Monday, December 21, 2009

Clippers Are Completely Forgettable


So much so that SI's Chris Mannix forgot to even write about the team in the latest NBA Power Rankings.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

End of the Erik Bedard Era in Seattle

Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Mariners did not offer arbitration to Erik Bedard, effectively ending the southpaw's baseball career in the Pacific Northwest.

It's been a little less than two years after the disastrous decision to trade future All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder Adam Jones, future All-Star reliever George Sherrill, top pitching prospect Chris Tillman and two more minor league arms.

For that immense haul the M's received a pitcher who won 11 games while throwing only 164 innings. Not exactly what then GM Bill Bavasi envisioned for his frontline starter at the time of the trade, but then again, Bill has never been a great baseball mind. People with more baseball sense argued against the trade and, in retrospect, were proven correct.

As a Mariners fan I was devastated by the trade when it happened. Adam Jones was well on his way to becoming my favorite player. Here was someone who in addition to being immensely talented was homegrown (selected in the first round by Seattle) and wanted to be a Mariner. And while the trade will always be considered a big loss it did create some good -- albeit in a roundabout way. Bavasi was eventually fired and replaced this offseason by new GM Jack Zduriencik, who filled the vacant CF left by Jones (which was filled in admirably by Ichiro in 2008) by acquiring Franklin Gutierrez, who has turned out to be a borderline superstar thanks to his sensational defense.

Two years after the idiotic trade... I'm kinda over it. And I certainly have no ill toward Erik. It wasn't Bedard's fault he was burdened with the unrealistic expectations of 1) pitching like a superstar and 2) being healthy. Yes, it was stupid of him for trying to gut it out while hurt (and injuring himself worse in the process) but that's what professional athletes do. And he certainly was not the surly individual and bad teammate that has been reported by the mainstream media. The guy is quiet and doesn't like to answer inane questions. So what?

If anything I'll remember Bedard for owning Ian Kinsler in his first three pitches as a Seattle Mariner. Hopefully he's still capable of pitching like that for another team. I wish him all the best.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Journey to ESPN Zone: My Experience at the Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball Signing in Los Angeles

I consider myself a fairly big Bill Simmons fans. I've been following him since the early part of this decade: reading his columns, listening to his podcasts and even watching the short-lived cartoons on ESPN.com. I was really looking forward to The Book of Basketball because my knowledge on NBA history is quite limited. What better way to be educated and entertained myself on this topic than with The Sports Guy, one of the most passionate basketball fans around.


My buddy picked up me shortly before 3 pm and we were off to L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. For those uninitiated L.A. LIVE is directly across the street from Staples Center and home to a wide assortment of entertainment, sporting and dining establishments. It's part of the renaissance downtown has experienced in recent years, bringing white rich people culture to the area.

Anyway, we paid $20 for parking (we needed to stay through the night since we were later attending the Clippers-Hornets game at 7:30, which turned out awful) and walked several blocks to L.A. LIVE. We arrived about an hour early to the book signing and found about two dozen folks (including a lady with a baby) already forming a line outside the ESPN Zone.

And to be honest the next hour was rather uneventful. Mostly people sat on the con. Some read their books, others checked their phones, a few were playing computer games. My buddy and I discussed The BS Report and what was Bill's best column (I vote the farewell to Dooze) among other things.


Some folks at Minute Maid happened to drop by. Evidently they were promoting a new healthy strawberry kiwi drink in a nearby kiosk and decided to hand out free samples. Tasted good.


Someone delivered copies of The Book of Basketball from Barnes & Noble. You can see the two measly cardboard boxes on the trunk. Sadly the armored car was not there to bring in more copies of Simmons' book, though I do believe a U-Haul later arrived with a huge batch.

An ESPN employee later came through the line for those wanting to buy the book on the spot. $27 a pop. Considering The Book of Basketball is available for less than $17 on Amazon I thought it was ludicrous for people not to have purchased the book online. But it's Los Angeles. People throw money away all the time out here.

During this hour-long wait I have to admit I was getting nervous. I really wanted Simmons to write a personal message and was worried ESPN would nix all that after reading some of the stories on Deadspin. Let's face it, the WWL has done worse.

And sure enough when the line began to move at 4:45 the ESPN folks began writing down names on Post-It notes and informing folks that Bill Simmons would not be signing personalized messages. Uh oh. What a huge freaking bummer that would be. I quipped to my buddy that if Simmons couldn't write personal messages I would say, "thanks Mr. Reilly."

Thankfully, it never got to that point. Simmons was, in fact, incredibly gracious and happy to sign and interact with his readers. People couldn't really take pictures with him (only of him) but that's understandable since photo ops would've delayed everything by double.

Finally the moment of truth arrived. I approached Bill with my book and tentatively asked:

Me: "Umm, could you write Screw the Lakers?"

His reply?

The Sports Guy: "Absolutely!"


I have witnesses who can attest to how excited Bill was to my request. All in all, a very cool experience. I've certainly been critical of ESPN and, occasionally, Bill Simmons. That being said the LA book signing went as well as I could expect. Thanks to both for a great time.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Arrogance Drives USC Football to Soaring Highs, Abysmal Lows

Win forever. Compete.

These are just a couple mottoes Pete Carroll has instilled at Southern California since taking over as head football coach in 2001. And for the most part his laid back yet high intensity persona and philosophy has led the Trojans to 1 BCS Championship, another AP Championship and a plethora of PAC-10 titles and Rose Bowl victories.

But these qualities are also responsible to inexplicable losses in recent years to UCLA, Stanford, Washington and last week's shellacking at Eugene, Oregon to the Ducks. USC football has a swagger that propels the team to blowout wins and supreme confidence even during the most dire of situations (see Ohio State game). But confidence leads to arrogance and arrogance, as anyone who follows ancient mythology knows, leads to ruin.

Arrogance is what led Pete Carroll to skip a field goal attempt at the end of the first half against Stanford two years ago. The Trojans failed to run in the touchdown and the Cardinal later pulled off the monumental upset by a single point. Arrogance also led to the lowest point in Carroll's tenure, a 47-20 beat down against Oregon last week where the entire team was outschemed. Arrogance is Will Harris high stepping in the endzone after an interception during USC's lackluster and lucky 14-9 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday night. He cost his team 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff but was really too busy chatting to the ESPN cameras to care. Arrogance is two Trojan teammates fighting for the game-ending interception. Arrogance is using Joe McKnight as a feature power back. Arrogance is failing to send out a field goal kicker who can go beyond 40 yards.

Swagger and discipline are on opposite ends of the spectrum. And while the Trojans are capable of explosiveness and dominance they are also susceptible to excessive penalties, wretched special teams and questionable playcalling.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Quick Hits

* So ESPN did in fact fire Steve Phillips, presumably because all the negative attention rather than the actual infraction. Because if the WWL had any sort of structure and discipline it would have canned the former Mets GM before matters got gossipy.

* Good chance USC and Oklahoma will play in San Diego Disappointment Holiday Bowl.

* Jack Wilson, Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez won Fielding Bible Awards. The worst hitting team in baseball won 85 games. Defense is important.

* So according to "Outside the Lines" Tom Cable has a history of hitting women. Methinks the embattled Raiders coach needs some counseling.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hugging a Coworker Gets You Fired, Fucking One Gets You a Vacation

At least at Bristol, Connecticut.

Former Mets GM and current Baseball Tonight contributor Steve Phillips had sex with an ESPN employee who subsequently went crazy when he broke off the relationship. At first Brooke Hundley allegedly hired a woman on craigslist to call Steve's wife. When that didn't work Brooke cyberstalked the family then visited the Phillips home to drop off a letter, prompting Mrs. Philips to call the police. At that point Steve admitted to the affair. He is currently taking a "leave of absence" from the network through the MLB playoffs. Though Steve's vacation is likely encouraged by ESPN there's nothing official to indicate ESPN has disciplined Phillips. Does he still receive benefits? Does Steve get paid during his absence? Counseling?

