Thursday, April 24, 2014

0 comments Mitch Williams: The Gift That Just Keeps On Giving

I've come to love Mitch Williams' short blog postings. These short blog postings are usually as long as they are insightful. Today, Mitch Williams takes on Carlos Gomez and his flair for having flair while on the baseball field. Carlos Gomez has irritated his fellow baseball players before and now he's doing it again. The Pirates and Gerrit Cole took exception to Carlos Gomez flipping his bat and this created a brawl between the Pirates and Brewers. Mitch Williams is very much on team Cole and thinks that Carlos Gomez should not do things like flip his bat, but if he does more than that then the players should police themselves, which is sort of what happened during the brawl I believe.

After watching what happened in Pittsburgh yesterday when Carlos Gomez hit the long fly ball to center and flipped his bat, then jogged until he saw it wasn’t going out of the park, at which point he decided to run.

I'm not the king of grammar and sentence structure, so I would normally feel bad for pointing this out, "but after watching what happened in Pittsburgh yesterday..." what? What happened after this? This sentence just sort of ended without Mitch telling us what happened after he watched the game. It trails off as if Mitch got distracted by something shiny. After reading this sentence where Mitch Williams described what happened in the game between the Pirates and Brewers.

He ended up sliding into third with a triple, and when Gerrit Cole said something to him, Gomez charged off of third base at him.

It's baseball's version of justice. Gomez violated an unwritten rule, tempers flared, a fight started and the world moved on.

A couple of things come to mind when I see that. The first being that if I were Cole I would have charged back and tagged him out.
The second is wondering how many times this sort of thing has to happen with the same player instigating animosity between teams before something is done about it!

I like the paragraph break, but there is no additional line to indicate "The second" began a new paragraph. I think it's clear at this point that Mitch Williams edits his own blog. 

Back to these two sentences separately.

The first being that if I were Cole I would have charged back and tagged him out.

No, you would not have. Actually you know what, maybe Mitch would have tagged out Gomez if given the choice between making the tag and being punched in the face. If a human being is being charged, then I think the fight-or-flight reflex kicks in and making sure you get credit for the out isn't going to be the first priority. Especially since the umpires would probably claim Gomez isn't out since time was unofficially called before trying to tackle/punch/pretend to fight Gerrit Cole. But again, in this situation getting punched in the face just to record an out is not the correct move.

The second is wondering how many times this sort of thing has to happen with the same player instigating animosity between teams before something is done about it!

Here is the (lack of) brilliance of Mitch Williams. He states here that he wants "something done about it." Later in this short blog posting he will say what makes baseball great is the players police themselves. So how can something be done about it if Mitch wants the players to police themselves? This makes not of sense.

Last year it happened when he hit a home run off Paul Maholm. Even in the NFL there is a penalty for taunting. But there is no such rule in baseball. Since there is no rule, the players have to handle it themselves. I am speaking for both hitters and pitchers.

Does Mitch want a rule rather than have the players handle it themselves? Of course not, but this doesn't mean something shouldn't be done about it. MLB needs to do something about Carlos Gomez flipping his bat, while not actually doing anything that prevents the players from policing themselves. Perhaps Mitch wants MLB to issue a statement saying all violations of unwritten rules will result in unwritten suspensions and unwritten verbal warnings followed by fines that don't exist.

If a pitcher strikes a hitter out in the middle of a game and stares down a hitter, or does anything that shows that hitter up, I think the opposing pitcher has every right to send a messege to an opposing hitter that he better have a talk with his pitcher.

Hopefully Mitch Williams won't be providing this message in written form because it would probably be misspelled. Perhaps Mitch meant that the opposing pitcher has every right to send a MASSAGE to the opposing hitter in order to calm his nerves down and he just accidentally used the letter "e" instead of the letter "a." Or more likely, perhaps Mitch Williams can't spell very simple words and should have someone like a sixth grader looking over his shoulder to help him spell big words like "message."

I am of the firm belief that as a pitcher there is one out that you can celebrate, and that is the last out of a game.

Which not-so-coincidentally would be the out Mitch Williams got to celebrate as a pitcher since he was a closer. Weird how that works.

As for hitters, I have no problem with teams that get a big hit and drive a run in and look to their dugout and do an antlers sign or whatever it is that the team has come up with.

Teams can't celebrate scoring the last run of the game in a walk-off situation? Oh no, they can, it's just a batter can't celebrate hitting a home run if he isn't capable of fast-forwarding into the future to know he didn't actually hit a home run.

That creates team chemistry and it shows grown men who make a ton of money still are able to have fun.

You can't just create chemistry. Chemistry only happens through the constant display of the antlers sign. Everyone knows this.

What I couldn’t and can’t stand is a hitter who hits a home run, flips his bat and stands to admire it. As with pitchers the only home run that I think a hitter can throw his hands up in exultation and run as fast or as slow as he wants — as long as he runs while doing it — is a walk-off home run.

You know, if Mitch keeps writing down these rules for when players/teams can celebrate then they will no longer be unwritten rules. At that point, anarchy occurs because unwritten written rules are being violated.

That is not what is being done by Gomez. The ball he hit yesterday wasn’t even a home run.

Which was something Gomez didn't know until the ball landed in the field of play and not on the other side of the wall. So to say, "Gomez celebrated a hit that wasn't even a home run" is silly since the entire reason Gomez celebrated (prematurely as the case may be) is because he thought he had hit a home run.

So in my opinion Cole has every right to say something to him. The fact that Gomez felt the need to charge off third base after Cole should warrant a suspension.

The fact Cole was talking shit to Gomez, partially because he was embarrassed one of his pitches got lit up, is why Gomez felt the need to charge off third base after Cole. If Cole didn't have his pitch get lit up, he wouldn't have had to talk shit to Gomez at third base and the whole situation would have been avoided. Don't be pissy because Gomez almost took you deep.

Back in the old days, any time hitter showed up a pitcher, the next guy up got drilled. When that happens, the offending hitter’s teammates will take care of it.

Wait, so now Mitch is pulling this "back in my day" bullshit that sounds an awful lot like Cole wasn't in the right according to the unwritten rules and Cole should have drilled the next batter as opposed to mouth-off to Gomez at third base. Really MLB shouldn't let Mitch Williams have his own blog if he isn't going to spell words correctly nor make any damn sense when he writes. He says Cole was in the right in this situation, then states Cole didn't get retribution the way he should have.

