it) in MMQB to get some feedback, positive or negative, and get eyes to read MMQB. I can imagine the dip in readership from when Peter writes MMQB to when he has guest writers is pretty vast.

1. Seattle.  I like the approach of the coach and the defense

Well, that and they just won the Super Bowl with an absolutely stifling defense and lost almost zero key players on that defense.

3. San Francisco. If I trusted Colin Kaepernick as much as I trust Russell Wilson, 1 and 3 would be reversed.

It's the backwards hat and tattoos isn't it? Hey, Russell Wilson is getting divorced. That shows he makes commitments that he won't work hard to uphold and once he's achieved something he takes it for granted. I mean, doesn't that sound like a sentence that is going to be in an article written later in the Fall if the Seahawks start out 2-4?

4. New Orleans. The rich get obscenely richer, and Brandin Cooks wins offensive rookie of the year, and the defense stays stout.

Hey, maybe they will even manage to win their division this year or will eventually earn this #4 ranking as opposed to having it handed to them! Welp, guess there's a bounty on my head now.

(There is a statute of limitations on bounty jokes. I think we are about at that point. Just wanted to check though.)

5. Indianapolis. I’m buying the Luck hype,

No fucking way, Peter! YOU? You buy the Luck hype? I can't believe it. It's not like you have been up his ass since he was drafted in the NFL. You know what, it's not even hype. He's the real thing. My snark aside, it's unfair to call it hype at this point.

plus he gets back one of the great young tight ends in the game—Dwayne Allen. 

Let's slow the roll here. Luck has hype, but Dwayne Allen is one of the best tight ends in the game? Let's see how he does after missing nearly the entire last season before going back to his 2012 season (his only season in the NFL) to issue "great, young" proclamations.

6. Denver. Having a hard time getting That Game out of my head.

Don't worry, it will be out of Peter's head when the Broncos are 10-1 and Peter writes a story about how Peyton Manning feels even better than he did last year and the sky is the limit for this Broncos team.

9. Chicago.  Marc Trestman’s acing chemistry class. He’s got Jay Cutler kumbaya-ing in the cafeteria at Halas Hall. And who’s covering those Olajuwon-sized receivers and tight end Martellus Bennett?

Hey! Only Joel Embiid can be compared to Hakeem Olajuwon these days. I'm sure there is a copyright somewhere regarding this.

10. St. Louis.

Presented without comment. I'M JUST KIDDING!

#10, huh? I'm not saying it won't happen, but these writers have been drinking this Jeff "8-8" Fisher Juice for so long I'm not sure they even know how to stop. The Rams are fantastic on defense and they have an offense that could be very good if Bradford is healthy. Maybe they are the #10th best team in the NFL, but they are in a very tough division.

Might not show up in the record, but the Rams are going to be hell to play, and they’ll be a playoff team if Sam Bradford plays the way he was drafted to play.

Read that sentence and try to tell me Peter's relationship with Marvin Demoff doesn't come into play when he discusses the Rams. "It may not show in the record." He's already making excuses even if Fisher doesn't make the playoffs this year. For what Jeff "8-8" Fisher gets paid to coach the Rams, the team's talent sure as shit better show up in the record. Fisher gets paid enough for that to happen.

I don't dislike Sam Bradford, but as many times as Peter has bashed QB's like Andy Dalton, E.J. Manuel, and Geno Smith (and they weren't even #1 overall picks), how many years has the "IF Bradford can play well" dance been written? It's been since he's been in the league. Yes, he could play great, or he may not. At what point will it be known if Bradford is going to play like a #1 overall pick? I can see the Rams making the playoffs, but I don't believe they will make it in 2015. That's not what Jeff Fisher does as a coach, despite the media's constant talking him up. He's simply not the coach that his reputation and salary claims him to be. It drives me crazy and my distaste for how Peter talks about the Rams over the past three years as a sleeping juggernaut frustrates me. I don't hate the Rams, but Jeff Fisher is a more dressed-up Wade Phillips when it comes to making the playoffs.

11. Arizona. Might not show up in the record, but the Cards are going to be hell to play,

(Looks back up at his previous rant) Ummm....my point still stands about Marvin Demoff and Peter King though.

and they’ll be a playoff team if Carson Palmer plays close to the way he played in his prime.

And when will that be again?

13. Cincinnati.  Deep and talented, but let me be the 4,672nd guru to say in the last six months, “It all comes down to Dalton.”

Everyone who reads this blog knows I understand a team wins games and it can't be thrown on the shoulders (positively or negatively) of the quarterback. I do think it's important to know Andy Dalton has more playoff appearances than Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer combined and he's only been in the NFL for three years. I think it's important to think about this while reading Peter's unbridled hope for the Cardinals and Rams, while throwing the Bengals season entirely on Dalton's shoulders and ranking the Bengals lower than Palmer and Bradford's team.

