Thursday, December 11, 2014

Here's something that doesn't suck


Normally I just link when I do a "something that doesn't suck" post, but this was ESPN Insider, so I'm posting it in full.  What you need to know is this: Buster Olney sometimes has dumb ideas.  This time, he has a really, really smart idea.

Mike Mussina spent each of his 18 seasons in the most treacherous waters pitchers have ever faced, among the whitecaps of what will always be remembered as an era of rampant steroid use -- and in the offense-rich American League East, no less. He was a fly ball pitcher who called two homer-happy ballparks -- Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium -- his home during his career.

It’s as if he navigated his way daily through one of those monstrous marble-hard golf courses in Scotland covered with bunkers that have names (such as St. Andrews' Road Hole Bunker), as compared to the Executive Par-3s of 2014. In 2000, Mussina’s last season with the Orioles, 47 hitters mashed 30 or more homers; in 2014, only 11 batters reached 30 homers.

Mussina finished his career with a 3.68 ERA and is 19th all time in strikeouts. He also is 24th in WAR among pitchers, and most of the guys ahead of him on the list are in the Hall of Fame. 

A park-independent stat would help (ERA+ of 123), but yeah, Mussina is a HOFer for sure.  UNLESS HE HAD BACKNE.

But his chances for induction will improve slightly this year because I’m abstaining from the voting for the first time, and won’t submit a ballot. The same is true for Curt Schilling, and Tim Raines, and at least two others who I think should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Also both HOFers.  And I'm sure you all understand why Olney isn't voting, but I'll let him explain it.

To repeat: I think Mussina, Schilling and Raines and others are Hall of Famers, but it’s better for their candidacy if I don’t cast a ballot.

If that sounds backward, well, that’s how the Hall of Fame voting has evolved, squeezed between rules that badly need to be updated and the progression of the candidates linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The process needs to be pruned to allow voters to get back to answering a simple question about each candidate: Was his career worthy of the Hall of Fame?


How novel.  It's almost like, let's just put the best players in the hall (allowing for disagreement re: steroid users; that's not even why I'm posting this, even though Olney agrees with me), instead of making some guys wait because fuck you I'm a self-important sportswriter, or not voting for guys like Rickey Henderson on the first ballot because no one's ever been unanimous, or whatever.  Christ.  Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).

When I started covering Major League Baseball, getting the opportunity to participate in the Hall of Fame voting was something to really look forward to, a nice carrot through the long days of spring training, the travel delays of the summer and extra-inning games. 

Well now you're just mocking those of us with regular shitty jobs.

After being a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America for 10 years, receiving a blank Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, with voting instructions and pages of notes on each candidate also in the envelope, carried the same excitement as receiving a thick college admission letter.

So it's incredible that declining to cast a ballot is even a consideration. But in light of where we are, it seems like the right thing to do for the candidates involved, until the rules are adjusted.

For years, the rule that each writer can vote for no more than 10 candidates was probably irrelevant; it certainly was for me, given that I usually voted for anywhere from four to seven players. It's not clear why the "Rule of 10" was put in place, but I suspect it was originally designed to prevent writers from flooding their ballots with names of players who had no chance of being elected, just so they could report to their buddy that they had voted for them.


Christ.  Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).

A decade ago, nobody could have anticipated the quandary that has developed because of this rule, and because of the debate surrounding the steroid-era candidates.

Mark McGwire first appeared on the ballot in December 2006, five years after he retired, and he became the first real test case for what the voters would do with players either directly linked with performance-enhancing drugs or suspected of doing them.

As written in this space many times, I think all players should be judged within the context of the era in which they played, 

I'd like to burn that last phrase into Murray Chass's lawn.  Sadly, I won't be able to do that, because it's a crime, and because I don't know where he lives.

and during McGwire's career, the sport was saturated with performance-enhancing drugs, largely because over the period of about 15 years, no one within the institution of baseball -- not the union leaders, not MLB owners, not the commissioner, not the clean players, nor the media that covered the sport -- 

MURRAY SAW PIAZZA'S BACKNE.  HE SAW IT.  AND MAYBE HE REPORTED ON IT I'M NOT SURE, BUT PROBABLY NOT, BECAUSE IF HE HAD, WE'D NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT FROM HIM.

aggressively addressed the growing problem. 

Good thing Tony La Russa was triumphantly inducted into the HOF last summer!  Now there's a guy who is in no way linked to PEDs.

Through that inaction, what evolved was a chemical Frankenstein of a game. Like it or not, that's what the sport was in that time: no drug testing, lots of drug use, lots of drug users, lots of money being made by everybody. (And by the way, no team, baseball executive or player has offered to give back the money made in that time.) 

And this is why park- and era-adjusted stats are so useful--we can tell from McGwire's 163 OPS+ that even in an era when everyone and their brother was hitting 25 HRs per season, he was still way way way above and beyond most other players.  (I think he's a fringe HOFer, though; just 64 WAR, probably not on an HOF track when he started using.)

The idea of retroactive morality is ridiculous, 

I would also like to burn that into Chass's lawn.

especially given that the folks in the sport had a strong idea by the mid-'90s that there was a growing problem and nobody did anything about it. Here's Jose Canseco being asked about his steroid use on national television before the 1988 playoffs, right after Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal. And here's a Bob Nightengale story from 1995 in which then-interim commissioner Bud Selig was asked about the problem, and made mention of a "private meeting" the year before. Yet serious testing and penalties really weren't in place until 2006.

McGwire was a star during that time, with 583 homers, including his record-setting 70 homers in 1998, so I voted for him. That was a minority opinion, for sure: 23.5 percent of the 545 voters cast ballots for him, far short of the 75 percent needed for induction, but more than the 5 percent required to remain on the ballot. The McGwire test case continued, however, because his candidacy carried over to the next ballot, and so did that of Rafael Palmeiro and others, until they became stacked up like planes on a runway, their Hall of Fame situation stuck in a weird sort of purgatory.

This is how the rule that limits writers to 10 players became a serious problem. Roger Clemens became eligible, and Barry Bonds. Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza also hit the ballot, and while there is no indisputable evidence of steroid use by those two as there is for Palmeiro, who was suspended in 2005 after a positive test, a high number of voters apparently withheld votes for them because of suspicion of PED use. The career numbers for Bagwell and Piazza are overwhelmingly worthy for Hall of Fame election, but Bagwell has never finished higher than 59.6 percent in his four years on the ballot; Piazza, the all-time leader in homers for catchers, got only 57.8 percent of the vote in his first year.

If McGwire, Palmeiro and Sosa never make it, that's fine with me.  Bonds I will be more upset about, although it'll be annoying.  But fucking fuck, if Bagwell and Piazza never make it, I'm going to go to Cooperstown just to take a piss on that building.  Christ.  Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).

So the list of serious candidates grew well beyond 10 spots. Last year I counted 17 players I thought were Hall of Fame-worthy, from Greg Maddux to Tom Glavine to Craig Biggio. But because of the Rule of 10, I had to leave off seven players who I believe are of Hall of Fame caliber. That included Mussina, Schilling and Raines. For the first time since McGwire became eligible, I didn't cast a vote for him.

The way I picked among the 17 was to rank them in order among the first nine, from the best player on down, regardless of the PED question. I also included Jack Morris, who was in his last year of eligibility; I wanted to give Morris a fair last shot with my ballot, knowing that Mussina, Raines, Schilling and Jeff Kent probably would get enough votes to stay on the ballot for this winter.


Morris got his fair shot during his mediocre career, and during the previous 14 years.  But whatever.  This is all mostly reasonable.

But really, that didn't seem right, because there's nothing in the voting rules that suggest I should weigh the candidates against each other, or must consider the landscape of the ballot. There is no guidance for picking 10 players from a 17-man field of worthy candidates. There is only this:

"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."


That's actually more complex than I thought it was.  That's a lot of criteria.  You could elect Jeter based on any one of them!  Especially integrity, or something!

The practical reality was that I wasn't deciding on whether to vote for Mussina based on career performance. My vote was predicated entirely on his standing among an extraordinary volume of candidates, from Maddux to Glavine to Bonds to Piazza to Frank Thomas. (Let's again dismiss the notion that the "character" was ever used by writers as a serious criterion for election before McGwire's name appeared on the 2007 ballot. We all know the stories about some of the racists, alleged cheats, drunkards and PED users who already are in the Hall of Fame.)

If that commenter from last week who made the slavery argument wants to come back and discuss that analogy further, I encourage him/her to do so.

And while I think Schilling and Mussina are Hall of Fame-worthy, my ballot hurt them. My ballot counted against their percentage. Five hundred seventy-one voters cast ballots last year, and my ballot was among the 450 that didn't have Mussina included, which lowered his percentage.

That makes no sense. 

HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE LIKE JACK MORRIS AND HAD THROWN A SHUTOUT IN GAME 7 OF THE WORLD SERIES.  -stupid baseball writers

Christ.  Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).

The Rule of 10 seemed to factor heavily in the voting last year, dragging down the vote percentages for everyone from Morris to Clemens to Alan Trammell, whose numbers plummeted from 33.6 percent of the vote to just 20.6 percent. Clearly Trammell wasn't being judged based on his career; he lost votes last winter because of the choices made under the Rule of 10. 