A few years ago, the Rangers were playing the A’s and Vicente Padilla gave up a home run. The hitter didn’t stand and admire it. He didn’t do anything to show up Padilla. But Padilla drilled the next hitter. As a pitcher, if you make a mistake and a guy hits a home run off you and doesn’t do a thing to show you up and you hit the next guy, you are an idiot.

Okay, let's keep focused on the current situation and not talk about situations where the pitcher was in the wrong. This is supposed to be about how Gomez was in the wrong for admiring his home run and Cole had every right to jaw at Gomez while he was on third base.

The next inning, Michael Young came up and the A’s pitcher threw at him the entire at bat, until finally hitting him. In my opinion, that is what should have happened.

Part of the problem with this type of justice is suspensions will follow if a pitcher throws at a batter now. Each team gets one warning and then if another batter gets hit pitchers start getting ejected and suspensions could occur.

Plus, I can't read minds, but I would doubt the A's hit Young because Padilla violated an unwritten rule by hitting an A's batter who didn't violate an unwritten rule. Young got hit because an A's player got hit. It's probably that simple.

Following the game, the Rangers released Padilla. Well handled by the Rangers. So I don’t just take the pitcher’s side in these matters.

Well, Padilla did get the swine flu. I sort of feel like there is an unwritten rule stating if a pitchers gets the swine flu then his team must release him. If he flies back to you, using his new swine flu powers, then it's meant to be.

But when it comes to what Gomez did, let’s look at this from a pure common sense standpoint.

Oh, so we are back talking about Carlos Gomez again? If we are going to look at this from a pure common sense standpoint then who will be writing the rest of this column in Mitch's place?

Gomez has played eight years, averaging 14 home runs a season. He should be running hard out of the box every ball he hits.

Yes, Carlos Gomez should be hustling on every play. It's always a good idea. But this isn't about Carlos Gomez not hustling, but is about Gomez's behavior when he believes he hit a home run. Correct? Most baseball players don't hustle out of the box if they think they have hit a home run, so why would Gomez start sprinting out of the box if he thinks he's hit a home run? Recently Derek Jeter didn't hustle out of the box because he thought he hit a home run. This shit happens, yet somehow the world moves on.

Adam Dunn has played 14 years and has averaged 38 home runs per season. He hits balls that are no-doubt bombs. And yet Dunn drops his bat and runs. Miguel Cabrera has played 12 years and averages 35 home runs a year. He drops his bat and runs, too. Neither of them are speed burners, and they know when they have hit it out. But neither of them does anything to show up a pitcher.

Two things:

1. Miguel Cabrera and Adam Dunn's running speed is equivalent to Carlos Gomez's jogging speed.

2. These two players do not run out of the box if they think they have hit a home run. Not usually.

Last year Miggy hit a ball really well to right center in Detroit he took off running. The ball was caught and as he jogged across the mound, Miggy slapped the opposing pitcher on the butt as to say good job.

Cabrera was running because he knew he had not hit a home run. That's the difference. Mitch Williams is willfully ignoring that Gomez thought he had hit a home run, so that's why he didn't come tearing out of the box.

That is respecting the game! And the people you are playing against.

Remember the time Carlos Gomez hit a ball really well to left center and didn't even leave the batter's box, but instead started walking backwards to first base, then after he saw the ball was caught took a piss on the pitcher's mound as he walked backwards across it? That's not respecting the game and the people he is playing against.

I think Carlos Gomez has a ton of talent, but he needs to learn respect for the game and the players who play it. Like I said, the players should have fun and let their personalities show.

Let's see if I understand Mitch's position. Don't celebrate any accomplishment on the field that doesn't involve a show of antler horns with your teammates. Antler horns are fine and not running out of the batter's box is fine if you actually hit a home run. Thinking you hit a home run and not hustling of the batter's box is bad and disrespecting the game. The pitcher is perfectly allowed to jaw at that player who disrespected the game while he is on-base, except the pitcher should not jaw at the player while he is on-base and instead risk a suspension by throwing at the next batter, followed by one of his teammates getting hit the next inning.

I think that sums it up.

Would Gomez like it if a pitcher struck him out, and pointed his finger like it was a gun, and blew the the smoke off the barrel and waved him back to the bench? No, he wouldn’t.

No, he would not like that. It would hurt his feelings greatly.

But at this point, that would be warranted.

So is this another unwritten rule? If a batter violates an unwritten rule by showing up the pitcher then the pitcher can then violate an unwritten rule by mimicking the batter's behavior. I feel like these unwritten rules need to be written down, but then if they got written down they would become rules and everyone would realize how stupid they sound sometimes.

There is a great quote by Barry Sanders when asked why he didn’t celebrate when he scored a touchdown. He said, “I think you ought to act like you’ve been there before.”

I'm pretty sure it was just "Act like you've been there before," but I should probably be happy that Mitch Williams spelled all the words correctly in this sentence. I love that in baseball, a sport that is accused of not being exciting, players who try to differentiate themselves and have a personality are frowned upon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

7 comments MMQB Review: Peter King is Angered That Starbucks Expects Him to Wait in Line Edition

Peter King followed up his shameless pimping out of Alex Mack at the request of Marvin Demoff by telling us that Demoff did great by getting the Browns to give Mack $18 million guaranteed in the first two years of the contract, then acted like the Browns did Mack wrong by not signing him to a long-term deal until the Jags had made an offer to Mack. Because letting the market set Mack's value is the wrong thing to do and all. Peter also told us how Tom Savage was climbing draft boards because he has a good arm and he's a real workout warrior. In five years, we will remember this is how teams make mistakes, by over-analyzing prospects and focusing on measurables over performance on the field. This week Peter tells us about the "torturous" 2014 draft, gives his readers some more "hot guys" (his words, not mine) that teams are feeding him in order to create a smokescreen, and puts Starbucks in it's place for one of their thousand locations having too long of a line. Peter stopped there twice and had to wait really long in line. This madness must stop, because there is no other place on Earth for Peter to purchase coffee and he's too entitled to be forced to wait in line.

In my travels over the past week to watch Johnny Manziel game tape with people who know quarterbacks and quarterback play (more about that next week in Sports Illustrated and The MMQB),

What this means is Peter followed Johnny Manziel all weekend in the hopes Manziel would speak to him and remember their luncheon together a few weeks ago, praying the passion could be re-ignited. Alas, he only got to talk to those who "know" quarterback play about Manziel. What this means is there are certain people who fancy themselves quarterback experts, though if they were really that good at recognizing a quarterback who would be successful in the NFL these people would be employed by an NFL team. After all, quarterback is the most important position on the field and if a person really "knew" quarterbacks then this knowledge would be pretty valuable to an NFL franchise, no? So these are people who analyze and evaluate quarterbacks but don't "know" quarterbacks well enough to take this information and make accurate enough projections about that quarterback's performance in the NFL to where an NFL team would want to hire that person.