Speaking of media favorites...how about some Chris Kluwe discussion? I agree with Kluwe's crusade while also finding some hypocrisy in his actions and justification for his actions. They don't make him a bad person, but it does make me question the messenger a bit.

Now, Kluwe has written for the site in the past, and he is a smart and engaging person, and he fiercely defends the rights of the oppressed. But I do not see how he justifies poking fun at strength coach Tom Kanavy, who formerly worked at Penn State, by cutting out the seat of his pants and, in an apparent joking way, saying he was a Penn State victim and telling Kanavy to stay away from him while his buttocks were exposed. Kluwe said on Twitter, in justification, that “over half the team” chided Kanavy about the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia, some of them cruelly. That makes no sense to me. It’s justifying what you did the same way gang members do—everybody else was doing it, so why single me out?

(Vomits into a trash can) Peter is 100% correct about this. Kluwe is suing the Vikings because of comments he disagreed with that his special teams coach made and he thinks his opposition to the special teams coach's position meant Kluwe was released by the Vikings. The same mob mentality that he is accusing the Vikings of participating in is being used by him as an excuse for why he made a fairly inappropriate joke in the locker room. The whole "everyone was doing it" mentality is a justification for homophobia in the locker room. Yet this is the same excuse Kluwe used to explain why he pretended he was a Penn State victim with his butt exposed. And no, this isn't highlighting the Penn State programs for their failures, this is pretending to be a victim of pedophilia. Everyone has said/done things they regret or can be taken in the wrong context. It's just if you are going to throw stones, be sure you don't use the same justification explaining your actions those you are throwing stones at are using as well.

Kluwe so stridently fought for the right side on other issues, like gay marriage, and it’s just so sordid to join the crowd in making fun of a pedophile.

Peter King with this fucking editorializing. There is no "right side" of gay marriage. The "right side" is a complete opinion and I don't like it's being classified as "right" or "wrong." That's Peter though. Once a tidal wave of momentum arrives on a social issue he's willing to catch that wave and ride it in like he's been there all along. He did it with the Redskins name too. Once there was a backlash, then he made his stand and stop using the Redskins name. I hate the use of "right" or "wrong" on social issues. Peter needs to stop it and talk football. This discussion can be had without using such subjective terms.

In 2012, Kluwe had the best net punting average (39.7 yards per punt) in his eight-year Viking career, and his third-best gross average, at 45.0 yards. He wasn’t a bad outdoor punter, as the investigation suggested. In fact, over his last two seasons, he had a better punting average—45.83 yards per punt—than when he punted indoors (45.30). So, at the end of the day, this is a story that’s not going to paint anyone with a glory brush.

But Kluwe was expensive and he was a punter. NFL players get released for money reasons all the time, especially when they play a position like punter where a replacement making 50% of the previous player's money with 85% of the production can be found. Kluwe very well could have been cut for valid, football-related reasons. 

“They need to change the name. In this day and age, it’s just not right.”

—Jordan Wright, the granddaughter of the late Washington owner George Preston Marshall, who named the team the “Redskins” when he moved the franchise from Boston to Washington in 1937, to longtime football writer Len Shapiro, in a piece he wrote for Leesburg (Va.) Today. Thanks to Pro Football Talk for pointing out this piece by Shapiro.

Again, more of Peter presenting points of view that he agrees with in an effort to make a social change related to football. It's not the end of the world he does this, but two years ago (one year ago) Peter didn't seem to have a strong opinion on the Redskins name that he spoke about in print. Now, he's fervently against the use of the Redskins name. "Leading from behind" is what they call it I believe.

Tony Gwynn died while I was away.

Peter wasn't away when Tony Gwynn died. No, not at all. Tony Gwynn died while Peter was away. Gwynn's death must be framed around Peter's absence in writing MMQB.

My favorite Gwynn stat:

Lifetime at-bats versus Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez: 143.
Strikeouts versus Maddux and Martinez: 0.
Batting average versus Maddux and Martinez: .350.


And yes, I know Maddux wasn’t a feared strikeout pitcher. But the man is 10th on the all-time strikeout list and averaged 6.1 K’s per nine innings.

I love Peter King. He looks at a stat that shows Gwynn hit .350 against two Hall of Fame pitchers and he focuses on the fact Gwynn didn't strike out against either pitcher during his entire career. Sure, that's impressive, but why waste time defending Maddux as a strikeout pitcher rather than focus on the fact Gwynn hit .350 against Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux? That's the impressive statistic.