In July 2006 Harold Reynolds, who at the time also appeared on Baseball Tonight, was terminated by ESPN after hugging a female employee. The company deemed his overall behavior, which allegedly involved female workers on multiple occasions, a pattern of sexual harassment. Reynolds later sued ESPN for wrongful termination and the case was settled.

Now, sexual harassment and consensual relations are two wholly different matters. If Reynolds was too assertive around female coworkers then he was rightly fired. But if that's the case Steve Phillips also deserves the ax. It's an egregious violation of almost every corporate policy for an authority figure (which Phillips is as a television talent) to have sexual relations with a worker. Brooke was a production assistant, sometimes on shows that featured Phillips.

Also Steve Phillips has a history of sexual misconduct. Back in the 1990s he admitted to carrying multiple affairs with Mets employees while he was the general manager.

Steve Phillips had sex with a subordinate, failed to report the laison until it became a dangerous situation for his family and subsequently embarrassed himself, his family and the company in the ensuing fallout. Inexplicably in this case ESPN seems to tolerate such wretched behavior.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Football Fans in Ohio had a Bad Weekend

Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34
The 18th-ranked Fighting Irish mismanage the game clock late and allow Wolverine true freshman Tate Forcier to connect on a touchdown pass with 11 seconds to go.

Southern California 18, Ohio State 15
After being dominated by the Buckeye defense true freshman Matt Barkley and the Trojans march ninety yards in the final minutes to escape the Horseshoe with the victory.

Boise State 48, Miami (OH) 0
The Broncos shut out the RedHawks on the Blue Turf.

Minnesota 34, Cleveland 20
Adrian Peterson gashes the Browns for 180 yards and three touchdowns and Brett Favre earns the win in his Vikings debut.

Denver 12, Cincinnati 7



Seriously?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dodgers Rotation Not Built for a Championship

The Dodgers find themselves in an unusual position: worrying about making the playoffs. LA surged early in the season, building a double-digit lead on its punchless division rivals. But following a recent Mets-esque freefall the Blue Crew finds itself only two games ahead of the surging Rockies in the NL West.

While Los Angeles should cruise into the playoffs thanks to a 6.5 game lead over wild card leader San Francisco the team is looking at a short October run thanks to a patchwork starting rotation consisting of an untested Chad Billingsley, the talented but erratic Clayton Kershaw... and then who? The oft-injured Hiroki Kuroda? Randy Wolf, master of the no decision? Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger? Unspectacular Jon Garland? The wretched Jeff Weaver? Resident jackass and swine flu carrier Vicente Padilla?

In the first round the Dodgers will face either St. Louis or Philadelphia. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro. Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ. Either way when playoff rotations slim down to a trio of arms LA will be outmatched in almost every pitching matchup.

A talented lineup and strong bullpen can cover up for a bad starting rotation for the regular season but those same flaws are exposed during a seven-game series... and the Dodgers are going to find out the hard way.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tyson Advertisement Comes With a Sports Column

After clicking on today's NFL column by SI writer Ross Tucker this came up:


Give credit to Tyson, this ad campaign is certainly memorable.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Adam Carolla's Epic Rant About ESPN Banning Bill Simmons and Dave Dameshek From His Podcast (UPDATE #3)

On today's Adam Carolla podcast with Teresa Strasser and Bald Bryan (and with guest Cris Collinsworth) the conversation turned into a giant, expletive-filled rant by Carolla as he accuses the bosses at ESPN for banning his friends (and WWL personalities) Bill Simmons and Dave Dameshek from the show. Here's the blow-by-blow account starting around the 42-minute mark.

Or... you can check out this clip:




Carolla
And speaking of Bill Simmons let me go on this jag for just one second. Bill Simmons is, you know, from ESPN's The Sports Guy. Also Dave Dameshek's on ESPN as well. I think.

Bald Bryan
On the radio.

Carolla
Yea. He does a podcast as well. Bill Simmons and Dave Dameshek have both been banned from doing this show from their bosses.

Teresa
Yea Bill told me. Yea. He said it got too jizzy.

Carolla
“I’ve been banned!”

Teresa
Too much jizz talk.

Carolla
It was too jizz-laden.

Teresa
For ABC which owns ESPN.

Carolla
But here’s the thing. Dameshek got banned from doing this show too. Now let me just say a little something to the retards who call themselves the bosses over there. Now we live in a fucking time where everyone does that “good call, good call, good call.” You’re running a fucking business, okay? This is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet. Your two clients -- Bill Simmons does a podcast. Popular. Probably not as popular as this podcast but popular. And Dave Dameshek does a podcast as well. Not nearly as popular as Bill Simmons but he still does a podcast. Now, you guys generate income via those podcasts. We share the same audience essentially. I mean you know, white guys who don’t have delicate sensibilities, are in their 30’s and like to play fantasy football.

Teresa
Sure there’s no white guy in his thirties who does not read Bill Simmons.

Carolla
And doesn’t like to make fun of a culture or an ethnicity different than his own. We share a lot of the same audience. When I do Bill Simmons’ show I get his audience and when he does my show he gets my audience and so on and so forth. Now, Bill Simmons came on this show and said something last time that may have pissed off way less than one fucking percent of his audience. Way less than one percent. People go one percent? Well, there’s thousands of people that listen to his podcast. I guarantee he didn’t get one shitty letter for every hundred people that were listening to the podcast.

Teresa
Why would his audience care about jizz talk?

Carolla
That’s the whole thing! They’re a bunch of guys who love beer. And the only thing they love more than beer is bone-crushing hits. They love it when LT’s coming around the backside and there’s a compound fracture of Theismann’s shin bone.

Teresa
Yea, he’s not the poet laureate.

Carolla
This is what fucking drives me nuts about these retards and it’s all sports, not just ESPN. They’re so fucking sanctimonious. Look, your audience -- predominately made up of alcoholic gamblers. Who don't pay enough attention to their kids and family and who really would prefer a night with Tom Brady over their own wife sexually. Honestly. And who sit around all Sunday with their like-minded friends and get loaded and make racial jokes and off-color jokes and sexist jokes and misogynist jokes.

Bald Bryan
A lot of fun.

Carolla
Yea, it's a lot of fun. That's what you do. That’s your fucking audience. Stop pretending like they’re not those people number one. I guarantee everyone who reads Bill Simmons’ column or who listens to his podcast or Dave Dameshek’s podcast, column, whatever are not what you call delicate. Their sensibilities are not delicate. They’re not born-again Christians, they’re not Jehovah Witnesses. They’re nothing of the sort. They’re just regular guys and the kind of guys that we spend every Sunday with over at Kimmel’s watching games. You would literally have to lynch someone in front of them to offend them and even then they would probably [inaudible]. That's who you're dealing with. But no, you’re so worried. Well clearly it's overcompensation. Because you’re dealing with a sport where half the guys in the league are criminals and the other half are becoming criminals. They all beat the fuck outta their girlfriends in college and when they got to the pros they ran over someone when they were drunk. They’re completely overcompensating for a violent sport that’s filled with violent people. So they overcompensate and they don’t want Bill Simmons coming on this show. And then they banned Dave Dameshek from coming on this show. And everyone applauds that executive. “Oh that was a shrewd move.” No it wasn’t you fucking retard! You just lost money! Because one guy wrote a shitty letter or five guys wrote a shitty letter you have now alienated the thousands of people who enjoyed Bill Simmons on this show and who are possibly and potentially new ears for his podcast and new eyeballs for his column. And who can generate more income for your shitty company. So whoever made that decision you’re a fucking retard! You’re not a hero you’re a fucking idiot. And whoever your bosses are should be pissed off. Not happy about it. They should be pissed off. Because it’s a fucking business! It’s not a church! It’s not like, "well we have certain standards, we have to make people feel a certain way." It's none of that! It’s a pure and simple business. With shareholders and bosses and CEOs and board rooms and you've made a horrible fucking business decision. Made a shitty fucked up business decision. You’ve taken a couple of voices and put them above thousands of voices.