I had a coach tell me that trying to figure out which passer to pick this year is “torturous.” I’ll have a good chunk about the quarterback dilemma with one under-pressure general manager’s view of the QB market … and why he agrees with the “torturous” description.

This is as opposed to every other NFL Draft when there are a ton of sure-fire NFL-ready quarterbacks? Like you know, every other NFL Draft except maybe 17-18 over the last two decades.

Peter is already starting his whole movement towards "This NFL Draft is so unpredictable" statements. It's starting with there not being quarterbacks that most scouts can agree are the best in the draft and will end with Blake Bortles falling out of the first round as Peter marvels at how shockingly unpredictable this draft has been.

But 17 days before the draft begins (Lord help us: Seventeen more mind-numbing days of this), here’s what I’m hearing:

Here are the players that teams are lying to Peter about.

Houston, at No. 1, isn’t set on Jadeveon Clowney.

What? I thought the entire first 10 picks were already set? Consider me shocked. There's no way Clowney falls out of the Top 10 because he is one of the ten picks Peter stated earlier this year in MMQB was set already.

I still think the Texans would go with a more sure thing with the first overall pick than a quarterback—and that sure thing could also be tackle Greg Robinson.

I'm sorry, there is no reason not to draft Jadeveon Clowney #1 overall and take "a sure-thing" like Greg Robinson. None. At worst, Clowney is going to be a decently inconsistent pass-rusher. Don't over-think this Texans. If you like Clowney, take him.

But imagine Mack, the outside linebacker from the University of Buffalo, being the first pick in a stacked draft. Wouldn’t that be something—a second straight Mid-American Conference player (Eric Fisher, Central Michigan, by Kansas City) as the top pick in the NFL draft?

Gosh, that would be real super-special.

Detroit taking a tight end? I doubt it, but North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, the clear top player at the position in this year’s draft, was asked by one team he visited recently who he thought would pick him. “Detroit,’’ he said.

Unfortunately, because Ebron went to UNC and got the typical quality education their athletes get Ebron thinks Detroit is in Wisconsin and he meant that he thought the Packers would draft him.

Pittsburgh likes Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks at wide receiver, and one or both should be there at No. 15 if that’s the direction the Steelers go—and they need to replenish the position after losing two receivers in free agency in two years. (I’d go corner if I were GM Kevin Colbert.)

Does anybody really believe Peter has accurate knowledge on which receivers the Steelers like? Why would this be public information at this point when every other NFL team is lying about who they want to draft?

Tampa Bay is partial to, among others, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans at No. 7. I’ve watched a lot of Johnny Manziel tape recently, and I’ll say this about Evans: supremely talented, extremely hot-headed. He’d better cure his immaturity on the field, and fast.

Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans on either side of the field is just unfair.

Hot guys right now:

"Zac Efron, the guys from One Direction, Ryan Gosling sort of, and any those guys playing the male lead in the 25 movies about a girl in a post-apocalyptic world trying to overcome tyranny in order to save this post-apocalyptic world."

Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Notre Dame tackle/guard Zack Martin, Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. Cold guys right now: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

Considering no NFL teams are telling the truth this time of year, who is "hot" and who is "cold" doesn't mean shit. All this tells me is Teddy Bridgewater may go #1 overall since I know teams are lying right now.

Oakland? Clueless there. Sorry, Black Hole people.

This is as opposed to the other spots in the draft where Peter knows EXACTLY which players will be drafted.

It is a torturous decision, as the coach of a quarterback-needy team told me. As a GM, if you take a quarterback in the first round, any of them, you’re going to go home and not sleep well that night. If you pass on a quarterback with some spellbinding tools—Manziel, for instance—you’re going to go home and not sleep well that night, fearing what you’ve passed up.

It's like this in nearly every other draft as well. There are very, very rarely "sure-thing" quarterbacks available. Andrew Luck was a sure-thing and Peyton Manning was also. Otherwise, there has been no quarterbacks a team can draft and sleep well at night knowing they have chosen the right guy with no regrets.

“The torture part of it,’’ said Spielman, “is you see a player sitting there when you pick who you know can help you right away, a significant player at another position, an impact player as a rookie. Then you ask yourself, ‘How do we feel about our options at quarterback in the second or third round? Is it close? Is there a big separation, or is it close?’

Nearly every team has to do this with the draft choice they make. My favorite team has about six needs they need to address in the draft (guard, tackle, wide receiver, defensive end, cornerback, safety) and if they see a guy sitting there late in the first round they have to ask themselves how they feel about their options at the other positions of need. It's life as a GM and Rick Spielman seems to be working hard to pretend it's a huge deal, most likely because he knows if he fucks up another pick (I know he wasn't the GM when the Vikings drafted Ponder but he "oversaw" the draft where Ponder was taken...whatever that means) at quarterback then someone else will be choosing the next franchise quarterback for Minnesota in the next 2-3 years.

“That’s a big reason why we made it a high priority to sign Matt Cassel back. Every one of these quarterbacks … nothing is a sure thing. There’s no Andrew Luck, no Peyton Manning.

There very rarely is a Luck or Manning just sitting in the draft. Rick Spielman makes me laugh.

It is such a mixed bag with each player—every one of them has positives, every one of them has negatives.

Shut the hell up and choose your franchise quarterback. We understand your job is on the line if the Vikings quarterback situation doesn't get better. Don't use your media contacts to make it seem like you don't get paid to make these tough decisions.

“I agree with that coach, whoever it is. It is torturous this year.”

It's torturous every year when it comes to choosing a quarterback.

“Ideally,’’ said Spielman, “if we did pick a quarterback this year we would want to redshirt him anyway, and when he’d be ready to go, he’d play. But he’d probably use this year as a learning year.

Another year of Matt Cassel Vikings fans. Don't act like you're not excited.

I asked Spielman about the pressure of picking a quarterback in a year when all of them have zits.
“There’s always pressure,’’ he said. “This year, there’s more.’’

No, there's not. There's just more pressure on you because this is the year you have to pick a quarterback as the GM of the Vikings.

This year reminds me of 2011. In fact, GMs should learn from that year. Check out the quarterbacks picked in the top 100 that year:

1. Cam Newton, Carolina
8. Jake Locker, Tennessee        
10. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville  
12. Christian Ponder, Minnesota        
35. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
36. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco  
74. Ryan Mallett, New England

My point: Don’t put the pressure on Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles by picking them so high. Pick a surer thing in the first round, then a quarterback from a large pool in the second round. Or third.