I saw the Pirates play in Pittsburgh, with my wife and my brother-in-law and his boys, at beautiful PNC Park (“beautiful” or “breathtaking” should be the mandatory adjective every time PNC Park is discussed) in June. The day of the game, I was in line at a Starbucks in downtown Pittsburgh,

There's a shock. I wonder how Peter's sort-of-nutritionist feels about his drinking habits at Starbucks these days?

And who do you think is in front of me in line?

Well, there are billions of people in the world, so I should get this one...was it Carrot Top?

Andrew McCutchen. With his fiancĂ©, Maria Hanslovan, in line with him, McCutchen ordered his drink. I didn’t hear what it was.

BUT DID YOU WRITE DOWN MCCUTCHEN'S ENTIRE CONVERSATION AND THEN TRY TO TRANSCRIBE IT HERE IN MMQB?

I can picture Peter rubbernecking around in line trying in vain to hear what Andrew McCutchen ordered.

"Name for the cup?” the man on the register said.

“Andrew,” McCutchen said.

What? McCutchen didn't say, "Don't you know who I am?" to the man on the register? Peter finds that is an excellent way to get a free cup of coffee.

We ordered, then went to wait for ours next to the reigning National League Most Valuable Player. In cases like this, I always think the famous person should be left alone, because the famous person I assume gets so few chances to be left alone. Thirty, 40, 50 seconds pass.

You know the whole time Peter is standing there he's thinking, "Man, I hope McCutchen recognizes who I am so we can start up a conversation that I can brag about in MMQB."

“Andrew,” the barista called. His drink was ready. He claimed it, and his fiancĂ© claimed hers, and they went over to sit down on a couch in the store. One fellow came over and said hi and shook his hand, and McCutchen was pleasant enough, and that was that, and the MVP of the National League went to sit down and enjoy some private time—

Oh, so that's it? So the summary of these five paragraphs could be thus, "I saw Andrew McCutchen at Starbucks where he ordered a coffee and wasn't bothered by but one man the entire time." I guess that would seem a lot less interesting of a story. I thought this story was going somewhere a little more...umm...colorful, maybe? That's as opposed to "He ordered coffee and then drank it." 

1. I think I’d like my four Guest MMQB writers to take a collective bow. Thanks, Marc Trestman, for education us heathens about the CFL. Thanks, Vernon Davis, for taking us into the world of a holdout. Thanks, Khalil Mack, for telling us how you got from unknown high school player to being a high first-round pick. And thank you, Rich Eisen, for educating us about the Silly Season. I couldn’t have said it better, because there is so, so, so much wasted time and energy spent on the month off from football, which should be a month off from football because nothing at all happens in the month before camps open.

Of course, while talking about how nothing happens during the month off from football, Peter still takes the time to have NFL-related content posted to THE MMQB and still wants visitors to read his site everyday. So he wants there to be a break from football, but also wants there to not be a break from football so his advertisers stay content during the NFL offseason. Nothing happens, but read THE MMQB everyday about this nothing.

4. I think one of the most interesting teams this preseason will be Carolina. Lots of moving pieces there.

This is as opposed to the other NFL teams who didn't have a lot of changes to their roster in the offseason.

A grab-bag of discarded vets (Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Jason Avant) plus rookie Kelvin Benjamin forming an all-new receiving corps.

I HAVEN'T HEARD THE PANTHERS HAVE SHITTY RECEIVERS! THIS IS NEW INFORMATION TO ME!

The team is in salary cap hell and are actively trying to get out of salary cap hell because in the next 2-3 years they have to re-sign Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Star Lotulelei. It's a tough process right now. So there's no money to spend on long-term contracts for free agent receivers who want long-term contracts.

Cam Newton trying to do two important things in the next seven weeks: get his surgically repaired ankle in football shape and bonding with a bunch of guys not names Steve Smith. And finding a new left tackle.

It's funny how the whole "new left tackle" thing gets constantly thrown into the end of any evaluation of the Panthers team as a sort of afterthought. The wide receivers aren't a problem. The fact 4 of the 5 offensive linemen who started in the playoff game last year will either be retired or playing new positions on the line is by far the team's biggest issue. Cam Newton is going to die. The projected right/left tackle is a guy who was playing defensive tackle two years ago. Carolina Medical Center already has a room on standby from September to December with surgeons waiting for Newton's eventual arrival.

7. I think the Washington franchise will have a new team name by 2016.

That name? Daniel Snyder will choose to name them the Washington Indians just to put the onus on the Cleveland Indians to change their team name. Once this backlash died down, then Daniel Snyder will name George W. Bush as the General Manager and talk about changing the team name to the Conservatives, at which point Peter will still refuse to call the franchise by it's team name.