Teresa
I’d be curious to see who wrote in to complain. If anyone.

Carolla
First off, there could be no one. It doesn’t have to be anyone.

Theresa
Right.

Carolla
Secondly in today's email world it’s so fucking easy just to fire something off and fire it off multiple times. And these people, these lemmings, these pussies they respond to that shit. But the silent majority never gets heard.

Teresa
Right. Now that the dust had settled – or the jizz or whatever. Do you think he could ask his bosses to let him back on if they were to try to keep it a little more PG slash R?

Carolla
I’m sure with time but let’s not forget Dave Dameshek was scheduled to come on this show last week and his fucking pussy hack retard bosses said, “no he can’t come on this show.”

Theresa
What did he do?

Carolla
He is under the umbrella of ESPN and they don’t want any of their family to come on. So genius if you hear this or if anyone who knows this person and wants to pass it along let me send a personal message to you. Dear retard fucking hack. Good. Dave Dameshek, who’s in 59th place on iTunes in the sports column and will never, ever crack the top fucking 25 can now not go on a show that’s perennial top ten show and by the way I do a podcast, so the people who listen to this program are well-versed in the podcast thing.

Teresa
Absolutely. Not only that but Dameshek’s fans listen to your show.

Carolla.
Right. So anyway dear retard who should get fucking fired for making horrible business decisions and losing potentially thousands of dollars for his clients. You are not a hero. You’re an idiot. And if it was up to me I would shit can your pussy weak ass. And by the way is this why you got into the business? To make cowardly decisions based on a couple emails from, you know, Shirley what’s her name and her religious…

Teresa
Phelps?

Carolla
Shirley Phelps. Good luck, you’re a pussy. You’re a pussy. Do you like that? You like when you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror and see a big fat fucking pussy staring back at you? Does your wife know she's married to a pussy? To you. Does your kids know that daddy’s a pussy? Awesome. Get a job and just become a giant fucking fat pussy. Good! Dameshek can go ahead and languish in 59th place and Bill Simmons won’t get any new ears on his podcast via my show. Great decisions retards. Anything else you’d like to fuck up? Thank you.

Teresa
That’s a rhetorical question. You end there?

Carolla
No, I’m assuming there are more things they would like to fuck up.

Bald Bryan
Long list.

Carolla
Yea I’m looking at the top 25 on iTunes and I don't see Dameshek's or Bill Simmons anywhere on that fucking list but I see my name on that fucking list you fucking pussy retards. All right, anyway. Fucking idiots. Yea find out, tell me where the B.S. Report is and tell me where Dameshek is. All right, he’s number what… 47. All right.

Teresa
You’re generally in top…

Carolla
Top ten. You’re not going to let number 47 on the show and then good luck finding Dave Dameshek and wherever he is on that list cuz I don’t know if that goes deep enough. And I like Dave Daveshek but look I don’t know if he’s in the top 100.

Teresa
Listen I mean I have a pregnancy blog. That is something your fans would be into.

Carolla
Dave Dameshek is not in the top 100. So nice job pussy retard. Fantastic job running your fucking business. Don’t let number 47 and number 147 in on a top ten show.

Teresa
Right. I was just going to say my hits double when I’m on your podcast and I have a pregnancy blog. That’s something that your listeners probably don’t give a fuck about whereas they’d be into this.

Bald Bryan
It’s very niche.

Teresa
It's very niche. Whereas of course your listeners would be into Bill Simmons and of course Dave Dameshek.

Carolla
And well also look, the reality is -- I’m trying to find where Dave Dameshek is. Look, who are we offending?

Teresa
I’m trying to say on the high road! It’s uncomfortable.

Carolla
What about the people that want to see – people love me and Dameshek together and they love me and Bill Simmons together.

Teresa
Yea.

Carolla
Now one percent of the people -- he’s 31 in sports. But that means...

Teresa
That’s good!

Carolla
No, that’s 31 in the category of sports. That’s Dave Dameshek. Let me explain how these categories work. The Hammer is not in the top 100 on Amazon. But if you go to comedy and then you go to sports comedy.

Bald Bryan
Boxing! Predominantly featuring a Nicaraguan.

Carolla
Guys who are mistaken for Jews who do boxing films. All of a sudden I've cracked the top 50.

Teresa
You own it.

Carolla
I own it. Yea. So there you go. And like I said why would you let the 47th and 247th podcast come on a perennial top ten show? Retard, chicken, pussy, cowards. You know what, I’m calling you yellow.

Bald Bryan
After all that?

Carolla
We don’t call men yellow very much anymore but I’m calling you yellow.

Bald Bryan
Yellow or yella?

Carolla
Yella! There you go.


The jizz references are regarding Simmons' last appearance on June 8th Carolla podcast when they along with Donny (Adam's friend and colleague) discuss fake jizz and porn.

Now ESPN, Bill Simmons, adult content and banning have been together before. Last fall Simmons mentioned Christian Sings the Blue (a blog for a male pornstar) and mentioned he'd like to have him join his fantasy basketball league. ESPN squashed that and the part in Bill's next podcast where he explained what happened.

Deadspin and The Big Lead have received emails from Simmons where he denies becoming banned from the show. But Teresa, who discusses meeting Simmons and asking him for writing tips (which led Carolla to start his rant) says Bill told her he was banned. So...

1) Simmons is telling the truth and Teresa is lying.
2) Simmons is telling the truth and Teresa misspoke or misheard.
3) Simmons is lying and Teresa is telling the truth.
4) Carolla is telling the truth or lying about Dameshek being banned.

Regardless what really happened... I'm pretty sure Adam Carolla is now banned from ESPN podcasts.

UPDATE: Dameshek tells Deadspin that he wasn't aware of any ban. Also Simmons chimes in on Twitter. "[Carolla] poured gasoline on a four-inch bonfire."

Four-inch bonfire? Where there's smoke there's...? So maybe ESPN did intervene even a little? Still interested in Carolla's response, which will probably happen Tuesday at the earliest.

UPDATE #2: Deadspin chimes in with excerpts from yesterday's abbreviated (and censored) ESPN chat with The Sports Guy. Simmons again asserts he wasn't banned by ESPN, instead suggesting he hasn't appeared on Carolla's podcast because it's a far drive to Adam's warehouse where the podcast is recorded. Frankly, that doesn't make sense. Simmons and Carolla are good friends and Bill has done the podcast three times previously. Still nothing from Carolla camp. If he does respond I'm sure the sports blogosphere will hear about it...

UPDATE #3: Dameshek, who no longer has a podcast on ESPN and is now on Accuscore, appears on the November 25th podcast and claims another ESPN personality was barred from going onto Carolla's podcast. Dave denies being formally banned from the WWL and says he has no knowledge about Simmons' situation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thoughts on the USC Trojans 2009 Football Team

On Saturday I took in the Trojans mock game where the first team defeated the scout team 36-0. Here's what I think of the USC football team one week away from the regular season:


Matt Barkley, playing for the first time since being named the USC starting QB, showed why he's considered such a premium talent and also why folks question whether he's ready to take the reins. First, the positives. Barkley has a superb arm that can make all the throws. His fastball isn't as strong as his predecessor Mark Sanchez's but it's plenty good enough. And after a rough first snap where he fell down handing off the ball Matt looked confident in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.

