Monday, October 8, 2012

A (non-sabermetric) Look at the Arguments for Miguel Cabrera to Win MVP

Miguel Cabrera had a fantastic season, one of the best hitting seasons in the last 10-12 years. Not quite Barry Bonds level, but it certainly is on the same general level as the best from Alex Rodriquez, Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Carlos Delgado, David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero and probably a few others. As a result, Cabrera has a lot of support to win the MVP, based largely on his winning the “triple crown” and the Tigers making the playoffs.

Mike Trout also had an amazing season. I’m not really going to make the case for Trout, because it’s made very well here and here (warning, stat-heavy) and plenty of other places (here). The purpose here is to provide a simple discussion around the arguments that Cabrera’s supporters typically make in his support.

Argument 1: TRIPLE CROWN!

I understand that simultaneously leading the league in Batting Average, Home Runs and Runs Batted In is not a common occurrence and is not easy to do. I am not making an attempt to frame it as something that is easy to do, or something that is not indicative of a great season. Let’s look at the triple-crown categories and the role they play into Cabrera’s MVP case:

Batting Average: Cabrera had a higher batting average than Mike Trout by 4 points. I’m not sure if people truly understand the differences in batting average actually. But, just so we’re clear here, 4 points is not a difference of 4 hits per 100 at-bats. It’s a difference of 4 hits for every 1,000 at-bats. That’s 1 hit every 250 at bats (roughly 50 games), or 3 hits over the course of a season. It means that the odds of Mike Trout getting a hit and the odds that Miguel Cabrera getting a hit are both 33%.

Mike Trout had a higher OBP than Cabrera by a slightly greater margin. If the goal of baseball is to not make outs, so that you can hopefully create runs – do you think that getting a hit a slightly higher percentage of the time is more important if it means you make outs a slightly higher percentage of the time? Should one hit every 50 or so games make a player more valuable if they actually made 1 or 2 more outs in those games? If Trout had won the Batting title, and Cabrera beat Trout in OBP, would that have made Cabrera less valuable than Trout? If you think it wouldn’t have, then you’ve just negated the argument that Cabrera winning the triple crown makes him the MVP.

Congratulations Miguel Cabrera, for that 1/250 lead in batting average, but you’re pretty lucky that whoever came up with the triple crown decided that batting average was more important than on-base percentage.

To further my point about rewarding batting average versus outs made, while Cabrera did get those extra 3 hits to win batting average, he also created an additional 28 outs that are not tallied by BA/OBP/SLG by hitting into double plays (Trout had 7).

Home Runs: Cabrera hit 1 more home run than Josh Hamilton. Hey, I think that’s awesome. But let me ask you this – suppose he didn’t. Suppose Hamilton didn’t miss a bunch of games and hit 2 more homeruns. Would that have changed Miguel Cabrera’s season? Or, more importantly, his “value”? WHY? Why is the performance of a player that is not Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera at all relevant to the argument of who, between Trout and Cabrera, should be MVP? If you can’t answer that question, sorry, but the entire “triple crown” argument is moot. Think about it – Mike Trout could miss out on winning an MVP because Josh Hamilton missed too many games. The only person Josh Hamilton missing games should impact in the MVP voting is Josh Hamilton.

Runs Batted In: Cabrera had 139 RBI. That’s great. Trout scored 129 Runs. Can we agree not to discuss this again? RBI and Runs are situational and talking about RBI is just like talking about Batting Average and Home Runs again with the added context of “opportunity”. If you think RBI are an “important” statistic in measuring value – you don’t understand context. Is a hit with no one on in the 8th inning of a tie game of less “value” than the same hit that knocks in 2 runs in the 5th inning extending a lead to 9-1? Do you see why it’s not? These are not actual game scenarios or an indictment on the nature of Cabrera’s RBI, but instead just an example to show that context matters.

Also, Cabrera is pretty lucky that whoever came up with the triple crown decided that RBI should be a triple crown category instead of runs.

You could craft a narrowly focused position that Cabrera was more valuable because he capitalized on his relative RBI opportunity better than Trout. I’ve seen that done. It doesn’t amount to many runs, but you could do that. But then I’d say – what about runs Trout saved with his glove versus runs Cabrera cost his team with his glove? What about runs created with Trout’s legs that Cabrera cost his team with his? What about runs Cabrera cost his team by creating a league leading 28 double plays? See, if you do this across all of the ways that these players impact the game, those “added” runs disappear extremely quickly. That’s the danger of taking such a narrow focus. You ignore too much.

If you think that the Triple Crown makes Cabrera’s season “one for the ages” or more “special”, I’ll just say this: There have been far more seasons like Miguel Cabrera’s in the history of baseball than seasons like Mike Trout’s. There’s been many seasons like Cabrera’s, or better, since 2000.

Argument 2: The Tigers Made the Playoffs

This one is awesome. The Tigers made the playoffs, and Cabrera played great. If Trout was so valuable, how come his team didn’t make the playoffs? Arguing this with someone is like when you say “we should spend less on our military; we spend more than the next 17 or so countries combined” and they respond with “you hate America and Freedom and our troops!” It’s hard to bring that person into a logical, rational debate.

Sadly, I’ve seen this argument a lot – perhaps more than the triple crown argument. Here are some counterpoints to think about:

- They are in different divisions. The Tigers are in an easier division.

- The Angels actually won one more game.

- They are only 1 of 25 guys on the roster. The rest of their rosters played, oh, we’ll just say….more than an incidental role in the performance of the team.

- In my HR example above, if you think it’s kind of silly to let Josh Hamilton’s inability to hit 2 more homeruns factor into the Trout versus Cabrera vote, well now you’re letting like 100 other player’s performance factor in.

- Let’s say the White Sox play great down the stretch and don’t puke up the division lead – would that have made Cabrera less valuable then Mike Trout? Why? If you think it doesn’t, then you’ve just negated this argument.

- Let’s say Justin Verlander was injured on May 1 and the Tigers finish 5 games back - would that have made Cabrera less valuable than Mike Trout? WHY? If you think it doesn’t, then you’ve just negated this argument.

I get that this can be hard if you're wired to think like your local talk radio hosts or beat writer, because the MVP award is really about overall contributions to the team, but you need to look at those contributions in a vacuum. If you’re unsure what I mean, stick your head up a vacuum and you’ll see. See how there’s no other baseball players up that vacuum? See how Justin Verlander is nowhere in that vaccum? A baseball player gets 4-6 plate appearances per game and a handful of chances in the field. To vote for Cabrera as MVP because the Tigers made the playoffs is, to be blunt, dumb. Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander and a host of other players (on the Tigers and on other teams) all combined to make that (barely) happen.

Argument 3: He Moved to Third to “Make Room” for Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder joining the Tigers was happening whether Miguel Cabrera moved to third or not. I’m actually not sure any other point should be made. He’s “more valuable” because Prince Fielder is really good? What if Fielder had been terrible, would that have made Cabrera less valuable? Why?  If this is your argument, you've just decided that Cabrera should be the MVP and you're grasping at anything to support it. 

Barely related side note – Derek Jeter refused to move to third base in 2004 when the better fielding Alex Rodriguez joined the Yankees. A-Rod outplayed Derek Jeter that year and Jeter STILL received more MVP votes.

Argument 4: He Was “Clutch” Down “the Stretch” and Trout SUCKED Down “the Stretch”

Cabrera’s performance was great in August and September, which is timely. But the extremes I’ve seen presented here are not accurate. Note that I’m going to honor this argument on its face and not enter into a debate of the value of games in May versus games in September.

This argument really isn’t about Miguel Cabrera, it’s about Mike Trout. Cabrera’s best month was August (.357/.429/.663), but he was consistently great all year, particularly after the all-star break. Mike Trout’s best month was July (.392/.455/.804), and then he was progressively worse after that. The first point I’ll make is that, short of being 2001-2004 Barry Bonds, it’s virtually impossible to not play worse than Mike Trout in July. Miguel Cabrera played worse in August and September than Mike Trout did in July, too.

So what did Mike Trout do in August and September that was so bad? He didn’t hit as well as Miguel Cabrera, but no one is saying Trout deserves the MVP for out-slugging Cabrera. The problem here is that it assumes we’re comparing two #3 hitting sluggers that can’t run and are non-factors (or negative factors) on defense. We’re not comparing Miguel Cabrera to David Ortiz here. We’re comparing him to a guy who is playing one of the two most valuable defensive positions (excluding pitcher), batting first, stealing lots of bases and taking many more that lesser runners would not AND hitting extremely well.

Trout was still that much better at every other phase of the game. Those difficult to measure parts of the game that involve preventing runs and causing runs to occur where lesser players would not have.

(There is a stat for this, but I’ve promised to make this non-sabermetric. But according to that stat, Trout was actually more valuable than Cabrera every month of the season, once he started playing. But let’s just pretend that stat doesn’t exist, because it seems to inspire what its acronym is pronounced as.)

So Trout had an amazing July, and Cabrera had an amazing August.  Then, in Sept/Oct, the difference between Cabrera (.333/.402/.675) and Trout (.289/.396/.500) works out to about 3 hits for 6 more bases. Trout walked 6 more times and stole an additional 6 more net bases, if that helps you bridge those differences. Cabrera hit into 5 double plays in September, if that helps as well. That’s the problem with focusing on a short time period with selective endpoints and why you need to focus on the entire season.

(You may do the math and notice that Trout needed an additional 5 hits to catch Cabrera in BA, but at 3 hits Cabrera’s lead in BA is actually the same as Trout’s lead in OBP, because Trout walks more – so I’m calling it even there.  Also, BA is like 1/20th of any story in comparing two players).

The biggest knock against Trout, honestly, has nothing to do with September. It is that he came up too late to impact his team in April.

Argument 5: No, You Don't Understand - He Made the Playoffs AND Won the Triple Crown

Taking multiple bad arguments and twisting them together doesn’t work either.


However you want to evaluate the merits of their performances; please let it focus on THEIR PERFORMANCES. Don’t let what Josh Hamilton didn’t do, or Justin Verlander did do, or the White Sox didn’t do, etc. allow you to feel differently about what Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout did do.

I know someone may read this and say “ha! But your argument is based on hypotheticals, because Hamilton did miss those games and didn’t hit those home runs and Verlander did play all year, so etc etc”. My point is only that if your MVP ballot hinged on what those guys did/did not do, you’re not answering the question of “who was the most valuable player”, you’re answering the question of “who had a great year and also had a number of extraneous, non-controllable circumstances go their way?”

