Monday, January 30, 2006

More ESPN Parody

From the wonderful people at Cracked. Check out their latest ESPN parody here

I think my favorite headline was: "Necessary Precautions: Bill Cowher to be tranquilized, held in cage for entire week before Super Bowl."

Billy Martin is Ours!

As part of my daily routine, I read Buster Olney’s blog on It keeps me abreast of all of the happenings around the major leagues and links me into all of the daily newspaper stories in major league markets. I saw this story about the Minnesota Twins; not terribly interesting…until you get to the bottom. In their list of 2006 bobblehead promotions, I saw something that annoyed me. The Minnesota Twins are doing a Billy Martin bobblehead giveaway on July 29, 2006.

Look, the Twins haven’t always been an irrelevant team. They’ve been to the postseason, they’ve won a couple of World Series titles, and they’ve even recently inducted one of their alums, Kirby Puckett, into the Hall of Fame. There’s no reason for them to glom off Yankee history for their own benefit. Billy Martin’s affiliation with the Minnesota Twins consists of 374 at-bats in 1961 and one season as their manager in 1969. Granted, he won the AL West that season, making him the answer to the trivia question “Who was the first manager to win an AL West title?” I’ll bet that if you asked any Minnesota Twins fan, they probably wouldn’t even know that Martin was ever in Minnesota. I’ll bet that on July 29, 2006, all 10,000 fans that that bother to show up for that game scratch their heads and wonder why the hell they’ve been given a tchotchke bearing Martin’s likeness in a Twins uniform.

Billy Martin was, is and always will be associated with the New York Yankees. He was the feisty second baseman on four World Series championship teams in the 1950’s and he was the famous Bronx Zoo manager of the Yankee championship clubs of the late 1970’s. Don’t take our favorite son and pass him off as your own, you history-stealing losers!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mighty's Mailbag

Welcome the first edition of Mighty’s Mailbag. With the NFL season running down, MMBSD will go on hiatus and a new column will be added to respond to the potpourri of topics that our regular readers e-mail, mail or fax into Back Seat Drivers central office (which is now located in Davos, Switzerland). Without further ado, its mail time….

I have a little extra time on my hands; I’m divided on following the MLB or NFL off-season. Which do you prefer Countdown to the NFL Draft or the Hot Stove?

--Roger C, Houston

Well Roger I think ultimately it’s a question of whether you like football or baseball better but let me make a case for the NFL Draft. First, it’s nice to able to root for college players finding a place. Outside of how the Hot Stove affects your team it’s hard to root for an individual player. Secondly I like the NFL because a) every team is involved, b) every team is adding something and c) money (specifically revenue) is rarely the issue. Take my home teams of the Browns and the Indians. When the Browns make a bad move I chalk it up usually to incompetence or the fact that everyone used to be glue sniffers (thank goodness Butch Davis is gone). When the Indians make any move it’s motivated by Dolan’s avariciousness. With Coco Crisp trade, yeah maybe it’ll work out that Marte is the next Manny but everyone knows it’s because they wouldn’t pay for a real third baseman and they’re saving money by not paying Coco’s arbitration.

Is there anything going on in the NBA besides Kobe or Artest?

- Kevin M, Minneapolis

Well not if all you watch is ESPN’s sportstainment. Lots of things are going on in the NBA, Clippers still winning, emergence of Gasul as a superstar, Suns still in first place but I think the most under-reported story is Joe Dumars. Dumars has been the captain of the Pistons ship and turned the team into the dominating force it is today. Look through that roster and pick out the player that was the sure fire can’t miss player. Nearly every player Dumars has on that team had some question mark with a previous team. Yet he knew each of the player’s capabilities and knew how he would augment the team. When Larry Brown began to do his “Larry being Larry” routine, Dumars knew enough was enough. Flip Saunders at this moment has done as well of job as anyone could have done (that was available) and kudos for Dumars for knowing who to get.

Which ESPN Commentator do you currently dislike the most? Its not Mel Kiper Jr., is it?

--Tom J, Bristol

How could I hate Mel? Mel is a whirling dervish of perfect hair and factoids on players from North Dakota State. I swear he’s got a memory like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. I bet Mel doesn’t remember his address but he remembers the 40 time of Ashton Youbouty. The honor of commentator that I dislike most at the moment goes to Jay Bilas. Jay does college basketball and despite being a few years removed from attending Duke, still has his lips surgically attached to Coach K’s ass. Bilas is a one man colonoscopy for the Duke Basketball program. That’s bad enough but disparaging comments towards gays clinches him as worst ESPN commentator of the month. As reported by ESPN’s ombudsman, Bilas noted that the Kentucky basketball team should watch “Brokeback Mountain” and have a good cry. Making nationally televised jokes in such a manner is not only ignorant but inappropriate. Furthermore, shame on the ombudsman for excusing such behavior.

Would you care to comment on reports that you received money from Jack Abramoff ?

-Justice D., Washington DC

I do not know Jack Abramoff nor am I willing to release the pictures of us involved in illegal activities. Ah crap I shouldn't have said pictures. Ah crap I shouldn't have said illegal. Does anyone know how to use the delete key?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fifteen Years Ago...

Taking the Hitman’s cue, it was 15 years ago today that Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a potential game-winning field goal with four seconds left, giving the Giants a 20-19 victory in Super Bowl XXV. That was one of the best Super Bowls ever because it came at a time when the “big game” was usually a lopsided disaster. Plus, the Whitney anthem, the F-16 flyover, the whole patriotic angle during the Gulf War, damn if that wasn’t a great night of football.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pot-Luck Headlines

With a bye week before the Super Bowl, it’s time to do some Pot-Luck Headlines from around the world of sports…

Cleveland Browns withdraw job offer to Colonel Sanders
After Colonel Sanders streak of traveling to different cities to ensure their championship success came to an end with a frightening and horrific Denver loss, the Cleveland Browns withdrew their job offer to Colonel Sanders. Colonel Sanders then reiterated that he never even wanted to go to Cleveland anyway.

Artest traded for Peja Stojakovic; Artest Agrees to Use of Invisible Fence in Arco Arena
The Ron Artest trade to the Sacramento Kings finally went through. Sacramento owners, the Maloof brothers, were ecstatic about acquiring such a talent, though he is clinically insane. The most exciting thing is the use of an invisible fence. The fans of Sacramento now know that their team can maximize its playoff potential and will not be subject to any of the physical tirades. If Artest gets off the court in any way other than the authorized player exit, an electrical pulse will stun him, and stop him and new teammate Bonzi Wells from throwing haymakers at fans.

Al Harrington Starring in the Remake of Quantum Leap
Al Harrington was with the Indiana Pacers and was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for Stephen Jackson back in 2004, just months before the “Melee at the Palace” occurred. Harrington believes that if the trade didn’t go through, that the Pacers would not have had Artest on the court against the Pistons at that exact moment when the Brawl broke out, and instead Al Harrington would have been on the court. Harrington said he would have been on the court "because that was one of the situations where they didn't have nobody else to put in the game and they just left him [Ron Artest] out there. I always felt, if I was there, [the brawl] never would've happened." Washington Post January 10, 2006

Now, the only obvious thing left to do is for David Stern to approve funding to create a Quantum Leap machine, so that Al Harrington can “make right what once went wrong,” and the NBA would avoid the whole “Melee at the Palace.” Stern’s advisors have warned though that there is a downside to David Stern creating this machine in that it will cause a rift in the space-time continuum because as soon as Al Harrington succeeds on his mission, David Stern never would have approved funding for the Quantum leap machine, and then Al Harrington never would have gone back in time.

Toronto Raptors GM is Fired, Ensures Enshrinement into the Hall of Shame
Finally, the Toronto Raptors made the long-anticipated move today of firing their GM, Rob Babcock. Babcock, had been swindled into trading Vince Carter for a player who was going to be a free agent, Tostitos Gold chips because they are so delicious but hard to find, tickets to Les Miserables, and a toy model X-Wing signed by Mark Hamill. Babcock had an impressive resume before arriving at Tornoto, where as the assistant to Kevin McHale, he once counted all of the floor tiles at the Target Center. While with Toronto, he was able to create a volatile atmosphere, by signing Rafer Alston who was unable to get along with the head coach, and then had to be shipped out of town. He also bought out Alonzo Mourning because Alonzo refused to play, paving a precedent for Vince Carter refusing to play “well.” To Babcock’s credit, he drafted Charlie Villaneuva this year, who certainly has some potential in the Raptors future, though Babcock will not be able to reap any of the benefits of that selection.

Babcock’s interim successor is the one and only Wayne Embry, former manager of the Cavaliers in the ‘80s and the ‘90s. Embry has had some shining moments (drafting Mark Price) and some pathetic moments (trading Ron Harper for Danny Ferry).

Twenty Years Ago...

We are the Bears Shufflin' Crew!
Shufflin' on down, doin' it for you!
We're so bad, we know we're good
Blowin' your mind like we knew we would
You know we're just struttin' for fun
Struttin' our stuff for everyone
We're not here to start no trouble
We're just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle!

Well, they call me "Sweetness," and I like to dance
Runnin' the ball is like making romance
We've had the goal since training camp
To give Chicago a Super Bowl champ
And we're not doin' this because we're greedy
The Bears are doin' it to feed the needy
We didn't come here looking for trouble
We just came here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle!