Now for the bad news. His decision making was mediocre and the accuracy just wasn't there. During the first half Barkley threw several passes at the feet of his receivers, including one that would have been a touchdown. He also refused to throw away the ball on broken plays and tried repeatedly to thread the ball in between defenders. When he had to carry the Mater Dei offense during his senior year Matt earned a reputation as a gunslinger who took unnecessary chances and racked up interceptions. Barkley didn't do anything to dispel those notions this afternoon, which is worrisome for a Trojan squad that heads into Columbus in a couple weeks.

Meanwhile Aaron Corp, the three-year sophomore who lost the starting role to Barkley, was definitely the best QB on the field today. He took over for Barkley shortly into the third quarter and was efficient, completing 5 of 7 passes. Corp's skill and savvy also translated into several nice runs on his part, which is something the traditional pocket passer Barkley can't do. Corp wore a heavy brace on his injured leg but didn't show any signs of pain or slowdown. Frankly, a lot of people think he should be leading this team.

Mitch Mustain, the third-string QB for USC, has been sick recently and did not play in the mock game. Fourth stringer Garrett Green looked overwhelmed by the Trojan defense. He led the scout team for the whole game and got shut out. He was often forced to pass on long downs, which provided amble opportunity for the fantastic secondary to swarm all across the field.

It didn't help Green that WR for the Trojans is a position with a lot of quantity but not so much quality. Brice Butler, Brandon Carswell, Travon Patterson failed to seize their opportunities, though true freshman De'Von Flournoy looked promising. USC only has one legitimate threat at the position. It used to have double that but Ronald Johnson suffered a broken collarbone during the mock game and will be out two months. That's a huge blow to the team considering RoJo's replacement in the starting lineup is David Ausberry, who did not play well. David really needs to step up. He has ideal size and can physically dominant defenders. His route running is also above average. But all of that means nothing if he doesn't figure out how to consistently hang onto the ball.

Meanwhile, the other productive receiver on the team was in silky smooth All-American form. Every time Damien Williams touched the ball (including one punt return) there was the possibility of electricity. Fantastic speed and agility. What a thrill to watch him in person.


The running game was rather pedestrian. Joe McKnight, the presumed starter, had a couple promising runs up the middle early on. If he can be more physical and hang onto the ball that makes him one of the best backs in the nation. Those are huge if's. Stafon Johnson ran in a pair of touchdowns from short yardage. C.J. Gable barely played. The most impressive player in the backfield was the one who's been the least appreciated during the past several years of the Trojan RB carousel. Everyone knew Allen Bradford could be a short-yard bruiser but on Saturday he flashed outstanding speed to the outside. I was really impressed by him and hopes he gets the rock quite a bit during his last year at SC. Neither Marc Tyler nor Curtis McNeal were impressive for the scout team. Then agan, they were going up against a tenacious defense.

Taylor Mays was outstanding in the few series he was in. His backup, the always tenacious Drew McAllister, picked off a pass as did backup cornerback T.J. Bryant. Because starting CB Shareece Wright was out safety Josh Pinkard filled in and played well. He's been at SC for nearly forever and is experienced playing in the secondary.

The defensive lines only got decent pressure on the QBs but did superb jobs of limiting the run games. Highly-touted JUCO transfer Hebron Fangupo sacked Corp twice in the span of a few years. DE Nick Perry and DT Jurrell Casey had their names called constantly throughout the game.

USC replaces three senior linebackers with Chris Galippo, Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan. None of them possess the pizazz of Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing but they should be solid playmakers.

I was really looking forward to special teams since USC finally, finally hired a coach to fix an erratic and underachieving portion of the program. Sad to say it still needs work. The kicking game was okay. I was expecting big things from JUCO kicker Jake Harfman but he was erratic and botched handling a low punt snap. The other two kickers did nothing special. One even missed an extra point attempt.

The Trojans did their typical horrible job on punt coverage and blocking. On one punt in particular both defenders failed to even block the gunners streaking down the field. This forced McNeal to take a fair catch instead of run forward into a big opening.

Overall I think the USC Trojans have a good shot at reaching yet another BCS bowl. But there's a real chance they might not even win the PAC-10 yet alone the national title. So it seems likely for the first time since 2005 the Trojans will not be heading to the Rose Bowl.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How About You Not Fuck Women Who Aren't Your Wife?

Slick Rick Pitino rants against the media for its coverage of the Karen Sypher affair. Some choice quotes from the Louisville head coach include:
"Everything that's been printed, everything that's been reported, everything that's been breaking in the news on the day Ted Kennedy died is 100 percent a lie, a lie,"
First of all, way to throw a dead senator into the fray. Classy. Secondly, everything is a lie? Now there certainly is a lot of gray in this whole sordid incident but certain pieces of information are irrefutable. You did have sex with the woman in a restaurant and your equipment manager did eventually marry said woman. Maybe she got an abortion and tried to extort Pitino, maybe not. But blasting your opinions against your lawyer's advice probably isn't a good idea.
"We need to get on with the important things in life like the economy and really some crucial things in life like basketball. It has not hurt recruiting one bit. We will still bring in Top 10 players."
Well then. At least the zone defense lives on.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quick Thoughts on the 2009 Raiders

Not that I'm an integral member of Raider Nation or anything but I do follow this topsy-turvy team. Here's a few kernels on the Silver and Black as the preseason lurches to the finish line:

* Overall the quarterback situation is in good shape. JaMarcus Russell looks to be progressing nicely from last season's strong finish. He still gets frustrated easily after a play goes awry but otherwise I've been impressed with his decision making and accuracy. Still more potential than production at this point but #2 is definitely trending up. Behind him we all know what the ageless Jeff Garcia brings. His physical tools are nothing special but the guy has played well and won games for a decade. And behind him Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski battle for the third spot. There's more than a few teams with worse depth charts at the most important position.

* That being said the passing game will struggle. Top receiver Chaz Schilens is out for a month with an injury. He was a tremendous value as a seventh-rounder in 2008 but Chaz has got a way to go before he's a legit #1 WR. No one can assume Javon Walker will be productive. Darius Heyward-Bey looks lost on routes. At least TE Zach Miller is great. Also fourth-round pick Louis Murphy looks promising.

* Oakland might have the best CB combo in the league. Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson are superb man-to-man defenders. Their physical play will help mask the decent safeties and ho-hum linebacking corps. Raiders could definitely use an OLB upgrade alongside Thomas Howard.

* Run defense is horrible. While the DLine gets good penetration against the QB it's horrific against closing gaps. In a division with LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles, Larry Johnson an Knowshon Moreno that spells trouble. I have a feeling this will be another season where the Oakland defense has decent numbers against the pass but gives up 150+ running yards per game.

* I fully expect Darren McFadden to be the starting running back -- and deservedly so. While Run-DMC has never had that elite breakaway speed it's his blend of power and swiftness that enables him to rack up the yards. Every now and them I want him in some Wild Hog formations and split wide as well. He's a dynamic talent who needs the ball. Michael Bush as the big back will form a great compliment to Darren. Barring injury (and that's far from guaranteed considering McFadden's toe and Bush missing his senior year at Louisville with a broken leg) I don't expect Justin Fargas to see significant playing time.

* Shane Lechler is one of the greatest punters in NFL history.


All things considered this is an average team with limited upside. That's not even getting into the off-the-field problems with ownership and coaches beating up each other.

There's a lot of big questions that still need to be answered. Can JaMarcus take the next step? Will a patchwork offensive line give him time to thrive? Can McFadden stay healthy? Will Michael Huff finally seize a safety spot? One bright spot is that many of the players are still young and can improve. I think the Raiders are in the range for 4-8 wins. Right now I'd pegged them for five.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don Ohlmeyer Has Decent Debut as ESPN Ombudsman

Today the new ESPN Ombudsman made his debut. Don Ohlmeyer, a longtime television executive, takes over the reins for former NY Times sports editor Le Anne Schreiber. Many sports fans (including myself) feel Ms. Schreiber did a great job during her tenure so expectations were high for Ohlmeyer coming in. And considering the Worldwide Leader's recent coverage (or lack thereof) of two major sports stories the ombudsman had the opportunity to have an immediate impact.