Don’t do that.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Gregg Easterbrook - Is This Really the WORST PLAY?

I usually go through Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback pretty quickly, since most of what he says is anecdotal bullshit.  But occassionally I'll read something he's written about a play I didn't see, and then I'll try to find the play.  It just so happens that this week's "worst play of the season, so far" was easy to find.  I'll let Gregg tell you about it.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Michael Vick fumbled near the Arizona goal line on a play that began with six seconds remaining before intermission. James Sanders of the Cardinals recovered and was racing up the sideline. By the time he reached midfield, only two Eagles were even attempting to chase him -- though the clock expired during the play. All Philadelphia had to do was push Sanders out-of-bounds, and the half would have ended without Arizona scoring. Instead nine of 11 Eagles quit on the play, and Arizona got a touchdown.

Philadelphia Eagles offense, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season. So far.

Here is the play (courtesy of The Big Lead).  Go watch it.  Yeah, I'm way to lazy to embed something.

Who, the fuck, was going to catch James Sanders here?  Who had a snowballs chance in hell of pushing him out of bounds?

Easterbrook makes it sounds like 5 guys could have given chase but said..."aww maaaaaan...I don't want to run....that's haaarrrrrd."

When Sanders picks up the ball he is already in front of all but 1 Eagle, and he already running in the direction of the endzone.   Sanders is immediately swarmed by FOUR Cardinals who were running at the fumble and are therefore now running stride for stride with him to block potential tacklers.  In fact, when he is chased down, one of his blockers takes care of clearing his path again.

Receivers and tight ends, as you can imagine, were not close to the ball and were not in a position to react quick enough to do much....though everyone gave chase until it was clear that they had no chance.  Linemen had no hope.

All they had to do was simply push Sanders out of bounds!  Well, they actually needed to (mostly likely) change direction, make up 10-20 or so yards, run down a pretty fast guy, and get by his blockers and catch up to him, and push him out of bounds. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gregg Easterbrook: You Owe Ed Liddy an Apology

Chances are you've read this post (like 200 times) from a few years ago where Gregg Easterbook expresses outrage at Ed Liddy's "kings ransom" like compensation package that he and AIG LIED about.  Well the wait is over, because now we have the exciting conclusion to this story.

While looking up Apple's proxy for the last post, I remembered the old AIG post and I thought it was a good time to do a follow up. 

For reference, Gregg took issue with AIG paying certain of Liddy's living expenses - calling it out as being essentially the same as base compensation.  See, Liddy lived in Chicago, and he was asked to step in as CEO during an insanely turbulent time (remember that financial crisis thing?  No?  Remember Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers?  Riiiighhht....that crisis).  They structured his compensation as $1 salary, he declined   stock options, and AIG would pay certain living expenses for him in NYC since he already was paying for ongoing living expenses in Chicago. Sounds reasonable, right?  The intent, as disclosed by AIG, was to make it so that Liddy wasn't paying to work for AIG.  What did Easterbrook say about Liddy's $1 a year salary and zero stock options?

Yet he lied through his teeth about this and got away with it.

Sure.  He said that the living expenses WERE salary and said that zero stock options was actually 200,000 stock options, based on what a different CEO was given.  Kind of a jerky thing to do, right?

What does this encourage? More CEO lying. Liddy also received stock options. AIG has never said how many; suppose it was 200,000, the number just granted Benmosche.  When Liddy went to AIG, its share price was hovering around $5; if that's the strike price, 200,000 shares would be worth about $7 million right now. Plus AIG quietly said Liddy may receive a bonus payable in 2010. The man who was widely praised for claiming to work for $1 may end up with a king's ransom in his pockets, all pilfered from the average taxpayers. Why have the media dropped this story?

At the time, I took issue with Easterbrook's hypothetical stock option grant and $7 million gain being passed off as if it was in Liddy's bank account.  AIG specifically disclosed that Liddy turned down an option award, and Easterbrook still told you the opposite. 

I checked AIG's proxy for 2009 here.  What did I find?

Final tally of options granted to Ed Liddy during his tenure at AIG: 0 shares
Restricted Stock awarded Ed Liddy: 0 shares
Gain on exercise of stock: $0
Gain assumed by Easterbrook in calling Liddy a liar: $7 million
Amount Easterbrook was off by: $7 million
% Easterbrook was of by: 100%
Bonus paid to Ed Liddy: $0

Why did the media drop the story?  There was no story.  You made up the story.

So Easterbrook frequently rails on the New York times for making mistakes in their reporting, but not issuing corrections with the same level of prominance. 

Where was his correction?   Since he insulted someone's integrity - where was his apology? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gregg Easterbrook Distorts Tim Cook's CEO Restricted Stock Award

Ahhh the NFL season is upon us, which means that Gregg Easterbrook has his forum on ESPN to write misleading half-truths and totally point out when people prepare for Christmas too soon.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Easterbrook took issue with Apple CEO Tim Cook's compensation.  Let's see if he played it straight, or if he was misleading (he was misleading).

Is Apple the New Exxon/Mobil?

Timothy Cook, CEO of Apple, received $378 million in compensation for 2011.

Well, that’s clearly a lot of money – imagine if your compensation was $377,996,537 of cold, hard cash – all of it “received” in 2011.  Pretty crazy!  Now, what if I told you that $376,180,000 of that compensation would be paid in stock? Does that change your opinion? Maybe not. Sell stock, convert to cash. Couldn’t be more simple, right? What if I told you that 50% of that stock (500,000 shares) wouldn’t be yours unless you’ve been successful at your job for 5 years (your job requires you to maintain Apple’s impossibly high growth rates and market share). You may reply, “okay, but I get the other 500,000 shares now?” No – you get the other 500,000 shares in 10 years.   A bit of a catch.  So what Gregg has done is he's latched onto the proxy compensation reported by Apple.  Not wrong, but horribly misleading.  Usually, it's a good proxy (see what I did there) for annual compensation.  But when I saw Gregg's note, I knew it was impossibly high, and quick control-f in the proxy would tell the real story.  Let's see...

This is appalling avarice: Cook could have paid himself half as much and still been the highest-paid CEO in the United States! Cook pulled down $126,000 per hour, more per hour than the typical American family makes in a year.

Does my above paragraph change your view on whether or not Tim Cook “PAID HIMSELF” $378 million in 2011? The board paid him $900,000 of salary, a $900,000 bonus and gave him 1,000,000 shares of stock, vesting 50% in 5 years and 50% in 10 years.

But how could I possibly know this information, and why the board decided to give him that award? Well, maybe we could read the public filing?

In connection with Mr. Cook’s appointment as CEO, the Board granted Mr. Cook 1,000,000 RSUs as a promotion and retention award. The RSUs are payable, subject to vesting, on a one-for-one basis in shares of the Company’s common stock. Fifty percent (50%) of Mr. Cook’s award is scheduled to vest on August 24, 2016 (five years after the award date) and fifty percent (50%) of Mr. Cook’s award is scheduled to vest on August 24, 2021 (ten years after the award date), subject to Mr. Cook’s continued employment with the Company through the applicable vesting date. In light of Mr. Cook’s experience with the Company, including his leadership during Mr. Jobs’s prior leaves of absence, the Board views his retention as CEO as critical to the Company’s success and smooth leadership transition. The RSU award is intended as a long-term retention incentive for Mr. Cook, and, accordingly, should be viewed as compensation over the 10-year vesting period and not solely as compensation for 2011.

Interesting, what else?

Except for the longer 10-year vesting term, Mr. Cook’s award is subject to the same standard terms and conditions that apply to the Company’s RSU awards generally. Accordingly, the award provides that Mr. Cook’s unvested RSUs will be forfeited if his employment terminates in any circumstances, other than death or disability.

Sounds like a nice gig, 500,000 shares of Apple in 5 years, and another 500,000 in 10 years. All you have to do it is keep cranking out world class performance as the CEO of Apple and making your shareholders richer and richer. Sounds easy enough.

Recently The Wall Street Journal reported that Hon Hai Precision Industry, manufacturer of the iPad, pays workers about $345 per month. So if Cook had merely taken half as much, the money saved could have been used to double the wages of 46,000 Chinese workers. So which is more important, a better life for 46,000 people or greed for Apple's CEO?

There was no money to do anything with. You either didn’t read the filing (lazy) or you did and you’re being intentionally misleading to your readers (asshole).

Workers in China are not the sole issue. Apple's U.S. retail workers are much more productive than Costco or Best Buy workers, yet earn significantly less. Cook might say his extremely high pay is based on his being productive. But Apple's U.S. employees are productive, and are shafted on pay.

I have two counter points: Apple products are easy to sell (high demand, despite high prices), and you don’t make money in retail sales.

Also, nowhere in that article does it say that Apple employees earn less than counterparts at Best Buy and Costco.   Though I didn't read the whole thing, I did some word finds.

Cook would probably say that his extremely high pay is based on Apple designing and manufacturing expensive products at a low cost that fly off of retail shelves.

Apple products are cool and offer value. But when the social equation is taken into account, Apple becomes disturbing. How did this happen to what was once a progressive firm?

Apple becomes disturbing when you cherry pick information and ignore material facts.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

News Flash - Gregg Easterbrook Massages the Truth to Make a Point

Haven't posted in 9 months....yeah why not.

I don't read much about Sports on the Internet these days. But I usually blow through TMQ for about 10 minutes a week. Here's the thing about Gregg - if you aren't very knowledgeable about his subject, and you don't pay much attention while you're reading it - and you don't research what he says....he sounds brilliant. But, as usual, his smugly made point completely falls apart when you actually pay attention or research the subject.

This paragraph caught my eye from the latest TMQ:

Groupon Issues Coupons for Its Own IPO: Groupon just had a successful IPO, raising $805 million. Eleven months ago, the same company turned down a $6 billion purchase by Google. Had Groupon accepted the Google proposal, its early investors and founding management would have $6 billion; instead, following the IPO they are holding a much smaller sum.

The IPO was only for approximately 6% of the company's shares. True, they are holding less cash - but they are holding $805 million in cash, and equity in a company now worth approximately $15 billion. So if Google wants to buy Groupon NOW? They'd have to pony up probably $16+ billion to buy everyone out.