9. I think Jay Glazer will be great at introducing Michael Strahan for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in two weeks, because no one on this earth knows Strahan better than Glazer. It’s cool to see a media person named for this honor.

Is it though? Maybe. Jay Glazer's business relationships with the players he has covered has consistently vexed me. I would say it doesn't affect his coverage, but given his Richie Incognito interview last year I'm not entirely sure that's true. The guy can break NFL news though. I just don't know if it's "cool" to see a media person named for this honor. Granted, he knows Strahan well, but his job is also to be an impartial observer and reporter.

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

b. The World Cup should happen every two years, not four.
c. I agree with Rich Eisen: Ian Darke needs to do an NFL game on TV, for somebody.

Skills at calling one sport doesn't always translate to another sport. There are plenty of examples of this being true.

j. Hey Ed Bouchette: Congrats on winning the McCann Award, emblematic of great writing and great contributions to football journalism, given by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You are one of the best people in our business, and I know scores echo my sentiments. So pleased for you, and I hope all who have learned so much about the Steelers from your writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette take a moment to thank you in the coming weeks.

(Bengoodfella opens up his Yahoo email account, copies and pastes this text into a blank email and then confirms these words would indeed fit into the format of an email to Bouchette rather than being placed in a national column where they are less personal and slightly more pretentious)

l. Dustin Pedroia’s just not the same as he was. Either he overachieved when he first came up (I am not a big “overachieving’’ and “underachieving’’ person, because how are you significantly better or worse than the norm over 1,000 at-bats) but, really, the numbers don’t lie. He’s an excellent fielder and absolutely average hitter.

What the hell? So much to discuss here.

1. Dustin Pedroia had 4,029 at-bats in the majors prior to this year. He has been very, very good during the time he had those at-bats.

2. This is the first season during his entire career that Pedroia could be known as a player who "underachieved." He was 7th in the MVP race last year and had a really good season.

3. Peter writes "Either..." but doesn't name another option outside of Pedroia overachieving when he first came up.

4. What is this "first came up" crap? Dustin Pedroia has been great for seven full MLB seasons now. He's 30 and can't be expected to be great every single season. This is some epic writing-off that Peter has done to Pedroia. It's not like Pedroia has been terrible this season, he's just not up to his own standard, which is pretty high.

5. Quit being a drama queen about this. Pedroia isn't having a great year. This happens and it's never happened to him on this level. Don't act like his entire career has been a facade because he's having one season that isn't up to his usual standard.

m. And after watching the World Series last year, in which David Ortiz was un-retireable, how is he hitting .250-ish and getting waylaid by the Danny Duffys of the world?

Well, he is 38 years old. He is getting on-base at a near .350 clip and has 20 home runs. Sure, Danny Duffy maybe struck him out, but he's just not hitting for a high average. Let's calm the sadness down just a little bit.

o. Coffeenerdness: I’m not very good at keeping my Macchiato agreement, drinking three a week. Now that I’m going on this camp trip, I see more Macchiatos and fewer iced coffees in my next month.

Oh no, Peter's sort-of nutritionist is going to be pissed off.

p. Beernerdness: My three favorite beers from vacation: Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Va.) Northern Lights IPA, one of the most flavorful IPAs I have ever tasted. Had it with a turkey burger at Boylan’s in Charlottesville, Va., on a warm June day, my first-ever trip to the Virginia campus …

This is a really good beer. I'm not sure I would have it with a turkey burger though. I'm not sure how it pairs with a turkey burger. That's like having a darker beer while eating a salad. Seems wrong to me.

q. If we don’t act against the Russian separatists for the downing of the Malaysian airliner full of innocents, when exactly would we act against anyone for anything?

Peter is very socially aware this week. He's like an 18 year old during his first semester of college. If Peter continues along this track he'll be protesting the treatment of cattle and boycotting big companies (except Starbucks of course) because they turn the American public into mindless idiots who only want to purchase products that show just how addicted to our comforts we are.

t. Good to be back. You’ll have me for the next 47 weeks, and I hope I can give you more than 10 things to think about this season.

Every single week you give me more than 10 things that I think about. Granted, probably not in the way that you think you intend, but I do think about a lot of what you write and it makes me wonder.

The Adieu Haiku
NFL camp time.
So optimistic out here.
League of hopes and dreams.


I'm still waiting newly socially aware Peter King's response to his BFF Tony Dungy's comment that he wouldn't have taken Michael Sam in the draft because "...things will happen." It's a test of Peter's new social awareness against his love of treating his friends kindly whether they deserve it or not.

I still don't see the purpose of the "Adieu Haiku" but at least Peter didn't link the Bruce Springsteen song "Land of Hopes and Dreams."