This is Speedy Willie, and I'm world class
I like running but I love to get the pass
I practice all day and dance all night
I gotta get ready for the Sunday fight
Now I'm as smooth as a chocolate swirl
I dance a little funky, so watch me, girl!
There's no one here that doesn't like me
My Super Bowl Shuffle will set you free

I'm Samurai Mike, I stop 'em cold
Part of the defense, big and bold
I've been jammin' for quite a while
Doin' what's right and settin' the style
Gimme a chance, I'll rock you good
Nobody messes in my neighborhood
I didn't come here looking for trouble
I just came to do the Super Bowl Shuffle!


Uh huh! Uh huh, uh huh!
Uh huh! Uh huh, uh huh!

I'm the punky QB known as McMahon
When I hit the turf, I've got no plan
I just throw my body all over the field
I can't dance, but I can throw the pill
I motivate the cats I like to tease
I play so cool, I aim to please
That's why you all got here on the double
To catch me doin' the Super Bowl Shuffle!

I'm Mama's Boy Otis, one of a kind
The ladies all love me for my body and my mind
I slick on the floor, as I can be
But ain't no sucker gonna get past me!
Some guys are jealous of my style and class
That's why some end up on their [WHISTLE]!
I didn't come here lookin' for trouble
I'm just gettin' down to the Super Bowl Shuffle

They say Jimbo is our man
If Jimmy can't do it, I sure can!
This is Steve, and it's no wonder
I run like lightnin', pass like thunder
So bring on Atlanta! Bring on Dallas!
This is for Mike and Papa Bear Halas
But I'm not here to feathers ruffle
I just came here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle!

I'm L.A. Mike, and I play it cool
They don't sneak by me 'cuz I'm no fool
I fly on the field, and get on down
Everybody knows I don't mess around
I can break 'em and shake 'em any time of day
I like to steal it and make 'em pay
So please don't try to beat my hustle
'Cuz I'm just doin' the Super Bowl Shuffle


The sack man's coming, I'm your man Dent
If a quarterback's slow, he's gonna get bent
We stop the run, we stop the pass
I like to dump guys on their [WHISTLE]
We love to play for the world's best fans
So better start making your Super Bowl plans
But don't get worried, or go through any trouble
Unless you practice the Super Bowl Shuffle

It's Gary here, and I'm Mr. Clean
They call me "Hitman," don't know what they mean
They throw it long, and watch me run
I'm on my man, one-on-one
Buddy's guys cover it down to the bone
That's why they call us the 46 Zone
Come on, everybody, let's scream and yell
We're gonna do the Shuffle and ring your bell!

You're lookin' at the Fridge, and I'm the rookie
I may be large, but I'm no dumb cookie
You seen me hit, you seen me run
When I kick and pass, we'll have more fun
Now I can dance, and you will see
The others - they all learned from me
I didn't come here looking for trouble
I just came to do the Super Bowl Shuffle!


January 26, 1986
Super Bowl XX
Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Vince Carter called out Kobe Bryant for scoring 81 points. His point of contention? That kids might turn into mini-Kobes, eschewing the team-oriented style of play that a guy like Vince Carter embodies so well. Oh wait, I forgot, Vince made his name in the NBA as a score-first, no defend gunner on a mediocre Toronto team. He then quit on his team, forced his trade out of town for pennies on the dollar and reinvented himself a score-first, no defend gunner on a mediocre New Jersey team. How lacking in self-awareness can Vince Carter be? Could it be that Vince is jealous that he’s no longer considered a top 10 NBA player? Is he jealous that for all of his posturing in Toronto his reward was being traded to a team that plays in the state of New Jersey? I don’t like Kobe but from now on, I’m rooting for Kobe to torch Vince for 65 every time they go head to head. Any way you cut it, Vince Carter is a pathetic hypocrite.

Good Work If You Can Get It

The Cubs signed starter Wade Miller yesterday to a one-year contract with a base salary of $1 million and $400,000 worth of incentives.

Wade Miller is on the shelf rehabbing an injury until at least May and potentially as late as the All-Star Break. So he's going to get paid somewhere between $180,000 and $500,000 to do physical therapy.

What's truly amazing about this scenario is that in the bizarre world of professional sports business, it's a good deal for the Cubs. Spending $1 million on a guy who's been very good before but whose odds of giving you even 4 good months are circumspect - that's considered, generally, to be a smart move.

Like I say - it's good work if you can get it.

Huggy the Coach

Ok so this is old news but with our recent discussions about the city of Cincinnati, I found this interesting blog from NY Sports Express regarding the great coach Bob Huggins..

If only I can vomit in someones car and be bought out for 2 million dollars. MJ, did you pay the person who vomited in your car 2 million dollars?

WELL, AT LEAST the Kenyon Martin thing worked out.
And to a lesser extent, Danny Fortson. But for the most part, the University of Cincinnati basketball program has been to the concept of the rule of law what the crosstown football Bengals have been to spirited, determined competition. When UC head coach Bob Huggins was arrested for a DUI last weekend and posted the most hilarious road test results since the waning minutes of The Man With Two Brains, the program came full circle. It is now college basketball's official "shirtless on COPS" representative, the roundball counterpart to Bobby Bowden's gridiron CrimiNoles.
Huggins, who had a massive heart attack two years ago that he claims was connected to a lack of sleep, was arrested last Friday night by police in the town of Fairfax, OH. Officers had caught Huggins drifting out of his lane late at night. When they peered into his car, they found vomit (real, manly coach vomit, dear readers) on the driver's door. The first words the Bearcats' coach uttered to police were, "Don't do this to me."
Police generously released the video of Huggins's field sobriety test last week. The coach was unable to maintain his balance during any part of the examination and repeatedly denied being drunk. When asked to recite the alphabet in order between the letters E and P, Huggins responded, humorously, "E, F, G, H, I, K, L, N, Z." Asked to count backward from 67 to 54, Huggins counted from 62 to 52. Police did not say if they had considered the possibility that Huggins is simply not all that bright, or a poor test-taker. The tests do seem a little on the hard side to us here at NYSX.
Huggins has been coach of the Bearcats for 15 years, during which time the school at one point was placed under probation for two years and stripped of scholarships for a variety of rules infractions. He also presided over one of the most interesting and varied student-athlete criminal records in sport.
One striking feature of the Bearcat criminal history is the beating-your-girlfriend-with-the-nearest-handy-object arrest, which has hit the school several times. The most recent offense came in 2003, when forward Eric Hicks was busted for hitting his girlfriend with a beer bottle. More interesting, however, was the 1998 case of D'Juan Baker, who was arrested for hitting his girlfriend with a flower pot. Police in that case arrived on the scene shortly after Baker hurled the pot across the room, striking Kara Jackson, the mother of his child, over the eye. In one of the more hilarious understatements in the history of student-athlete jurisprudence, the judge in that case, Ralph Winkler, told Baker that he was "setting a bad example for children."
"I'm not pinning any medals on you," Winkler said.
Why not? He didn't miss her, did he?
The most famous UC basketball crime may yet be overturned in the pages of history. NYSX readers should be familiar with the story of former UC center Art Long, who was arrested in 1995 on charges that he punched a police horse during a routine traffic stop (future Dallas Maverick rebounding stud Fortson was also arrested in the incident). The incident did tremendous damage to Long's reputation and followed him all the way to the NBA, when Seattle Supersonics teammates nicknamed him "Mongo" during the pine-riding year he spent with that team.
Long has always contended that he did not punch the horse, and that what he was actually doing was petting the horse after he was stopped by police. And now there appears to be evidence backing up his assertion. In the kind of coincidence that simply isn't possible in fiction, the horse who was allegedly the victim in the Long case, a 22 year-old quarterhorse named Cody, was named as the victim in another apparent assault. However, evidence has surfaced indicating that police manufactured the complaint. The defendant in the case, a peace protester and civil disobedience advocate named Brian Crum, was accused by two officers of punching Cody in the face during a 2003 visit to Cincinnati by George Bush. Officers testified at Crum's trial that the diminutive producer of the local access show Refuse and Resist! elbowed Cody in the nose. However, one officer testifying had to demonstrate Crum's actions three times, and only in the third go-around did the testimony indicate that Crum had done more than nudge the horse. Furthermore, Crum produced videotape which showed that he had not punched the horse. He was acquitted last year in time to mount an unsuccessful bid for City Council.
So there is a history of trumped up charges of abuse of that horse. Maybe Art Long was wronged.
An NYSX Blotter irrelevant side note: "Brian Crum" was also the name of the University of Florida linebacker who was arrested along with budding sportscrime star Channing Crowder for ripping the mirrors off of car doors in Gainesville, FL in the winter of 2003. On the day that charges were filed against Crum—Jan. 14, 2003—a 56 year-old man named Raymond Everest became the oldest convicted British soccer hooligan in history when he was jailed for five years for kicking a police horse. Creepy coincidence—or just a stupid space-filling factoid?
Well, we seem to have gone far afield here. In any case, UC has not yet decided what to do with Huggins, aside from an "indefinite suspension."

Monday, January 23, 2006

Rally Round the Reds

Since we are in discussion regarding the Reds, I just wanted to bring up the fact that the oldest team in baseball is now under new ownership. The old man and owner of the United Dairy Farmers chain (sounds like a Leninist regime) has sold the Reds to a group of people who have been around since the Big Red Machine. The main owner is Robert Castilleni who has vowed to make the Reds a viable team in the future. Castilleni has been in discussion with Lou Piniella (the last guy to bring the Championship home to Riverfront) to help out with some aspects of the team. Castilleni has overhauled the front office by getting rid of the GM and putting in place new people in charge of scouting and the minor leagues. I am hoping that with new management, the Reds will come back to their glory days of the early 90s. Maybe Lou Piniella will come back and try to create the Nasty Boys out of Ryan Wagner, Danny Graves and David Weathers. I look forward to watching them fail miserably this year. At least, unlike Cubs fans, I know that my team will suck from the start of the season. Here is the article on the new management

Oh My God!