I like how Peter cherry-picks the year 2012 so that he makes it seem like quality quarterbacks can be found in Rounds 2-3 every single season. Here are the quarterbacks selected in Rounds 2 and 3 (and how many QB's drafted later than that have made an impact) since 2008:

2008: Brian Brohm, Chad Henne, Kevin O'Connell (Josh Johnson, Matt Flynn)
2009: Pat White (no other quarterback drafted has made an impact)
2010: Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy (Mike Kafka and John Skelton in Rounds 4 and 5)
2012: Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles, Russell Wilson (Kirk Cousins, Ryan Lindley in Rounds 4 and 6)

I didn't include the 2013 draft, but you can see that Peter's insistence quality quarterbacks are available in Rounds 2 or 3 isn't false, but it's pretty hit or miss depending on the draft. That large pool in the 2nd round may end up being a large pool of crap.

Just as in 2012, when the Seahawks (Russell Wilson, 73rd overall pick) and the Eagles (Nick Foles (88th) picked quarterbacks at the right time, teams could do the same this year. Should do the same, really.

Oh really, they should do the same? What about 2009 or 2010 when there were no good quarterbacks available in the later rounds. How about 2008 when the best it got after Round 1 was Matt Flynn? Of course, why wouldn't Peter use one year of data to try and prove a point he believes to be universally true.

To further prove my point, look at the pile of crap available after Round 1 in the 2006 and 2007 drafts. Interesting how Peter doesn't really go too far back to prove his point and only uses one year's worth of a sample size.

Remembering Pat Tillman … and his case for Canton

Tillman is a unique player, and man, in recent NFL history. The only time I ever spoke with him was an hour or so before a Cardinals practice in 1998, in Tempe, Ariz. Tillman was a rookie safety, drafted in the seventh round from Arizona State to the team that was just a couple of miles from where he went to college. And he showed up for work that day—and for our interview—riding a 10-speed bike.

Veteran Peter King readers will know that Peter took an immediate liking to Pat Tillman due to his precociousness of riding a 10-speed bike to an interview. The closer a grown man acts like a child, the more Peter likes that grown man. And no, that's not creepy at all.

That’s the only player I ever interviewed who arrived on a bike.

Though things did get awkward when Peter asked Tillman if they could rid tandem on the bike.

Now, I hadn’t thought of the Hall of Fame part of it in several years, until Cris Collinsworth Tweeted this on Sunday, after ESPN ran a tribute to Tillman:

Collinsworth and I have discussed this. He remains unconvinced by my argument, which is this: Should all 26 NFL players who have died in service to our country—either in World War II, Vietnam or Afghanistan—be enshrined in Canton? Is one NFL player’s service worth more than others’?

And of course this one Tweet had made Peter completely change his stance on this issue. Just something about Cris Collinsworth living to a million years old that put it in perspective for Peter. Or did it make Peter change his mind?

And what about others who played football and went on to great things? Byron “Whizzer” White, a running back in the NFL, went on to be a Supreme Court justice. Jack Kemp quarterbacked the Bills, then became a nine-term Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Should they be in?

I think football players and coaches and executives should be in the Hall of Fame for what they accomplish as football players and coaches and executives, and not for anything else.

But this Tweet it was so classy and well-put. If Cris Collinsworth had Tweeted this while riding on a 10-speed bicycle I bet Peter would change his mind about putting Pat Tillman in the Hall of Fame.

“I really just should have coached the team, but he [owner Randy Lerner] didn’t want me to.”
—Former Browns president Mike Holmgren to me last week, on whether he had any regrets about his years in Cleveland.

I'm sure that's how it went down. Mike Holmgren was all like, "I'll totally coach this team. Give me a shot" and Randy Lerner was all like, "Nah, I think we'll stick with Eric Mangini, but we are perfectly fine with you making key decisions about the organization's direction but definitely don't want you coaching the team. Because that makes sense given the fact you've been a successful head coach in the NFL and have less experience making key decisions about an organization's future." Then Holmgren was like, "Okay, well that probably works out well because I'm a quarterback guru and I am definitely taking Colt McCoy and then Brandon Weeden to prove my guru-ness."

But no really, I believe it was Browns management that held Holmgren back from coaching the team. They would much rather he have hired Pat Shurmur and have Eric Mangini on the sidelines rather than Holmgren coach the team. Sounds to me like Holmgren is still sort of trying to explain his failure in Cleveland by blaming Browns management. After all, no one would expect Browns management to be competent and it's easier to explain it's the fault of Randy Lerner that Holmgren didn't succeed in Cleveland than to blame himself.

Then for his "Stat of the Week" Peter puts up a chart showing which quarterbacks they have drafted in the first three rounds since 2001 and then shows a player the Raiders could have drafted instead. While his point stands, any NFL team could look back in a few years and see a few players they should have selected instead of a player they did pick. I do get Peter's point, but saying the Raiders could have had Calvin Johnson in 2007 over JaMarcus Russell ignores the fact the Raiders wouldn't have had a quarterback to throw Johnson the football and stating the Raiders could have had Nick Foles over Terrelle Pryor ignores that Pryor was a compensatory selection so the Raiders didn't actually choose Pryor over Foles. They just didn't get a chance to make a choice in the 3rd round due to have spent the pick on Terrelle Pryor.

Really the Raiders should just hire one of those people that Peter talks to who "know" NFL quarterbacks. 

It was good to be in Boston Friday, watching the city prepare for such an important, healing event—this morning’s Boston Marathon. In the Hynes Convention Center, where runners and their families were picking up racing bibs and going from booth to booth to shoe and apparel and nutrition companies, the mood was bright. The One Fund, which had a goal of $10 million for those injured and affected by the terrorist attack last year, has raised $70 million and is still going strong. The city was packed with joggers and walkers and people excited for the marathon to be back. I met a San Diegan,

San Diego-ites? San Diego-ins? San Diego-uns? Either way, it means "a whale's vagina."

64 years old, who was new to marathoning and was surprised to find out last year he qualified for Boston because he ran a qualifying time in his age group in a San Diego race. “I had to come,’’ 

That's what she said. 

he said.

No, that's what SHE said. Geez, Peter get it right. I thought you liked "The Office."

