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.