Does that sound like they made a bad decision? It does if you ignore the fact that he's comparing 6% of the stock to 100% of the stock without quantifying the difference.

True, they also still hold equity,


and could wind up ahead in the long run.

"could" - if the stock goes down 50%.....they still wind up ahead.

Or they may end up way behind: Your columnist noted 11 months ago that Groupon someday may wish it had accepted the Google offer.

"May" "May" .......what the fuck is your point? This is meaningless non-analysis to mislead your readers into thinking you're smarter than some really smart people.

At any rate, rather than getting $6 billion in 2011, Groupon insiders got $805 million. Groupon issued discount coupons for itself, offering 87 percent off!

No! They didn't! They held out and the value of the company more than doubled!

Check my archives for more Easterbrook commentary.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Someone hates (or loves?) Pau Gasol

Someone recently posted a comment to one of my posts, which led me back to this site, and checking in on who is visiting, etc. The search results that lead someone to a website are often fucked up, but I thought these were funny.

Pau Gasol is a pussy - Sounds like someone hates Pau Gasol!
Pau Gasol Nude - Sounds like a Pau Gasol fan!
Pau Gasol good guy - Sounds like someone is rooting for Pau Gasol!
Pau Gasol has a vagina - this could go either way?!
Paul Gasol is a wimp - What? Have you seen him pound his chest!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Forbes' Most Overpaid List Continues to be F'd Up

Forbes recently published it's list of the most overpaid actors of 2009.

I wrote a much longer post on this last year so I'll keep it short and in easy to follow, bullet point observations.

- The way Forbes computes this list makes no sense. They essentially divide the movie's income by the stars pay and compute a rate of return. It's slightly more involved than that. Again, read my post from last year.

- Even if you choose to ignore the dozens of factors that contribute to a movie's success (I don't know, script, director, marketing, the subject matter, budget, etc.) - which obviously make the list moot to begin with, the list doesn't make sense.

- Why doesn't it make sense? Simple. The formula works on multiples, not on whole dollar amounts. If you paid George Clooney $100 million and his movie net $200 million - his multiple is "2". If you pay a lesser actor $5 million and their movie nets $25 million, the multiple is "5". This would land the lesser actor on "bargain" list and Forbes would brand Clooney as overpaid. The simple problem....Clooney's movie made a lot more money for the studio.

Every year Forbes publishes this list, and every year they get a fair amount of attention for it (it lands on a number of other web sites).

The entire methodology behind the list doesn't make sense.

This is what I ended with last year: "If you pay Jennifer Love Hewitt $5 million and Angelina Jolie $15 million, the Jolie movie’s gross income doesn’t need to be triple Hewitt’s to justify the cost, it just needs to be $10,000,001 higher. Forbes would require Jolie to generate three times the income, and that makes no sense. There’s no variable costs tied to Jolie that would justify that extra profit burden on her."

It's a shame Forbes, a respected finance publication, botches this. I e-mailed Dorothy Pomerantz last year but she did not respond.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gregg Easterbrook Decided to Write Another Column This Week

Seriously, here it is. This guy is relentless. Every week, he writes thousands of words. I can barely squeeze out an unfunny, half-assed blog post. BUT – I bang out some quality work at my real job. So fuck you, Gregg Easterbrook.

The Crabtree Curse continues. San Francisco was 3-1, with its only defeat a fluky last-play loss; then the 49ers signed Michael Crabtree, and are 0-3 since. All that work Mike Singletary did building team spirit on the Niners went out the window when management decided a player could jerk the team around all he wanted and still get a $17 million reward.

Is the takeaway here that San Francisco, with their shitty quarterback, was going to beat arguably the best team in football, the undefeated Colts, if they did not sign Michael Crabtree a few weeks ago?

Is that what you’re telling me?

If that’s what you’re telling me, that’s fine. I just want to be clear. A clearly inferior team lost to a clearly superior team because of how they dealt with a draft pick almost a month ago?

Is that it, really? It’s that simple?

Stats of the Week No. 5: Jim Caldwell and Josh McDaniels, who had never been head coaches at any level before becoming NFL head coaches this season, are a combined 13-1.

This is the part where Gregg should point out that he frequently criticizes NFL teams for hiring coaches with no head coaching experience at any level.

He did not point that out.

Maybe coach Tony Sparano, who continued wearing ultra-dark sunglasses even after the sun declined behind the stadium wall, couldn't see the scoreboard correctly.

This guy is fucking fascinated with what people wear in what conditions. I wonder what it’s like to be with Gregg 5 minutes after the sun has gone down and you still have your sunglasses on or if you’re overly dressed for an unseasonably warm November afternoon.

My guess: non-stop ridicule.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play No. 1: Place-kicker Josh Brown of St. Louis threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells on a fake field goal attempt, then kicked the extra point; that was sweet. The two situations in which a fake field goal attempt are likely are fourth-and-short, or a long attempt that would probably miss anyway. Les Mouflons lined up for what would have been a 53-yard kick. Yet Detroit fell for the fake. Also, Detroit had no one back deep to return a potential short kick -- if there had been a deep man, he might have stopped the touchdown. The Lions' falling for an obvious trick was sour.

Well obviously it was a trick. Obviously. Obvious trick. 53 fucking yards? No one ever tries kicks from that far. When I’m an NFL coach, and the other team sets up for a 53 yard field goal attempt, I’m going with a dime package every time. I will stand on the sidelines and yell to the other coach… “nice try jackass, I’m all over your shit!” You’re not fooling me. Josh Brown is 9-14 lifetime over 50 yards indoors? Fuck you, you’re not fooling me. Fake field goal coming. Every time. Obviously.

Gregg then goes of on one of many NCAA hoops sidebars.

And it inculcates an attitude that all that matters is showing off for the NBA draft, not achieving anything lasting. Think of the Ohio State team that lost the NCAA men's championship game in 2007, or the Memphis team that lost the following year. Either team, if together a while, might have become really memorable -- Ohio State had Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr., Memphis had Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Since three of those four were freshmen, if they'd all stuck around in college longer and stayed eligible, those teams might have improved and become truly great a year or two down the road. Instead, everybody split early for the pros. It's said that in the locker room after Memphis botched the final two minutes of what would have been a national championship, Rose cried inconsolably. He'll make lots of money in the pros, but will he ever be involved in anything worth crying about?

Derek Rose also cried uncontrollably when his mother bought him the “clean” version of Nelly’s Country Grammar for Christmas in 1999. So that immediately is more important than any moment in his life when he didn't cry. I only rank things by number of tears shed, regardless of the maturity of the person.

If Chicago gets to the NBA finals this year and have it locked up in the final minutes of game 7, and then piss it away, my money is on Rose caring more about that than the NCAA final. Ed O'Bannon and Miles Simon led their teams to NCAA Championships. The NBA is the man's game, and it matters more.

I’m not sure what Easterbrook’s point is the last couple weeks regarding the interplay between college hoops and the NBA. We get it; you want college players to stay in college longer and the NBA to somehow require them to. You have many stupid anecdotes to support this.

If the Packers hold the Vikings to a field goal, they face a manageable eight-point deficit; if the Vikings get a touchdown, the game is over. As six Green Bay defenders crossed the line at the snap, TMQ said aloud, "Minnesota wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass, in this case, a touchdown pass.

Do you think he really said (aloud) “Minnesota wins”? Really? How often does he do this and end up wrong? I bet it drives his son nuts. Also, this is just a partial view of this paragraph. Bottomofthebarrel (see links) pointed out something else retarded about it.

“Yea, verily, it came to pass” has to be the most annoying phrase that I've ever read.

In Court, Confess; in Sports, Do Not Confess: Marcus Trufant of the Green Men Group was called for pass interference three times as Dallas pounded Seattle. On the third occasion, as he collided with a receiver, Trufant threw his hands up in the "I didn't do anything" gesture -- and only then did the nearby zebra reach for his flag. Never make the "I didn't do anything" gesture! It only alerts officials that you did, in fact, do something.

Let me get this straight. AS HE COLLIDED with the receiver, he began motioning that he didn’t do “anything”. ONLY THEN did the official throw a flag. Was the official going to throw the flag before he collided? What the hell are you talking about?

Also, clearly not making the "I didn't do anything" gesture wasn't helping either, since it was his third flag.

The Cardinals are quietly struggling: Dating back to the Super Bowl, they are on a 4-4 stretch. One reason is lack of discipline. Cards cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has nine interceptions in his past 19 starts, the kind of stat announcers praise, but he gambles constantly and gets torched. Carolina ran a simple hitch and go to Steve Smith -- Smith took one step backward as if to catch a hitch, then shot down the field. Rodgers-Cromartie so totally bought on the hitch action, gambling for an interception, that he was barely in the picture as Smith caught a 50-yard touchdown pass. The game started at 2:15 p.m. local time, a time no football player's body clock is set to.

Can you just pause on the “body clock” note?

They play Monday nights, Thursday nights, Sunday Nights, Saturday afternoon, Sunday early, afternoon, Sunday nights, etc. They play in different time zones. But woah woah….NO football player's body clock is set to this 2:15 nonsense! Another stupid, contrived observation/point.

As seven defenders crossed the line at the snap, yours truly said aloud, "Miami wins." And yea, verily, it came to pass.

Please stop doing this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gregg Easterbrook Seems Much Smarter When He’s Talking about Stuff I Know Nothing About

Easterbrook starts out this week's column with a long-winded opinion that play calling doesn’t matter in the NFL. This makes zero sense when combined with his thousands of words each season where he criticizes the play calling of coaches for having cost their teams victories.

In the cult of football, surely few things are more overrated than play calling. Much football commentary, from high school stands to the NFL in prime time, boils down to: "If they ran they should have passed, and if they passed they should have run." Other commentary boils down to: "If it worked, it was a good call, if it failed, it was a bad call," though the call is only one of many factors in a football play. Good calls are better than bad calls -- this column exerts considerable effort documenting the difference.

My take on Sherman Lewis' play calling Monday night? When he ran, he should have passed -- when he passed, he should have run.

I guess that’s a joke.

Yeah, I think it’s much more useful to say that a play succeeded or failed because of the way the cheerleaders are dressed, the coaches are dressed, based on some random anecdote that has nothing to do with the play, the impact of football gods, curses and how the front office deals with free agents (see next paragraph). I think it's laughable that Easterbrook is condemning poor football analysis as just being about second guessing.