Of course, the stories in questions regarded a pair of off-the-field incidents: Ben Roethlisberger's sexual assault civil lawsuit and the Erin Andrews peephole video (and subsequent fallout). ESPN failed to adequately address these stories (or in the case of Andrews, not at all) and many fans wanted answers.

I've read the ombudsman's first effort several times... and I think he did an okay job. First and foremost Ohlmeyer disclosures his connections to sports and ESPN, most notably the fact his son currently works for the company. It was necessary for him to reveal these potential conflicts. Going forward I assume they won't affect his ability to critique ESPN.

Speaking of critiquing ESPN the ombudsman believes the network should have been more forthright in its coverage and explanation of Big Ben's lawsuit. I don't want to get into specifics (really you should read the entire column) but Ohlmeyer states ESPN has an obligation to actively report the news -- and when it doesn't report certain stories that are readily available elsewhere the audience must be informed the reasons why.

ESPN's reasoning not to initially report the Roethlisberger story is characterized by the network's senior VP and director of news Vince Doria. He states ESPN has a policy where civil suits involving sexual misconduct are not reported unless there is a legal, behavioral or on-the-field connection. As an example he mentions the Ron Mexico incident:

But wait, in fact ESPN ran an AP report about the civil lawsuit.

Why was Vick's sexual misconduct worthy of a story but not Big Ben's?

As for the perception that ESPN tried to protect Big Ben's image (and in turn its valuable contracts with the NFL) I thought Ohlmeyer and Doria both did fine in question and response. Doria rightly points out that ESPN has done a number of TV and online pieces that criticize players, procedures and the league itself. Now, if only ESPN can stop fawning over Brett Favre...

As for the Erin Andrews story... nothing. Not a single word. Granted, this is Ohlmeyer's initial column and he already had his plate full with the Roethlisberger ordeal. Maybe he will write up a piece after she returns to sidelines in September for college football. I am hopeful that Ohlmeyer, who according to his page will provide "independent examination and analysis of ESPN's media outlet," will discuss what happened to Ms. Andrews and its implications with the network and sports media at large.

I wouldn't be surprised if nothing is ever written about the peephole incident on ESPN.com considering the severity of the crime to one of its employees. Can the WWL issue one of its "DO NOT REPORT" memos to someone who's job is to objectively analyze the company?

Sports fans should expect nothing less than excellence from a company with the clout and resources like ESPN. Likewise they need to demand those in charge of keeping the company in check to deliver on their promise. Don Ohlmeyer is off to a decent start but there's plenty of plotlines that haven't been discussed or have yet to be discovered.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adrian Beltre Suffers Second-Worst Testicle-Related Injury in Mariner History

Yesterday's tense 14-inning, 1-0 win for the Seattle Mariners might have been the last game for Adrian Beltre in a M's uniform. And if it was then it was an awful way to go.

Geoff Baker at The Seattle Times writes Beltre injured his man sack while fielding a grounder last night. The free agent to be, who does not wear a protective cup, suffered tearing (!!!) and internal bleeding (!!!) in his nether region. Adrian will need anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months to recover. Take all the time you need.

Regardless of however long it takes Beltre to get back on the field at least he'll return in full form. Back in 1997 Mariners relief pitcher Josias Manzanillo was struck in the boing-oing-oing by a Manny Ramirez line drive. Josias, who also did not wear a cup, eventually needed surgery to have ONE OF HIS TESTICLES REMOVED.

Moral of the story? Put something hard over your junk while playing with balls.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Erik Bedard, Glass Cannon

Erik Bedard is likely sidelined for the rest of 2009. He moronically tried to pitch through pain over the last month, which predictably worsened his shoulder. Since the ill-fated trade in early 2008 that brought Bedard to the Seattle Mariners he's been a major disappointment. His numbers through almost two seasons:

30 games, 164 IP, 135 hits, 162 K

Pretty good statistics at first glance. But a closer look reveals that Bedard has been slightly above average at best. While possessing outstanding stuff (including a devastating curve) Erik tries to be precise with every pitch, which leads to nibbling (71 walks) and racking up his pitch count. Take a look at this season's game log. In eight of his 15 starts Bedard has thrown more than a hundred pitches yet he's never gone deeper than 7 innings.

When healthy Bedard is a good #3 or below-average #2 starter. But because he was made and assembled in Canada Erik is only available to pitch half the time.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

New Twitter Guidelines for ESPN Will Have Sports Fans Looking Elsewhere

I joined the Twitter craze a couple weeks ago. I like it because it's a convenient forum to post links and quick thoughts that wouldn't work in blog form. Also Twitter actively creates and encourages dialogue with millions around the world. That's kinda cool too.

A lot of people think Twitter is useful. A lot of people think it's stupid. Some don't know what it is. ESPN evidently wants no part of it. The sports network has severely cut off and censored its employees from social networking. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com has the entire ESPN memo.

It's a lot of information so let's break down some of the key points and how they relate to Twitter content:
· Prior to engaging in any form of social networking dealing with sports, you must receive permission from the supervisor as appointed by your department head
Obviously SportsNation will keep doing its thing on Twitter. The Sports Guy will probably get clearance to talk as well, but someone like Marc Stein who reports NBA rumors, observations and trends will probably be muzzled to a certain extent.
· ESPN.COM may choose to post sports related social media content
What I'm guessing this means is tweets from ESPN employees will eventually become a hub for two things: personal thoughts and ESPN links. No more sports opinions, sports rumors and sports tangents from folks like Linda Cohn and a lot more of "NBA Preview Roundtable at espn.com/_____" Taking what Ric Bucher said and going a lot further I expect ESPN to add very little substantial sports talk on Twitter.
· If ESPN.com opts not to post sports related social media content created by ESPN talent, you are not permitted to report, speculate, discuss or give any opinions on sports related topics or personalities on your personal platforms
Damage control. Expected but warranted.
· The first and only priority is to serve ESPN sanctioned efforts, including sports news, information and content
Emphasis mine. That first part seems like a directive more fitting for an organization like Ingsoc.
· If you wouldn't say it on the air or write it in your column, don't tweet it
Say goodbye to rumors. Also sayonara to ESPN being the first to break any sports stories. Every major transaction during the recent MLB trade deadline was first mentioned on Twitter by local and national sportswriters. Traditional ESPN reporting was already behind the curve before today's directive. Take for instance the Brett Favre sage over the past two years. Despite ESPN's obsession with the indecisive #4 the WWL has whiffed on both big offseason stories. Last year it was Jay Glazer being the first to report Favre being traded to Jets. Last month it was the Minnesota Star Tribune, which scooped the news that Favre was staying retired.
· Any violation of these guidelines could result in a range of consequences, including but not limited to suspension or dismissal.
The new guidelines certainly have some merits. It holds ESPN personalities to high standards and expects them to avoid some of the slippery and unethical qualities of such an immediate medium like Twitter. That being said, ultimately this guideline makes everyone a loser. ESPN employees, now with a lot less to say about the things they know most about, end up being less interesting and informative. With all the possibilities and personalities on Twitter expect sports fans to turn elsewhere and tune out the WWL.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Atlanta Braves Insist on Getting Nothing for A Lot

January 19th, 2007 - Traded Adam LaRoche and Jamie Romak to Pittsburgh for Mike Gonzalez and Brent Lillibrdige

July 31st, 2007 - Traded Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones to Texas for Teixeira

July 29th, 2008 - Traded Mark Teixeira to Los Angeles Angels for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek

July 31st, 2009 - Traded Casey Kotchman to Boston for Adam LaRoche

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mr. Ombudsman

We'd like to know a little bit about you for our blogs
We'd like to help you get Walsh to explain himself
Look around you, all you see are disapproving eyes
Browse across the web until you feel the heat

And here's to you, Donald Ohlmeyer
Sports fans read you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God help you please, Mr. Ombudsman
Websites hold a place for those who say
(What's in play... hey, hey, hey)

Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes
Shove it in your memo with your QB
It's a little secret, just ESPN's affair
Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids

Coo, coo, ca-choo, Mr. Ombudsman
Big Ben loved her more than you would show (Wo, wo, wo)
But wait one sec, Mr. Ombudsman
Shannon Brown can't catch the same ol' break
(Equal stakes... hey, hey, hey)

Sitting at the table on a Monday afternoon
Going to the editors debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you've got to choose
Ev'ry way you critique it, you lose

Where have you gone, Charlie Hustle
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo, woo, woo)
What's that you say, Mr. Ombudsman
Schreiber has left and gone away
(Hey, hey, hey... hey, hey, hey)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Weekend the Indians Treated the Mariners Kinda Like How Americans Treated the Indians

Brutal. Being outscored 31-6 at home by one of the worst teams in baseball was the nail in the coffin for the 2009 Mariners. Can't complain too much though. Seattle baseball provided me a lot of good memories this summer. But perhaps more importantly it gave hope. Gone are the days of horrific management. No more franchise-crippling decisions. Nope. Don Wakamatsu and Jack Zduriencik bring competence and competitiveness to the Mariners. The future looks bright.

But the present day isn't so cheery. The Mariners are 7.5 games behind the red-hot Angels. Since the wild card era there have been 22 teams with at least an eight-game lead in the division entering August. Only one did not make the playoffs. That was the 1995 Angels and the year of the miracle M's. Fat chance of history repeating itself.

Seattle will be selling. Jarrod Washburn will almost assuredly be dealt. Possible trade chips include Russell Branyan and David Aardsma. Erik Bedard might have been swapped if he wasn't a glass cannon. While any deal will bring pieces for 2010 and beyond we can all but close the book on this season.

Players Suspended by Roger Goodell

Thank goodness for Wikipedia. Because of Wiki there's an easy place to find information on all the NFL players suspended by the commissioner under the league's personal conduct policy.

Since Goodell took over in August 2006 he has punished:

Adam Jones - entire 2007 season
Pacman's various acts of foolishness, culminating with the making it rain strip club shooting, cost him a whole year.

Chris Henry - 8 games
Henry's crimes weren't as severe (DUI, drugs and sex acts with minors) or frequent as Jones'... but that's like saying GM isn't as screwed as AIG. Both fucked up. He was later released by the Bengals only to be resigned by Cincinnati. Henry performed poorly last season and is looking to rebound... along with pretty much everyone else on that team.

Terry Johnson - 10 games
"Tank" had a long history of weapons problems prior to his guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge for illegal possession of handguns. Less a month after the June 2007 suspension was announced the Bears released Johnson. He found a home with the Cowboys and then later the Bengals.

Michael Vick - indefinite
I think you may have heard about this.

Adam Jones - 4 games
Jones was traded by the Titans to Dallas during the 2008 NFL Draft. Like any real Cowboy he found trouble. In October Pacman got into an altercation with his bodyguard. Due to his previous transgressions Jones was suspended once again by Commissioner Goodell. After the 2008 season he was released.

Donté Stallworth - indefinite
In March a drunk Stallworth struck and killed a man with his Bentley. He plead guilty to DUI and manslaughter charges and served 30 days in jail. Additional penalties, including a lifetime suspension of his driver's license, have been levied to the Browns receiver. There is no indication he will be reinstated in the near future.


Now as a free Vick awaits his impending suspension it'll be interesting to see how long Goodell punishes him. Sources say the artist formerly known as Ron Mexico will be sidelined between two and six games -- that is, if any NFL team actually takes the on and off the field risk of signing him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If the Mariners Were a Sergio Leone Movie Part II

My midseason look on the Mariners back in 1007 was so good that it's time to bring the format back. Why wasn't there one for 2008? Maybe I was lazy, maybe the Mariners were on their way to losing 101 games as well as their minds.

But 2009 has been a refreshing change for a franchise that needed it. It began in the winter when Seattle hired Jack Zduriencik as General Manager. Zduriencik, formerly in charge of scouting with the Milwaukee Brewers, radically changed the Mariners by emphasizing speed, defense and value. He also brought on first-time manager Don Wakamatsu who has instilled discipline and accountability.

And, looky here, the M's are still in contention. The preseason favorite Angels, despite having suffered through tragedy and injuries, remain ahead of the pack like they're accustomed to. Plus Texas can't be messed with like in years past. But Seattle isn't going away.

While the future remains a mystery let's look back at the 2009 Seattle Mariners a little past the midway point of the season:

The Good

Ichiro Suzuki - His best offensive season in years, excellent defense and psyching out Yankees fans. Once again nothing short of brilliant.

Russell Branyan
- Russell is the free agent bargain of the year. He's played at an All-Star level for the Mariners. His power hitting and patience from the left side has been a huge part of the M's offense (sometimes the only part). And his defense hasn't been horrible. It's like he's a Bizarro Richie Sexson... for a fraction of the cost!

Felix Hernandez - Consistency has been the key. No longer is Felix letting his emotions run amok. Again, this is partly a testament to Wakamatsu's demand for accountability. But it's also a huge nod to Felix, whose gameplan and mental toughness are beginning to match his insane abilities. He's a true #1 starter and younger than David Price. Yea, that's scary good.

Franklin Gutierrez - In some backward cosmic way the Adam Jones trade was a good thing. Well, it wasn't but Franklin did eventually become a Mariner as a result. His bat has demonstrated good pop recently, adding to value beyond being an elite center fielder. Mike Cameron 2.0, we love you.

The Bad

Jose Lopez - Rough season for Lopez, who lost a sister last month and continues to struggle at the plate. His power numbers have modestly improved but they've come at the expense of base hits. And while he was never known as a nimble defender his range continues to deteriorate. Seattle may replace him in the starting lineup -- soon.

Ken Griffey Jr. - A lot of nostalgia and walks. Thus describes The Kid's return to the Emerald City. Nobody excepted Junior to start climbing outfield walls and slugging 40 home runs like he used to with the 90's Mariners but... err, I guess we did expect this version of Griffey. The one that's old and creaky at the dish and in the field.

The Ugly

Yuniesky Betancourt - Wait... he's gone? Well, what the hell do I do with my Bizarro Facebook Club dedicated to him??? Damn it, now I have to find a new least favorite Mariner.

Brandon Morrow - He was in The Ugly category two years ago, so it's disappointing to see him here again. Hopefully Brandon and team will finally, finally give him the proper time to develop into a starter. Dude's got a long way to go:

46 IP, 31 BB, 45 K

He's still insanity at 60 feet, 6 inches.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Small Sample Size Alert

A recent Harris Poll asked U.S. adults to name their favorite MLB teams. Not surprisingly the Yanks and Red Sox top the poll. Those east coast rivals are followed by the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies, Tigers, Giants and Mariners (whoo!).

This poll shouldn't be taken too seriously, however. Only 2000 people participated, which is too small to make a lot of declarative conclusions. For example, the Angels came in as the third least-favorite baseball team. I'm sorry but that's just wrong. There's no way that such a successful team with a large fanbase (taking some Dodgers fans with it) is less popular than the Marlins or Nationals.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Worse Pitching Mechanics: Barack Obama or Kenny Powers



Not a very fluid follow through by the president but at least he didn't take out anyone's eye.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Roy Halladay Will Not be a Ranger

The best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay, is on the trading block because... well, Toronto sucks. A friend of The Big Lead concludes the Texas Rangers make the most sense.