Before I blog anything about this weekend’s NFL conference championship games or the (in my opinion) unconscionable and horrendous Indians-Red Sox trade, I'd like everyone to pause for a moment and join me in extending an index finger at this picture and laughing, Nelson Muntz-like, at Danny Graves. As the headline from my source reads, “No, this is not Chastity Bono!”

“Far be it from us to mock a guy for going back to rediscover his roots and promote the game of baseball internationally…but sweet God, what has happened to former Reds reliever Danny Graves? When you get back from Vietnam, before you head to Indians training camp…might we suggest a workout regimen? Like, a serious one?”

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Blogging the Championship Games: Part II

First Quarter Panthers v. Seahawks

Does anyone know if they test for steroids amongst the NFL referees? Ed Hockuly’s guns are bursting out of his zebra outfit. Looks like Jake Plummer transmitted his karma to Jake Delhomme. Delhomme is throwing floaters and Seattle has jumped to a big lead 17-0. If anyone doesn’t read Bill Simmons I suggest reading his next column. I think he will have picked Carolina games wrong for like 12 straight weeks. As Gutsy and I are fond of saying if a monkey flipping a coin is a better prognosticator you should stop making predictions. Also things that I don’t need see again now include that hit on Nick Goings. Poor kid doesn’t know what city he’s in.

Second Quarter

Am I the only picking up on the Red State v. Blue State Theme? Blue State Pennsylvania won over Red State Colorado earlier. Steve Smith just put Red States Carolina (well both of them) back into the game against the so Blue its basically Canada Washington. Holmgren in protest at the no block in the back call on the punt return, passes a kidney stone.

Third Quarter

Seahawks score again. Seattle’s D is very physical and Jake looks like his arm is always in slow motion. Alexander is playing well. This game is boring. The NFL always does this. One exciting weekend followed by one boring weekend. Well I’ll show them. I’m not going to watch the game anymore. Well hope you enjoyed my stream of conscious.

Blogging the Championship Games: Part I

So I thought it would be a good idea to record my thoughts as I’m watching this weekends set of games. Here goes part I: Denver v. Pittsburgh .

Pre-Game Talk

It is reported that Jerome Bettis made an emotional plea for his teammates to get him back to Detroit. This has to be the first time ever anyone has wanted to GO to Detroit. Not even Snake from Escape from New York wanted to go to Detroit. Meanwhile Shannahan is giving the old fashioned us v. world speech. Nobody wanted the ex-Browns linemen, nobody likes Plummer, they thought the Stork was brain dead and John Lynch was so obnoxious that the upper classmen beat him up on a regular basis. I’m a little tired of the lack of respect talk. Well it did help that Animal House fraternity.

First Quarter

Rothlisberger is cool, calm, and collect. He’s like Paul Newman but without the tasty salsa. I don’t think anyone throws on the run as well as he does. Plus he’s got like 360 ESP (oh he knows when John Lynch is blitzing). Denver’s line isn’t getting pressure on the QB. That’s going to be problems later on.

Second Quarter

Plummer just threw up a wounded duck that Pittsburgh intercepted. Oh-uh. The old Snake is coming out. Sure Plummer looks like a Houdini with shoulder pads when he escapes the Blitzberg pressure but his decision making is like Don Rumsfeld (well nobody is that bad). Denver is three scores behind at half time and Cowher doesn’t lose when he gets leads like that.

End of The Third Quarter

Pittsburgh is still in control. Time for a beer run. If it’s the one thing Miller has taught me its that people are more than willing to help out if they know it’s a beer run. Also I think most traffic laws are suspended for a beer run. Assuming of course your going to buy Miller products.

Fourth Quarter

After a great kick-off return, Plummer throws it directly to a Pittsburgh Steeler. I don’t know why they have analysts. Its pretty easy to figure out the keys to the game. DON’T HAVE TURNOVERS! Also make sure you play the Burger King King. That guy is everywhere. I’ve seen highlights of him playing in at least 2 decades for like 5 teams. Are there multiple Kings? If so can the Browns draft one this year?

Random Hot Stove that MJ will tell me if I’m right later

Looks like the Indians are trading Coco Crisp to Boston for 3B prospect Andy Marte and setup man Guillermo Mota. Crisp fills the hole Damon left. He’s expected to leadoff and man the middle of Fenway. The Indians get Mota to fill the setup role that Bob Howry handled last year. Marte seems have decent stats at the AAA level and Aaron Boone isn’t a long term answer. The trade will be good for the Indians if they can trade for another outfielder to sub in for Coco.

Pittsburgh Wins

Pittsburgh pretty much controlled the game the entire way through. They beat Denver, Indy, and Cinci all on the road. Now thats an impressive playoff run. While watching the post-game comments I accidentally set my taco on fire. I’ve now set fire to a taco, French Fries, a Cinnamon Bun, and a bowl of cereal. I really need to stop cooking while watching football.

Phil Simms

Is the biggest piece of shit in the entire world. He and Jim Nantz need to find out what it means to be impartial. Jim Nantz seems to be the lapdog of whatever Simms said. I totally understand what Steve Young was talking about regarding the upbringing of Chris Simms. I hope that both Simms get tapeworms so their hair will fall out and come down with some form of a genetic abnormality. I have decided to mute all CBS sports events involving Simms and put on Sirius radio with the people actually knowing what they are talking about. Between him, the illiterate Shannon Sharpe and the guy that is trying to be cool, Dan Marino, CBS has the worst sports reporters out of all of the main networks.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hot Stove XXVII / Kris Benson Trade

The Mets just traded Kris Benson (and his wife) to the Baltimore Orioles for setup man Jorge Julio. This move comes two days after the Mets re-signed Victor Zambrano and brought in free agent righty pitcher Yusaku Irika from Japan to fill the spot starter/long reliever role for the team. I suppose the Benson move signals the Mets' intention to have Aaron Heilman join the rotation behind Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel and the aforementioned Zambrano.

To be perfectly honest, while I'm all for opening up a spot for a potential stud like Heilman, the Mets have thinned out their starting rotation to the point of worry. Considering Trachsel missed more than half of 2005 following back surgery, I'm not sure why the Mets needed to unload a starter who could've been a perfectly acceptable #3 pitcher for them. Now the Mets are teeming with bullpen depth (Wagner, Julio, Bradford, Schmoll, Sanchez, Bell, Ring, Iriki) but a shaky starting rotation. Unless they're planning on moving some of this depth for another starting pitcher, I would be worried if I were a Mets fan.

To the Mets, I'm giving an incomplete grade until I see them move a reliever for some rotation insurance. To the Orioles, I give them a solid B; even if Benson is slightly overpaid, he is still under contract for two more seasons and he was excellent in June/July 2005 before slipping. With Mazzone guiding his career, I like Benson as a sleeper in 2006.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Verbal Diarrhea

As usual, there's stuff on my mind...

1. Call me cynical, but I’m tempted to disbelieve Michael Axelrod’s claim that he is innocent and that, for no reason whatsoever, Antonio Davis’ wife Kendra clawed him in the face with both hands. I don’t know if it’s because he’s 22 years old or because he comes from a rich family with ties to Senators Obama and Clinton, but I just get the feeling that this is a spoiled rich kid who will use daddy’s money and influence to make one drunken stupid action go away. Certainly, I don’t know the facts of the case and I wasn’t there to see the action first-hand but I just can’t believe that Kendra Davis decided to freak out on a nearby spectator in an unprovoked manner. Maybe it’s because I went to high school and college with a lot of rich brats like Axelrod or maybe it’s because as a lifelong New Yorker I know what the scions of the rich and powerful believe they’re entitled to do in public places. I guess I’m just skeptical and I’ll leave it at that.

2. Theo Epstein has rejoined the Red Sox after abruptly quitting on Halloween. The Red Sox haven't announced his new title but logic would dictate that he didn't come back without getting senior management to cede more power into his hands. All I have to say is why on earth isn't the national sports media making a big mockery of this? Why do the Red Sox and their dysfunction get a free pass? What kind of maturity level is this from a member of management -- one day he quits and then a few months later he comes back? Think about it this way: think of one of your colleagues at work giving notice and leaving, getting a little party on the way out. Think of how weird it would be if that colleague came back two months later and sat in the cubicle next to yours as if nothing had ever happened. Wouldn't you think that colleague is a bit immature and a little off? Theo and the Red Sox are freaks and jokers but no one seems to care.

3. Al Saunders, Peter King’s charity case/alleged victim of reverse racism, was hired by the Washington Redskins to be their new offensive coordinator. This move will now yield three expected results. First, the Kansas City Chiefs offense will go from being among the most prolific and exciting in the NFL to somewhere slightly above average. The reason is not only tied to Saunders’ departure but also because Herm Edwards is The Cooler when it comes to offensive play-calling. Herm likes it dull and predictable. Second, the Redskins offense will open up and become a lot more imaginative and dangerous. The Redskins needed to breathe some life into their offense which, despite being dull, was far more adventurous in Gibbs’ second year back than it was in 2004. Finally, the Redskins have assured themselves of a miserable behind-the-scenes political joust. By giving Saunders the title of Assistant Head Coach, he is now in direct competition with defensive coordinator Gregg Robinson in the race to succeed Gibbs when he retires in 2007 or 2008. I can tell you right now; this power struggle will end badly for the Redskins. The only way to ease the pain of this ugly fight will be to win a Super Bowl in the next two seasons and I don’t think it’s impossible with these three brains running the show.