Poor Trammell.  I'm sure White Sox fan Chris W feels the same way.

Maddux was a slam-dunk candidate after posting 355 career wins and four Cy Young Awards, 

BUT DID YOU BUY A TICKET TO WATCH HIM PLAY???????????  -stupid baseball writers

Christ.  Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).

but he was left off 16 ballots entirely. I don't know who all of those 16 were, but a couple of writers mentioned to me privately that in dealing with the confines of the ballot limit, they thought about not voting for Maddux and Glavine, knowing that they'd probably get in anyway. It would be a shame to think that Maddux lost any votes because of the Rule of 10 problem.

I'm sure he did, as well as the "we can't vote anyone in unanimously because DURRRR" problem.

Christ.  Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).

During the summer, the Hall of Fame adjusted some of its rules. Voters are now required to register to receive a ballot, writers can lose the right to vote, 

DAN LE BATARD DISGRACED THE HOLY AND SACRED RITUAL OF THE PREVIOUSLY TOTALLY PERFECT VOTING PROCESS.  WE MUST MAKE SURE THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.  ALSO, JIM RICE IS A HALL OF FAMER AND LOU WHITTAKER ISN'T.

and players could remain on the ballot for a shorter period of time.

Surprisingly, however, the Rule of 10 was not altered. The same impossible math remains: I'm counting 15 worthy candidates right now for those 10 spots. Other writers are telling me they see anywhere from 12 to 20 worthy candidates, which means that in their eyes, they'll be leaving players they feel are Hall of Fame-worthy off their ballots. It means that as great as Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were -- both should be unanimous, in light of their accomplishments -- they might lose votes as writers struggle with the question of how to deal with the ballot guideline that seems completely arbitrary. (Why not a ballot limit of 11? Why not 12? Why not eight? Why not six? Is it 10 only because it's a round number?) 

Since this was written a week ago, they have bumped it to 12.  Obviously the problem is now fixed, just like how the NFL fixed the totally idiotic fact that there are still ties by really really really mildly tweaking the regular season OT rules a couple years ago.  WE'VE GOT A GOLDEN GOOSE HERE, BOYS.  LET'S NOT MAKE A SENSIBLE RULE CHANGE AND RISK KILLING IT WHILE IT'S LAYING THESE GOLDEN EGGS.

Christ.  NFL owners are the worst people on earth (besides baseball writers and NFL-only fanboys).

Maybe I should've figured it out last year, but this puzzle cannot be solved. There's no way to judge each candidate strictly on his merits given the current ballot limitations, no fair way to vote.

I can't stand the protest ballots we've seen in the past, when someone signs a blank ballot that counts as a vote against all candidates. That's unfair. 

Someone, please fire this asshole and take away his ballot (and possibly his children, if he has any).

I've hated to hear the stories of voters who haven't voted for a player because they didn't like them personally. 

Baseball writers would never be so petty!  Don't be ridiculous!

The voting shouldn't be about the writer; it should be only about the players and whether they're worthy of induction.

You lost me there.  Please revisit that sentence, and figure out where backne fits in.

And I can't stand the idea of casting a ballot that works against players that I think should be inducted, such as Mussina, Schilling or others. So as much as it has been an honor in the past to participate in the voting, I'll abstain, and hope that in the future the rules change.

Christ.  You know the rest.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

IT'S HAPPENING, PEOPLE! IT'S HAPPENING!!!!!!


BONDS DREAMS ON AS SUPPORT SLIPS SLIDING AWAY
By Murray Chass


YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY 

It's the most wonderful time of the year for bad sportswriting!  Hall of Fame voting season!  

P.S.--I got this from Murray Chass's blog, because Murray Chass is a blogger who writes a blog.

(Before we begin, Simmons was back to his old tricks last weekend, going 5-11, yes that's right, 5-11, putting him at 59-61 on the season.  Dogs went 8-8, they are now 92-96.  Year of the Dog, Simmons is a dicktoaster, etc.)

Hear ye! hear ye! hear ye! 

I am listening!  Also, not sure if that's an olde tyme Englyshe thing there, but you should capitalize the first world of every sentence!

Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, 

Correct.

and he shall be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Maybe, maybe not.

Who makes such a proclamation? 

As to the first part of your sentence, everyone who follows baseball and isn't a wrinkled old puckering asshole.  As to the second part, probably Bonds himself.

Why none other than Bonds himself.

True, he is arrogant.  Fun fact: he is the only arrogant pro athlete who has ever lived, and he should be pilloried for it in the town square.  How dare he request enshrinement after the career he had?  Chass favorite Jim Rice, of course, was guilty of the same thing, but Rice is different, because he's not a CHEATING CHEATER and also he was NOT THAT GOOD AT BASEBALL.

In a typically arrogant and self-serving interview with an MLB.com reporter who has long been a Bonds sycophant, Bonds said:

“I love Major League Baseball. I always have and I loved playing the game. I don’t have any doubts that I’ll get there in time. I’m bothered about it, but I don’t sit here going, ‘I’m not going to make it.’ I don’t see how it stays the way it’s going. In my mind, in my head, I’m a lot more positive about it than I am negative. I think eventually they’ll do the right thing.”

Wow, that's not even that arrogant.  That's more like "I like the idea of being in the HOF, so I picture myself being there, and I think voters will eventually elect me."  Old age has perhaps mellowed Barry's sociopathic ways.

And he said:

“I deserve to be there. Clemens deserves to be there. The guys that are supposed to be there are supposed to be there. Period. I don’t even know how to say it. We are Hall of Famers. Why are we having these conversations about it? Why are we talking about a baseball era that has come and gone?

OK, that's a lot more arrogant.  Barry needs some PR help.  Still, he's conservatively one of the twenty best hitters ever (if you take his career from start to 1999, when he allegedly started juicing--that's a mere 445 HR, 460 SB, a 163 OPS+, and 103 WAR--and then discount the numbers he put up from 2000 to 2007 against what you'd expect a non-user with his history to do during that period of his career).  So let's go ahead and put him in the Hall.  I probably hate Clemens even more than I hate Bonds, but he's conservatively one of the 20 best pitchers ever, so fuck it, let's put him in too.  Doesn't seem too complicated to me.

“Era, era, era. Do the best players in the game deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Everything that everyone has accomplished in baseball is in that book. Correct? So if that’s correct, then we need to be in there. End of story.”

Well, that's less arrogant than brutally realistic.  I can get with that.  Not a bad look on Barry.  Maybe he hired that PR person I was just talking about in between quotes.

Bonds referred to the baseball record book, not the excellent 2006 book “Game of Shadows” that tells you all you need to know about Bonds and performance-enhancing drugs.

Pictured: Murray Chass



But Bonds indeed is in the record book – for having hit the most home runs in a single season (73) and for having hit the most home runs in a career (762). He is there, on page 19 of The Elias Book of Baseball Records, because Major League Baseball has not amended his achievements.

Because doing so would be insultingly stupid to any baseball fan or player with a brain.  You know the reasons why.  I don't need to list them.  If I were to pick my favorite, it would probably be "And what do we do with guys who used amphetamines in the 70s and beyond?  Or the guys who used coke in the 80s and beyond?  What do we do with guys who aren't so easily proven to have used steroids?  What, Murray?  WHAT WHAT WHAT NOW GO LIVE IN THE MOUNTAINS SOMEWHERE AND DON'T BOTHER PEOPLE ANYMORE."

Seymour Siwoff, decades-long head of Elias Sports Bureau, explained why Bonds is there.

"God dammit, is that you again, Chass?  Stop calling me.    No, I know it's not Bud Selig.  I know it's you.  Stop."

“He wasn’t accused of anything,” Siwoff said in a telephone interview Saturday, then referring specifically to the 73 home runs Bonds hit in 2001 added, “When he did it, he wasn’t guilty of anything we knew of so he was put in. It was the record. I couldn’t dispute it.”

In retrospect, Siwoff said, “We know it’s a fraud. He never hit more than 49 home runs and he suddenly hits 73.”

As if the 73 is the only argument he has for enshrinement.

As for Bonds’ linking the record book and the Hall of Fame, Siwoff said, “The book has no bearing on the Hall of Fame.”

That's a good point (from a guy who doesn't seem to like Bonds), one that Chass immediately drops, because Chass is a shitty writer and a shittier logician.

Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame because in the two years he has been on the ballot, the voters – members of the Baseball Writers Association – 

A group as known for its intellectual prowess as professional athletes themselves--

have rejected his achievements, believing they were chemically aided.

Voting individually but collectively coming to the same conclusion, they have done that because they believe Bonds achieved his record numbers with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

They have also come to many other conclusions, like the idea that Jim Rice was a HOFer and Alan Trammell was not.  So.  Yeah.

[bunch of garbage about how Bonds and Sosa were totally using steroids skipped]

Like Bonds, Sosa eluded detection, but is any more circumstantial evidence needed? Convicts have been executed on less.

Ah, yes, executions: those are definitely something to hang your hat on in terms of "the authorities always get it right."

In an interview a couple of years before the recent one, the same reporter, Barry Bloom, quoted Bonds as saying about the Hall of Fame:

“You have to vote on baseball the way baseball needs to be voted on. If you vote on your assumptions or what you believe or what you think might have been going on there, that’s your problem. You’re at fault. It has nothing to do with what your opinion is. Period.