Two problems. First, I'm not convinced Halladay would want to play for Texas. He has a full no-trade clause and seems unlikely to want to pitch in a bandbox for a team that's merely decent. Despite being in first place in the AL West the Rangers really aren't that good. Considering how devastated the Angels have been this year it's been a fluky ascent to the top if nothing else.

And secondly, uhh, the Rangers don't have the money to take on Halladay's salary through 2010 let alone give him an extension. They're broke. How broke? The team allegedly received a $15 million loan from MLB to pay its employees. Owner Tom Hicks wants to get out of the sports business and GM Jon Daniels does not expect to add payroll.

The Mets, starting with a package of Fernando Martinez and Mike Pelfrey, make a lot of sense.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Another Horrible Loss


Mariners closer and shoddy defense blow a ninth-inning cushion? What year is this, 1998?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Show on NASCAR That Emphasizes a Different Kind of Crash

Got an email from NBC Universal promoting its "Inside Track: Refueling the Business of NASCAR" program that premieres Thursday night on CNBC.

Is Ben Silverman so desperate that he's reaching out to F-list sports bloggers? I kid, I kid. D-list at least. I was mentioned on Deadspin!!!

Actually, this program couldn't come at a better time for me. On Saturday I witnessed the thrilling conclusion of the Coke Zero 400. Then last night I got sucked into a CNBC Original about the airline industry. And I've always enjoyed Darren Rovell's take on sports business dating back to his days on ESPN.

So watch this and support sports-related NBC programming. Who knows? Maybe they'll get the message and bring back John Tesh. One can hope.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

ESPN Ultimate Franchise Ranking Sucks at Math

So ESPN comes out with this year's Ultimate Franchise Ranking which determines the sports teams that offer the best fan experience. The ranking is based on variety of factors including competitiveness, prices and enjoyment.

The Angels came out on top, which isn't too surprising. Artie Moreno, Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia have done an outstanding job of not only assembling a great team but also building the Angels Baseball brand. Obviously they rank very well in those categories. The Angels also were rated the sixth-best (out of 122) in terms of affordability. The ESPN articles goes on to say that the average ticket to a Halos home game costs $20.05.

Uhh, what the fuck?

I went to an Angels game a couple weeks ago. Let me tell you, their tickets are expensive. Don't believe me? Check out the Angel Stadium seating chart and compare it to Dodger Stadium. Most of the non-ritzy sections at Chavez Ravine are cheaper. In fact, the tickets I got for the Angels game would have been 30% cheaper at Dodgers Stadium!

So the Angels may very well be a fun and competitive team to watch. But affordable tickets? Not really. And as for the Clippers being ranked last? I've been to a few of their games too... and I couldn't agree more with ESPN's assessment.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thoughts on the NBA Draft

Another year, another NBA Draft choke full of hilarity.

I'm not crazy about the Thabeet pick, but the Grizzlies have a young and interesting starting five. Thabeet, younger Gasol, Gay, Mayo and Conley. The Thunder also did a nice job of filling out its roster. It'll throw out a lineup of Krstic, Green, Durant, Harden and Westbrook. Lots of upside in Memphis and Oklahoma City.

Why did Sacramento draft Tyreke Evans? He's not a point guard and Kevin Martin is already entrenched at the two guard. The Kings stole Sergio Rodriguez from the Trailblazers and he's much more adept at ball-handling duties. Because, you know, he actually has played the position before.

Every time I step into a room I want Brandon Jenning's introduction. That was like something you'd see before the start of a ladder match at Wrestlemania.

Knicks fans raining boos on Jordan Hill... almost like it was destined. I watch a lot of PAC-10 basketball and he did not impress me at all. Conversely, I really like where DeRozan (Raptors), Holliday (76ers) and Collison (Hornets) went and think they'll thrive. Those guys played in slowdown offenses in college, which hurt their stats. But they definitely have the talent to play.

So Minnesota better deal either Rubio or Flynn. I'm assuming it will... but really after a day when the King of Pop died I'm not sure what to expect.

Amare Stoudemire is off to Golden State. It's happening in July. The Warriors will presumably be left with a starting five of Ellis, Curry, Jackson, Stoudemire and Randolph. Yea, they're no longer an ABA team. They're an ABA team on steroids.

Really like the Gerald Henderson pick by Charlotte. It needed a good shooting guard and one fell right into its lap. And of course the Bobcats picked a local kid. They're like post-graduate basketball for UNC and Duke players.

Next season the Pacers will have the potential to unleash Jeff Foster, Tyler Hansorough, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Travis Diener. Get your sunglasses because that's gonna be hot. White hot. Caucasian hot. (And I promise I wrote that joke before reading Bill Simmons' diary)

Also, Utah drafted a tall white guy. *gasp*

The Lakers must be taking financial advice from the Suns. The champions are scrimping and saving while contenders like the Magic (Vince Carter), Houston (awesome draft) and Spurs (Richard Jefferson, great draft) are loading up for title runs.

What the hell are the Cavs doing? They need help right now to give LeBron help. Shaq was a nice acquisition but they still have Delonte West and Sasha Varejao as starters. Instead they waste a first-round on Christian Eyenga, who I think will be ready to contribute in 2012 when the King is playing in Gotham.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Robert Sarver's Stinginess Has Cost the Phoenix Suns

It appears Phoenix is sending the Big Shaq Fu to Cleveland in exchange for... Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Yikes. Even though O'Neal is past his prime he's still a productive player, while the same can't be said for either of the players the Suns get back.

Can you say salary dump Phoenix? Of course, this shouldn't come as a surprise. After Robert Sarver bought the team back in 2004 he's been adamant about keeping the team payroll below the luxury tax. Since signing Steve Nash in July 2004 the Phoenix Suns have often pulled moves to pinch pennies, usually involving draft picks.

Look at the following trades made over the past five years:

* traded rights to Luol Deng for a 2005 first-round pick (Nate Robinson) and cash
* traded rights to Marcin Gortat for cash
* traded rights to Sergio Rodriguez for cash
* traded rights to Rajon Rondo, cash and Brian Grant for a 2007 first-round pick (Rudy Fernandez)
* traded rights to Rudy Fernandez for cash
* traded two first-round picks (2008, 2010) to Seattle for a 2008 second-pick

Basically the Suns got somewhere around $10 million to give up those talents. I'm pretty sure the team could use those players right now. Instead it looks like Nash & Co. are on their way to gaining ping pong balls for next year's draft. But oh wait, they traded the 2010 pick too!

Safe to say it's been a disastrous strategy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on the NBA

Congratulations to the Lakers. With a fourth title Kobe firmly thrusts himself into the pantheon as the third-greatest guard in NBA history. He has no chance of climbing higher. Or dropping lower really. He'll finish as a Top 15 (maybe 10) all-time player, the fourth-best Laker and nothing short of a legend. I wonder if LA will retire #8 or #24.

And seriously... enough with the bullshit that Kobe matches, will match or even surpass His Airness. It's not happening. Ever. I wrote about this a couple years ago and most of it still stands. But to compare the two just check out their shooting numbers:

Jordan's career FG% .497
Kobe's career FG% .455

Kobe misses around 10% more shots than MJ did. And while .042 may not seem like a huge discrepancy, the difference between MJ and Kobe is the same as the separation between Kobe and Pavlovic. And Bryant plays in an era where defensive contact is minimal (i.e. the refs are extremely whistle happy). Jordan was brutalized by the Bad Boy Pistons along with Riley's Heat and Knick squads.

So Jordan > Kobe. And for the record Kobe > Sasha Pavlovic. Glad we're clear on that. Moving on.