When Michael Crabtree finally signed with the 49ers, TMQ warned of a Crabtree Curse -- Mike Singletary had spent a year in San Francisco instilling the message that nobody is bigger than the team, and suddenly it seemed you could jerk the 49ers around all you wanted and get $17 million guaranteed as your reward. Before the signing, the 49ers were 3-1; since the signing, they are 0-2, and have been outscored 69-31. Beware the Crabtree Curse!

So signing Michael Crabtree sent a message to the 49ers defense and that’s why they’ve given up 69 points in the last 2 games. Okay, fruitcake.

Kickoff temperature in Pittsburgh on Sunday was 52 degrees -- so why did Brett Favre wear a woolen ski cap to the postgame news conference? TMQ has noted that while Favre once shrugged at inclement Green Bay weather, now the aging quarterback's performance declines sharply when it's cold. If 52 degrees now makes him reach for a ski cap, good luck to the Vikings when they play at Chicago on Dec. 28.

What is with the fascination with clothing? Seriously? This isn’t interesting or relevant. OMG I knew the Patriots were going to win when I saw Peyton Manning wearing gloves and a hat when he got off the team bus in Foxborough!

Christmas Creep: James McShane of Cincinnati reports, "I attend Xavier University. On October 20th, the university put up Christmas lights. It was 70 degrees out!" Peter Weiss of Green Bay writes that on Oct. 21, "As I returned to the office from lunch, I noticed workers hanging Christmas decorations from the lampposts in downtown Green Bay."

So places that get pretty cold in the winter aren’t waiting until its fucking freezing out before hanging up Christmas lights.


This week’s column is littered with NBA facts and opinions. One of the subjects Easterbrook dives into is the age restriction for incoming players.

There's no "right" to be a 19-year-old doctor or airline pilot, and no "right" to play in the NBA. The league is a private enterprise that sets its internal rules, and a 20-years minimum would very much be in the interest of the NBA. Allowing players to jump into the league at 19 lowers quality of play; older players are both physically more mature, and have more polished games.

I’m not disagreeing with this, as a whole. Requiring players to attend multiple years of college would, in theory, weed out players better for the draft and better prepare most players for the NBA….freaks like Lebron James and Dwight Howard aside.

The current "one and done" exception -- one year of college, then declare for the pros -- means players who might have become well-known college stars, and arrived in the NBA with high public standing, instead are barely known at the college level, then enter the pros as unknowns with little promotional potential.

My view on this is….who cares? Why do I care if a player (and Easterbrook has some examples) declares for the draft when he’s not ready and suffers the consequences. Easterbrook’s examples of players who may have benefited from a year or two of college ignores a simple fact; it’s their own fault (even if the kid has a stereotypical greedy agent telling him to sign, it's his fault). It also ignores the fact that if they are as good as Easterbrook suggests, they would have made it in the NBA, just as plenty of other players who didn’t play college have. Lastly, it ignores the simply truth that plenty of high school stars go to college and fizzle out (either in college or as soon as they hit the pros), just like his examples did in the pros, because they weren’t good enough to dominate on the next level. There isn't a 100% success rate in any challenging profession on this planet.

When the age limit was 18 for a while, quality of NBA play notably declined, and the fans aren't fools -- ratings and ticket sales fell. Since the 19-year standard took effect in 2005, quality of play has improved; so have ratings and the gate.

Here is where I have a problem. This is just blind, lazy, bullshit speculation passed of as a key supporting fact. I have a number of observations here.

1.) Easterbrook doesn’t watch a lot of basketball (or he hates it, and he does....who would hate something but watch it anyway, that's like hating a columnist but reading his column for 45 minutes every week....let's move on), he’s talking out of his ass for the convenience of his general point when he says “the quality of NBA play notably declined”.

2.) Even if the quality of play “notably declined”, you’re making a leap to blame that on the players who came straight out of high school to the pros, especially when so many of them (Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Tracy McGrady, Amare Stoudamire, Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson, Rashard Lewis, Jermaine O’Neal, etc.) were contributing a high level of play during that time.

3.) He also noted that ticket sales had fallen and then had risen again. This is the attendance from ’03-’04 through ’07-’08.

03-'04 - 20,272,195
04-'05 - 21,296,497
05-'06 - 21,595,804
06-'07 - 21,841,480
07-'08 - 21,395,576

Notice the sharp trends here? Neither do I. The reality is there appears to be marginal movement from year to year. Again, owing any of this to high school NBA players is silly. It’s a strain on your common sense and a lie to imply that you can tell anything about the rule by looking at these numbers. But Easterbrook thinks he can just take any two purported facts (or opinions, even) and say without hesitation that fact 1 caused fact 2. That’s why I can’t stand him.

4.) On to ratings. These are the average regular season ratings for the network (ABC) games.

2003 - 2.6
2004 - 2.4
2005 - 2.2
2006 - 2.2

Does that tell you anything about the impact of the age restriction? Me neither. If NBA teams don’t think players are ready, don’t draft them. The reason why they are so appealing to draft is because so many of them have succeeded.

NBA Officials Check Passports Before Calling Traveling: TMQ has long contended that football rules are too complex; also, the NFL refuses to reveal its officiating manual, which explains such things as how a zebra determines what counts as pass interference. The NBA by contrast recently put its rulebook online, complete with multimedia examples of what is and isn't legal. Great idea -- do the same, NFL. In the new rulebook, I did find this interesting definition:

TRAVELING. If the player with the ball walks off the court and out of the arena, hails a cab, goes to the airport, and buys an airline ticket, at the point that he boards the plane, he shall be whistled for "traveling."

Wait a minute…that IS traveling! Like normal people do! :) LOL! :)

Easterbrook then randomly goes after Stephon Marbury.

But if a player wants the privilege of performing in the NBA, he must perform by its standards. Finally someone, in this case D'Antoni, made that clear. On the day Marbury signed with defending champion Boston, the Celtics were 47-12 (.797). Boston immediately lost to Detroit on national television, and for the remainder of the season went 23-15 (.605) and was bounced from the playoffs. Sure, the injury to Kevin Garnett was a huge factor, but Garnett was out well before Marbury arrived.

Um, no. The Celtics season was not derailed by Stephon Marbury. It was curtailed by Kevin Garnett’s injury and a regression to the mean. Garnett had missed a total of 7 games during the year before Marbury joined the team. The reality is the Celtics started 27-2 and were never going to keep up that pace. That fact, along with Garnett’s injury, is what is driving the disparity in the records above.
Stop taking nuggets of information and making crazy cause and effect assertions around them.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hey This Rumor I Made Up is Wrong

Greg Easterbrook starts this week by devoting over 2,200 words to dispel the hot rumor that scoring is actually up in the NFL and NCAA. I have not heard this rumor about the NFL. I don’t pay 5 minutes of attention all season to the NCAA.

Now, let’s follow up on the running theme that Easterbrook only sporadically talks about coaches being more manly men versus “fraidy cat” (his words) based on fourth down attempts. As Gregg already had a 2,200 word opening, he didn’t have to make up a trend to comment on. However, he would have had a legitimate point as this week there were only 26 fourth down attempts, but far the lowest this season (.93 per team game versus 1.32 last week – a 30% decline). In week 2 it increased 0% over week 1, which warranted an intro from Easterbrook about an increase in attempts. In week 4 it increased 1% over week 3 and made the intro as implying that there was a big increase. In week 3 it increased 24% over week 2 and that warranted a comment because Easterbrook thought that his week 2 “manly men” pronouncement was premature, even though teams went for it more in week 3. So he had it backwards. His inconsistency, and the shoddy wording of this paragraph, has probably confused the shit out of you. Let’s move on.

NFL news, is there a Crabtree Curse? San Francisco broke out of the gate 3-1, in part because management's no-compromise attitude toward holdout diva Michael Crabtree sent the message that nobody is bigger than the team. Then last week, suddenly Crabtree is granted $16 million guaranteed even though he skipped training camp, doesn't know the playbook, and spent the first month of the season relaxing on the couch. Suddenly the message sent is that you can jerk the 49ers around and get away with it. Immediately San Francisco lost to Atlanta 45-10 at home.

Yes, 100% of the reason they lost to the Saints is because the players ceased viewing the organization as a "no-nonsense – nobody is bigger than the team” organization.

What a fucking fruitcake.

In other football news, is Cincinnati this year's Team of Destiny? I advise you not to get up for a beer during the final minute of any Bengals game. I strongly advise you not to defy TMQ's law, Cold Coach = Victory. On a 30-degree day at Denver, Bill Belichick came out in a heavy winter parka plus woolen ski hat, with tassel; Josh McDaniels wore a hoodie with a baseball cap. At kickoff, seeing how they were attired, TMQ said, "This game's over." And yea, verily, it came to pass.


What to make of the Flaming Thumbtacks' collapse? Since the moment Tennessee took the field in the playoffs holding home-field advantage throughout the postseason, Tennessee has lost six straight. The loss of Albert Haynesworth cannot be the explanation, as his new team is struggling.

Wow. Is that a stupid thing to say. Wow.

Holy shit. Wow.

The loss of a key defensive player to a bad team can’t the explanation, because that key defensive player is now playing on a bad team! Wouldn’t the comparison be the Titans with Haynesworth’s productivity last year versus his replacement’s performance this year, to figure out if the loss of Haynesworth has had an impact?

What if Haynesworth had remained a Titan but died in the offseason? Would you say…."well the death of Haynesworth isn’t the explanation. He’s a dead guy. He can’t even move. If they put him out there he would do absolutely nothing positively for the team. It would be 11 versus 10. So that’s not the reason.”

Congratulations Gregg Easterbrook, you are guilty of the stupidest thing a columnist wrote about the NFL this week.

Sarah Palin has an instant book out next month, and in keeping with the Unified Field Theory of Creep, it's already on bestseller lists though no volumes actually have been shipped from the warehouse.

You can sell books that haven’t shipped. This isn’t some cute thing you noticed.

It’s not on a list of most widely read books, just most purchased.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: San Francisco trailing 35-10, Dre' Bly of the Squared Sevens intercepted a pass and saw green in front of him. Bly started showboating for the home crowd at his own 40, then was caught from behind by Roddy White -- one of the league's fastest players, the sort of thing Bly is paid to know -- and fumbled. Atlanta ball. Showboating when you are about to score the winning points, as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did for Arizona, is bad enough. Showboating on your own 40 and when your team is down by 25 points is inexcusable. Dre' Bly, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season -- so far.