“If that’s the case, you better go way, way back and start thinking about your opinions. If that’s how you feel life should be run, I would say then you run your Hall of Fame the way you want to run your Hall of Fame. That’s what I think. That’s my personal opinion. If you want to do the Hall of Fame the way the Hall of Fame is supposed to be done, then you make the right decision on that. If you don’t, that’s on you. To stamp something on your assumptions, it doesn’t work for me.”

This article is like 25% quotes from Bonds, showing that he's kind of a jerk, and maybe in denial about the fact that everyone knows he used steroids.  OK, cool story.  It's only been told about 5,000 times in the last ten years.  I know you're a blogger, Chass, but let's start making some point or drawing some conclusions or something.

Bonds, I believe, uttered that mouthful before the voters judged him for the first time. 

You "believe?"  Does the interview have a fucking date on it or doesn't it?  Here, I'll Google.

/Larry B spends ten seconds copying and pasting a couple of those sentences into Google

August 6, 2012, which was before his first appearance on the ballot.  Do some fucking research for your blog, you dumb fucking hack. 

His words did not sway them. With 75 percent of the vote needed for election, Bonds received 36.2 percent, less than half. In his second appearance on the ballot last year, he fared even worse, dropping to 34.7 percent.

All of this is true.  Also true: last year's ballot was astonishingly stacked, and some of the socketfuckers in the BBWA have among their many unwritten HOF ballot rules "Don't vote for more than three guys even though you can vote for up to ten," so he probably lost some votes that way.  I'd be surprised if many voters who voted for or against him solely on his own merits/faults changed their mind between the 2013 and 2014 ballots.

The history of Hall of Fame voting shows that when players of star status appear for the first time, others on the ballot suffer. There’s no sensible logic to that because with 10 spots on the ballot, voters can vote for the super first-timers and still vote for others.

And yet they don't.  Look at this dolt who just revealed his ballot: he didn't vote for Randy Johnson.  Or John Smoltz.  Or Tim Raines.  Or Curt Schilling.  BBWA voters are the stupidest fucking people on earth.  They're stupider than NFL fanboys and fangirls.  Yes, I said it.

However, the ballot presence of Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine did not affect Bonds. If any of the writers wanted to ignore the PED allegations and put an X next to his name, they would have done it.

Foolproof logic.  WE KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE.  The HOF voting process is broken, and should be fixed, starting with sending Murray Chass on a one way trip to Jupiter.

It is always possible that something could happen that would catapult Bonds into the Hall of Fame, but he shouldn’t hold his breath. The voters generally have demonstrated their unwillingness to elect tainted players, and a huge bloc of them would have to change their stance.

Yeah, definitely no tainted players of any kind in the HOF.  None at all.  If you aren't pure as driven snow, you're out.  Just ask Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, etc.

The Hall’s board of directors has made Bonds’ task more difficult with a change in rules of eligibility that also applies to other candidates. Players will no longer be eligible for 15 years; the board has cut that period to 10 years.

That change leaves Bonds with 8 years of eligibility instead of 13, a significantly shorter period in which lightning could strike on Bonds’ behalf.

Give Murray this: he's got subtraction down pat.

The Hall’s board also knows that players already in the Hall object to being joined by players whose credentials includes PEDs. 

Let's send Goose Gossage on that one way trip to Jupiter, too, while we're at it.  Here's what I'd say: ask the guys in the HOF who played with and against Bonds if they want him in there.  Ask Tony Gwynn, Greg Maddux, etc.  See what they have to say.  I'm pretty confident I know how it would turn out.

Some members have gone so far as to say they would boycott induction ceremonies if steroids users are elected.

OH MY!!!!!!  NOT A BOYCOTT OF A CEREMONY!  ANYTHING BUT THAT!  WHAT WILL THE HOTELIERS OF COOPERSTOWN DO!  THINK OF HOW INSULTING TO SAINT DEREK THAT WOULD BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This far into the candidacy of PED players the Hall of Famers need have no fear of bad guys being elected. The decline in Bonds’ percentage of votes fits the pattern of voting for the most seriously challenged PED candidates. Their percentages have continued to drop, moving farther away from the 75 percent needed.

Yes, McGwire and Sosa and Palmeiro (off the ballot already) haven't fared well.  But here's the thing: add up the career WAR of those three guys--you get 172.0.  Bonds, on his own, had 162.4.  So there you go.

[Summary of the decline experienced by Clemens, McGwire, Sosa and Palmeiro skipped, because this is what we came for coming up next.  This is the good stuff.  This is the meat.]

Three other players on the ballot have resumes that are foggier than these five. 

Do tell--bring on the backne stories!

Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio have never been linked to steroids by anything other than news media mention, 

And we know how reliable those baseball writers are.  Why, take fringe one day-HOFer Todd Helton, a guy whose career arc couldn't scream much more emphatically "I DIDN'T DO STEROIDS."  Some asshole with a microphone decided to throw him under a bus once.  As a Rockies fan, I won't be furious if he never gets into the Hall (LOL COORZ FEELD), but I will go on a puppy punting spree if any writer dares to say "He was once linked to steroids by the baseball media..."

but in my view more time is needed to learn more about their past practices.

Like fucking what?  What the hell can we learn in the next however many years?  Should we wait for other players to out them?  Should we wait for Doc Brown and Marty McFly to show up and take you back to 1994, so you can see with your own eyes what those guys did in the locker room?

I voted for Bagwell on his first appearance on the ballot, when he received 41.7 percent of the votes. After several people told me that he had been heavily involved in steroids, 

Oh my God.  Kill yourselves, all of you anonymous Murray Chass sources/assholes.

I left him off my ballot the second year. He received 56 percent of the votes that year and climbed to 59.6 percent the next year. But last year he slipped to 54.3 percent, perhaps a victim of the newcomers on the ballot.

BUT BONDS WASN'T.  WE KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE FOR SURE FOR DEFINITELY.

Biggio will almost certainly be elected this time. He was only two votes short of election in the last election and should clear the threshold, even though a reporter friend told me that a dozen or more players told him that Biggio used steroids. 

Another strong killself candidate right there.

When I wrote that, Biggio’s fans were outraged.

Why, it's almost like a guy was having his character assassinated for no reason and people got mad about that!

If it’s not clear by now, I don’t vote for steroids-tainted players. 

Classic blogger self-righteousness.  

If steroids were legal, I’d have no problem with players using them. But they are illegal, and players who use them cheat. I can’t vote for players who cheat at the expense of their fellow players who don’t cheat.

Or for players who were once linked to them by quadruple hearsay, apparently.  Seriously, you "need more time" to figure out if the douchecanoe who told you that about Biggio was right or not?  What's the presumption here?  

/Larry B's head explodes

That brings me to Piazza. Piazza has been on the ballot for two years and avoided the falloff problem in his second year. 

Wait for it

He gained 57.8 percent, then 62.2 percent, an indication that he could be headed for election. 

Wait for it

But I have written about my belief that he was one of the steroids gang.

WAIT FOR IIIIIIIITTTTT

His many fans have excoriated me for my view, but they are blind to what I believe is strong evidence of his use. When he played for the New York Mets, he didn’t hide his acne-covered back. 

/game show sirens and buzzers and bells
/confetti falls from ceiling
/crowd cheers wildly

Steroids experts say that Piazza’s condition is one of the signs of steroids use.

I am happy to have the relative anonymity of the internet to tell everyone reading this two things that are absolutely true: 1) I have never used steroids, and 2) I have a medium amount of acne on my back.  Draw what conclusions you will.  You're welcome for the visual, by the way.

When I first wrote about Piazza’s possible use several years ago, his fans ridiculed me. They completely ignored a critical aspect of what I wrote. Piazza’s back cleared up completely when baseball began testing for steroids and remained clear to his retirement. It was not a stretch to conclude that Piazza had stopped using steroids to avoid being caught by a urine test.

OK, so, "not a stretch" that your hunch that was based on the flimsiest of anecdotal (and somewhat voyeuristic) evidence was not incorrect is the standard.  You know what?  I heard from a friend's grandpa whose uncle once worked the scoreboard at Shibe Park that Jimmie Foxx used to use pure opium to give himself superpowers.  REMOVE THAT MAN FROM THE HALL, BBWA.  HAVE YOU NO SHAME?????

Also, this next part is fun because it's the end of the article.  This is it.  Just a non-conclusory sentence, a chart, and blogger Murray Chass is done.  Time to go yell at the kids who are playing near his lawn, and then settle down with a nice warm glass of tomato juice.

Percentage of votes in Hall of Fame elections for players who have been linked to steroids use, some more specifically than others:

Chart (2014-11-30)

Murray Chass is a bad person who should be fired from his job as a blogger.  That is all.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Damn, no terrible baseball HOF articles are out yet


Come on, sportswriters of America!  They just released the ballot, so the time to get your moralizing and self-important posturing in is NOW!  NOW NOW NOW!  Talk about how Mike Piazza supposedly had back acne, or how Jeff Bagwell "was just a little too strong for it to have been only weightlifting, if you get my drift," or how Barry Bonds stabbed baseball to death with a screwdriver and danced on its grave.  Alas, I looked for a while and came up with nothing.  Give it a couple of weeks I guess.  Instead, who's up for some Bill?  His picks column from last week is all I've got, because I refuse to watch his dipshittery unfold on TV, and he's not writing anything else right now because he's too busy playing with the Trade Machine ZOMG TRADE MACHINE NERDGASM NERDBONER.

