Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brett Favre's Messages

To Brad Childress: I'm sorry Brad. I really thought I was ready to come back and take your veteran team to the next level. In the end, you really shouldn't have been so demanding of me...it was kind of a buzzkill. Wanting me at 100% of training camp? C'mon, I'm like 60 years old. I know your offense like the back of my hand...and we both know I'm going to chuck the ball wherever I feel like it anyway. Also, forcing me to "bond" with the guys? Just because a few losers on the Jets blamed me for us missing the playoffs last season doesn't mean I'm a bad teammate. I'm a fine teammate, as long as everyone else gives me my space. Seriously, when Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are your other options, you should be more accomodating to my wishes. They're going to throw interceptions as well, but instead of the interceptions being loveable (like mine), they'll be plain old bad decisions. Good luck.

To the Green Bay Packers fans: There. I could have joined the Vikings and torched you guys twice this season...but I didn't. Love me again? Please?

To the media: Are you happy now? You used to shower me with praise, I could toss an interception 13 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and all they'd talk about is how much I love the game. Those were the days. Just because I retired already, you turn on me. Well, good luck filling your offseason sotry quotas now.

To Peter King: Really Peter? I wasn't too surprised when the other jackals turned on me, but you? I've given you exclusive after exclusive, and now you call my story "tired". Make a point of refusing to mention my name in your columns? How dare you Peter, I am outraged.

To everyone else: Don't worry, there's always next week.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NFL decides draft not enough of a spectacle yet

The NFL has decided that the draft is just too big for 2 days. Starting next April round 1 of the draft will take place at 7:30 on Friday, rounds 2 & 3 will take start at 6:30 on Saturday, and the rest will kick off at 10:30 AM on Sunday.

Most of the time I'm in favor of the NFL taking over everything (like Wal Mart) and spitting out news year round, but this is just absurd.

And who will lose the most? Patriots fans. Imagine waiting for most of Thursday night for the Pats to make a selection with the 24th pick. The 22nd pick comes up, you're 3.5 hours into your nacho and beer gorging...and there's a trade. Bill Belichick trades the 24th pick for the 29th pick and a 2nd rounder. You know he likes to stockpile picks, and it's led to success in the past, so you figure you can stay up for another hour or so.

Then the 29th pick comes up, and Bill trades it for 2 second round picks.

Now, if that happened in the last 10 or so years (sort of like this year), you'd be a little unhappy, as you'd have to wait another hour or so to see your team make a pick. But you'd have you food and drink and company and you'd deal. Next year? Now you have to wait 18 hours or so, you need to sober up and go to work in between, and then you need to try and get all your friends together on a new night just to see your team make a pick.

As much fun as that sounds, I kind of preferred it the old way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Star Note

Pitcher A: 10-3, 2.85 ERA, 3 CG, 1 SHO, 123 IP, 17/106 BB/K, 1.098 WHIP
1.17 Ground balls/fly balls, 151 ERA+ (adjusted to ballpark)

Pitcher B: 10-5, 2.12 ERA, 5 CG, 2 SHO, 127.1 IP, 21/129 BB/K, 1.076 WHIP
0.72 Ground balls/fly balls, 204 ERA+

Who should start the All Star Game?

I'm not saying Roy Halladay (Pitcher A) is an unworthy choice to start the All Star game for the AL, I'm just saying Zack Greinke (Pitcher B) deserves it more, and there's no argument otherwise. Add in the fact that Greinke has come back from social anxiety disorder (feel-good story) AND the fact that he pitches for Kansas City when the ASG is in St. Louis (local flavor), and I'm surprised at Joe Maddon's decision.

Then again, with 1 second baseman on the roster (Aaron Hill) after Dustin Pedroia dropped out, instead of replacing Pedroia with a second baseman who deserved to be there in the first place (Ian Kinsler), Maddon adds a 4th 1st baseman (Carlos Pena).

Friday, July 10, 2009

LeBron James believes in censorship, unless it's a commercial

LeBron runs a skills camp for Nike, which includes some high school, college, and NBA players. This camp includes skill drills and a pickup game. Usually not big news.

This camp got interesting when Xavier's Jordan Crawford dunked on King James. While 2 cameras were filming the camp.

Why haven't you seen this dunk? If you ask Nike (who pays LeBron a lot of money and has a vested interest in preserving his reputation with millions of basketball fans) they say they have a policy of not allowing the media to record the pick up games at their camps, so they confiscated the tapes from the 2 cameras that were recording the event.