No, I think people get that Savage could be a good quarterback in 3-4 years (when he will be 27-28 years old by the way). It's just that there is some confusion as to why a developmental quarterback project would be taken in the first two rounds of the draft. Specifically since Savage skipped around in college and never really put up memorable numbers. No due respect to Adam Caplan, but Savage seems like the typical "he looks like a top-tier QB prospect so I'm sure it won't be a problem to turn him into one" candidate that gets over-drafted.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think Arizona will take a quarterback in the first two rounds.

If you look at the history of quarterback taken in the 2nd round and beyond, then ignore that history and only pay attention to the 2012 draft then you could see there are always plenty of good quarterbacks available after Round 1.

2. I think the Rams will take a quarterback in the first three rounds.

And it will undoubtedly be the most brilliant draft pick in the first three rounds.

3. I think you shouldn’t be surprised at that last one.

I think you shouldn't be surprised that we aren't surprised. In fact, you probably shouldn't even have to tell your readers they shouldn't be surprised, because I'm betting a lot of them are not.

Has Sam Bradford done enough to be untouchable in his four seasons with the Rams (18-30-1 record, 58.6 completion percentage, 6.3 yards per attempt)? I don’t think so.

I think a lot of people know this and you may be one of the last people who need convincing that Bradford isn't "the guy" for the Rams. If I'm the Rams I may draft a quarterback in the 1st round if there was a quarterback I liked enough to do so.

5. I think I chuckle when the Lions say they are not concerned about Ndamukong Suh skipping Detroit’s off-season workout program as he tries to work out a new contract with the team. It is 111 days since the season ended and Suh was last with his team. The Lions have a new coach, and a new defensive coordinator, and a new defensive line coach. Suh is the best player on the defense. Not concerned?

That's what they say. Not that it isn't a big deal, but Suh is a defensive tackle, so while it is a big deal for him to work with the new coaching staff his job duties probably won't be terribly different since it doesn't appear the Lions are moving to a 3-4 defense. It's a big deal, but the fact Suh isn't with the team probably won't put him far behind come time for training camp.

More importantly, who will be the next Josh Freeman for Peter King? Who is the next NFL player who Peter rags on mercilessly every week for no good reason other than his mere existence doesn't match the expectations Peter has for that player? Will it be Ndamukong Suh?

The correct quote, if club president Tom Lewand was on truth serum, would be something like, Pretty lousy start to our off-season program when our best defensive player’s a no-show—particularly when he’s the guy who most has to buy into the new staff since he’s going to be the highest-paid defensive player in our history. Yeah, we’re ticked off. Wouldn’t you be?

This would be a valid point. Going from a football-only perspective as Peter just did, it's not quite as big of a deal.

9. I think the draft should be Thursday, not two weeks from Thursday.

Yes, we know Peter. You don't think the draft should be pushed back two weeks. If the draft wasn't pushed back two weeks then how would we ever know that "hot guys" like Tom Savage are shooting up draft boards? There has to be more time for NFL teams to over-think the draft process and then have Peter point out breathlessly which players teams claim are falling or rising in an effort to create misinformation.

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

c. Great note on the FOX baseball telecast Saturday: The Angels have not been over .500 since opening day 2013. That is amazingly preposterous.

I don't understand why this is amazingly preposterous. Is it because the Angels are supposed to be good on paper, so that means it's preposterous that the expectations for them based on how good they look on paper don't match reality? If so, perhaps this is an indication Peter shouldn't base his expectations on how good a team looks on paper.

e. I’ve always felt the biggest thing wrong with the NBA, from very much an outsider’s perspective, is how bad teams embrace losing so it will help them rebuild.

MLB teams that aren't very good trade away their best players at the trade deadline every year in order to get prospects back. Every year, there are teams who quit prior to August and start embracing losing so that it will help them rebuild. For some reason Peter (and others) doesn't think about this when criticizing NBA teams for intentionally losing. I recognize there is a difference in the NBA and MLB, but every year bad teams consciously make themselves worse by trading their best players on the hopes they receive players in return who make them better in the future. Yet, this doesn't bother Peter. Maybe he just doesn't have enough of an outsider's perspective to be so intelligent about MLB as he believes he sounds about the NBA.

The 76ers used this year to get into the best situation for the future, which involved clearing out the roster and losing as much as possible to be in the best draft position in 2014. Imagine being a Sixers fan, knowing your team hopes it doesn’t win many games, and asking you to pay regular prices for tickets to see a bad team. 

Does Peter mean sort of what the Marlins do every third year or so? Or does Peter mean what the Royals have seemingly done to their fan base for the past decade? Baseball teams trade their best players and get prospects in return all the time, yet they ask their fans to pay regular price for tickets to see a bad team. I understand it's no fun to watch a team who is tanking, but I often think a lot of this "I don't like the NBA because teams tank" talk is just a cheap excuse for why Peter (and others) doesn't like the NBA. It's okay to just not like the NBA.

h. Who’s going to start the Giancarlo-to-Boston-for-young-pitching rumors?


But I guess it's okay for the Marlins to do this as long as the Red Sox are the team that benefits from the Marlins clearing out the roster in order to improve their team in the future.

j. Coffeenerdness: Memo to Starbucks: If you care about quality, please address the situation at your BWI Airport locations. You’ve got some very long lines there, if a couple of stops last week are any indication.

"Starbucks: Fix this continuing problem at the airport location that I'm not entirely sure is a real continuing problem because I've only visited the location two times."

Starbucks, if you think Peter King is going to wait in line to get one of the seven cups of coffee he craves on a daily basis, then you have another thing coming. Well, he will wait in line, but he's going to be very angry because nobody puts Peter King in a long line. Long lines are for people who are applying for welfare, food stamps and someone who has time to stand around like a normal middle-class person. Does Peter look like a normal middle-class person? I think not.

m. Shouldn’t ESPN’s “Sports Reporters” show be called “Sports Columnists?”

Shouldn't CNNSI's "The MMQB" be called something different from the column "MMQB" that appears on "The MMQB" web site?

n. You’ve still got it, “Veep.”

I'm sure the creator is thrilled he has your appreciation and validation that he's doing a good job still.

The Adieu Haiku

Hey Mel! Mel Kiper!
I miss my “Draft Report” book.
Bring it back next year.

This haiku is weaker than the coffee McDonald's sells. Amirightorwhat Peter?