Gambling update: Gotta hand it to him; he's 18-11 since I last updated.  That puts him at 54-50 on the season, which is basically the break even point.  Good for him.  Meanwhile, Year of the Dog?  How could it NOT be Year of the Dog when they went 15-14 these past two weeks, leaving them at 84-88 on the season.  It's almost too easy!  THANKS FOR THE FREE MONEY, VEGAS!

Anyways, here are some LOWlights (lol) from his week 12 picks.  Someone should punch this man in the throat, yes, but let's not ignore His Readers (tm).  Most of them need a good throat-punchin' too.

Q: I have a six year old son. He is basically like a boney ball of energy that just wants to wrestle, run, jump, and climb everywhere and all the time. As a dad, it’s fun to horse around and let him win like a WWE style match. He loves it. But sometimes he gets a bit out of control and I need to pull him off a bookshelf or off my back. For everyone’s safety. He always has the same stunned reaction, like “How did you do that? You must be the strongest man in the world!” Watching the Pats game and Gronk’s ridiculous man handling of the Colts it reminded me of well, me as a dad. Gronk looks like he is just playing with a bunch of little kids. Its all fun and games, until he gets pissed and decides to toss defenders around like a dad that just took much crap. You’ve got a boy, ever go ‘Gronk ‘on him?
—Jim, Wharton, NJ


Let's run down the content of this email.

1) Writer letting other people know that, yes, he has conceived a child and is now raising that child, a feat previously never accomplished in recorded human history, so don't you just want to read about it?
2) Writer telling very unremarkable stories about said child
3) Chest-thumping about awesome parenting abilities, including the ability to monitor safety of said child
4) Talking about the GREATRIOTS to make sure Bill publishes your email
5) Answering your own question for Bill, to further make sure Bill publishes your email

Jim from Wharton, NJ, is a loser.

BS: We have the same son —

No you don't, fuckhead.  Most 6 year olds are alike.  YOU'RE NOT THE CENTER OF THE FUCKING UNIVERSE.

There’s nothing funnier than fake-wrestling a completely fearless little boy who weighs three times less than you. 

There are a lot of things funnier than that.  Norm MacDonald is funnier than that.  The Three Stooges are funnier than that.  It's a pretty long list.

They’re like a cross between a pinball and the amped-up dog in There’s Something About Mary. 

Timely!  Nothing brings the readers in like a reference to an obscure part of a somewhat good Ben Stiller movie from 15 years ago.

So as the dad, your job is to make sure neither of you get injured.

You don't say.  I was guessing the top priority would be to go totally ape shit in order to defeat your child at wrestling, but I guess that's why I don't have one!

Here’s how much I love Rob Gronkowski: I haven’t written a full-fledged Gronk column because I can’t risk putting the Simmons Stink on him, seeing him suffer another dumb injury because yet another safety cowardly took out his legs when Gronk wasn’t looking, 

All hail Bernard Pollard, my favorite football player of all time!

watching in horror as another Lombardi vanishes into a puff of smoke, 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA fuck you.  Tell me all about the Lombardis your franchise has lost to injuries, Bill.  Tell me all about it.  It's never happened to any other good team; only to yours.  Sure, they choked away what could have been the greatest season ever, while they were fully healthy and their QB was in his prime.  But if only GRONK had been healthy, they surely would have won nine straight titles by now.  DIE.

then sentencing myself to a lifetime of head shakes from my father and caustic emails from bitter Patriots fans. No way. There will be no Gronk column.

I hope the Pats are 100% healthy come January, and Denver or Indy or whoever goes into Gillette and stomps the fuck out of them.  God, it warms my soul just to think about it.

Q: The QB is the NFL’s most important position. Because of that, a QB is going to win another MVP in 2014. 

Watch out, everyone.  Dr. Knowledge is in the house and he's writing HOT TAEK prescriptions.

Shouldn’t the NFL create a different award to recognize the non-QB who offers the most value to his team? 

AHHHHH RUN RUN RUN IT'S GREGGGGGGGGGG WRITING IN UNDER A PSEUDONYM THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE RUNNNNNNNNNN

If this award was reality it would be a five-player race right now between Gronk, Watt, Antonio Brown, DeMarco Murray and maybe Justin Houston (if he breaks the sack record). 

Hmmm.  "Gronk" and "Watt" used as nicknames because they've already been mentioned in the previous question... either Bill is editing his readers' questions unnecessarily, or he writes these questions himself.  I know which one I hope is true.

Why not a non-QB MVP? It’s a better idea than sending teams to London, that’s for sure.
—Patrick, Rhode Island

Sending teams to London is dumb.  This award idea is also dumb.  Congrats.

BS: And you didn’t even mention this wrinkle — in a 30-year span from 1956 (when the award was created) through 1986, only 17 QBs won the MVP.

MY GOD.  IT'S ALMOST LIKE QUARTERBACK HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE GAME'S MOST IMPORTANT POSITION, AND RECENT RULE CHANGES HAVE BEEN DESIGNED TO CREATE MORE SCORING, WHICH ENHANCES THEIR VALUE.  FUCK ME SIDEWAYS.  MY DICK JUST FELL OFF.  THIS IS TRULY ASTONISHING.

Q: After watching Gronk’s 

Gronk.  Gronk Gronk Gronk.  Gronk?  Gronk.  Bill is a seven year old who just picked his favorite player, and thinks the rest of the world finds this just as exciting as he does.

extracurricular pancake block followed by his ridiculous touchdown in Sunday’s game, we came up with a new word. 

Why are you writing this email in tandem?  I don't care if you're best friends, lovers, or the only two owners of a newly-formed corporation.  Write your fucking sports mailbag emails solo.

LeBronk: A player who plays the game with such a unique level of swagger that you continue to watch lopsided games just to see if they do something outrageous. At any given time, there are only a few LeBronks out there. Who’s on the LeBronk Mount Rushmore right now? We’ve got LeBron, Gronk, The Brow, and J.J. Watt.
—Sam and Noam, Brooklyn

You're both douchenozzles and you should be punched in the throats.

BS: You nailed the current LeBronk Mount Rushmore

There is no LeBronk Mount Rushmore (why not just call it LeBronkMore????!?!?!?!?!).  There are only athletes who play sports, and teams that employ those athletes.  That's all this is.  If you have to make things more complicated than that, you don't actually like sports.  You're just in it for the water cooler talk.  Go fuck yourself.

Q: If Rob Gronkowski and JJ Watt fought each other in the Thunderdome and it was scored like a football game, what would the betting line be? 

HOLY FUCKING SHIT WHO CARES?  

My friends and I thought that the public would probably push the line to Watt -6.5, 

WHO SAYS NO?

so I’d take Gronk with those odds. 

What odds?  How the fuck do you score a physical fight like a football game?  Why is anyone entertained by this?  Who cares?  Just watch football and enjoy it for what it is, it's not this complicated.

Sure Watt has the size advantage, but I think Gronk’s hands would help him grab the weapon needed to give him the upper hand. What’s the line and how would you bet?
—Alex MG, NYC


BS: Yes! Yes! Yes! This is a GREAT mailbag question.

HOW IS THIS FUN FOR YOU?

RAIDERS (+7.5) over Chiefs

(The Raiders had already won at this point)

Why I picked against the Chiefs (via Instagram): “Trap Game + 8 Straight KC Covers + We’re Overdue for An Andy Reid Game.” I think that makes me Nostrasimmdus! Never change, Andy Reid. Never change.

Yeah, it was totally Andy Reid going 2 for 14 on 3rd down and letting the Raiders rack up 180 rushing yards.  All you, Andy.  You're a punchline for dumb fans.  Sorry about that.  Those of us with brains acknowledge that you've won almost 60% of the games you've ever coached.

Q: Heading into Week 12 games: did you know that, if there were a fantasy football player named “All The Chiefs Receivers,” ATCR would rank #26 on the WR list averaging 9.2 fantasy points/game.
—Dave, Rogersville, MO

This is actually a non-idiotic email.  That is an interesting stat.  What will Bill do with it?

BS: And … there’s your problem with the Chiefs. You can’t be one-dimensional for four straight playoff rounds. It’s never worked. 

Really?  Never?  Never?  Not in 1999, when the Greatest Show on Turf Rams ran for 111 yards TOTAL in their three playoff games?  Total, not average.  OK, cool.  Oh, I forgot--the GREATRIOTS beat them in the Super Bowl two seasons later, totally invalidating everything Kurt Warner and that iteration of the Rams accomplished.  My bad.

(Those K.C. receivers put up 9.5 points last night, by the way.) Here’s the strange thing: For all their faults, the Chiefs were (and are) the scariest AFC matchup for the Patriots.

And there's what Bill did with that interesting stat--turned it into a chance to be WEEI caller WILLY FROM WORCESTER and tell the host that the PATS DO NAWT FEA-AH MANNING BECAUSE HE IS A FACKIN' GASH, BUT THE CHIEFS, NOW THAT IS A TOUGHAH MATCHUP.  VAH-REE TOUGH MATCHUP.  