Yeah I actually agree with this.

Here is the clip.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

TMQ - Denver Won Because They Couldn't Convert a 4th Down

TMQ - Week 4. That's the intro.

In other football news, going for it on fourth down continues to rise in NFL popularity: Chicago, Cincinnati, Miami, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Washington were among the teams that converted key fourth-down attempts this week when they could have kicked, and then went on to victory.

In week 2, he was all happy because teams were going for it more. In week 3, he spoke vaguely of a regression and teams going for it less. Using the crude measure of 4th down attempts per team per game, this is how it’s trending so far this season:

Week 1: 1.06
Week 2: 1.06 (When Gregg said there was a sudden burst of manhood, presumably over the week 1 total?)
Week 3: 1.31 (When Gregg said he was premature in week 3, even though it actually increased a lot)
Week 3: 1.32 (Virtually the same as week 3)

I am confused.

Of course, going for it doesn't always work; Denver was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 try, though the "challenging players to win" mindset that going for it on fourth down instills seemed to help the Broncos down the stretch.

Well obviously.

The Broncos probably don’t win that game if that 4th and 1 isn’t stuffed. Even when I’m wrong I’m 100% right. When I’m 100% right I’m 1,000% right. I am the smartest man alive. Verily. Cheerbabes. Flaming Thumbtacks and Jersey A/B!

Fortune Favors the Bold! No. 2: After the Redskins failed on fourth-down tries -- when they could have kicked -- in three straight games, Jim "Dan Snyder Hasn't Fired Me Quite Just Yet" Zorn still went for it on fourth-and-2 from the City of Tampa 36. For your faith you will be rewarded, spoke the football gods! Conversion, touchdown on the drive, Washington avoids losing to the winless Bucs, and Zorn's job is safe another week.

Okay. You got me. I take it all back. Football gods clearly exist and this is uncontestable proof that going for it on fourth down is always the right answer. The Redskins, like many other teams this year, have gone for it on fourth in a few different games, and they won in weeks 2 and 4. I have no idea what this means or proves or how it is the least bit interesting. They went for it on fourth in the second game, apparently, and failed, but they won the game. Gregg would say “alas, ye gods rewardeth the (stupid nickname) for showing such bravery and, yea, verily their faith was rewarded with a win! I like girls!!” But if you go for it and fail and lose, as they did in week 3, well shit that’s just part of the equation for winning in week 4. Make sense? I’m confused.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Talk, talk, talk -- they sure can talk in Dallas. But when the pressure's on, they jog, jog, jog. Not only did multiple Cowboys defenders miss Brandon Marshall on the 51-yard zigzag scamper that won the game with two minutes remaining at Denver, other Cowboys didn't even try to chase the runner. Marshall cut back across the field twice; if more Cowboys had hustled to chase the play, Marshall would have run out of room. Linebacker Bradie James switched from running to jogging when Marshall was still at the Dallas 10. Dallas Cowboys, you are guilty of the single worst play of the season -- so far.

Here is the play. Great run. There are 7 cowboys chasing him. What does Easterbrook want? Sure, there were missed tackles, as there often are on runs like this, but that was just an amazing run. Brady James is number 56 and he is chasing Marshall for much of the play. He does let up a little early, but he was not catching Marshall anyway. There are players who stop giving chase when they have no chance on every play.

Yeah, pretty boring.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Check it Out I Found this Hidden Gregg Easterbrook Column

Before I get to TMQ, can someone help me out with something. This is from Scoop Jackson's column about the Michael Crabtree holdout:

But in truth, he does have recourse. Despite reports that the Jets may be interested in talking with Crabtree, there's still a backup plan: re-enter the draft next year and hope to get picked higher than he did this year. Yet this tactic is something that could and probably would affect his entire career, not just his rookie season. (It's the same move that agent Charles Tucker tried with the Milwaukee Bucks and Glenn Robinson in 1994, a move that haunted Robinson throughout his career. Just something to think about.)

A. Glenn Robinson was the number 1 pick. I don't think he had any designs on holding out to be re-drafted at the zero slot in 1995.
B. The hold out did not "haunt" Glenn Robinson throughout his entire career. That's made-up bullshit.

Now to the T&A loving badboy Gregg Easterbrook!

In other football news, perhaps Tuesday Morning Quarterback was premature in declaring last week that courage was breaking out across the NFL. (examples of coaches not going for it). So when courage might have saved the day, an NFL coach was hyper-conservative, desperate to avoid responsibility; when it made absolutely no difference what he did because the game was lost, the coach went for it. See other examples of NFL coaching timidity below.

That's funny, because just last week I declared that your declaration was probably just a lazy lead-in to your column, since teams went for it on fourth down at the same level as week 1 and not at a level that was too anomalous with previous seasons. In week 3 teams had 42 fourth down attempts. This is versus 34 in both weeks 1 and 2. Now, I understand that Easterbrook is not just talking about the quantity of attempts, but the scenarios in which the attempts were made (when the game was up for grabs versus when the game was essentially lost). However, I have to think that over 3 weeks, behaviors haven't changed that much - especially from week 1 to week 2 and from week 2 to week 3.

Sweet 'N' Sour Play No. 2: Note 3: (play recap...). San Diego versus Miami -- why wasn't this game played on a beach with the cheerleaders in bikinis?

Because the TMQ likes girls in bikinis, right! T&A man! Right on! He's just like us, only he likes to write 1,000 words about "cosmic thoughts"! Shut up.

Hidden Play of the Week No. 1: Hidden plays are ones that never make highlight reels, but stop or sustain drives. Highlight reels are showing Carson Palmer's last-snap-of-the-game touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell, enabling Cincinnati to defeat defending champion Pittsburgh. (Cincinnati also was in trips at the goal line, and Pittsburgh didn't jam either.) Twice on that winning drive, the Trick-or-Treats faced fourth down -- fourth-and-2 and fourth-and-10. Palmer completed conversion passes both times, helped by solid pass-blocking. These hidden plays made the game winner possible.

All highlights I saw of the game showed these 4th down conversions. This would be the opposite of “never making highlight reels”.

Yeah it's not much, but I had to fly through this week's column.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gregg Easterbrook Lies About AIG Lies

This week’s TMQ had 2 paragraphs I felt like commenting on. In the first, he talks about the outbreak of courage in the NFL this weekend because of the increase in teams going for it on 4th down.

Has courage broken out in the NFL? This weekend, team after team went for it on fourth down, eschewing fraidy-cat kicks…..(deleted: a bunch of examples)…..Overall in Week 2, there were 34 fourth-down conversion attempts -- some in desperation time when coaches had no choice, but most when kicking was a reasonable option.

Why this sudden burst of manhood?

The answer: because of cheer babes and football gods!

The real answer: There wasn’t, really. There were 34 fourth-down conversion attempts in week 1 too. This works out to 1.06 fourth down attempts per team per game. This is up from the 2008 season, which saw .96 fourth down attempts per team per game. I’m not trying to minimize this difference (10%), but it doesn’t strike me as huge and it probably won’t hold. Multiplying that out, it means that, on average, each team will attempt just under 17 fourth down attempts this season versus just over 15 last season. The way Easterbrook led off his column I expected it to be 20-40% higher.

So there is a slight increase over last year (as noted above). However, if you look at 2007, there were 1.04 fourth down attempts per team per game. This is virtually the same as 1.06. In 2006, it was .92. There actually was a much more significant increase from 2006 to 2007 than there has been in the small 2 week sample so far in 2009, when Gregg is applauding teams for being more manly men. In 2007 he was doing his usual (mostly correct) schtick of hammering the teams for being “fraidy cats” for punting too often.

Conclusion: Nothing to see here (yet)… keep moving. He probably just needed something to lead the column with.

The other piece I’m going to pick on is Gregg calling out the former interim CEO of AIG for essentially being misleading and dishonest. See, Liddy was asked by our government to come in to run AIG for a while to help maintain our economic system, which AIG had become an immense and important part of by insuring a large portfolio of subprime loans and basically propping up Wall Street for a couple of years. Ed Liddy was not the CEO of AIG when it helped to crash our financial system, but Easterbrook won’t clarify that for you. Ed Liddy was requested by our Government to be the CEO of AIG to help stabilize the company (and therefore the economy). Here’s what Easterbrook had to say:

Meanwhile, previous AIG CEO Edward Liddy repeatedly said he was working "for $1 a year." He asserted this on "60 Minutes" and in sworn congressional testimony, and was broadly praised for his dollar-a-year service. Now it turns out he was lying.

This is incredibly petty. Liddy did not say he was “working for $1 a year”. He was making a $1 per year salary. He wasn’t lying. Easterbrook says “now it turns out” like this is any big secret being uncovered or this is even recent news. Here is the Proxy statement filed with the SEC on June 5th. Scroll down to 2008 compensation. There it is. Nothing hidden.

AIG quietly said Liddy received $38,368 for a New York apartment, $47,578 for personal airline flights, $31,348 for car services and $180,431 "to cover tax obligations” " In what sense are these not income?

How did they quietly say this? Should they have issued a press release about some perquisites that frankly are quite small in the context of a CEO’s compensation package? What would you have done, if you were running AIG? They did not say he had no expenses paid, they said he had a $1 salary. I'll tell you in which sense those payments are not income. The entire purpose of the above expenses was to make sure that Liddy, in working for $1, was not actually paying to work for AIG. Since his home is not in New York, that required an apartment and transportation home. This is unfair and misleading, how?

You work at a job in order to be able to pay for your housing and transportation. You must earn income to pay your taxes; nobody pays them for you. If AIG was paying for Liddy's housing, personal travel and taxes, then he wasn't earning $1 a year.

He was earning a $1 salary. The expenses were paid for so that he wasn’t paying to work for AIG (at the government’s request, by the way).

Yet he lied through his teeth about this and got away with it.

This is an entirely inaccurate, misleading way to represent the situation, more so in any way than Liddy’s compensation package was a lie.

That's the core lesson of corporate scandals -- the CEOs tell lies, pocket cash and never pay any penalty.