4. Finally, the NFL hiring carousel continues. Over this past week, Eric Mangini (Jets), Sean Payton (Saints), Scott Linehan (Rams) and Rod Marinelli (Lions) have all landed their first head coaching jobs. They join Brad Childress (Vikings), Mike McCarthy (Packers) and Gary Kubiak (Texans – not announced but pretty much a done deal) as first time coaches in the NFL. The last time the NFL was in such a hiring tizzy was back in 1992 when Bill Cowher, Denny Green, Mike Holmgren, and four others all got jobs in an active winter.

I will reserve judgment and retain the right to change my mind at a later date but I want to come out and say that Sean Payton is probably the least qualified head coach the NFL has seen in quite some time. Certainly a case can be made that Mangini, having served only one year as a coordinator, is just as unprepared but somehow I’m tempted to give Mangini the benefit of the doubt because he’s coming from Bill Belichick University and, frankly, because the Jets are in a different place than the Saints. The Jets, despite their wretched history, are a stable franchise. They can afford to gamble on a young, inexperienced coach because the team isn’t in turmoil.

The Saints, in my opinion, needed someone a bit more established in the NFL or, at the very least, someone with a more impressive resume. Sean Payton has been an offensive coordinator for something like four seasons which is fine in and of itself. But he so underwhelmed in his job that famously loosey-goosey head coach Jim Fassel stripped him of his playcalling duties midway through the 2002 season. The Giants improved after the move and made the playoffs that season. Payton left New York, landed on Bill Parcells’ staff in Dallas and ran a dull offense for two seasons until Terry Glenn managed to perk it up a bit. I predict Payton to be out of a job in New Orleans in two years time. Honestly, Jim Fassel would’ve been a better coach for the Saints. If the rationale of the Payton hire is that he works well with QB’s, why not hire the man that taught Payton everything he knows? I’m not saying Fassel would’ve been an inspired choice but he’s been to a Super Bowl and he does have a pretty good track record working with the position.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Final 4 of Experienced Coaches

After the insane Indy-Pittsburgh game, I was left speechless. Indy didn’t deserve to win the game but certainly had an opportunity to. After Bettis’s fumble, the Indy player who recovered it should have run near the sideline, but instead Roethlisberger tripped him up. I just felt bad for Tony Dungy who can’t stop amassing a playoff record that resembles Marty Schottenheimer.

Turning now to the NFL’s Final 4, you have to go back to 1984, to find a final 4 full of coaches who already had visited the Super Bowl ( Don Shula’s Dolphins beat Chuck Noll’s Steelers ; Bill Walsh’s 49ers beat the Mini-Ditkas.) Yes, I wasted 5 minutes to figure that out. Anyways, both games should be really interesting. And if the stats prove anything, 1 of the 2 road teams is going to win during this Championship weekend, as has happened every year since 1998…

Pittsburgh @ Denver-
Pittsburgh is just playing out of their minds right now! I give them credit for that. However, there’s something about Mile High that I expect is part of the reason for the multitude of Patriot miscues, and that should boil over to this week as well. I also believe that Denver will be able to adjust better to the Pittsburgh blitzes than Indy did.
Pick: Denver

CAR @ Seattle-
I’ve ridden the CAR all year, and there’s no stopping me now from picking them again. Deshaun Foster is injured I realize, but in the words of the great announcer, Troy Aikman, during last week’s game “that offensive lines create holes large enough for any person to run through.” Nick "Quick" Goings, Brad "Vaccuum" Hoover and whatever other RB they have will be fine as long as the offensive line stays healthy. And that is why the CAR is going to go into Seattle and reveal the Seahawks as pretenders. Despite popular opinion, CAR is more than capable of providing offense aside from Steve Smith. Granted, Steve Smith will not be able to put up another week like he did against Chicago. I also just wanted to say “au revoir” to the Chicago Bears by providing a riddle: What do the Olympics and the Chicago Bears have in common? Every 4 years, they have a party! In 2001, the Chicago Bears overachieved, and then lost after obtaining a 1st round bye, just like in 2005. See ya in 2009!
Pick: CAR

And in the end, we will have a Super Jake Bowl – Jake “The Snake” Plummer vs. Jake “The Man” Delhomme!

Last Week: 3-1
Playoffs: 7-1

Verbal Diarrhea

As usual, a few things on my mind today…

1. I find it entirely comical that Isiah Thomas, the President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks, took a verbal shot at Bill Simmons this past Monday on an ESPN Radio program with Stephen A. Smith. In effect, Thomas told Smith that if he and Simmons were ever to meet on a street in Manhattan, that someone would go home with a bloody nose (and you can assume Zeke wasn’t talking about himself). Honestly, how could you ever say such a thing on live radio? I don’t even care that it happened on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I just can’t believe that the head of a pro basketball team would get so worked up over comments made by a sports humorist like Bill Simmons. Simmons has written many kind things about Thomas over the years, calling him the best pure point guard of all time and an amazing evaluator of talent, among other things. Thomas is far too sensitive. After all, the New York press is far more hostile to him that Simmons has ever been. Why call out a twerpy guy from Boston that you’ll probably never meet? Why make yourself look so bad? It’s comical. I’m going to the Knicks game tomorrow night vs. the Detroit Pistons and I happen to have floor seats. If I see Zeke there, I’ll tell him Sports Guy says hi.

2. I’m sure that this paragraph will not be very well received but I’m going to write it anyway. I saw something on’s Page 2 which really offended me. In the upper right-hand corner of the page, just above the navigation toolbar is a small red box where the Page 2 editors post their sarcastic one-liner of the day. Usually I don’t give them a second thought but today…it just got to me. It reads: “Where we’re rooting against whoever A-Rod plays for.” Obviously this is a reference to A-Rod’s decision to play for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic. I, like most others, am a bit tired of seeing the stories about A-Rod wanting to play for the Dominican team, then the U.S. team, then no team at all and now back to wanting to join the U.S. team. For starters, I find it disgraceful that ESPN would actually root against the U.S. team just because A-Rod is a member. Even if meant tongue-in-cheek, it’s still, at best, in poor taste as a comment. I’m not one for mindless flag-waving but to root against one’s own country just because of one player – that’s ridiculous. Rooting for another country is perfectly acceptable – I plan on rooting for Japan and the Dominican Republic in addition to the U.S. – but have a little more dignity than to root against the American team out of spite. Beyond that is something else that ESPN has failed to mention in constantly lampooning A-Rod’s supposed wishy-washy nature – the issue of coercion. Sure, it may seem hard to imagine that a grown man of 30 years, a multi-millionaire, would be forced to do anything he didn’t want to do but let’s not be so unsophisticated as to think that the only person calling the shots here in Alex Rodriguez. The World Baseball Classic is the brainchild of Bud Selig and Gene Orza, the commissioner of baseball and the chief operating officer of the players union, respectively. They want the biggest stars in the game to participate because it means more money for them and their constituencies. For that reason, there has been relentless pressure and behind-the-scenes arm-twisting on the part of league management and the players union to get the game’s biggest star to play in the tournament. So before we trash A-Rod for this, lets think about what it’s like to have a thousand people screaming in your ear, telling you what to do, what your obligations are, how you owe it to them. It doesn’t sound pleasant, does it?

3. While I’m on the subject of the World Baseball Classic, the more I think about this stupid concept, the more I hate it. It’s a completely arbitrary competition, which, unlike the Olympic Games, doesn’t even put on the pretense of promoting world peace and understanding through athletics. This is something concocted by the commissioner and the player’s union to drive business. Now, I’m all for business, but, as a baseball fan first and foremost, I hate to think that the game’s best players are being put in harm’s way for free, supposedly for “their country.” That’s rubbish. I only wish that team owners took a more vocal stance and forbade their players from participating. What comfort does George Steinbrenner get if Damon, Jeter, or A-Rod gets injured at these games? What comfort does our friend the Hitman get if Juan Pierre pulls his oh-so-delicate hamstring and ends up stealing 15 bases for the Cubs in 2006? I hate this stupid World Baseball Classic. My only hope is that TV ratings are so poor that the event goes away after this year.

4. Finally, to come full circle back to Bill Simmons…I love the guy, I love his column, I love the fact that he’s a more eloquent and funnier version of me. Basically I respect the hell out of a guy that is making a career out of sports writing from a fan’s perspective. Except for one thing. He’s a complete spin-artist. That he even has the gall to intimate that the Broncos won because of poor officiating is just flat-out ridiculous. The Patriots played as bad a football game as a team could play and only lose by 14 points. Come on, 5 turnovers? No running game? How did the refs realistically change the way the game turned out? And, Bill, if you’re going to play the “refs fixed the game” card, just remember – if the NFL had its druthers, the Patriots would’ve won, not lost. So shut up already about the Patriots and start coming up with good one liners and spin-jobs on why the Red Sox aren’t a complete mess and a laughingstock.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I Hope Peter King Is Kidding

This is from Peter King:

“I think this about the situation of Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who has choreographed and called every offensive snap for the highest-scoring team in football over the last four years, and yet seems to be a candidate for only one of the open jobs, Oakland. If Saunders were black, Jesse Jackson would be holding rallies to rail against the injustice of him not being in demand as a head coach.”

I just hope he's kidding. Don't ever, ever, scream racism on behalf of a white man. Not in the NFL.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

MMBSD: Second Guessing

The title of this column is Back Seat Drivers. The essence of Back Seat Driving is not necessarily to make accurate prognostications or even fair shakes. It is to make observations, typically in hindsight, of how others can improve (it certainly isn’t an inner awareness exercise). This weekend there were four NFL games. Now each of the games had plays that could have turned the tide and had a different team win. While I would be willing to argue that each of the teams that won deserved it (i.e. they didn’t only win via a fluke play or bad referee call), the teams that lost and those supporting them deserve a little second guessing. Let the second guessing begin.