Monday, April 21, 2014

8 comments Local Announcers Think The Same Advanced Statistics They Don't Seem to Care to Understand Have No Place In a Baseball Broadcast

This article isn't really by Bruce Jenkins, it's more of a compilation of comments that Bruce has gathered. These are comments made by local announcers about the use of advanced statistics during a baseball broadcast and really the only opinion reflected here is the opinion that advanced statistics should not be discussed during a baseball broadcast. Includ anecdotes during a broadcast? Abso-fucking-lutley. Advanced statistics? Nah, because "the people" won't understand the message being conveyed. Bruce poses the question because the Houston Astros have decided they will encourage their announcers to use advanced statistics during the broadcast and Bruce needs local announcers for more successful teams to describe how stupid this is. After all, it's the Astros and they aren't a very good team. So obviously this has to be a very bad idea since it came from management of such a shitty team. There is obviously a correlation between a bad baseball team and bad ideas ownership of that team may have. It's just like good baseball teams never have any bad ideas.

My personal opinion is that advanced statistics absolutely has a place in a local baseball broadcast. I don't believe the announcers should bust out with a whiteboard and start breaking down these advanced statistics or talk down to their audience, but there is a place to at least mention advanced statistical theories and alternative methods of measuring a player's performance. It's important these advanced statistics aren't presented in a way that the announcer is talking over the audience's head, so the announcer will have to be well-versed enough in advanced statistics to make it simple for the audience. Therein lies the problem. These announcers aren't well-versed enough to help the audience understand exactly what WAR (since that seems to be the advanced statistic most of these broadcasters latch on to) is in the context of discussing a player's performance during a current or previous year.

The baseball season is upon us, and as we turn our gaze to the east, we find the Houston Astros taking a most peculiar stance.

Not an "alternative" stance or a "different" stance, but a "peculiar" stance which immediately shades the decision to include knowledge of advanced statistics by the announcers as out of the norm and possibly the incorrect decision. The bias is in the writing.

They not only like the idea of their broadcasters going deep into modern-day statistics, they consider it a prerequisite for the job.

It's insane to think the Astros would want announcers who are well-versed in the game of baseball to discuss methods of evaluating a player's performance outside of the traditional methods. Who would ever want to hear a broadcast as presented by a well-rounded announcing crew? Certainly not Bruce Jenkins or any of the other broadcasters that Bruce interviews in this column.

In other words, tuning into a typical Astros game: "Well, here's big Hank against a real tough lefty. You wouldn't believe how this guy's WAR stacks up against that guy's WHIP."

This example only goes to prove that Bruce Jenkins doesn't understand advanced statistics, so yet again we have the example of a sportswriter criticizing that which he doesn't understand. Bruce only shows his ignorance in this example.

At which point a torrent of statistical information unfolds, all about Wins Above Replacement - an effort to summarize a player's total contribution to a team in one statistic - and Walks Plus Hits Per Inning Pitched.

But see it doesn't have to be a torrent of information that is provided. WHIP can be summarized and given context by explaining what WHIP is and saying whether a pitcher with a 0.97 WHIP is good or not. The viewer doesn't need a calculator and there doesn't have to be a ton of information given. It can be very simple. Say a relief pitcher comes into the game against a left-handed batter. The announcer can say this pitcher's WHIP against lefties is 1.64 while his WHIP against righties is 1.00. This gives context that the relief pitcher is better against right-handed batters and gives the viewer the knowledge that this could be a rough at-bat coming up.

WAR can be more difficult to calculate during a game, but WAR is more of a macro-statistic as opposed to a micro-statistic anyway. WAR is better at giving the big picture over a larger statistical sample and wouldn't merit being mentioned constantly during a broadcast other than to compare two players and their performance over a period of time.

The Astros are sort of weird that way. Perhaps in an effort to steer folks away from the fact that their team is awful, losing a combined 324 games over the past three seasons, they are lurching earnestly into the unconventional.

Of course, because it's the Astros doing this then it means there's no viable reason to mention advanced statistics during a baseball broadcast.

For all we know, they're at the vanguard of progress. But they're facing a ton of resistance, and when it comes to filling the broadcast air with analytics,

You mean, resistance like this very article's introduction that describes using analytics as "unconventional," "peculiar," and suggests it is just a cover to make up for the fact the Astros don't have a very good team?

they won't find any allies on the Bay Area's broadcasting crews. We checked with all eight of them, and they have the floor:

What I find most interesting is that most of these broadcasting crews are like, "Oh well those analytics don't transfer to a discussion on-air," even though most of these broadcasters admit they either (a) have looked into advanced statistics and understood them but simply won't use them or (b) don't care to understand advanced statistics and clearly lack knowledge about them. Simply falling back on, "It won't work" is a lame excuse. It's just resistance to using a method these broadcasting crews either don't fully understand or don't want to fully understand.

Vince Cotroneo, A's radio: "If I'm out in the backyard barbecue, listening to a game, I want an entertaining broadcast.

Bring in puppies or kittens! Everyone loves puppies and kittens. Perhaps bears can wrestle during a broadcast. Wrestling bears are very entertaining.

Maybe I can tell 'em that Sonny Gray was a star quarterback in Tennessee, and as you watch him - leader, ornery, trusts his stuff - you see that he has those vital qualities.

I don't find the knowledge that Sonny Gray was a star quarterback in Tennessee to be entertaining at all. Why is it that an anecdote that has nothing to do with how Sonny Gray plays baseball is entertaining and explains why he's a good pitcher, but explaining Gray has the fifth best WHIP in the American League doesn't explain Gray's qualities sufficiently?

And most of all, what's happening on the field? That's what they want to know. I absolutely look at this stuff: FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, some other sites. I just don't think it has a place on the air.

Those aren't "stuff" those are baseball sites. That's like if I said I understand vaccinations don't cause autism, but I still believe vaccinations do cause autism because I look at stuff like WebMD and other sites. Vince Cotroneo visiting these sites doesn't mean he is in a position to make a judgment on whether advanced statistics have a place on the air.

"For all the ridicule you hear about traditional stats - RBIs, wins and losses, batting average - those things resonate with the listeners, and they are very relevant to the players. They don't want to hear that 'wins' means nothing.

No one is going to say that wins mean nothing, but staying ignorant about other methods to evaluate baseball players isn't the winning combination to have an informed audience. I don't want to hear the Braves are fucked and won't have enough hitting from guys like B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla to win the NL East, but it's not going to hurt my feelings if someone says it. Wins are a method of evaluating how well a pitcher is pitching. Giving the audience access to information that says whether a pitcher wins a game or not doesn't reflect entirely on the pitcher's performance is relevant and can resonate with the listener if explained correctly. Also, who gives a shit what the baseball players think? They are playing baseball. The broadcast is for the fans.

Bottom line: I think there are enough numbers in the sport. Give people the atmosphere. Let the game come to you."

Cotroneo can't even talk about talking about baseball without using cliches.