What cash did he pocket? He had use of an apartment, a plane and some money went to federal, state and local governments. He did not live in New York, but was asked to run AIG. Was he supposed to call a realtor up and go apartment hunting or was he supposed to get busy running the company?

What does this encourage? More CEO lying. Liddy also received stock options. AIG has never said how many; suppose it was 200,000, the number just granted Benmosche.

Yeah, that seems fair, let’s just speculate that he received 200,000 stock options even though you have no evidence of that and then criticize him for it! I have been unable to find a record of Liddy receiving stock options (only positive statements to the contrary) and Easterbrook linked nothing to support this claim. If anyone has proof of this, please forward to me. I’m genuinely curious.

When Liddy went to AIG, its share price was hovering around $5; if that's the strike price, 200,000 shares would be worth about $7 million right now. Plus AIG quietly said Liddy may receive a bonus payable in 2010. The man who was widely praised for claiming to work for $1 may end up with a king's ransom in his pockets, all pilfered from the average taxpayers. Why have the media dropped this story?

This is very shady. If Liddy had been given 200,000 options upon arriving at AIG (which is what Easterbrook is implying/making up, because he’s using the beginning stock price as the strike price), then that would certainly be in the proxy I linked above. This is the number of Options that Liddy received upon joining AIG in September 2008: 0. Zero fucking options. Yes, but IF HE HAD THEN HE WOULD HAVE MADE A LOT OF MONEY! That's awesomely interesting. Except he didn't. If I had a 19 inch cock I'd be a porn star. Also interesting and made up. Fun, right?

This is from the proxy: “Mr. Liddy volunteered to receive only $1 in salary. He has received no cash incentive compensation and no equity-based compensation. It was expected that Mr. Liddy ultimately would be compensated through an equity grant. However, Mr. Liddy declined to move forward on work toward that arrangement as AIG addressed the immediate challenges facing it.”

This is directly in conflict with what Easterbrook said above. Is Easterbrook lying? At a minimum, his fictitious $7 million gain that he’s criticizing Liddy is wrong. Maybe Liddy did receive stock options, but name a cite and use those numbers in computing a gain to rail him on.

Here’s what they said about his tax obligations: “AIG also made additional payments to offset any tax obligation Mr. Liddy incurred in accordance with the preceding arrangements to avoid his effectively having to pay to work at AIG. AIG does not believe that any of the amounts described in this paragraph represents an actual compensation benefit for Mr. Liddy.”

Let’s say that you live in Florida. The government asks you to spend 9 months helping to build affordable low-income housing in Wisconsin. They provide a few trips home and an apartment in Wisconsin. Since you are still paying rent/mortgage in Florida, is that not reasonable? Is that really “income”? Easterbrook would call you a lying thief if you didn't call it income.

In the very same Bloomberg article that Easterbrook links to, it says this: "Liddy declined to accept equity grants for compensation, AIG said, canceling what was to be the largest component of his pay under an arrangement disclosed on Nov. 25.” But that didn’t stop Easterbrook from somehow computing a $7 million option gain for Mr. Liddy and calling him a liar for this $7 million gain.

Easterbrook is being more dishonest here than AIG or Ed Liddy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gregg Easterbrook Will Not Believe Your Crazy Comic Book Stories!

I read this week’s TMQ and had three separate paragraphs to comment on. Yeah, that’s all the introduction you’re getting, I’m busy.

"Wall-E" was a terrific flick, the finest Hollywood romance in years, despite starring two mute robots; "The Dark Knight" was a terrible film. People felt "The Dark Knight" had to be praised owing to the death of Heath Ledger; that movie was terrible.

Really, just because Heath Ledger died? Do you really think the Dark Knight made over 7 trillion dollars at the Box Office because people said “hey let’s go see that movie that stars that guy who died recently”? Do you really think guys like Roger Ebert are swayed by this? I don’t. That guy can be pretty vicious when he thinks a movie sucks.

The big chase scene at its center made absolutely no sense -- no matter what street the van turned down, the Joker's tractor-trailer truck was already on that street and approaching from the opposite direction. Huh?

It wasn’t approaching in the opposite direction, it was running parallel. If the Joker was approaching in the opposite direction, he would have just flown right by the van. So huh…to you!!!! See how I turned that around?

The Joker made no sense. How did he know where everyone in Gotham City was at every moment?

He didn’t, why do you say he did? Do you really know how much time was elapsing in this movie? Everyone…..every moment? It’s easy to discard something as stupid when you make up “facts” about it.

How did he enter guarded buildings without being detected?

As I noted in my post last year about this same goddamn subject, he’s a fucking criminal mastermind. In Gregg Easterbrook’s version of Batman, when the joker and his henchmen break into the bank at the beginning, they are immediately swarmed and taken down by the 66 year old security guard Cliff and his 18 year old assistant (who would be Cliff’s grandson, Jason…on his first day). Cliff would go on to get a $500 bonus from the bank and a plaque from the Mayor. The rest of the movie is mainly just Bruce Wayne shagging random NFL cheerleaders and watching Star Trek re-runs and pulling his hair out when NFL teams punt on 4th and 3 from the opponent’s 45 when the average NFL play yields 4.85 yards so they are guaranteed a first down. Also, Harvey Dent would be a raging anti-semite.

How did he command an army of super-competent ultra-loyal henchmen, including engineers and surgeons, despite having no money and boasting of murdering his own assistants for amusement?

Who says he had no money? How are any of those super villains in any movies with armies of henchman able to command them? Who are the engineers and surgeons (I may just be forgetting)? WHO FUCKING CARES? It’s a comic book movie, turn your brain off for two hours and watch the pretty explosions. How did Hitler command hundreds of thousands of people? With fear? Well that's my answer. The Joker did it with fear.

And that scene of gibberish pseudo-philosophizing about society by the Joker, puh-leeze.

Seriously, what scene is this?

I don’t remember the Joker philosophizing about society in any grandiose way, he just said he likes to cause mayhem and see what happens. Good god you must be a miserable fuck to watch a movie with.

Moving on, let’s talk about apologies and false analogies.

Serena Williams was fined $10,000 for cursing out and threatening to harm a line judge in the U.S. Open. It's not just that in the Masterpiece Theater environment of tennis, the hushed crowd can hear a player curse; threatening another person with physical harm is in most states a crime akin to simple battery, such as throwing a punch. Williams, who is wealthy, was assessed a minor fine -- yet LeGarrette Blount of Oregon loses his entire senior season for throwing a punch. Blount's punch was wrong and punishment was required, but taking away his senior season -- in high school and college football, the senior season is the most important season by far -- for losing his cool in the heat of the moment is excessive punishment.

It's been a while since I took Criminal Justice, but I don't believe throwing and landing a punch is “simple battery”. What LeGarrette Blount did was assault and battery. Simple battery would have been knocking the other player’s helmet out of his hand or something. What Serena Williams did was assault, only because she raised her racket and motioned towards the line judge in a threatening way (pointing at her)…even though everyone who saw it knew the Williams would not actually physically do anything to the line judge. What Serena Williams did was not battery, because she never actually touched the line judge (or even "simple battery"). Taking a cheap shot punch at another player from an angle where you are hidden is not analogous to yelling at someone. He lost his entire season not for “simple battery” caused by throwing a punch. He assaulted a player with the intent of doing him great physical harm. Note: I’m not a lawyer, so don’t all 8 of you e-mail me lawery stuff. You get my point.

I don’t disagree with Easterbrook’s larger point in the paragraph above, which is that Blount’s punishment is very severe, perhaps overly so. But his analogy here is not very good. Here’s where it gets worse.

What Blount did is not hugely different from what Williams did. Yet she is slapped on the wrist while he is severely punished.

I have a problem with this. This is the youtube video of Serena Williams. She lost her cool and yelled at a line judge. She motioned towards her. She said bad things. But the line judge was not, for one second, in true physical danger. This is the US open. There are 10’s of thousands of people there, and the match is televised. The actually likelihood of Serena Williams doing something to physically harm the line judge is zero point zero per cent. People yell at officials/refs/umpires/line judges all the time. To analogize it to punching someone from the side is insane.

This is the youtube video of LeGarrette Blount blindsiding Byron Hout. If he hits Hout in the temple with that punch, who knows what happens? Blount is a big strong guy, and he didn’t just “lose his cool”, he put another person’s livelihood at risk. This is not in the same universe as an athlete cursing out an official. There was no real threat of physical harm, and everyone knows this.

Let’s turn this around. Let’s say that Serena Williams had punched the line judge when the judge had her head turned and LeGarrette Blount has said “I will kill you” and pointed at another player. Would you still think these things are not hugely different?

Plus, whatever happened to the value of the apology? Blount apologized to Byron Hout, the player he struck, and Hout graciously accepted.

So if Hout doesn’t accept, then the apology is not as valued. This is stupid logic. What he does is minimized if he apologizes for it….IF….the apology is accepted!

Life is full of screw-ups. The apology, if accepted, lets us go forward without nursing grudges. Rep. Joe Wilson was incredibly rude to President Barack Obama last week. Wilson apologized; Obama accepted. The matter should now be closed. Blount's apology was genuine, and ought to count for a lot.

No, the matter is not closed. There’s still the little matter of a player punching another player. THE LAST THING WE NEED TO TEACH PEOPLE WHO CAN’T CONTROL THEMSELVES IS THAT YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT AND FACE A MUCH MORE LENIENT POLICY IF YOU APOLOGIZE. Blount learns no lesson if he’s given a small penalty simply because he apologized.

Football spectators, TV fans and boosters are hypocritical to demand violent contact during games, then theatrically call for extreme punishment of a player whose heat-of-battle emotions had not cooled a mere two minutes after the contest ended.

He fucking blindsided another player with a punch that could have done serious damage. This is a serious thing. This wasn’t two Pop Warner kids at school the next day behind the jungle gym. He should have known people would see him do this and there would be repercussions. By being so brazen, he practically obligated the NCAA and his school to hit him with a super harsh penalty. Stop glossing over this. A full season seems extreme to me, I’d have suspended him for a few games, but this is not the same as Serena Williams or Joe Wilson. Exchanges like this happen all the time and don’t lead to violence, so I don’t buy the argument that this is hypocritical to expect this instance to have not resulted in violence.