1) Joe Gibbs and the offensive play calling –

Similar to John Gruden the week before, Gibbs called plays like he votes, extraordinarily conservative. The number of deep balls Brunell through to at least keep the safeties honest could be counted on one hand of a three toed sloth. Even with time clicking down and the Redskins were in the two minute drill Gibbs relied on screen passes. Sure to be fair Brunell has long since lost the battle against Father Time which means his arm/leg strength has ebbed but its Gibbs decision to have Brunell huffing and puffing with each five yard out pattern throw.

2) Peyton Manning and Big Games

Sure you could lay the game at the feet of some drunken Canadian kicker or a defense that couldn’t cover the middle of the field but this team is built around one guy Peyton Manning. Manning was the one that handles most of the offensive play calling that couldn’t adjust to Pittsburgh’s D during the first half. It was Manning that couldn’t take the pressure and froze like a deer in the headlights. It was Manning that had pass after pass sail into that good night. Sure some blame could go to Dungy now for resting a team for a full month (the Colts seemed only slightly less rusty than the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz). However its Manning’s offense and Manning that continues to fail in the big game.

3) Chicago’s Supposed Solid D

Now I had been told that Chicago had one of the best defenses in the league. In fact during the season I had been told Chicago’s D was as good as Baltimore’s of Super Bowl run. They had sacked Delhomme eight times during the last meeting. However there had been something nagging me during the entire Bears season. How had the Cleveland Browns scored 20 points on them? Yes the team that had scored fewer touchdowns than any other team in the league put up 20 pts on the Monsters of the Midway. Hadn’t a physical Pittsburgh also taken them to the cleaners? Oh and a team with fast wide recievers (see Bengals, The) had racked up yardage too. The Bears ferocious past rush was tamed and without a lot of turnovers the Panthers sliced them at will. Steve Smith somehow had over 200 yards receiving. Nick Goings, not to be confused with Barry Sanders, kept drives moving along when the starter went down. I suppose a few eye brow raises can be directed at Chicago’s reluctance to use Thomas Jones and allow for rest for the beleaguered defense. Giving up 29 points isn’t going to win you too many games. Giving up 29 points at home, in the playoffs should have us second guessing how good the defense really was.

4) The Pats’ Bandwagon

We heard all this week how the Pats were back and running on all cylinders. Peter King slurped the 10-0 Tom Brady. Bill Simmons was readying his tivo for Bill Belichek’s spell binding speech at the end of the game. Dan Marino mused if New England would become the greatest dynasty in the history of the world (other choices include the Ming Dynasty, 3rd Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, and Die Hard I-III). The warning signs were there though. Before this game Tom Brady had 12 TDs and 12 INTs on the road in the playoffs. Not something that you want printed underneath your bust at Canton. Corey Dillon was limping and grumbling during last week’s victory. I don’t think Dillon could finish a 40 yard dash at the moment let alone show off any blazing speed. New England was traveling to the stadium that sits a mile above sea level. That’s like trying to win a marathon against a Kenyan in Kenya. Plus gambler’s logic should have kicked in (i.e. good luck doesn’t go on forever). The team that rode the “tuck rule” into Super Bowl lore would eventually roll snake eyes. That weekend was this weekend. By the end the holy trifecta of Pats land could only slump off the field. Belichek’s defense didn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Vinatieri missed a crucial field goal. The perfect Brady, despite his best efforts at blaming receivers, refs, position of Mars and Jupiter, for the loss will be sitting at home when the playoffs resume next week. He threw a pass that should never have been thrown and once he did the Pats lucky playoff streak ended.

Friday, January 13, 2006

In Brief...

A few things on my mind this morning…

1. As I am sure I’ve made clear several times, I do not like hockey or consider myself even a casual fan of the sport. There are several reasons for this but none are really worth getting into right now. Despite my profound dislike for hockey, I would be remiss if I didn’t capture my feelings on paper this morning after having watched, nay, having watched and TiVo’d Mark Messier’s #11 being retired last night at Madison Square Garden. I am man enough to admit that watching it on TV made me a bit misty or, as Bill Simmons would say, “…there was a lot of dust in the room…” This might surprise some but, not only did I consider myself an avid Mark Messier fan, I considered myself an avid Rangers fan from 1988-1995. What can one say about one of the greatest players to ever play the game? He was just something special to watch live every night and not just for his talent but for his incredible leadership and tenacity.

Too many people throw around the term “leader” in sports and even more people talk about “team chemistry” without truly understanding what those terms mean. Mark Messier is, in my opinion, the single-greatest leader among athletes – even better than Michael Jordan. I’m a huge MJ fan but whereas MJ goaded and tormented his less-talented teammates to get with the program, Messier had a more compassionate approach that made him a more popular and less polarizing figure within the clubhouse. He embodied both leadership and team chemistry. And, if I may be self-indulgent for a moment and describe what Messier meant to me, Mess represented a specific moment in time that I remember very fondly. The summer after my freshman year of college (1994), a particularly difficult year of growth and change, coming home and spending it with my friends from high school, watching the Knicks and Rangers both make the finals that summer…seeing Messier last night is like hearing a great song that just brings you back. That’s why I love sports so much – there’s always a great personal memory attached to each sports moment. Ok, I’ll stop being a sissy now…

2. Mike Mularkey resigned as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. What a loser! There are only 32 of these jobs and despite doing a poor job this season, Mularkey was still employed. So what does he do? He quits. You’ve got to hang onto these jobs, fighting tooth and nail to stay, because you never know when your next opportunity will come. Anyway, what do the Bills announce after Mularkey quits? That Jim Haslett is the leading candidate. Way to go, Buffalo. Way to make an inspired and progressive choice. I guess I understand why, though. Grandpa Marv Levy is the only NFL GM who was actually alive during the time of Jim Crow. He’s going with his comfort zone and that comfort zone is white and untalented.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hall of Fame Debate Continued

Our dear friend Colonel Sanders posed an interesting series of questions. Unfortunately it was buried below other postings so I don't know if others saw it. I’ve chosen to paraphrase the questions and attempt to answer them in order:

“What about Ichiro and Jeter? What about Biggio? Also, do you think that if you have 3000+ hits you should be guaranteed a spot in the HOF?”

I’ll start with Ichiro. Ichiro will be 32 years old at the start of the 2006 season which is typically the beginning of the downward trajectory for sluggers but still in the middle of prime years for slap hitters who rely on making contact and spraying the ball to all fields. Although this is far from scientific evidence, Wade Boggs hit .300 six more times after his 32nd birthday, Tony Gwynn hit .300 until he turned 41 years old and Ted Williams hit .300 six out of the final seven years of his career after turning 32 years old. Therefore, I’m going to conservatively estimate that Ichiro will be able to play six more years in the big leagues. If we take Ichiro’s career averages and pull them out through the 2011 season, he’ll finish with 2510 hits, 424 steals and 1235 runs created. These are completely unscientific predictions because his speed will likely diminish over time, meaning the steals might be off and he may not beat out some infield hits or bunts. However, assuming no injuries and the full retention of his skill set through that 2011 seasons, his stats still come up short when measured against the best of the best. I assume that his Gold Gloves, MVP award, batting titles and record-setting hit totals during his decade of play will sway some voters but probably not enough to make it into Cooperstown.

Using the same unscientific approach for Jeter, I will assume that he will play five more seasons, meaning through his 36th birthday. He projects out to 258 HR, 2966 hits and 1569 runs created. Discounting for a moment his Rookie of the Year, World Series rings, Gold Gloves and other peripheral individual achievements, I think Jeter will make it on the merit of being a likely 3000 hit candidate and finishing, according to these unscientific estimates, ahead of Andre Dawson on the all-time runs created list. I think Jeter will make it as much for his stats as for the fact that he is the face of baseball – the most recognizable and marketable player in the game right now.

Moving onto Biggio, I think he’s two seasons away from being a mortal lock but could probably make it in now if voters were willing to abstain from inhaling ether before each vote. Biggio is at 260 HR and 2795 hits, meaning that he has a good chance to join the 300 HR/3000 hit club, of which there are nine members, seven of whom are in the Hall of Fame, and the other two (Ripken, Palmiero) are not yet eligible. It would seem to me that if you’re on a list with Musial, Yastrzemski, Aaron, Winfield and guys like that, you belong in Cooperstown.

Which brings me to Colonel’s final question – should 3000 hits automatically qualify a player for enshrinement? This question brings up individual thoughts on longevity and the role it plays in such a debate. I’m inclined to say that 3000 hits shouldn’t automatically qualify a player only because I don’t think anyone or anything should trigger an “automatic.” However, if a player has achieved something that only 26 others have achieved over the course of baseball history, that’s a testament to more than just hanging around for a while – you’ve got to be pretty special to get 3000 hits in a career.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Divisional Playoffs – Shattering the Myths of My Younger Years

Hart posted a comment last week, alleging that I had my "rematch" stats wrong, and that he had never heard of such a fictional myth, that the team that lost the first game often won the rematch. I wanted to respond to Hart’s allegation, and in my initial internet search, I found nothing. Then, I tried really hard to remember my source. And when I remembered, it was based on some small box I read in Sports Illustrated in like 1991. This is a superstition that I have been holding on to for a very long time. Since I haven’t exactly been stellar of late in picking NFL games, because 1991 is only the 2nd year of the current 12-team format, and because a journalist relying on a 15-year old stat is just preposterous, I decided to undertake some research and see what has been happening the last 15 years.