Q: Make a pick for the following prop bet: What Philadelphia team will have more wins this year, Sixers (-200) or Eagles (+170)?
—Steve D, Philadelphia

Hey assholes: not everything has to be expressed as a made up prop bet.

BS: I’d jump on that Eagles +170 bet. 

I'd play the role of the house and take that bet.  Last year's Sixers were certainly better than this year's, with Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes making them slightly un-terrible, but last year's team won 19 games.  That's a big cushion.  Only twice ever has a team won single digit games (or been on pace to win single digit games if the season were 82 games). 

I can’t see any scenario in which the 2014-15 Sixers reach 10 victories — 

None.  No scenarios.  Zero of them.  The East is a joke, Philly's division is ESPECIALLY a joke, but yeah.  There are literally ZERO WAYS they stumble to 10 wins.  Cool.

that’s a gruesome disgrace of a roster. Even though their front office played the bottoming-out thing correctly on paper, the fact remains, they’re disgracing the sport and defecating on their season-ticket holders.

This guy has a lot of nerve.  He really has a lot of fucking nerve, doesn't he?  Big fucking balls on this Simmons character.  I never, ever, EVER link directly to his stuff, but I'm going to do it here, because the out-of-both-sides-of-mouth talking display he's putting on here is truly something to behold.  Fuck Bill Simmons, fuck his readers (real or invented by him for mailbag purposes), fuck Thanksgiving, and fuck everything.  Have a nice holiday, everyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hey look! Here's something that doesn't suck!

As a commenter on my last post pointed out, apparently Zach Lowe has always been the kind of dope who is interested in teams' logos and court designs, which is unfortunate.  However, notwithstanding that, apparently he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders.  This is most definitely a good read.  I mean, if you're not a mouth-breathing moron, you know this country's level of discourse about sports, particularly individual players' legacies, has basically been reduced to bunch of turds screaming at each other on TV, full of sound and fury and lacking any substance.  (Thanks, Mark Shapiro!)  But it feels good to see a very sensible article like this published on ESPN.


A sample, in case you're too lazy to click that link:

Narratives are fun, and interesting. They can get at larger truths, and they reflect the way that we, as fans and media, think and talk about basketball. There is value in just analyzing that — in digging into media discussions and fan behavior. The zoomed-out examination of basketball, and of positions, at FreeDarko changed the way a lot of us think about the game — for the better. Shining a light on some of the team-level “narratives” — the notion that a jump-shooting team can’t win it all, for instance — can reveal deeper truths about the game, even if anyone paying token attention already knew the basic conclusion.

Some narratives are also, frankly, dumb. The word “narrative” can act as a synonym for “line of thought that exists somewhere in the world, and is demonstrably false.” We use an awful lot of brain space addressing and rebutting “narratives” that probably don’t merit all that much attention, save for the fact that they bring clicks. The “LeBron isn’t clutch” narrative after the 2011 Finals was ridiculous, given his past buzzer-beaters, overtime baskets, insane streaks of consecutive points, and other playoff heroics. It was accurate to say that LeBron quaked under the pressure of his first Finals appearance with villainous Miami, but that’s very different — and less catchy — than just branding him a crunch-time failure.

The notion that Dirk Nowitzki was “soft” gained some traction after the 2006 Finals and the Mavericks’ subsequent flameouts, and it died only after Nowitzki triumphed in those 2011 Finals against the Heat. Nowitzki was never soft. He wasn’t even a much different player in 2011 than the one he had been in 2006 and 2007, when Golden State’s “We Believe” team pulled off an all-time upset over Dallas. He was more experienced, smarter, better at posting up the Stephen Jackson types who gave him fits in prior seasons.

But he hadn’t discovered some inner fortitude that allowed him to succeed in 2011 where he had failed before. Nowitzki before snuffing the Heat was, by almost any measure, one of the greatest postseason performers and clutch shooters in league history. He hit monster shots in monster moments every season, including in the last minutes of close games in those 2006 Finals, when Udonis Haslem frustrated him into some unusually bad shooting nights. Even then, Nowitzki was taking and making clutch baskets. They are on record. They exist. You can watch a lot of them online, for free.

Even better, the intro to the same piece:

Things changed at the end of Game 5 of last season’s Clippers-Thunder playoff series. Chris Paul made three critical mistakes in the final 45 seconds of an improbable Thunder rally, and Oklahoma City wrapped the series in the next game. The Clippers were vanquished again.

You began hearing it, and reading it, all over the place: Nine seasons in, Chris Paul, the alleged Point God, had yet to appear in the conference finals. It has been no different in this corner of the Internet. Andrew Sharp wrote incisively about how Paul’s future playoff fate, and all the variables that will go into it, would determine the way we remember and talk about Paul. As I stood backstage during the taping of the first Grantland Basketball Hour, attempting not to crap my pants at the thought of appearing on national TV between Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose (and Jalen’s bat), I listened intently as Simmons asked Jeff Van Gundy about Paul’s conference finals shutout: “What does it mean?”

I kind of wanted to rush the stage.

I'll tell you what it means, Bill.  It means you're a dumbass.

More about Bill later this week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Simmons explains the science of NBA watchability (Part 2)


First, your Bill NFL gambling update.  He went 7-6 last week, a nice big healthy step up from the 4-11 mark he posted the previous week.  MNF is still in progress, but Bill took the Eagles and I'll give him that (currently 31-7 in the 2nd quarter).  Thus he has gone 7-6 again this week, meaning that if you had shadowed him for the last 3 weeks (since returning from his suspension) and put $10 on every game, you'd only be down about $60.  Meanwhile, Year of the Dog (tm)?  You bet your swollen nutsack it is.  Dogs went 7-6 last week, and assuming the Eagles hold on and cover, will go 3-10 this week.  That brings them to 69-74 on the season so far.  Year of the Dog.  WHO SAYS NO?

Anyways, when we last left Bill, he was explaining why he considers certain NBA teams fun to watch and others not fun to watch.  This kind of thought exercise is only carried out by people who don't actually like sports, and need to find a way to categorize and rank everything in order to have fun while watching the games which they're only watching while waiting for gossipy non-news things to happen.  (A compulsive need to constantly make up or predict gambling lines is a classic symptom also present in this kind of fuckhead.)  But just wait until you see the hotness of some of the hot takes he drops in this second half of his watchability rankings.  I'm not including the actual rankings/point scores he and Lowe assigned to the teams, because that's stuff only idiots would care about, but just know that the commentary goes in ascending order from "mediocre to watch" to "OMG SO FUN TO WATCH BECAUSE THINK ABOUT THE CELEBS WHO WILL BE SITTING COURTSIDE."  We start with the Rockets, who are a fun team to watch for a lot of reasons, one of which is that they employ one of the game's best shot blockers/defenders/rebounders.

Simmons: I don’t enjoy watching Dwight Howard play basketball. It’s that simple.


OK.  Well that's another way to approach it I suppose.  On one hand, Dwight Howard is an athletic freak who is good at basketball.  On the other hand, maybe you don't like to watch him play basketball, because he's an asshole manchild, or because you're still mad that the 2009 Magic knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs, or something.  Reasons.  That's what Bill has.  Reasons.

Lowe: I still love watching him play defense. He had some “Holy shit!” defensive moments in crunch time of that Portland series.

Yeah but!  When you think about it, Bill really makes a great point here.

Simmons: Great point. I will amend to “I’d rather sit through Season 1 of The Leftovers again 

That's actually shockingly timely for a Bill reference.

than watch Dwight Howard play offense.” 

Only guys who are good at offense are fun to watch!  Bill Russell is a God on Earth!  No one denies this!

But I could see them missing the playoffs for five reasons: 

You're right.  54 win team loses Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin, adds Trevor Ariza and Jason Terry.  Seems like a recipe for failure to me.  After all, the West is as nasty as ever this year.  Let's hear those reasons.

Dwight’s health (you never know), 

Stunningly worthless analysis.  It's not like he's Greg Oden.  He's started 70+ games in every season of his career other than the lockout-shortened one.  Even when he's 75%, like he supposedly was two years ago in LA, he's still a total badass.  But yeah, you never know.  His arms could fall off in his sleep at any point.

Post-Contract Ariza (in this case, we DO know), 

Ariza signed as a free agent with Houston back in 2009, after being a key cog on that 2009 Magic team that went to the Finals.  He went from "very good 6th man" to "OK starter," who was good for 15/6/4 with decent 3 point shooting and good defense, before the Rockets sent him to New Orleans in a trade for Courtney Lee.  WE KNOW EXACTLY WHAT WE'RE GETTING OUT OF ARIZA, AND THAT COULD COST THE ROCKETS A PLAYOFF SPOT.  What?

no proven bench guys whatsoever (aren’t they gonna miss Linsanity, or am I crazy?), 

You're crazy, and dumb, and a lot of other things.  You're certainly right that trusting 2nd year Isaiah Canaan, old as dirt Terry and a couple young Euros to anchor your bench is a little risky.  You're certainly wrong that they're going to miss Lin, who made too much and never gelled with Harden's ball-hogging style.