Dave Flemming, Giants radio/TV: "I find a lot of it extremely interesting, and there are things you can incorporate on the air. For example, the basic numbers don't tell you the difference between the Giants playing at AT&T Park and the Rockies at Coors Field - revealing that the Giants' offense really isn't that bad, and might even be above average. On the flip side, maybe we overrate the Giants' pitchers because the home park makes their numbers look so good.

Perfect. Then use a statistic to show the audience exactly what is meant by these statements. The audience will understand the point trying to be made, and if they care enough, choose to dig a little bit deeper. This is just the same as using traditional statistics to point out how two different ball parks are different from each other (by using runs scored/allowed in each park) except it goes a little bit deeper.

"Last year, Carlos Gomez came in with the Brewers, and everything the Giants hit, he caught. It was astounding. I did a little digging, and the fielding analytics said he was having a historically great season in center field - sort of confirmation of what I was thinking

I personally think this is an excellent use of fielding analytics to prove a thought Flemming had upon watching Carlos Gomez play. Contrary to what idiots like Murray Chass write when talking about Sabermetricians this is a good example of how advanced statistics should work. They can work to prove/disprove what the viewer is seeing while watching the game. Advanced statistics, traditional statistics, and watching a game are supposed to complement each other, not have one work against the others.

Still, for all of its value, you have to wonder, how much can an audience actually absorb? The answer is, really not that much. There's an arrogance behind the theory that your audience is hanging on every word, to the point where they can understand a long explanation of numbers.

Again, while I agree, there is also a way to convey this information to the audience without overwhelming the game and broadcast with a litany of numbers. Flemming could simply tell the story he just told Bruce Jenkins and explain what statistic he used to confirm what he was thinking. This is the same thing Flemming would do using traditional statistics if he stated on-air that Carlos Gomez seemed to be on a roll playing at home lately as compared to playing on the road. Then Flemming could explain he looked it up and Gomez has a .453 batting average at home and a .214 average on the road during the last month. He doesn't have to explain the statistic, but give the viewer the context and information required to prove the point made by the use of advanced statistics.

The analytics might say this guy's the best fastball hitter in the game, but maybe tonight he's late on somebody's fastball. The thing I always emphasize is to look up, not down. Don't read when you have a game in front of you."

But mention "this guy" is the best fastball hitter in the game according to a certain advanced statistic and this gives the viewer more information on just how well the pitcher is currently pitching. It's looking up, not down and is a statistic that enriches the viewer's enjoyment of the game.

Ken Korach, A's radio: "I think about this a lot, because the times have changed. Although I take interest in certain things - some of the fielding stats, or how often a pitcher tends to hit his target - my knowledge of advanced metrics is pretty rudimentary.

But the fact Korach's knowledge of advanced metrics is pretty rudimentary, this doesn't prevent him (of course) from giving his opinion on the subject as if he were an expert. I don't follow politics but let me tell you why President Obama is a crook...

I'll always feel the anecdotes, stories and human-interest elements are most important.

These are great, but these are not analysis nor are they any type of information that provides the viewer with additional information or context on what's happening on the field. The fact Freddie Freeman is engaged to a model doesn't help me understand why he is one of the better fielding first basemen in the National League.

"When I talk to young announcers, I tell 'em your pile of information is never as important as what's going on out there on the field. No matter how brilliant you think you may be, you'd better tell me if the guy's a left-handed hitter, if the center fielder is shaded over toward left-center or the third baseman's in on the grass. Unless you tell me that, I don't care about all the other information you're putting out."

Deep sigh. Obviously no one is asking announcers to simply spend an entire broadcast spouting off statistics and some description of what's happening on the field is required. Why can't the broadcaster and analyst say where the outfielder is shaded and then point out this certain batter when going against a left handed pitcher usually hits the ball to that side of the field?

It drives me crazy sometimes. I hear announcers say, "It appears the shift is on for Brian McCann" and then the inevitable overhead shot is shown that shows the shift, but no explanation is given for WHY the shift is on. Then if McCann gets a base hit to left field the announcers act like he discovered the Holy Grail. What if the statistics show McCann doesn't have pull-tendencies against a left handed pitcher and tends to spray the ball all over the field? Then the outcome was to be expected, right? Context is what I want sometimes.

Jon Miller, Giants TV/radio: "I'm fascinated with statistical information, going back to Bill James and his 'Baseball Abstract' in the '80s. I spend a lot of daytime hours poring through that stuff. But for the broadcast itself, particularly on radio, I feel it just sounds like a bunch of numbers. They don't tell you what's really happening.

I agree, advanced statistics don't tell a viewer what is happening. These advanced statistics can give context for what just happened or may happen though. Are these announcers too stupid to understand they can say what's happening on the field while also using advanced statistics to explain the action on the field?

"I grew up with Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons: 'Here's Willie Mays, hitting .317, 26 homers, and leading the league with 51 RBIs.' The whole point being, what kind of a season is he having? Most of the analytic stuff, like WAR, is more of a predictive thing, telling you someone's worth.

This is not wholly accurate.

Well, I want to know how he's doing right now, especially measured against the rest of the league. WAR is not only hard to explain, there are two different versions, and hardly anyone knows how to calculate it. How am I going to fit that into a broadcast?

Fair point, but there are other advanced statistics that aren't as complicated as WAR that could be used, even briefly, in a broadcast.

"I hate to say it, sort of like fighting words, but too often, the analytics people show a lack of understanding of the game. These aren't people who have played, managed or really experienced baseball.

I don't understand what "experienced baseball" means but I know Jon Miller isn't someone who has played or managed baseball. Jon Miller went to college to be a broadcaster and has been a broadcaster his entire life. He hasn't managed or played baseball at the professional level, yet he has the balls to act like "analytics people" who haven't played the game don't know what they are talking about, but he does because he's sat in a booth with Joe Morgan and called games. See, Jon Miller understands baseball because he's a broadcaster, that's his resume for being such a fucking baseball genius.

And yet, if you disagree with one of their statistical theories, you're stuck in the past, you don't know what you're talking about. So you take a bunch of coaches and managers, guys who have been successful for 20-30 years, and none of 'em know what they're talking about

This is the same boring, cliched argument every idiotic person who dismisses analytics makes. These are fighting words, but too often, the anti-analytics people show a lack of understanding of analytics. They aren't people who understand how analytics work.

There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with a "theory," even though much of analytics isn't a theory but statistical calculations (which shows just how little Jon Miller does truly know about advanced statistics), and nobody says coaches and managers don't know what they are talking about. Much of advanced statistics is about learning a different way of measuring player performance. It's so frustrating these guys like Jon Miller don't even care to understand what point the analytics crowd is trying to make.