Okay, moving on again. One thing Gregg does all the time is take plays and describe them with total revisionist history. If you just read his column and never actually see the plays, you will not notice this. But frequently when Gregg says “no one moved”, a few guys moved. When he says 4 players were involved, 2 were involved, etc. When he says that he likes cheerbabes in skimpy outfits, he’s sucking on a dildo. Anyway, that brings us to his recap of the Brandon Stokley reception this week.

Single Worst Play of the Season -- So Far: Just maybe you've seen a highlight of the Brandon Stokley play that won the Denver-Cincinnati game. Forget the ball bouncing or Stokley running, where were the Bengals? Leading 7-6 with 28 seconds remaining and the opponent pinned on its 13, Cincinnati coaches sent only a nickel, not a dime, onto the field. At the snap, the deepest safety was only 12 yards off. Once Stokley grabs the tipped pass, linebacker Dhani Jones is the sole Bengal who chases him all-out. Other Broncos, and Bronco coaches, ran down the sideline with Stokley. The linesman ran with him almost stride-for-stride. Where are the other Bengals?

The underlines are mine.

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. The linesman ran with him! So did the coaches! But the well paid professional athletes on the Bengals didn’t even try. Based on what you just read, don’t you have this vision of a bunch of Bengals DB’s being beaten on a route or something and then when Stokley is in front of them, they just stop running because they are lazy assholes? All the while, a parade of people are stride for stride with Stokely on the sideline….even the much older linesman!

Here is the play. Watch it.

The DB’s fell and were out of the play once the ball was tipped. The linesman ran about 15 feet and not at all with Stokley. A couple of Bronco players ran about 15 yards, not at all with Stokley’s pace. Lastly, the part about the Bronco coaches is unverifiable from this clip. I couldn’t see anyone running. I suspect the TMQ made it up.

Easterbrook does this all the time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bill Simmons Went to VEGAS!!!!

Hey, you're still here? Sorry about not posting ever, I just don't read much online these days and I stick to Deadspin, TheBigLead and Firejaymariotti.

But I did catch that Bill Simmons went to Vegas recently. Oh yeah, you know what that Vegas means, another Vegas column about Vegas things that only happen in Vegas! Vegas. Bill and his Vegas friends are Vegas veterans, so you will be astounded at the hilarity of them playing Vegas craps, eating Vegas bad food, playing Vegas blackjack, having a group dinner, visiting a Vegas nightclub!!!! (oh boy!) and finally playing Vegas slots! Only in Vegas can you do all this! Seriously, if you try to get 10 guys together for dinner and fucking slots at Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun or Atlantic City, you'll get shot. Vegas!!!! VEGAS!!!

Since the columns (there's a day 1 and a day 2) are really long, I’ve just trimmed them down a bit, so you can get the Vegas gist.

These are the things you think about as you're driving to Vegas.

If there's someone else in the car, by Nevada law, you're required to scream out "VEH-GASSSSSSSSSSS!" like Double Down Trent.

Vegas. Vegas. Vegas.

Some people aren't quite meant for Vegas.

Time for another staple of any Vegas trip: Friday afternoon's "we just got here, we haven't gotten our gambling legs yet, we're not drunk or even buzzed ... let's grab this open craps table and throw dice together!"

That's veteran Vegas savvy -- you definitely want to be buzzed/drunk at the end of the night because it loosens you up and that's when you go on card runs, but you never want to be lightheaded drunk or sloppy drunk.

These are the things you say in Vegas.



There's nothing quite like the feeling of waking up in Vegas and having absolutely no idea what time it is.

(These are the conversations you have in Vegas.)

Add this to the "great things about Vegas" list -- where else can you take a limo with 11 friends for 10 minutes?

I love Vegas.

Always respect the dead in Vegas.

(You gotta love Vegas.)

You know, every Vegas weekend has one song that every casino beats into the ground to the point that people groan when it comes on.

Call it the Vegas Diet.

Back to the room for second showers, shaves and a dress change, highlighted by Grady's phone call to his wife in which he adopts the Vegas Husband Voice.

(You're in Vegas, for god sakes.)

Out of nowhere, Mahady comes up with one of the three greatest Vegas ideas I have ever witnessed: Everyone throws in $100, we head to the slots and play as many Wheel of Fortune machines as possible at the same time.

Now I think we just need a new Vegas theory which I'm gonna call it the 'Vegas Shocker' theory.

(And if that e-mail didn't make any sense to you … well, you've never been to Vegas.)

Don't pull the Limo Price Bump move on old Vegas veterans like us, Driver With 17 Letters In Your First Name.

Time for another veteran Vegas move: My contact lenses are dry and killing me, so I order a spicy Bloody Mary with extra horseradish.

(Note: I should really teach a "What To Do In Vegas" class in college. UCLA, call me.)

These are the rules of Vegas.

See, it always evens out in Vegas.

Sometimes, you have to keep Vegas on its toes.

One of the mysteries of Vegas -- waking up that second morning and feeling fine.

"There should be a Web site that has before/after Vegas pictures," I say to Grady.

The obligatory hungover Vegas breakfast with Bish, Hopper and Grady.

We're just four washed-up Vegas sluggers watching a washed-up baseball slugger walk with his family.

Vegas, baby.



In all seriousness, the columns aren’t bad. I just can’t stand the constant references to Vegas like it’s another planet and Simmons acting like his friends and he do the town like a bunch of madmen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There Should Be a Website Devoted to Getting Joe Morgan Fired

Two posts in June? Why the fuck not.

I happened to take a quick look at Joe Mo's chat today and I thought a few question/answers were worthy of posting here. Because they sucked.

These are cut and pastes so typos are as they showed up in the chat.

John (CA): What are your thoughts oin Tommy Hanson so far?

Joe Morgan: I haven't seen him, and I havent read a lot about him, but everything I hear about him on TV, he's going to be a star. But I don't use other peoples' judgements on players, I like to see them. I don't follow the lead of others in terms of rating players. I like to do it myself.


I haven’t seen him.
I haven’t read anything about him.
People say he’s good.
But I don’t listen to people.
I barely watch baseball.
I don't read anything about baseball.
Question answered?

Ben (Lincoln, NE): Joe, what's your take on the White Sox?

Joe Morgan: That's a team that I just can't figure out. Every time I think they're going to go down and they should start rebuilding, they win a few games ago.

To keep my brain from exploding I’m going to just pretend he didn’t end that second sentence with “ago”. So, if this means what I think it means, then no team should ever rebuild unless they go an entire season without a winning streak.

Contreras came back and looks great. They look good for a moment and then they fall back. So, I can't figure them out.

Seriously. At first I’m like…this team has won a few games in a row, they're AWESOME!…then they lose 3 in a row…so I’m like…this team SUCKS! Then they go and win a game again! Make a decision White Sox! Are you going to lose all the time or win all the time? You can’t just be a .500 team or something! Winning, then losing and back and forth and back and forth. I can’t analyze that.

They have some young players and veteran players, but I just can't figure them out.

This is the third time Joe said he can’t figure them out. He's typed 6 sentences.

Also, I fucking love this sentence. Read it again, it's beautiful. It's like Joe concedes that he can't "figure out" teams that have all veterans or all young players. But this White Sox team, well shit they have both....and he still can't figure them out.

They could turn things around and win the division or they can fall deeper toward the bottom of the division.

So they’ll either be awesome and win the division or they’ll suck.

Jason (DC): Joe, Is Magglio Ordonez toast, or will he rebound in a big way?

Joe Morgan: That's a puzzling situation for me, because Jim Leyland said he's benched indefinitely. I don't know if I've heard that phrase used before with the benching of a star. Something is going on there, and we don't know what it is. I find it hard to think that a guy that has had success and can just disappear. My first thought is that he needs a wake up call and this is what that is. Maybe he just needs a good ol' fashioned kick in the pants and this is it.

So, is Magglio Ordonez toast or will he rebound in a big way?

ben (los angeles): if you were the manager of the Dodgers what would you do with Pierre when Manny returns? It doesn't seem productive or fair to bench him.

Joe Morgan: I finally found someone who agrees with me. I said this on Sunday Night Baseball. You're not talking about a bench guy in Pierre. You're talking about a guy with a lifetime average of over .300. If I'm the Dodgers, instead of benching him, I'd try to trade him for a good starting pitcher. Don't make a mistake about it, the Dodgers as good as they are need another starting pitcher. But thanks for agreeing with me. I like people that agree with me. Though I like people that disagree with me so I can explain my side.

No one is going to trade a “good starting pitcher” for a guy who should be a platoon outfielder on a good team. The last 5 years that Pierre was a full-time player, these were his finishes in OBP: First, Second, Second, First, Third. Just kidding, that was "Outs Made". Also, Joe absolutely does not like people that disagree with him as evidenced by his pettiness against anyone who has brought up Moneyball since Billy Beane commissioned IBM to build a computer to write it for him.*

*See Firejoemorgan archives.

Ryan (VA): Hey Joe is Chipper Jones a 1st ballot Hall of Famer if he doesnt reach the 500 homerun mark?

Joe Morgan: Being honest with you...that's a great question. I don't normally answer those questions because I'm on the Board and I don't want it to look like I'm pushing for a player while he's still playing. however, I think that Chipper will end up in the Hall of Fame.

A. I like that Joe is honest when he's answering these chat questions.
B. Joe always reminds people that he’s on the Board and that he shouldn’t give an opinion.
C. Joe always then gives his opinion.
D. He accomplished A-C without answering the question.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bill Simmons is Smarter Than You Are

That’s why he sees all the real stories. Behind the numbers. Behind the uniforms and canned quotes, Simmons is able to break it all down for us. Why did Lebron have a great season in ’08-09? Give up? Kobe Bryant played in the Olympics.

From the mailbag.

I'd bet anything that Kobe secretly regrets being on the Redeem Team. He gained nothing exposure-wise because they showed every game in America in the wee hours;

But he gained something exposure wise with the tens of millions of people around the world who watched Olympic basketball. Is there anyone in the US who doesn’t know who Kobe Bryant is? Also, wasn’t that first game against China on at like 10AM Eastern time on a Sunday?

all he did was put unnecessary mileage on his knees when he could have been resting.

That’s all he did. That’s all that was accomplished in Beijing. When Kobe Bryant is 60 and his grandchildren ask him about the Summer of ’08, his first memory will be…. “Oh that was the summer I put some more mileage on my knees. Nothing else of substance happened. Next topic.” Then they’ll probably ask him about Shaq or about winning the dunk contest in ’97 or being accused of rape or something.