McHale’s coaching (sorry, no. 32, you know I love you), 

About as worthwhile as "Dwight's health (you never know)."

and Year 2 of the whole “Dwight and James are our leaders” thing (I mean … come on). 

YEAH, AM I RIGHT????!  COOOOOOOME ONNNNN!

Remember, you could finish 48-34 and miss the playoffs in the West. 

This is true, and it wouldn't be crazy if the Rockets missed.  But the same can be said for everyone other than the Clippers, Spurs and maybe the Warriors.  Saying "their best player might get hurt, and their bench isn't awesome, and other stuff" is not analysis.  It's just pooping onto a keyboard.

At gunpoint, I’d pick the Rockets or Blazers to fall out if I had to pick anyone from last year’s eight.

You wouldn't pick a Mavs team that was the 8 seed last year, is still old as dirt, and either treaded water in the offseason or got a little worse by losing Jose Calderon, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Sam Dalembert and adding Parsons, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton?  Cool.

Lowe: That’s bold. I get the concerns, especially with big-man depth, but it’s hard to see a team with a healthy Howard-Harden combination missing the playoffs. One of Jeff Adrien and Joey Dorsey will emerge as a useful bench big, Trevor Ariza will fit in, and Terrence Jones should take another leap. 

Enough of your common sense, Lowe!  We need more scalding hot takes!

Simmons: Can we at least agree that the Rockets could finish as a top-12 team that still misses the playoffs?

Define "could."

Lowe: I’d say this: They’re a playoff team that is one serious injury from being a lottery team. But you can say that for anyone outside the Thunder-Spurs-Clippers trio atop the West.

And there you go, with the Thunder removed due to injury since the writing of this article, and me adding the Warriors, who I hate, but who are pretty fucking good.

Simmons: For the record, I will always dislike the decision to let Chandler Parsons leave. 

And Asik!  Where will they get minutes from white guys this year????

That three-year offer sheet made him untradable? Fine. Year 1, you’re not dealing him, anyway. Year 2, it’s a fair number with salaries going haywire. And Year 3, the salary cap is going to be roughly $400 million per team. I’m not selling my Dork Elvis Fan Club membership or anything, but I thought he whiffed on that one. Well, unless he knows he’s getting Rondo. (And he might.)

IT ALL COMES BACK TO BEANTOWN.  IT ALWAYS DOES!  THE FATE OF EVERY TEAM IN THE LEAGUE IS INEXTRICABLY TIED TO THE C'S!  FACK YOU!

Moving on to the Timberwolves.

Lowe: This is our last certain lottery team, and they’re up this high because of you.

Simmons: Why, thank you. Good news, Minnesota fans … even though you haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, you’re our highest-ranked League Pass lottery team by far! Pour some skunked champagne over each other’s heads!

Is... is that a reference of some kind?  A terrible joke?  Why do I still read this guy's work?

Lowe: I ranked them 11 spots lower than you, so I’m here to be the buzzkill: This team has some exciting pieces, particularly the young dunkers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into exciting 48-minute NBA basketball games. Zach LaVine has looked overwhelmed in preseason, and Andrew Wiggins is facing stiff veteran competition for minutes — unless/until Flip Saunders The GM trades one of Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, or (least likely) Kevin Martin. 

Simmons: LaVine looking overwhelmed in the preseason was a bigger lock than me ranking the T-Wolves too high. Come on, you’re not a wee bit excited to watch the T-Wolves?

Bill is that person who comes up with a completely subjective and ridiculous set of criteria on which to rank something, and then when you disagree with him, he needs validation so badly that he wants to argue with you over something that basically comes down to "You don't have the same favorite color as me?  Aw, come on!!!!"  Also, without Kevin Love, this team is going to be dreadful this year.  They might as well get Wiggins as many minutes as they can, because his development is the only significant positive that team's going to generate this year.

Simmons: I’m excited to start developing a fully formed opinion of Wiggins. (Can he become this generation’s T-Mac? Is he a poor man’s T-Mac? Is he a bankrupt T-Mac?) 

It's entirely possible he's a totally independent entity from T-Mac, who will have his own strengths and weaknesses and not even be named "Tracy McGrady."

I’m excited for Rubio’s contract year. 

Yeah, in order to boost his offseason earnings, he might even step up his game and learn to play D-minus level defense.  (Not that he isn't fun to watch on the other end of the court, of course.)

I’m excited for Shabazz Muhammad and Anthony Bennett being in crazy-good shape. I’m excited for every Gorgui Dieng 20-10-5 game that makes me regret trashing Minnesota’s 2013 draft-day trade, but still. I’m excited for lots and lots and lots of dunks and alley-oops. I’m even excited for the whiff of post–Kevin Love Ewing Theory potential.

What an asshole.

Pelicans:

Simmons: Anthony Davis, Anthony Davis, and Anthony Davis. Oh, and Anthony Davis. Did I forget anything?

YEAH!  BILL WAS EXCITED ABOUT HIM FIRST, EVERYONE!  HE WAS EXCITED ABOUT DAVIS WAY BACK WHEN DAVIS WAS STILL AT KENTUCKY AND WAS NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AS A FRESHMAN, PLAYING FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPION!  THE REST OF YOU MUST LOOK TO BILL FOR GUIDANCE AS TO WHEN TO BE EXCITED ABOUT A PLAYER!  FACK YOU!

Raptors:

Simmons: Infinitely more fun on the Trade Machine than League Pass. Do you realize they have $28 million worth of Johnson/Fields/Hayes/Williams/Hansbrough expirings? My God. I need to take a long shower and regroup.

NERDGASM!  ZOMG!  The Trade Machine is certainly a useful tool, considering how complex the NBA's cap rules are.  It's also just a calculator with some faces next to the numbers.  You don't need to bring it up in every fucking column.  We're not talking about Orville and Wilbur at Kitty Hawk here.  Get the fuck over it.

Wizards:

Lowe: I do endorse John Wall fast breaks, Bradley Beal stretching his game, Nene’s passing and angry dunks, everything about Marcin Gortat, and Paul Pierce already getting four guys suspended and nearly smushing poor Tom Thibodeau in a Pierce–Joakim Noah sandwich. DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries were sneaky good signings, and Professor Miller, PhD, is still holding office hours down in the low post for all you suckas. Maybe this team should be higher?

Guys.  It's your fucking rankings.  You invented them.  It's not the periodic table of the elements.  For fucking fuck's sake, just rank the teams however you see fit.

Simmons: I think you’re right. 

Of course you do.

We did our rankings before we found out that America’s Team wants to thug it up and embrace the spirit of the Bad Boy Pistons. It’s a great idea. Maybe they can’t beat Cleveland in a talent show, but they can beat them up inside, use their depth to wear them down, and maybe rattle them with the whole hard fouls/trash-talking/eyeballing routine. 

Great idea in 1990.  Not such a great idea in 2014 given the 500 rules changes that have happened in the meantime, although I will admit I kind of like the team the Wizards have put together and wouldn't mind seeing them go deep in the postseason.

It just can’t be forgotten how many key Cavs have never been in a seven-game war. That’s their biggest issue in my opinion.

Well, their best player has been in like ten 7 game wars.  I'm pretty sure that will even out with the fact that none of Washington's most important players had been in the playoffs before last year, when they participated in zero 7 game wars.  Among Wizards who are likely to play at least 10 minutes per game, only Pierce, Gortat, Gooden and Miller (who somehow has played only one game 7 in his million year career) have played in one.  But good attempt at starting a totally worthless narrative there.

Lowe: I was just having this conversation with a front-office guy the other day. Sometimes you get so deep in the weeds, you forget about the obvious stuff: Cleveland’s second- and third-best players have never been to the playoffs.

Their best player is one of the best players ever, and he has two rings and three additional Finals appearances.  I think they'll probably be fine.

Knicks:

Simmons: I never expected them to score this highly, 

And they shouldn't, because holy shit are they unwatchable.  Don't worry though, they'll only be on TNT/ESPN like 35 times this year.

but man … MSG, Carmelo (our most divisive NBA star), Phil Jackson is-he-awake-or-napping shots, Earl Smith III, Jose Calderon’s offense (perpetually underrated), Jose Calderon’s ghastly defense (properly rated), Derek Fisher’s expensive suits, the goofy celeb shots, 

OMG LIKE I TOLD YOU IN THE INTRO!  CELEBS!  AND MSG!  ISN'T WATCHING A GAME BEING PLAYED THERE A MILLION TIMES MORE INTERESTING THAT WATCHING A GAME BEING PLAYED IN A NON-FAMOUS ARENA?  WHO SAY NO!

the Spike-Phil feud, the classic uniforms, the storied history (a history of six Finals appearances in 68 years, but still), 

So, the non-storied history.  Got it.

the first-class TV production, 

Holy shit dude, it's 2014.  Every single NBA team has first class TV production.  You may have heard, but there's a considerable amount of money flowing through this business.

Clyde’s outfits, 

Somehow sadder than "the Spike-Phil feud."

the MSG crowd during a big game, 

So much different on TV than a non-famous arena crowd!

and, of course, the comedy of Amar’e’s Expiring and Bargnani’s Expiring bouncing around and roping me into yet another Trade Machine session.

DIE.