If you ask one of the cameramen, though, you get a slightly different version of events. He says that he had been filming the game for about 20 minutes when the dunk happened. Shortly afterwards, LeBron called over a Nike official, and a couple minutes later, the official confiscated the tapes.

At this point, James needs to ask himself what's more embarassing: The dunk being placed on YouTube for the world to see, or showing the public that LeBron's ego is so large that he cannot handle letting anyone get the better of him, especially not some college kid.

LeBron has been a very marketable player since he entered the league, and has frequently been held up in contrast with Kobe Bryant as a great player who's also a good person. Now, the last 2 images we have of LeBron are him refusing to shake hands with the victorious Orlando Magic after game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, and stealing away all evdience of a college player's moment of glory at James' expense.

Chalk this up as example 78,945,329 of fans being disappointed when they learn more information about their sports heroes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Top 7 Calls that made me want to put a fist through the television set (luckily I created this blog instead), #4: Monday Night Microcosm Meltdown

The next call in this series takes us back to the 2004 season. The Seahawks came into this season fresh off of a 2003 season that could be boiled down to 2 things: A complete and total inability to win on the road (They were 10-6 despite an 8-0 home record), and of course, "We want the ball, and we're going to score!" The close playoff loss at Green Bay (back when Lambeau was hallowed and Brett Favre was endearing) led to much hype surrounding the Seahawks going into the 2004 season.

While Seattle started the season 3-0, they never fully justified the hype. They blew a 17 point lead with 6 minutes to play against the Rams, turned the ball over 4 times in a loss to the lowly Cardinals, and their wide receivers dropped about 147 passes over the course of the season. If the casual fan were to describe the 2004 Seahawks, I believe he would call them entertainingly inconsistent.

Week 13 of the 2004 season featured a Monday Night Football matchup between the Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks jumped out to a 14-3 lead, then gave up 26 unanswered points to fall behind 29-14...only to score 25 straight points themselves, capped by a 32 yard TD run for Shaun Alexander on 4th and short with 2:46 remaining.

3 offensive plays later, Dallas is at the Seattle 34, trailing 39-29. Cowboys QB Vinny Testaverde (hey, that name sounds familiar...) takes the snap, shuffles around in the pocket, and launches a throw into the rear of the end zone for Keyshawn Johnson. Johnson is covered on the play by Terreal Bierria, who may be the worst safety in coverage in the history of the NFL*. Despite there being less than 2 minutes left and Seattle having a 10 point lead, AND despite the fact that Keyshawn Johnson runs only slightly better the end zone pylon, Bierria allows Johnson to get 5 yards BEHIND HIM in the end zone.

Anyway, the ball reaches Johnson just as the scrambling Bierria does.

Johnson makes a tough catch and gets his right foot down (notice his left foot in the air):

And here comes the...ahh, interesting part; before Johnson's left foot touches the ground, Johnson's left HAND touches the ground...about a yard out of bounds.

This is a problem considering the NFL rules state the offensive player must have both feet or 1 knee touch in bounds before any part of the player's body touches out of bounds for it to be a completion. As evidenced by these photos, Keyshawn neglected to meet either of these criteria. The pass should have been incomplete and it should have been 1st and 10 at the Seattle 29 (due to a penalty).

There is one other possibility. If the official determined Johnson had been forced out by the defender before he could get both feet down, the official could rule the pass complete. As this is a judgment call, once the official decides to invoke the force-out rule, the decision is final and unreviewable. However, the official actually has to invoke the force-out rule for it to apply. usually this is done with a visual signal. On this play the official made no such signal, instead he simply raised his arms in the air to signal touchdown.

To be fair to the official, he was standing about 3 whole yards away from the play. I guess it's also possible that he confused the "force-out" signal with the "do nothing" signal.

In case you wish to see the play to draw your own conclusions, you can find the highlights here. The play in question begins at 1:37 of the clip.

Now, you may ask why this call is so upsetting as Seattle still had a 3-point lead and was getting the ball back. The only way Dallas was going to have a chance was to recover an onside kick and surely a playoff calliber team liek the Seahawks would expect this, be ready for it, and thwart the attempt. Well, they did see it coming, and were lined up to prevent it...but they failed to actually go to the ball and secure it (you can see this in the clip too). Dallas took over at their own 43, and a few plays later, average running back Julius Jones capped off his 198-yard, 3 TD performance with a 17 yard TD run right up the middle.