The good news, my other rules were right on the money: teams that have won twice win a 3rd 75% of the time, teams playing in consecutive weeks alternate winning and losing 75% of the time, and 8-8 teams are terrible (only winning 25% of the time, and both wins were last season).

However, Rule 1, which I have stood by blindly for the last 15 years is completely and utterly WRONG, as the team that loses the first game only wins 39% of the time. It’s like finding out I’ve actually been working for Cobra Commander the whole time and didn’t even realize it. It’s like finding out that Santa Claus, Hanukkah Harry, and the Tooth Fairy don’t exist. I repeat, over the last 15 years, teams that WON the 1st game, win the 2nd game 61% of the time! So, this article is an apology to all the readers, and to all the Back Seat Driver fans who I have misled over the last year with Rule 1.

Just to be clear, and to reaffirm my credibility, the rest of the rules checked out. And, in case you were wondering, my NCAA rules are all based on my own crazy spreadsheets that I update each year. The moral of the story is that you can’t hang onto superstitions for over 15 years without even checking if they are based on reality.

Anyways, I realize this could have changed my picks to some degree, but, I basically went 50-50 this year in my application of Rule 1 (going with rematch-winners in the AFC, and losers in the NFC), so we’ll see how it plays out. The first week already paid dividends with my Redskins pick. On to the games…

Pittsburgh @ Indy – I’m staying the course, and going with the Colts. Beating up on a suspect Bengal defense is one thing. Indy is too balanced to not intercept and disrupt the Steelers.
Pick: Indy

New England @ Denver – Unlike most of America, I’m going to go with the Denver homefield advantage. The Patriots defense is definitely playing on a different level of late and I applaud that. However, I feel that Denver’s running attack should still be able to succeed even with the full New England defense on the field in the rematch. Denver should be able to find a way by feasting on the energy of its fans.
Pick: Denver

Carolina @ Chicago- Last time, Steve Smith had 170 yards yet the Panthers only put up 3 points due to 3 turnovers. I’m sticking with the Panthers because, well, I’m biased and just don’t respect the Bears to muster enough offense (sorry Hart). Granted, these two teams may have the top 2 defenses remaining in the playoffs (arguably), which means whoever creates more turnovers will win. Wow, did I just pull a Bill Walton? It almost sounds like I just said “whoever scores more points will win.”
Pick: Carolina

Washington @ Seattle – There’s no way the Redskins are going to survive another week with that kind of anemic offense. Seattle just needs to control the long-ball and contain Santana Moss and they will move on. (If Tampa can figure out how to stop Portis, I’m assuming Seattle also will contain him.)
Pick: Seattle

Last Week: 4-0

Hall of Fame Musings

I was absent on the day that Sutter's induction was announced, and thus missed my chance to contribute as our conversations were occurring. But having been pleaded with to add my two cents, here's a series of thoughts, mostly in response to various things said here, in no particular order:

1. Jim Rice vs. Albert Pujols: Colonel asserted that it's "a bit of a stretch" to compare Rice to Pujols. He's right: Pujols isn't in the same ballpark as Rice - yet. Pujols is well on his way to being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, as quite possibly the best overall hitter any of us have ever seen. He's a freak, and he's phenomenal - even in this juiced-ball/steroid era. But it takes more than 5 seasons to make the Hall - which is why the future candidacies of the likes of Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr. remain debatable subjects. When Pujols sustains quality play for another 5 years, we can say he's better than Rice was. But not yet.

2. Andre Dawson: I said in my post on Monday why I thought he should be in - and wish to point Laz to that post. To say that Hawk was "nothing special" other than between 1986 and 1988 is flat wrong. Six of his eight All-Star appearances came at other times (3 before and 3 after). He was NL ROY in 1977. He won Gold Gloves every year from 1980 until 1985. If voters knew about or remembered Dawson's years with the small-market Expos - when, in ten seasons (including the strike-interrupted 1981), he hit 25+ homers three times and stole 34+ bases three times, and added that to his outstanding tenure with the Cubs, there'd be nobody voting against him.

3. Jack Morris: Laz says he was "just good" in all years other than 1984 and 1991. Wrong. His three 20-win seasons were in '83, '86, and '92. He won 15+ games in 12 separate seasons - 10 of which weren't '84 or '91. 3 of his 5 All-Star appearances, his two best finishes in the Cy Young races, the two years he led the AL in wins, his 6 best ERA numbers, his 5 best strikeout years - all not in '84 or '91. Jack Morris should get in due to both his regular season excellence and his playoff dominance.

4. HOF Qualifications: I think Laz is generally right that you should get in if you're either (a) "perenially" good, or (b) "dominant" for a shorter period of time. I'm not sure I agree with his 12/5 year split, but I think the basic rules are correct. I also agree with MJ's point that those who are the best or one of the best of their era merit more consideration. Winning awards, or even coming close, count as well.

I'd add (by way of reiteration) that some players will, and should, win admission based upon an "aura of dominance." Kirby Puckett is my best example: his stats and successes are not great on paper against other inductees, but anyone who remembers him thinks of him as an amazing, all-around stand-out player. When a guy has both good numbers and conveyed a sense of unique excellence, even if that sense and the numbers don't jibe, that tells me that the player was special enough to merit induction. It's another reason why Jack Morris should be in Cooperstown.

5. John Smoltz: Tough, tough call. He's only won more than 15 games twice. 177 wins and a 3.26 lifetime ERA are pretty fantastic, and that he was an awesome closer for three years certainly helps. I also think he has the "aura of dominance" about him. But he was #3 in Atlanta behind Maddux and Glavine, who are sure things for induction, and that could kill Smoltzie's chances. I'd probably punch his ticket, but don't bet on his admission.

6. The Juicers: Sosa will get in because, even though everybody knows he juiced, there's no actual proof. McGwire and Palmeiro may have some problems, though - Big Mac because of his absurd "testimony" before Congress in March '05 and Raffy because he's a lying shitbag who got caught. I would expect all of them to get there initially, but voters may punish them by not voting for each in their first year of eligibility.

7. Changing Vote Totals: MJ's question is a huge one: how does someone get in one year but not the one before? Of course these guys' credentials haven't changed. So generally, I agree that the shifting votes make no sense - with one exception: I think there is a sentimental difference between first-ballot HOF'ers and everyone else. Yes, it's a difference that has been created over time by the voters and the media, but it's a real one, like it or not - and I happen to like it. I like that guys like Cal Ripken get a special legacy because there was and is zero question as to his baseball immortality. That doesn't diminish the inductions of guys like Tony Perez, who are just as deserving; it's just a special recognition for those super-super special athletes.

One more thought on this last item: as silly as the changing votes are, I would not support a system in which you had one or two shots only. As foolish as the changing-vote system is, it has helped guys like Perez, Sandberg and Sutter - all of whom deserving of induction - get into Cooperstown.

Hall of Stupid

Since I've been on a rampage against the Baseball Hall of Fame election process I figured I owe the NFL Hall of Fame a little equal time. I just read the following:

“A 39-member panel will vote on the finalists. A candidate must get 80 percent of the vote to be elected with a minimum of three and a maximum of six getting in. If fewer than three get 80 percent, the candidate with the next highest percentage will be elected.”

Again, how can any hall of fame have mandatory minimums on the number of entrants in a year? How can it have mandatory maximums? The NFL, which is by and large a more intelligently-run organization than Major League Baseball, has to realize how silly a rule this is. If only two former players are deemed worthy enough to make it into Canton, the rule says that the best of the undeserving belongs? How does it make sense to immortalize someone on a charity vote?

I’m really perplexed by how hall of fame voters in each sport justify this sort of nonsense.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Travesty Uncorrected

So Bruce Sutter made it into the Hall of Fame but Andre Dawson, Jim Rice, and Jack Morris didn't. The Hall of Fame voters are true morons and unworthy of any respect. As custodians of baseball's list of immortals, I don't understand what their voting is based on. Regional bias? Racism? A personal dislike for Rice's brooding nature or Dawson's quick temper? I am stumped as to what exactly these guys need to do to get into Cooperstown.

Jim Rice's failure to make it in is particularly troubling to me. His career credentials are impeccable: 382 HR, 1451 RBI, .298 AVG, eight trips to the All-Star Game, one MVP award (1978) and five other top-five appearances in the MVP voting (1975, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1986). Think about this for a second - in a five-year span, Jim Rice finished in the top five three times and won once. Didn't Pujols just do something similar? Hasn't Pujols finished in the top three in each of the past four seasons before finally winning this year? We all agree that Pujols' feat is dominant. Why is it any less impressive when Jim Rice does it? That alone should answer anyone's questions about Jim Rice's dominance. One more thing about the MVP voting -- Jim Rice finished third in 1986, a full 11 seasons after finishing third in 1975. Are there other players that could be as dominant at the beginning of their careers as at the end? Barry Bonds is the only player that comes to mind and we all know how Barry Bonds has sustained his career. The final example of his dominance is courtesy of research done by Jayson Stark of

“From 1975 through 1985, Rice was No. 1 in his league in homers, RBI, runs scored, slugging and extra-base hits. And the only player even close to him in most of those categories was the great George Brett.”

George Brett finished second to Jim Rice in all of those categories and made the Hall of Fame as a first-ballot entrant. Enough said.

In researching Jim Rice's stats, I came across something very interesting. Sean McAdam of the Providence Journal posits that had Rice hit 16 more HR and increased his batting average by .002, he'd have the magic 400 HR and .300 AVG that voters might be looking for. Guess what? If Rice had just gotten 16 more hits, meaning one more hit for each of the 16 seasons he played in Boston, he'd have his magic .300.