Lowe: You nailed it. This team isn’t very good

And not only that, they play a slow pace (29th in the league last season; 30th so far this season) and get like 60% of their scoring from Melo isolating, starting to drive, and then shooting 15 foot pullup jumpers, or isolating, starting to drive, and getting fouled.  It's ridiculous.  I'd rather watch college basketball than the shitty offbrand NBA ball the Knicks play.

Simmons: And if that’s not enough, Rondo might be a Knick in three months. I factored in a possible Rondo trade for my ranking:

DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE

I hope Rondo stays in Boston this whole season and then signs somewhere else next summer.  That would be satisfying.  Not as satisfying as when the Celtics got nowhere in the 2014 draft lottery, but still.  Very satisfying.

Thunder:

Simmons: In general, I’d boycott the Thunder if I didn’t love watching Durant and Westbrook so much. We just watched the Thunder miss the Finals because OKC had to play a washed-up Derek Fisher, in crunch time, in its biggest playoff games. What happened this summer? They turned two 2014 first-rounders, some cap space and Kendrick Perkins’s Expiring Contract into Mitch McGary, Anthony Morrow, a D-Leaguer, and Kendrick Perkins’s Expiring Contract. Anthony Morrow. That was your big move, OKC????

Big ups to Bill for not bringing up Harden!  Lowe did near the end of the section (not pictured here), but somehow Bill didn't.  Maybe he finally let himself be edited.

Bulls:

Simmons: Here’s another Eastern team that can knock the young Cavs around and get into their heads. 

I like how the Cavs top eight this season (so far, anyways) includes LeBron (30), Love (26), Anderson Varejao (32), Shawn Marion (36) and Mike Miller (34).  They are "the young Cavs" if you are a ballgargler who likes to create narratives, I guess.

But they also have more unanswered questions than any other contender. 

Do they?  Are you going to "prove" this by listing questions about the Bulls, which essentially all boil down to "This team isn't the dynastic Celtics of the 60s or the Showtime Lakers--HOW WILL THEY COPE?"  Of course you are.

Can Taj Gibson jump a level? Can McDermott and Mirotic guard ANYONE? What are they getting from Rose? Was Pau on cruise control during the Lakers/D’Antoni era, or is Pau more washed-up than we realize? Can you play Pau and Noah at the same time? Intriguing — all of it. 

You can do this for literally every team, from the best to the worst.   You can do it for the Spurs.  You can do it for the 76ers.  You have proved exactly nothing.

We should have ranked these guys higher.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Simmons: And don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly pumped to watch McDermott. 

I wonder why.

I love anyone and everyone with 25-foot range. It’s why I loved Curry so much before the 2009 draft. 

Only me!  Me me me me!  Only I was excited about this 2nd team All-American with a NBA-playing father who averaged almost 30 points per game the season before and carried his team on an very memorable March Madness run in 2008!  I AM AT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! ME ME ME ME MEMEMEMEMEMEMEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

It’s also why I got stuck holding all this Jimmer stock. You want any?

OK, that's actually mildly funny.

Mavericks:

Lowe: We both had them in the same spot. 

CAN WE AGREE THAT THEY ARE PROPERLY RANKED THEN?  HOLY SHIT, I WORRY THAT WE CANNOT.  THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN ONE SPOT LOWER.  IT'S OBVIOUS.

It feels right. 

WHEW.

Simmons: If Carlisle could figure out how to use Monta Freaking Ellis, he’s DEFINITELY figuring out the perfect way to use Chandler Parsons. Because Houston never totally figured it out. By the way, I love that Chandler’s weight goes up and down just like Chandler Bing’s weight did on Friends.

See, that's the kind of reference I know and expect from Bill.

Spurs:

Simmons: And maybe our final season for Parker as an elite playmaker (very quietly, it’s Year 14 for him!!!) 

NO ONE DENIES THIS!  THIS IS IT!  HE WILL SUDDEN GO FROM ELITE TO NON-ELITE IN JULY OF 2015!

and Boris Diaw playing at the right weight. 

File this and similar comments under "things people who aren't actually sports fans care about."  Which of course is why this was written in the first place.

My biggest question: How will they remain motivated after last season? 

Good point--what about their coach or best players indicates they're interested in being more than a flash in the pan?  YOU'RE GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, SPURS.  LET'S SEE SOME EFFORT OUT THERE.

How do you top redeeming one of the worst sports defeats ever, winning the NBA title at home AND murdering the LeBron era in Miami? 

I don't know, let's ask Popovich and Duncan, which I can totally do telepathically because I know exactly how they'd respond to that kind of drivel.  "By winning another championship this summer," they both said.  Good to know.

There’s some decent letdown potential hanging over this season. 

You're a fucking idiot.

Clippers:

Simmons: Plus, I sit right across from Ballmer’s seats, so I can gawk at him as he’s behaving like a heavier, balder Bob Sacre in real time. 

Now we're combining caring about people at the arena who aren't on the team with analyzing someone's weight!  NBA US Weekly editor Bill Simmons is here to dish, everyone.

I put the Clips over the Warriors for three reasons. First, they feature more day-to-day dunks, alley-oops and general WHOA moments. 

But which team is more NOW?

Second, I think they’re making the 2015 Finals. 

God, I hope not.  Imagine the articles Bill would write.

And third, give me in-the-moment Ballmer reactions over in-the-moment Joe Lacob reactions every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Cavaliers:

Simmons: In 11 years, LeBron played with only one elite player who made him better: Dwyane Wade in 2011 and most of 2012 before he slowly turned into Heavier, 

And again.

Moodier, Not-As-Good Dwyane Wade. 

This is also known as "being a pro athlete in your early 30s."  Not that Bill would argue that, but even though I hate Wade, this is kind of an unnecessary driveby attack on him.

Kevin Love will make LeBron better every single game. Remember, LeBron has never — not in his entire life — played with a great rebounder, a great outlet passer, or a great pick-and-roll forward. 

OK, this is splitting hairs a bit, because the "LeBron has never had great teammates" thing is sort of kind of right, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas was an elite rebounder for much of LeBron's time in Cleveland.  Just saying.  That dude was a monster on the offensive glass.

Never. Not ever. 

NEVER EXCEPT FOR THOSE FOUR OR FIVE SEASONS.  Also, let's not shed a tear for LeBron re: the quality of his teammates.  Wade, even FLABBY Wade, is awesome, and Bosh is also pretty damn good.  It's not like it was all LeBron going to the Finals four straight years in Miami.

I can’t wait to watch them. I want to upgrade my score to a perfect 50. Is it too late?

Yes, but it's not too late for you to strap yourself to a rocket and launch yourself into deep space.

Lowe: You’re short-changing Bosh as a pick-and-pop guy who gave LeBron space to work and defended his tail off in Miami.

Fair point.  Bill, your counter?

Simmons: Bosh was a very good pick-and-pop partner for LeBron. Love could be a GREAT pick-and-pop partner for LeBron. That’s my defense.

Awesome.

Simmons: And what happens when Varejao gets hurt? If anyone out there thinks the Cavs are getting 100 games out of Anderson Varejao over the next eight months, I have some Pets.com stock to sell you. 

Wow, SUPER timely.  He must have realized the Jimmer joke was good, and decided to go back to the "worthless stock" well.  And then for some reason he didn't pick a company that's falling apart now (Zynga) or something that fell apart during the 2009 recession (Bear Stearns).  Nope.  He went right to the 90s, where he's most comfortable.  Good for him.  Change is scary.

Lowe: They get the top spot in spite of the ugliest uniform/court design combination in the league. 

These are things that definitely matter to you if you're a basketball fan!  (Pretty sad to see Lowe get in on this line of analysis.)

Simmons: One other thing — every 2015 Cavs home game is going to be appointment viewing. Even the ones against Philly and Utah. Everyone forgets how fantastic their home games were in 2009 and 2010, 

I don't think anyone who cares about the NBA forgets that.  I know you invented the concept of fandom, Bill, but it's maybe just maybe possible that there are other people just as enlightened about sports as you are.  Hard to believe, I'm sure.

how much energy ripped through that building every night, and how LeBron always seemed to feed off his hometown peeps. 

Yo!  Bill is hip to the youth culture, homies!

They went 39-2 at home in 2009 with inferior talent, a clueless coach and a roster that couldn’t do 40 percent of the stuff that this 2015 Cavs team can do. These LeBron 2.0 home games are going to be a borderline religious experience. I really believe that.

Such a bold and daring take.  It shows real guts to hold an opinion like "The team that employs the best player in a generation and two other very solid supporting cast members will be exciting to watch," but Bill is here to put his reputation on the line.

Christ, I hate this guy.  Maybe I'll go back to focusing on his terrible NFL gambling tips next week.

Friday, October 31, 2014

An Overdue Roundup of the Worst of the Jeter Love

I'm sure you came to this blog today to read something that might make your day better.  Probably you came to read Larry's latest takedown of Simmons, and that seems to do the trick for some people.  But I doubt many of you came here with the intent to make your day worse. I apologize in advance, then, since this post drags up stuff that you had hopefully repressed by now, stuff that hasn't been in the news for a month now, stuff you didn't even want to think about back when it was news.  I'm talking about the ridiculous end-of-year Jeter adulation.  Yes, it was terrible, and if you watched even a few minutes of sports tv or read any sports websites in the month of September, you were subject to a cacophonous cavalcade of catastrophic commendation.