Like this game, the 2004 season was a veritable roller coaster ride for Seatte, with many ups and downs. Also like this game, the season ended on a very sour note (a playoff loss to the Rams at home). Seattle did plenty on their own to lose this game (and to torch their season), and this poor call should not have made a difference. But at the same time, the Seahawks were put in a needlessly difficult position because the back judge failed to appreciate what Keyshawn's left arm was doing 2-3 yards in front of him.

Anti-Quality of call: 8/10
Effect on game situation: 8/10
Effect on my mood: 7/10

*Note: About 2 years later there was an article about Bierria, who left the Seahawks before the 2005 season to help rebuild his old neighborhood after a natural disaster. The article was written with the tone questioning why Bierria didn't get a roster invite afterwards, insinuating it was because coaches didn't appreciate that he wasn't 100% focused on football. That wasn't it. It was because he couldn't cover an NFL blocking sled. Believe me, I watched him butcher multiple games that season.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ryan Dempster: FML

The Chicago Cubs placed Ryan Dempster today with a fractured right big toe. Was a batted ball off his foot responsible? Well, no. Did he look at Milton Bradley funny? Nope. Did Carlos Zambrano stomp on his foot in a "Why is the postgame spread fish again?!?" induced rage? Negative.

The Cubs won their game against NL Central rivals Milwaukee 8-2 on Sunday. After the final out was recorded, Dempster hopped over the dugout fence to go celebrate with his teammates. He caught his back leg on the fence, landed awkwardly, and broke his toe. On the list of stupid injuries, it's certainly not at the top of the list, but I'm sure the next time Dempster even thinks about hopping a fence Lou Pinella is going to punch him in the kidney.

Dempster had been 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA so far this season. He could be out up to a month.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sarcastic Guy, Vol. 3

Disclaimer: The Mariners finished up a 9-game road trip on Sunday at Fenway Park. They went 5-4 on this trip against the LA Dodgers, NY Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. All in all, given the current state of their rotation and infield, this can only be considered an unqualified success. However, I was at Sunday's game, which doubles as the one game (out of 3) Seattle dropped in Boston (also an unqualified success.

The Mariners showed a lot of fight at Fenway, and this included game 3 of the series, as Seattle held a 4-3 lead going into the 7th inning. Brandon Morrow (you may remember him from Vol. 1 of this series), started the game and pitched 6 innings of 3 run ball. It was in the 7th inning when a lot of people wearing Mariner uniforms caught a rough case of the stupids.

First up: Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu. Bringing in Miguel Batista out of the bullpen is a good decision IF you are up or down by 4+ runs at the time. I'm pretty sure a 4-3 lead does not qualify as either situation.

Then we get to Miguel himself. Miguel, you're 38. Your fastball tops out at 88-89 mph, and your off-speed stuff is flatter than Keira Knightly's chest. The only way you can succeed is to pound the zone and hope your fielders make plays. You threw 9 strikes and 13 balls to the 5 batters you faced. I know it was the Red Sox lineup and they can be frightening to a 38-year-old who dabbles in jazzy/blues music, but you are what you are. Pitchers don't change their stripes at age 38 unless illicit steroids are involved. And if you're taking steroids, you need to go get a refund.

At this point, it was 4-4, there were 2 outs, and runners on 1st and 3rd. Wak finally realized that good old Miguel didn't belong out there, and brought in hard-throwing-kind-of-wild Mark Lowe in to try and stop the bleeding. Here's what happened:
Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball (walk, bases now loaded)
Ball, Ball, Strike! (it's a miracle), Ball, Ball (walk, run scores)
Ball, Strike, Ball, Ball, Strike, Single (2 runs score)
That's 4 strikes in 15 pitches. I may have rounded incorrectly, but I believe that's You're an idiot percent.

At this point Wak came out, took the ball from Lowe, shot him, and turned him into glue. Sean White came in, another guy who doesn't have great stuff, but can get lots of groundballs.

He, in fact, gets a strikeout...but not before his catcher (the atrocious and grossly overpaid Kenji Johjima) allowed a passed ball ON A STRIKE!!!!! Of course Jacoby Ellsbury was on thrid at the time, so you can guess how that turned out.

So, in the end, that inning can be scored as
5 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, 1 idiotic manager decision, a complete inability to throw strikes by 2 pitchers, and a catcher who decided to fall asleep because the inning lasted 9 batters.

Other than that, it was a wonderful game to watch.