Phil Jackson winds up with the most rings and will probably retire back to his Branch Davidian-esque compound in the wilderness. It's the perfect time for him to leave: he finally passes Red, his hip continues to deteriorate and it appears very, very, very sadly that Tex Winter won't be around the game anytime soon. Never a strong in-game coach but a master of motivational methods and hilarious interviews, Phil will be missed. Hopefully he'll put a engagement ring on Jeanie's finger someday.

As for the future Lakers coach (whether this offseason or in 2010)... one of the favorites is Kurt Rambis, who turned down the Kings job to hold out for this chance. It would be an incredibly risky move since Rambis has extremely limited head coaching experience and the Lakers tend to favor guys with experience. Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw are also possibilities. As for coaches with experience the name that jumps out is Avery Johnson, who I think would be a great pick if only because I could listen to his voice on a regular basis. A dark horse candidate is Coach K (again), who would receive Kobe's full approval. He came close to playing for Duke after high school and embraced Coach K's during the 2008 Olympics.

Funny enough, a championship could be a really bad thing for the Lakers long term. In order to keep the team together would mean overpaying for Odom and Ariza, neither of whom deserve more than the MLE. It will be interesting to see how much the Lakers will be willing to overpaying. Because Kupchak is such a horrible GM the Lakers are already over the salary cap (hello Bynum!), so spending $20 million a year on those two would really be $40 million. Even Dr. Buss probably doesn't want to spend so recklessly. If Kupchak is smart he'll cut ties with both (Odom because he sucks, Ariza because he'll be overpaid) and pay a high price for Ron Artest, giving the Lakers a tremendous trio of legitimate All-Stars, two of whom are excellent defenders. Yes, Kobe would keep Artest in line. And possibly vice-versa. But that trio would trump any trio in the lead. That's how you create a dynasty. Elite talent.

Most likely though, the Lakers will probably sign Odom and Ariza at a slight discount and look to trade away one or two of their bad contracts -- probably Vujacic. Fisher comes off the books after next year, which gives the Lakers one more season of a mediocre PG duo.

Assuming the Lakers will continue to run the Triple Post Offense next season there are two attributes to look for in a point guard:
- high basketball IQ (which explains why the Smush Parker Experiment failed)
- long-range shooter

Everything else is secondary. Fish excels in the system because it plays to his strengths. And since Farmar really isn't the answer LA should look really hard at drafting a future PG. Luckily for them there's one with those exact qualities... and he's about 10 miles away from Staples. Darren Collison should be the pick. The Lakers should trade up if they have to (and they probably will have to since PGs will go fast). I love watching Collison at UCLA. His stock was really high following his junior year but last season slipped following the arrival of Jrue Holliday and the Bruins' uneven play. Ben Howland runs a very slow and uninteresting offense, so Collison's strengths weren't on display much in 2008-2009. To me he's a real gem and worth a low first-round pick. Bottom line, the Lakers team isn't great and could use multiple improvements. They don't have to settle for one championship and there's too much volatility and not enough talent to simply do nothing.

Speaking of championships... the Clippers. David Stern rewarded Donald Sterling's perchance for Asian women by giving the Clippers the top pick in this month's draft. Blake Griffin should be and will be the selection. His downside is a Carlos Boozer who won't betray blind people and have his mansion remodeled with purple shag carpets by Prince. Yes, Carlos did both those things. Griffin possesses tremendous inside game and an outstanding work ethic. He's like a Bizarro Olowokandi and should develop into a perennial All-Star.

As for the rest of the Clippers... sigh. Unless LA can pull off some miracle trade it's better off throwing away this year to look toward 2010-2011. Hopefully Baron Davis will stay away from Ruby Tuesdays and Zach Randolph will accumulate several more DUIs. At least Gordon and Griffin will form a fun tandem.

And around the league we go:

* Danny Ferry and Mike Brown should both be fired. The Cavaliers had the third-highest payroll in the league this season with LeBron, Mo Williams and piles of crap. That team is so horrifically bungled. Hopefully James will go to the Knicks in 2010 because Gotham is doing some very interesting things...

* My crystal ball says Chris Paul will not stay in New Orleans through his contract. Probably stays through next season but eventually something will happen. It's like the Amare thing but slower. It's building... and when it happens every team should give up the farm for him. He's well on his way as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I saw him in person last year... astounding is probably the best description. I'd have to think about this but if there was a league-wide draft I might take him with the first overall pick. Over LeBron, Kobe, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, all of them. Okay I probably wouldn't but on an average team he averaged 22/5/11/3 while shooting 50%. He might join Kobe in the pantheon one day too.

* Speaking of LeBron, I worry about the mileage he's putting on. 80+ games, 40+ minutes and all the work for Team USA. He's a freak and all but even freaks have limits. Physically there's no question he has the skills to surpass MJ and Magic but will he ever develop a post game and refine his jump shot? Personally I think he'll eventually surpass Kobe but remain behind His Airness and Earvin. Those guys won a combined 11 championships and 9 Finals MVPs. And of course, Michael never lost in the Finals. LeBron already has two losses in the Finals (same as Kobe), so his margin for error is slim to reach the top.

* I hope Larry Brown gets fired by the Bobcats so he can stop wasting his genius on a bad team. Actually he should coach a really bad team and come back to college to lead USC.

* Golden State is an ABA team. Moped Ellis, Biedrins, Maggette, Stephen Jackson, Turiaf, Brandon Wright, Anthony Randolph and possibly an elite PG from the draft. 150 points will be scored multiple times by that reckless Don Nelson crew. ESPN should show this team 50 times next season.

* The Bulls are building one hell of a baseball team with a bunch of guys who can do a lot of things. Too bad that doesn't lead anywhere in the NBA. Trade for better parts Paxson.

* The fact Marko Jaric married and knocked up Adriana Lima is more proof that life isn't fair. Not that I deserve her or anything but neither does Marko.

* Looks like the Spurs era is over, which is a shame. They played phenomenal team basketball and were a pleasure to watch for anyone who appreciates the game. Duncan still has some time left but regardless he's obviously already in the pantheon. 2 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, 4-0 in the championship round and one hideous tattoo. Who represented the NBA better?

* I love Barkley but he's been a real dumbass lately. Memo to Chuck: calling your producer a pussy on live TV is idiotic. Also, driving drunk to get a blowjob from a lady that isn't your wife is also idiotic.

* Amare Stoudemire is going to get traded. It's not Jon and Kate bad between him and the Suns, but yea it's not going to work. He's probably gone to the Wizards. I can't believe how badly Sarver screwed up the Suns over the years. It's actually worse than the Clippers in a lot of ways...

Looking back, all in all it was an okay season. Refs were as horrible as ever. ABC coverage has improved immensely in the past few years. Shaq dancing at the All-Star Game was funny. The playoffs extend themselves way too long.

Anyway, time to gear up for the draft. Looking forward to ridiculing whoever picks Jordan Hill.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Seriously, Slugging First Basemen Aren't That Hard to Find

Harping back to my post about how Ryan Howard is overrated compared Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins:


BA HR OPS *wOBA WAR salary
Ryan Howard 0.258 18 0.910 0.375 1.9 15M
Player X 0.314 13 1.013 0.427 2.2 1.4M


It's not that find to find big dudes who can catch a baseball, hit home runs and strike out a ton. Granted very few do those things as well as Howard. Then again, very few are paid $54 million over three years.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Conversely, That Was One Shitty Sunday


Like I wrote following yesterday's improbable win rooting for the Seattle Mariners can be hellish most of the time. Today was yet another reminder.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

One of the Most Satisfying Saturday Nights of My Life


Rooting for this team can be hellish most of the time but games like tonight remind me why I'll always love baseball. Go M's.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cops and LOLCATS: Together at Last!


July 9th, save the date!

The Seattle Mariners host the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field. That night the M's will host a WACOPS night, honoring local law enforcement. The very same game will also celebrate Cheezburger Night.

My oh my.