Hopefully we never hear from Jeter again, and he fades into the sunset until he is eventually elected into the Hall of Fame and we have to do another Jeter Month, which is something I'm looking forward to about as much as a car crash.  But it will have to be done, because everyone loves the steely-eyed shortstop so much that their brains turn to mush and they start spewing folderol.

Let's start with Jayson Stark: Ten Astounding Jeter Numbers

3,461. This, of course, is Derek Jeter’s hit total. And holy, schmoly, that’s a lot of hits. Heck, it’s more than Hank Greenberg and Shoeless Joe Jacksoncombined (3,400)

Way to cherry-pick the guy who gave up his age-30 to age-34 seasons to serve in World War II, as well as a guy whose career was ended partially because baseball needed a scapegoat.  Actually Hank Greenberg, in about half as many seasons, won two MVPs to Jeter's zero.  But that's giving the Hebrew Hammer some credit for doing things like hitting home runs, which is unfair because Jeter can't do it.  How about the fact that Shoeless Joe, in about half as many full seasons, led his league in hits as many times as Jeter?  Both of these guys were better baseball players than Derek Jeter.

2,673. Here’s another super-cool number. It’s the number of games Jeter has played at shortstop. And it's not only more games than Ernie Banks and Robin Yount played at short put together, but also the most games by any man in history who played one defensive position and never played anywhere else -- not even in the 19th inning, for one batter. Pete Rose played six positions. Ty Cobb played seven. Stan Musial played five (including pitcher). And Derek Jeter played one position. And only one. Now that’s how it ought to be done. 

This is a great number... to prove how much Jeter is a jerk.  In fact, Mr. Stark's conclusion here is totally wrong.  This is NOT how it should be done.  Frankly, when your team acquires acquires younger and better shortstop, you should move to third base, especially when he's actually better at fielding than you are.  

And besides that, the worst part about this paragraph is that Stark cites these other greats as examples of what not to do... Rose, Musial and Cobb shifted positions so they could help their teams put the best nine guys on the field. Jeter wouldn't even take a few steps to his right.  Not once, not even in the 19th inning for one batter.   

It's a disgrace that Jayson Stark is so eager to praise Jeter that he cites this stat as an example of Jeter's personal amazingness, as though it had nothing to do with his team. As though Derek Jeter personally had the courage and fortitude to only play shortstop for his whole career, while those other Hall of Famers were too weak to do so, or that Jeter was so astoundingly amazing the Yankees had no choice but to ever play him at shortstop for his whole career, even when they paid a quarter of a billion dollars to acquire a better one.  

Heck, you might even argue that playing multiple positions at a big-league level actually makes you a better all-around ballplayer. In my whole life I've never heard anyone equate playing more positions with being a worse player.

1. Finally, there’s this astounding number. According to Elias, it’s the number of games Jeter has played, in his entire career, in which his team, the mighty Yankees, was mathematically eliminated from some sort of race for some sort of trip to the postseason. One meaningless game in 20 seasons? Whoa. On one hand, it would be nuts to argue that was all Derek Jeter’s doing.

So then don't.  You have the chance here to NOT do that, but now you're going to go ahead and do that.  Terrible work here, Mr. Stark

On the other hand, what defines his career better than that? A man who lived for the big game -- and played nothing but big games. For 20 years. What better way to put a frame around the career of one of the greatest shortstops who ever turned a 4-6-3? 

I agree - a guy who consistently played for a really amazing team, a team with 20 straight years of consistently above-average to amazing baseball, and who benefitted, perhaps more than any player in history, from being a long-lasting above-average player who also happened to be surrounded by above-average players.  Has there been any other player who has benefitted as much as Jeter has from being on consistently good teams? 

Enough from Jayson Stark.  Here's a bit from Andrew, a guy who I think once actually posted something on this site.  He pointed me to a bit from Colin Cowherd on the radio: "Jeter was a .300 hitter, but he hit .350 every time he was in the world series . You don't see that with other players in other sports.Jordan didn't score more in the playoffs"

Andrew points out that Jordan's career ppg is 30.1, and his playoff ppg is 33.4. 

It's also worth noting that Jeter did not in fact his .350 every time he was in the World Series.  In fact, his career World Series average is only 12 points higher than his regular reason average, and that his career ALCS average is 53 points lower.  It's  also worth noting that one of Jeter's worst World Series performance overall was his only seven-game World Series (2001).where he hit .118 and did not walk. But I guess he did hit a clutch home run. But you'd think if he were so clutch, he might have helped his team a little more in that series. 

And just because I'm a glutton for punishment, I even went to MLB.com and found an article by somebody named Tim Healey that could not have had a more inaccurate title, even if it were titled "South Wins Civil War" or "Larry B Ascends Stairs to Parents' Kitchen". It's called "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his dominance". An accurate title would be: 10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his team's dominance" or "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his longevity" or "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his PR team's dominance"

1. Winning percentage: .593 Jeter is the leader in personal winning percentage (minimum of 1,000 games) among active players, his career record of 1,626-1,116 producing that .593 mark.

Ow ow ow ow this hurts my brain so much.  My brains are leaking out my ears.Someday I will understand why people care that Jeter is the leader in personal winning percentage, like he was playing tennis or something. Are we going to add "wins" to the stat column for position players, too?

3. Two hundred-hit seasons: 8. Gehrig is the only other Yankee to collect 200 hits in a single campaign that many times. If you want to use consecutive seasons as a tiebreaker, Jeter twice had streaks of three straight seasons with 200-plus hits, while Gehrig only did that once. (Gehrig fell two 1933 hits shy of a five-season streak.)

Fine, I know that hits is Jeter's marquee stat. And eight 200-his seasons is really good. But the ridiculous thing is that Tim Healey is going to great lengths to show how, in this comparison, Jeter is better than Lou Gehrig, without bothering to mention that Lou Gehrig's chance at a second such streak in 1938 was cut short by the unfortunate and unlucky fact that Gehrig was CRIPPLED BY A TERRIBLE AND DEBILITATING NEUROMUSCULAR DISEASE.  (Aside Try saying that last sentence in your best Norm voice, like this clip). If Larrupin' Lou had been as good as Jeter he wouldn't have let that happen.

Oh, and that Gehrig would have almost certainly had a five-season streak if he had the benefits of Jeter's era, because Lou was playing in a 154-game season. Duh.

News flash to Tim Healey: if you've found a stat that proves that Jeter is better than Lou Gehrig, you're using the wrong stat. Unless you want to use longevity stats to show how much better Jeter was, in which case you're being a total asshole to a guy who might have been given a bad break, but who by all accounts was a much better human being than Jeter was.

7. Parting gifts: 18

Obviously this is a terrible article, and obviously it is the worst thing I've ever read about baseball, but this is even worse than that. Somehow this stat demonstrates Jeter's dominance?

Jeter's early retirement announcement was a savvy PR move. It's the classic getting ahead of the story move, so he could control the narrative, and thus nearly all of the stories were about his historic career, and not his below-average season, which may have contributed to the Yankees' missing the playoffs. And it meant that eighteen teams oughta be ashamed of themselves for puckering up to Jeter and giving expensive presents to a multimillionaire.

I can't even finish this article because it, somehow, actually goes downhill from there.

It's ten AM and I'm all set for a terrible day.  Hope I've made yours worse.

Monday, October 27, 2014

ATTENTION WORLD: BILL HAS FIGURED OUT HOW TO GAMBLE ON THE NFL


His lead in to last Friday's picks column:

I rededicated myself to understanding football gambling better. I mean, why not? What else was I going to do? One morning, I was killing time power-walking on a treadmill before a doubleheader of The Equalizer and A Walk Among The Tombstones when I came up with a gambling brainstorm: What if there were a better way to figure out NFL records than just wins and losses? For instance, Arizona battled back in Week 1 to beat San Diego 18-17 on Monday night — the Cardinals got the “win” and San Diego got the “loss,” but really, that was an “either/or” game, right? For gambling purposes, there had to be a better way to capture that.


I went through the first few weeks of games and redid everyone’s records, tagging each game as either a legitimate win or loss, an ass-kicking win or loss, or an either/or game. 

There IS a way to capture that: it's called point differential.  (To be fair, this new "system" of Bill's also incorporates some measure of standard deviation that season long point differential does not capture.  To be realistic, thinking that this is some kind of revolution for the world of spread bet analysis is unfiltered idiocy.)

And if anything else happened in that game with gambling repercussions — a comeback win, a blown lead, major dysfunction, whatever — I tagged that, too. And again, I did this because I had an incredible amount of time on my hands.

Well, I'm glad he put that time to good use.  He went 3-11 against the spread (a Redskins cover of +10 tonight could get him all the way to 4-11!) this week.  That's actually kind of hard to do.  Getting that far away from a .500 record really requires a special brand of dumbassery that few possess.  I guess Bill has it.  

If you are the kind of person who sincerely listens to what Bill Simmons has to say about gambling, or anything else, you're fucking stupid and you need to do something about that.  Also, with the MNF game still in progress, underdogs went 6-8 against the spread this week, putting them at an even 58-58 for the season.  The Year of the Dog rolls on.