"Hunter Pence had 22 infield hits last year and he was swinging as hard as he could, every time.

Jeff Francouer swings as hard as he can each time and he sucks no matter which metric you use to judge him.

How do you measure hustle in on-base percentage against a guy like (notoriously slow) Bengie Molina?

You can't because hustle is an intangible. That's the good part about on-base percentage, it doesn't factor in made up intangible bullshit like "hustle." A player either gets on-base or he doesn't.

Willie Wilson got criticized in Kansas City for his low on-base percentage as a leadoff guy, but one year he reached base 27 times on errors. Because he was so fast, he made people panic. None of that shows up on the sheet.

Oh, so Jon Miller knows for sure Wilson made it on-base 27 times on errors because the fielders were in a panic? It must be nice to read minds. Perhaps Wilson just had a lucky year. You know what, it doesn't even matter because no Sabermetrician is saying all old statistics are useless...except for Brian Kenny with the win, but he goes overboard with his criticism of that statistics. I hate the win statistic, but it does serve some sense of a purpose.

Glen Kuiper, A's television: "I think if I started telling people about WAR, most of them would have no idea what I mean. I don't use it, I don't think about it, and my partner (Ray Fosse), who's very old school, certainly isn't going to use it. You have to define it and then explain it, and I don't think fans want to work that hard.

Why does every single person who hates analytics, and seemingly every person interviewed for this article, grab on to WAR? There are other advanced statistics that can be used during a broadcast. It's like WAR is the only advanced statistic they know...they probably latch on to it because it's easy to spell.

"I'm not saying it doesn't have value. If a general manager makes a big decision based on analytics, that's very legitimate from a player-evaluation standpoint. Or maybe you do a feature on it during a break in a telecast.

See, they latch on to WAR. I'd love to read criticism of advanced fielding metrics, but these guys don't understand those metrics and therefore can't discuss why they don't have a place in a baseball broadcast.

But you can't just squeeze these things in between pitches, and personally, telling me somebody's WAR numbers isn't going to make any difference how I see that player.

Right, because the broadcast is about you and not about the fan sitting at home. Good to hear.

I'd rather tell a story, give fans an idea of what kind of a person this guy is. That's way more entertaining for a fan."

And I wonder why baseball seems to trend toward the older crowd. I hate to point this out, but I think the younger baseball crowd are entertained by analysis of a player and not whether he likes roller coasters and playing silly jokes in the clubhouse.

"I just think the game itself, as it's being played right then, is so much more interesting than how a player values out over a full season, or how he projects for the future."

(Shakes head sadly) Right, because it's fine to talk in generalities about intangibles such as hustle, but pointing out Kelly Johnson has bad range at third base isn't relevant in the 9th inning of a close game with a runner in scoring position.

Mike Krukow, Giants TV: "What the analytics people fail to realize is that we're talking about human beings.

Oh yeah, definitely. The analytics community thinks baseball is played by robots. This is absolutely true. Do all members of the same anti-stats crowd read from the same handbook or is there just a lot of groupthink in the community?

That stuff can't measure someone's passion, toughness or feel for the game.

That stuff can't measure the amount of bullshit shoveled by Mike Krukow either.

It doesn't recognize that, as a pitcher, you might come out with only two of your pitches working. That the wind's blowing out, the sun field is in right, this umpire's got a huge strike zone. I can see where WAR would be relevant in an arbitration case.

So it's okay to not talk about WAR when a player is on the field, but when determining how much a player should be paid WAR is relevant?

But in a ballgame it's B.S., and you can tell when a guy's force-feeding a bunch of totally inane facts.

Oh ok, but it's definitely useful when determining a player's compensation though? Plus, WAR is based on how a player performs during a ballgame so it's not B.S. in that aspect.

Ray Fosse, A's television: "This game is over 100 years old. And it's a generational thing, fathers teaching their kids - just like my dad taught me. You can always get around to the numbers, but basically, you're teaching the game.

And an announcer plays the role of the viewer's father, teaching the game?

"It's depressing to me that numbers are considered more relevant than, say, a really veteran scout.

And this isn't a straw man argument at all because veteran scouts are often put on a local broadcast to impart knowledge to the viewer, right?

Then Ray Fosse starts talking about a specific Phillies scout because he obviously has no interest in answering the question posed to him.

Duane Kuiper, Giants TV/radio: "I'm probably the worst guy to ask, because I think most of the new statistics are nothing more than a distraction to the people at home.

But don't let your personal opinion affect your answer. We want as biased of an opinion as possible.

I've never received a letter saying Mike and I should do more of it, and it's really tough if you don't really believe in it.

Probably because someone who would want to see more advanced statistics are going to be writing an email rather than writing a letter like it is 1961.

"I especially resent the discounting of traditional numbers. Stuff like RBI, ERA, wins or losses, those things tell you something. They're part of the fabric our fans were raised with.

I guess these statistics are being discounted because there are allegedly more accurate metrics that can be used? God forbid that should happen. Not that the traditional statistics crowd feels threatened or anything of course.

20 years from now the part of the fabric the fans of baseball were raised with will be advanced statistics, so doesn't that mean they have some place in a broadcast?

They are part of the players' language. And there are certain things numbers can't really describe, like Hunter Pence (laughter).

The numbers have traditionally described Hunter Pence as a pretty good baseball player, but good try. Nothing can describe Pence's approach at the plate, but his performance certainly is well-quantified with numbers.

"Just because agents and general managers use analytics, that doesn't mean I have to.

Well, at least you are being open-minded about it. Just because Duane Kuiper doesn't like advanced statistics and doesn't think they have a place in a broadcast, that doesn't mean they don't have a place in a broadcast. Of course Kuiper doesn't think of it that way because he's beholden to his own biases and thoughts which reinforce his world view.

What team did you say is putting this stuff on the air? Houston? Well, I don't think you have to say any more, do you?"

Right, because if a team isn't very good on the field then that means any ideas that team has which are not considered part of the norm must not be very good either. I think broadcasters like Kupier and Mike Krukow are better off talking about baseball and not opening their mouths to talk about anything that shows their ignorance and fundamental resistant to change.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Or Pinocchio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A wonderful reaction?

Excuse me while I hurl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But oh, Jim Caple is not done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that and other issues could be ironed out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, no we don't. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

“New York,” I said. “The city.”

“This must be prettih slow,” he said.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Things I Think I Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter does this sort of shit all the time.

The Adieu Haiku

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

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