If that's not bad enough, he SINGLE-HANDEDLY altered the course of his main rival's career.

SINGLE-HANDEDLY! This needs to be in all caps, so you know how important it is to his point. That rival? None other than Lebron James, who was an underachieving, underperforming pile of crap before the Beijing Olympics. Lebron James...the guy whose high school games were nationally televised. The number 1 pick in the draft a few years back. That guy. His career path was altered by the Olympics. Right.

Fun fact – Lebron’s per game averages for Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals and Blocks either stayed the same or decreased from the season prior to the Olympics. Although he did play a couple less minutes because there were more blowouts. Still, his course was not altered any more than it would have been if Lebron had stayed home.

LeBron intimated as much himself: Only after watching Kobe's daily workout routine and nonstop commitment to defense did LeBron realize that he was selling himself short to some degree.

Did playing with Kobe Bryant (and Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul, and…) make Lebron James better? Probably. How could playing with those guys not help your game? Is this something that we should credit with making him turn some sort of corner? No. This is like saying that Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Paul Pierce all wouldn’t have been the players they are today if they were drafted 1-3 slots higher. Oh wait, Simmons is convinced of that point too. He and other sportswriters love to take small, innocuous parts of the story, and make them the story. Because that’s what they think they are paid to do – point out the little things that dummies like you and me (especially you) miss because we aren’t as perceptive.

And when Kobe took over as the alpha dog in the gold-medal game (and everyone let him do it), that made LeBron realize, "I'm not quite there yet."

I bet a million dollars that Lebron James didn’t realize this, or think this after the gold medal game, and Bill Simmons is making up that he did so that he can tie it into his nice little bullshit anecdote.

Of the many reasons MJ skipped the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, I guarantee these were two of them:

The 1984 Olympics and the 1992 Olympics? Those are the two main reasons. He already had two gold medals. Just kidding. Bill is right. He was afraid that people would realize why he’s really good at basketball, in 1996, when he was 33 years old and had just unretired and led the Bulls to 72 wins.

"Why should I show these guys I'm trying to beat how I prepare every day?"

Double or nothing on the million dollars that Michael Jordan being afraid to show these guys how he prepares every day had nothing to do with him not playing in the 1996 Olympics.

and "Why should I give my foes any insight into what makes me me."

That’s the same thing as reason one. But very true, I doubt any of those guys knew much about Jordan in 1996. He had 4 rings, 8 scoring titles and 4 MVP's at the time .

He remembered how the 1992 Dream Team experience rejuvenated Barkley's career and didn't want to make the same mistake twice.

Um, I’m pretty sure the 1992-93 season coinciding with Barkley being traded to a good Suns team with a good blend of stars (KJ, Majerle) complementary players (West, Ainge, Chambers, Ceballos) and young guys who would pull productive years out of their asses (Oliver Miller, Richard Dumas) had more to do with his success in 1993 than the Olympics OR MICHAEL JORDAN PLAYING IN THE OLYMPICS. Barkley didn’t play remarkably better in ’93 than he had before; he just played with a better team than he had been dealt in Philly.

Anyway, if Kobe never plays in the 2008 Olympics, then LeBron and Wade become alpha dogs by default and spend the whole time playing poker or Bid Whist in Worldwide Wes' hotel room ... and Kobe is cruising to the title right now. He has to be kicking himself.


Do you think Kobe has spent 5 minutes since he left Beijing thinking about the impact his presence at the Olympics may or may not have had on the other players? I don’t.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Orlando Magic Win, Larry Bird Sucks

If you’re a fan of the NBA, as I am, then you no doubt saw the impressive performance by the Orlando Magic against the Boston Celtics in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals on Sunday night. They won going away, and even when the Celtics could pull within 4 or 5, you knew the Magic would respond to push the lead back up to 10+. The most amazing part was the relative ineffectiveness of the Celtics “Big 7” composed of Larry Bird, Kevin Mchale, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Kevin Garnett, and Dave Cowens. I mean…..where were those guys? I thought they were all long since retired (or sidelined with an injury, in Garnett’s case), but after reading Mike Bianchi’s column in the Orlando Sentinel, they should have had the same impact on the game as they would have if they were 27 years old and wearing green and white.

Let’s take a look:

All that mystique turned into a mirage Sunday night.

I know right? Larry Bird? More like Larry Turd! Guy didn’t score a point.

All that Celtics history turned into Magic histrionics.

Because everyone knows that a team’s record in the 1960’s should directly impact the outcome of games played by players who weren’t born yet.

Also, histrionics means what, exactly, here? Acting in an overly (unnecessarily) dramatic fashion. Awesome!

That famed and acclaimed Celtics green faded to Magic blue. And white.

Because no one thought the Magic would win, right? No one. I mean, they only won 59 games!


Other than rhyming with white, what is this word’s function here?

This can't be true, can it?

Please tell me why, the fuck, anyone thought it couldn’t be?

Well, can it?

Well, tell me!

Did the Orlando Magic really just bury the storied Boston Celtics 101-82? Did they actually destroy the defending champions by 19 ... in Game 7 ... on Boston's home court?

Well, yes and no. The Celtics team that won the championship last year included James Posey, Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe suited up. So they didn’t beat that team. They beat a team that was clearly fucking exhausted and unable to get Ray Allen a clean look for like 5 games. The Paul Pierce who was the best player on the court against LA last year was relegated to flailing around looking for foul calls. Orlando was the better team, why are you writing this like they were underdogs? They really really weren’t. They have a bunch of good players. They have the All-NBA first team center and Defensive Player of the Year.

Mark this down as one of the greatest days in Orlando sports history. This is the night, the Magic, the resoundingly resilient Magic, ignored all of the Celtics legend and lore and started building their own legacy of triumph and tradition.

I know right, I totally expected the Celtics “legend and lore” to have an impact on this game, because I have an IQ of 32.

"This is about as big a win as you can have — for our organization and our team," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.Hey, Shaq, do you still think Van Gundy is the "Master of Panic"? Or does he now qualify as the Patriarch of Pressure? Hey, Sports Illustrated, do you still think Dwight Howard smiles too much to lead the Magic to playoff success against the NBA's elite? Or has he finally proven you can grin — and win?

Slow down. Not to downplay the Magic’s win too much, but it’s the Eastern Semi’s. They have to at least get through Cleveland to dispel these assertions.

Did Sports Illustrated really imply that he smiles too much to win a championship? Really? I read the column, and that wasn't my takeaway.

Toppling a legacy

On this, the 20-year anniversary of their inception, the Magic vanquished the most dynamic, dynastic champion this league has ever known. The Celtics have won 17 NBA titles in their proud history, but the Magic's Big Three of Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu had that look in their eyes like they aim to win their first.

I know that this is what sportswriters do, but this is maddening. When the Celtics beat the Bulls in the first round, it had not one goddamn thing to do with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, just like Orlando beating the Celtics had nothing to do with Boston's history. See, here’s the thing, it is history if you beat a historically good collection of basketball players, it's not history if you beat a franchise that has had a good history. Writers love to put up bullshit stats like “such and such a team has never lost a game 7 at home, or a series when they were up 3-1”. Those numbers are only relevant to the extent that they involve the actual players on the court.

The 2007-08, 2008-09 Celtics were absolutely not the most dynamic, dynastic champion the league has ever known. When teams beat the early 90's Yankee teams that weren't very good, I don't think they said...."Yeah, we overcame Ruth and Gehrig and Mantle and all that history!"

And, now, they are halfway home.

Eight wins from a championship.

Eh, only if you consider Cleveland and LA/Denver to be of the same caliber as Philly and Boston. You don’t, do you?

Bring on the Lebron James and the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, who the Magic will play in the Eastern Conference finals beginning Wednesday in Cleveland. The Cavs have marched through two playoff series with a perfect 8-0 record, but the Magic have had their number. Orlando has beaten Cleveland in eight of the last 11 games dating back three-plus seasons.

If the Magic can dismantle the Celtics in this pressure-packed atmosphere, they can beat anybody, anytime. Before Sunday, the Celtics had been 17-3 at home in Game 7s. They had been 32-0 when leading a seven-game series 3-2 as they did after Game 5. And the Magic still buried them by throwing a Boston Three Party and draining 13-of-21 shots from three-point range.

See. Those numbers don’t matter, because they involve the Russell, Bird, or Havlicek era Celtics. This is not hard.

"I don't know too much about history," Howard said. "Sometimes, history is rewritten."

Dwight Howard should write for the Orlando Sentinel.

You've heard of the Magna Carta? In the history of Orlando sports, this victory will go down as the Magic Carta.


If there were any shadowy spirits or historic haunts hovering in Boston's arena Sunday night, the Magic played the role of Ghostbusters and exterminated them.

Historic haunts at the TD Banknorth Garden? Were they channeling the first ever Celtics team to play there, led by Rick Fox, Dino Radja and Dana Barros?

The Celtics leprechaun that supposedly sits on the backboard and blocks the opposition's shots? I think he ran in fear after one of Howard's rim-rattling power slams.

That’s probably 100% true. I don’t even remember seeing a leprechaun after Howard’s first dunk.

And that victory cigar that late, great Celtics coach Red Auerbach used to light up after big wins? The Magic snatched it from the Celtics' mouth and ground it into the dirt.

I’m confused by this, is he implying that the entire Celtics team were somehow planning to smoke a Cigar at the same time?


Forget about the recent release of the new Star Trek movie, which flashes back in time and chronicles the early days of Captain James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew members. Do you realize the Magic are flashing back in time, too, and are now reliving the days of Captain Shaq and his crew members who led the USS Amway into the Eastern Conference finals back in 1996?

Yes, let’s relive the 1996 Eastern Conference finals, when the Magic lost 4 straight to the Bulls by an average of 17 points per game.

Also…nice…..Star Trek…. tie in?!?!

The Boston Celtics may have looked into the rafters Sunday night and saw the retired jerseys of past legends Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Bob Cousy, but guess what?

Um, those guys are old and are no longer playing?

The Magic looked within themselves and found a vestige of their own past — a past of heart and hustle and hopes and dreams.

That’s really sweet.

The Orlando Magic — your Orlando Magic — buried the ghosts of Celtics past and now are poised to march into their own blazingly bright future.

Jesus, this guy should be a speechwriter or something. The Celtics were two shots away from losing this thing in 5 games.