It is very sad that the voters refuse to do their due diligence on Jim Rice. There can be no other explanation other than they don't like him. He was one of the best cleanup hitters of his generation.

Don't Look Now But I'm Not Bashing Shanoff Today...

Hell might actually be freezing over as we speak because, for once, I think Dan Shanoff wrote an intelligent and coherent argument. In today’s Daily Quickie, he tackles a subject very near and dear to my heart – the nonsensical and arbitrary nature of the Hall of Fame voting procedure. I’ll let the maestro say it for himself:

“I’m not here to lobby or dis the merits of Bruce Sutter or Goose Gossage (the two players closest to making the cut); Jim Rice (an East Coast Bias favorite) or any of the others (the “Hell Freezes Over” cohort). I simply want to say that if these players didn’t get the 75 percent of “yes” votes needed for entry in previous years, I don’t understand how they are suddenly qualified. These are baseball players, not bottles of wine. It’s as though the swing voters (the ones switching from “no” to “yes”) can’t handle a year without a Hall enshrinement. Is the food in Cooperstown so great that they don’t want to miss a party? In reality, any previously unqualified player who suddenly makes the cut is just another example of how broken the Hall of Fame voting system is.”

I couldn’t agree more.

In another Shanoff-related story, he reports that Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye called out the Panthers with the following:

“[The Panthers] get a lot of credit for a team that people who predict these things figured they’d go to the Super Bowl. I just don’t think they deserve that credit. I think they have to prove it. We proved it one time. We’ll have to do it again.”

If Adewale were sitting next to me, I’d have to ask why he thinks the Bears proven something by winning 11 games in the regular season. I’d also have to ask him if he knows that the Bears franchise has not won a playoff game since 1994. Ogunleye should just be happy being at the dance party and should probably worry more about winning a game than talking smack.

(Contributor's note UPDATE - my mistake. The code is not fercockte, my brain is fercockte.)

(Contributor's note - As usual, the blogger code is fercockte. I usually write my posts using the full-justify for my margins because it looks better. This column looks like shit. Mighty/Gutsy, what's up with the template today?)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Another Shot at Shanoff

While I know it is MJ's responsiblity to bash Dan Shanoff on a daily basis, I was reading his "daily quickie" today and found something I had to throw into the arena. Shanoff is discussing the fact that Marcus Vick has been kicked off the Va Tech team and that they shouldn't be getting an alumni check from him. His quote is this: "Even though a lot of fans would have booted him for his now-infamous Capitol One Bowl boot to Elvis Dumervil's knee, he was actually only going to get a two-game suspension for that. " Um, Dan the last time I checked the Hokies played in the Gator Bowl not the Capitol One Bowl. The Hokies have never in the history of their franchise played in the Capitol One Bowl...actually no team has played in the Capitol One Bowl because it is the CapitAl One Bowl, you idiot. Last time I checked the runner up of the SEC played the runner up of the Big 10, neither of which involves Virginia Tech. Man, now I know why MJ thinks this man is an idiot.

My Hall of Fame Ballot

This Tuesday, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the 2006 inductees. Many expect that there will be none. The good folks up in Cooperstown don't let me vote - but if they did, here's my breakdown of the ballot:

Should-be Inductees

Bruce Sutter: Sutter was one of the first closers in baseball, and along with guys like Lee Smith and Goose Gossage, set the standard for what a closer should be. He saved 300 games over his career, with a 2.83 ERA. A six-time All-Star and the 1979 NL Cy Young Award winner. Sutter often pitched both the 8th and 9th innings, a foreign thought to today's firemen. Further, he is credited with inventing the split-fingered fastball, a pitch with an impact that needs no explanation. Simply, Bruce Sutter remains one of the all-time great closers and a true innovative force in the game. That he has been consistently denied Hall admission, ostensibly due to an inexplicable bias against closers, is a travesty.

Lee Arthur Smith: Like Sutter, another trend-setter for the late innings. Lee Smith is the career leader in saves, with a whopping 478, and made the All-Star game seven times. In his heyday, there was no more feared reliever in all of baseball. He's another who's probably been left out due to this anti-closer bias.

Goose Gossage: The Goose excelled in the same era as Sutter, and probably was as feared in his time as Smith was a handful of years later. He's 16th all-time in saves, a 9-time All-Star. He and Smith are similar pitchers with similar successes, and should both make it in.

Bert Blyleven: The Eddie Murray of starting pitchers, there's absolutely no excuse for Blyleven to continue to miss. Seven times in his career, he finished in the top 5 in his league in ERA. He's 5th all-time in strikeouts, 9th in shutouts. But he only made two All-Star teams and he only won 20 once. Nevertheless, a guy who pitches 22 years, won 287 games over his career, with a 3.31 lifetime ERA, and has as many Ks as Blyleven did, should be in Cooperstown. He was never the best pitcher at any given time, but he was as reliably and durably superb as anyone else.

Jack Morris: Do I need to explain? Not only did he have a long, outstanding career - 18 seasons, 254 wins, 7-time All-Star - but he's a postseason legend. He was dominant for the record-setting 1984 Tigers, and his 10-inning shutout Game 7 performance for the Twins in 1991 is one of the greatest performances by anyone, ever. The Hall of Fame is as much about an aura of dominance (as I'll soon repeat) as it is about numbers. If you don't believe me, witness Kirby Puckett's first-time induction. Anyone who watched baseball in the 80s and early 90s thinks of Jack Morris as a war horse and maybe one the best guys ever to have on the hill when the game's one you just cannot lose. That's an aura of dominance - and he has strong numbers to boot.

Andre Dawson: .279, 438 homers, 1591 RBI in 21 seasons. "Hawk" won an MVP for the last-place Cubs in 1987, when he smacked 49 homers in an era when that was unheard of. Oh, and he stole 317 bases - in his earlier Montreal years, he was as much a force on the basepaths as he was at the plate. What about his glove, you ask? Eight Gold ones, to match his 8 All-Star appearances. He was 1977 NL Rookie of the Year. Andre Dawson was an all-around monster for a good 15 seasons- far and away one of the best to play in that time. You have to be a complete boob to keep him out of Cooperstown.

Tougher Calls

Jim Rice: I'm guessing that my reluctance to select Jim Rice is due to the fact that, during his heyday, I was either (a) unborn, or (b) a young kid who rarely watched American League games. Everything I've been told about Rice says that he should be inducted. I just do not remember him as one of the dominant players of the day. He hit 20 points higher than Dawson, but 46 less homers. Then again, he was an 8-time All-Star, the 1978 AL MVP (and in the top 5 in balloting in five other years). The numbers are there, no question. I just don't remember him well enough. But my bias aside, he probably should be inducted.

Tommy John: Hard to say that a guy has an "aura of dominance" when he's better known for a type of elbow surgery than for his on-field accomplishments. But John won a whopping 288 games in 26 years, with 2245 strikeouts. He made four All-Star teams, three times came in the top 5 in Cy Young balloting. His numbers stackup to those who've been previously inducted. Nevertheless, I think I'd still vote against him.

Don Mattingly: I'm really torn about Donnie Baseball, because he comes closer to my "dominance" requirement. The guy was completely feared and respected during his playing days, both for his bat and his glove. I think he's been hurt by the recent successes of the Yankees, who by and large were terrible during Mattingly's tenure in the Bronx - as if Mattingly isn't a HOF'er because how could a Yankee be a HOF'er if he wasn't on any championship teams? But that's silly, of course. 222 homers in 14 seasons, .307 average, 1100 RBIs, 1985 AL MVP, six straight All-Star teams, 9 of 10 consecutive years as a Gold Glover. He led the AL in hits twice, came in 2nd once. Donnie won't make it, but the more I think about it, the more I think he should.

Close, But No Cigar:

Alan Trammell: Trammell was a very, very good shortstop for many years for Detroit. His numbers stack up to others who've been inducted. But - and again, maybe this is because of my 1980s NL bias - I don't hold his actual performance, never mind numbers, in the kind of reverence that should be required for Cooperstown. Trammell was very good, maybe even great, but just not a Hall of Famer. He hit .285 over 20 seasons, 185 homers (pretty good for a SS back then), 236 stolen bases. Four Gold Gloves, 6-time All-Star, even three Silver Slugger awards. But I still would keep him out - I respect Trammell, think he was quite good, but not worthy.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

MMBSD: Keys to Winning in the Playoffs

As this first weekend of playoff football reveals anything, other than Tom Coughlin probably shouldn’t stroll down Broadway this week, is that playoff football is a whole different type of football, altogether (It’s a whole different type of football). Heck if Simmons can create a few rules out of his ass, why can’t I? Unless he copy righted out of ass comments, which would be a shame since that’s where most of my thinking comes from also. Anyway a few thoughts on this week in the NFL

Playoff Experience Matters

Sure its cliché but its cliché because it’s true. Experience matters, certainly at the quarterback position. It’s a league where a team goes as far as the quarterback can take them. If you have a great quarterback, your defense only has to be good. If you have a great defense, your quarterback still can’t make mistakes. There were four games, with four quarterbacks with experience facing down four quarterbacks without experience (of the playoff variety that is). Young Chris Simms was supported by an outstanding defense. Monte Kiffin and the rest of the Buc defense had more than girth for most teams to win. But young Chris Simms and his third grade reading skills made one too many mistakes and though close, Tampa couldn’t pull off the win.

Will Eli ever be great? Eli seems to be on the roller coaster of hype going from Mid-Season “Just like Peyton” to End of the Year “Couldn’t Start in Detroit”. My thought it’s too early to make pronouncements. Palmer blossomed in his second year. I say wait and see. In the meantime the Giants go embarrassed in the kid’s first playoff game. (Note not having any sort of running game doesn’t help either). Carolina, who has done a Jekyll and Hyde routine all year, showed that on a good day Carolina is among the elite of the NFC.

Over in New England, the Patriots magic was too much for the Southern trained Jaguars. The Jags couldn’t get their offense unstuck in the cold. Leftwich was certainly harassed all game, but you could tell his reads were a tad slow (I suppose all QBs are that way against Belichek coached defenses). Without any offense life-force, the Jags defense slowly melted away. Pats move on to Mile High and we will see if Plummer has improved his playoff skills.

When It Doubt- Injure the Other Teams QB

Well I guess this really isn’t a rule as much as a key to victory. Playoff football is physical. Playoff games involving division rivals are bloodbaths. The Cinci-Pittsburgh game was just a gangland style hit. Carson Palmer, in his first playoff start, was unable to show critics (read me) that he belongs in uber-elite category of first time playoff quarterbacks who do well (Marino and Brady come to mind). A German (or possibly Swedish) assassin (Kimo von Oelhoffen) posing as a Pittsburgh lineman made sure that an unfortunate “accident” befell the Bengal’s star. Looked like a pretty dirty play to me. Of course if asked to testify I’d certainly keep my mouth shut so that “The Chin” wouldn’t rub me out too. Without Palmer, the Bengals couldn’t muster the offensive power to compensate for their defense.

Random Thoughts

I have this theory that Peter Gammons pays players (like Manny or Tejada) to demand outlandish trades. That way Peter can get more air time and once old Gammons makes a few reports; he has his “clients” say they no longer want a trade. I don’t know where Gammons gets his money to pay off players to demand trades but I have to say he is effective. Since I berate various TV personalities for not apologizing when they mistakes I should do my own set of apologies. Today’s apology goes to the Phoenix GM. He made some wacky moves in my eyes in the off-season (too be fair a lot of people also called the moves a lot worse). Despite not having Amare, this team is currently 22-11 and in first place in its division. A lot of accolades should go to Shawn Marion (averaging around 20-10 a game) and Steve Nash (who is angling to be the next Canadian Prime Minister) but the GM collected a bunch of no names (Boris Diaw) to surround those two and its working. The Texans have more or less announced they are going to draft Reggie Bush number one. As I said at the top it’s a quarterback league. No matter how good the running back, without a solid man throwing the ball, the team won’t win. If David Carr is not the answer, Texas better hope they didn’t pass on drafting a franchise QB. Now those are hard to find.

Who Dey?

Well the Bungals gave their all with the top QB in the NFL going down on the second play. They played well and they should be proud of themselves for the way they played this year. Not many other places can a team go from averaging 3-13 the past 15 years and win the AFC North and have a winning record. I just hope that Carson Palmer, one of the classier QBs of the game will be able to come back and perform in the same caliber once he has surgery for his torn knee ligament. Unlike other QBs that have gone down with torn ligaments (ie Daunte Culpepper), I hope that he is able to come back. I hope that the state of Minnesota runs out of antibiotics when he gets syphillis next and he comes down with blindness and severe mental disorders from it and goes the way of Henry VIII. Or perhaps gets crabs like Michael Vick and is damned from all of the groupies in Minnesota.

Joey Harrington and Marty Schottenheimer

Those are my new names for the Giants QB and head coach. Eli Manning is the second coming of Joey Harrington and Tom Coughlin is the second coming of Marty Schottenheimer. In the case of the QB, he's just not a good player. He should quit now and save himself the next three years of misery before he's fully out of the league. In the case of the coach, all he needs to do is hang around with 10 win seasons. There's plenty of room for bad coaches who win 10 games and choke playoff matchups in the long as they're white.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hot Stove Part XXVI / JT Snow; Tejada & Abreu

First the dull news: The Red Sox have signed JT Snow to a one year contract worth $2M. I assume the Sox will install him as their new 1B but will continue to explore trades in order to bring a higher-impact player to their lineup. What I find amusing is that JT Snow(.268/.357/.428) is actually a step down, across the board, from Kevin Millar (.289/.365/.477). I'm not sure I see how this move addresses the glaring need the Red Sox have at the 1B position. Why not just re-sign Millar for the same money? Why not just convert Kevin Youkilis (.265/.376/.411) to 1B and make him a full-time player? He's only making $325K so it can't be because JT Snow's stats, nearly identical to the Greek God's, are better value. The Red Sox front office is flat-out screwing the pooch this offseason. I love it.

Now the juicier news: Earlier this offseason I was hearing about Bobby Abreu being traded to the Yanks. Now it appears the Orioles and Phillies will make a swap with Abreu going to Baltimore in exchange for Tejada where, apparently, he would become the Phillies' new 3B. Can you imagine how amazing that infield would be if Tejada, Rollins, Utley and Howard all got together? That's just one hell of an infield.

Apparently the Phillies don't care for Bobby Abreu because they've been shopping him all winter. From everything I've read about Miguel Tejada, he appears ready to pull a Vince Carter and sulk his way into oblivion until he gets his wish to be traded. Now that Manny's backed off his trade demands, it seems like Philly's the future home of Mr. Miggy T.

...Side note...

I've always wondered why players sulk when they want to be traded. I think back to Ken Griffey Jr. and his demand that he be traded from Seattle back in November/December 1999. His incessant whining and outright sabotage of any leverage the Mariners might have had led them to trade the best player in the game (at that time) for two guys that never made the majors, Brett Tomko (definition of journeyman) and Mike Cameron (now playing for his fifth team which makes him a journeyman too).

If a player wants to be traded that badly, why not quietly ask for a trade and remain silent thereafter? Presumably the hardest part about trading a star player is the need for the trading team to get equal talent in return. The more a player bitches, the more the trading team is painted into a corner, making it harder to pull off a trade. Players just blow me away with their stupidity. Tejada needs to shut up, show up to Florida on time and in good shape and play his way out of Baltimore, not cry his way out...

Cheers and Jeers: Jager Bomb Edition

Jager Bomb

1 can Red Bull® energy drink
1 oz Jagermeister® herbal liqueur

Well after an intense college football marathon stretching weeks, we have reached the big time: NFL playoffs. Now personally I'm a little exhausted from watching a game a night for almost two weeks. To get over the hump and regain my focus a little extra juice is need, that juice can come from the most powerful concation ever developed : Jager and Red Bull. For those that are unaware Red Bull is derived from an original formula developed by Thai taxi drivers. Also I think Publius uses it during his various ghost dances against the White Man. Jager is like the ocean: its beautiful but if ever turn your back on it, it will get you. As such strap on your helmets, take a Jager bomb and enjoy the NFL playoffs.

Cheers: V-Tech for suspending Marcus Vick. Vick pulled a Ty Cobb and spiked an opposing teams player in the calf. It was a thug move and anywhere else (well maybe not the NHL) would have arrested for assault. If it wasn't for Marcus' big brother, he would have long since been kicked out.

Jeers: Mark "Limp Balls" May. After picking USC to beat any and all teams of the past 2 centuries including the Bo Jackson techmo bowl team, did May apologize for his horrific pick? Nope. May deftly pivoted to slobbering on Vince Young. Maybe if you figured that out before the game, you deserve to be on tv. But May, who's idea of in depth analysis is berating Lou Holtz, is incapable of picking up trends before they occur.

Cheers: Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars. Stewart who has quickly moved into the "A" list of possible hosts, gives hope to short, sarcastic, funny, Jewish kids to make it big. I just need to learn how to be funny and I then I can share in the dream.

Jeers: Washington v. Tampa. I think of the four playoff games this weekend this one leaves the most to be desired. I mean who is there to root for/against. Chris Simms v. Mark Brunnel? Chucky v. Gibby? Eh. Watching Brady play in cold weather is something I can root about (typically against). Seeing how Eli handles playoff pressures is intriguing. I can't say the same about Washington and Tampa.

Cheers: Bill Simmons. His post on the Rose Bowl was vintage Simmons. Funny. Hyperbolic. Centered around his Bostonitis (I believe its disease that focuses on the suffering of Boston sports fans).

More Of The Same

As I've no doubt made clear, I am not a fan of the current hiring practices of NFL teams. All too often, teams hire re-tread coaches (Norv Turner, Dan Reeves) without looking at qualified assistant coaches or some of the bright young minds in the collegiate ranks. What makes me even more upset is the clear (in my mind) racial bias that exists in the NFL. Am I to believe that minorities cannot be successful as head coaches in the NFL? Is this like the black QB thing where, sure, there is always one guy that is the exception but really, blacks just can't be QB's in the NFL? That's what it feels like to me.

The Minnesota Vikings hired the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress as Mike Tice's replacement. He's white. The only other candidate interviewed was Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, who is black. Why do I feel like Caldwell never had a shot? Why do I feel like he was flown up to Minneapolis on his team's bye week just so the Vikings could comply with the NFL rule that requires at least one minority candidate to be interviewed for vacant head coaching positions?

This is not to rip Childress. He did a good job in Philly and he deserves a chance to coach. This is more an indictment of the process and the speed in which the Vikings made their choice. The NFL has to change its policies. I think there should be a moratorium on hiring until after the Super Bowl. Let all assistant coaches for playoff teams have the same chance as those whose teams have been bounced. Let natural competition bubble to the surface after a month of reflection and thorough due diligence on all candidates. Unfortunately, I doubt the NFL will ever change.