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? 


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.


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? 


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


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.


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). 


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.)


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.


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



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.


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.


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, 


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


Lowe: We both had them in the same spot. 


It feels right. 


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.


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


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.


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.



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.


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


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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Super top secret NFL gambling update; Simmons explains the science of NBA watchability (Part 1)

First, a quick update: underdogs went 8-7 against the spread last week and now stand at 52-50 on the season.  Is it the Year of the Dog?  IT IS THE COUSINFUCKING YEAR OF THE DOG YOU PUCKERING ASSHOLES.  We'll see what the next few weeks bring, but my guess is this: underdogs will cover about as often as they fail to cover, and anyone who makes picks based on gut feelings developed in August about whether this is the Year of the Dog is a board certified dumbshit who should be ignored, and later thrown down a well.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of his suspension, Bill has seemingly taken his ball and gone home when it comes to NFL picks columns.  We'll know for sure by this afternoon, but he was unsuspended as of last Thursday but Bill Barnwell still wrote last week's picks column.  This could be ESPN quietly telling Simmons to just stay away from the NFL and focus on the NBA.  It could be Simmons quietly telling ESPN that he'd rather just stay away from the NFL and focus on the NBA.  Or it could be Simmons just being a moody little bitch.  We can't know for sure, but I do know this much: in Simmons's absence, Barnwell sure as hell started sounding like Simmons.  Fucking disappointing.  Here's what I mean--some samples from Barnwell's picks column from two Fridays ago:

I have to admit I was tempted to just make this entire Week 6 preview out of J.J. Watt GIFs from Thursday night’s Texans-Colts game and call it a column. I know that he’s not better at quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick, if only because Fitzpatrick has spent his entire career prepping to play quarterback and Watt is built to play defensive line, but if you gave Watt six months’ notice that he was going to be Houston’s quarterback, don’t you think he would have a shot at being pretty good at it?


JETS (+9.5) over Broncos

The referee assigned to this game is 33-year-old rookie Brad Allen, who joined the NFL this year after refereeing in the ACC. I have to admit that he is my new favorite referee, if only because he seems to be taking everything incredibly seriously. Allen makes his various motions for penalties like he just reread the rulebook and practiced against a mirror for hours, like he’s a new teacher being observed by the principal. Here’s his first call, a hold, from Thursday’s Packers-Vikings game:

[gif of very robotic and precise holding call signal from Allen]

That’s incredible! If Dave Chappelle’s white-guy voice could be a holding motion, it would be Brad Allen’s. Compare that to the holding call of a veteran referee like Gene Steratore:

[gif of very casual and lackadaisical holding call signal from Steratore, which still pretty much looks like Allen's]

Steratore is ready to blow this joint, man. By the time he’s grasped his wrist for the hold, he’s already ready to signal the side and get those chains moving. Get in, get out, go home. Allen, meanwhile? He’s grabbing his arm firmly, dropping his elbow all the way to his waist, looking directly into the camera … just textbook stuff. It’s Don Draper and Bob Benson in stripes. I’m excited about the Brad Allen era.

Sure sounds like something Bill would write (and a subject Bill would find fascinating, because other than the NBA, he doesn't care about sports), doesn't it?

In fact, the Eagles have more defensive and special teams touchdowns through five games than any other team in NFL history. Four teams were previously tied for the record with six, most recently the 2003 Chiefs, who were going through the absolute climax of Dante Hall hysteria. Most public schools in the K.C. area shut down as children insisted upon solely communicating by throwing up the X. It was a crazy time.

LOL!  Barnwell also went 4-9 against the spread that week, further evidence that either he's turning into Simmons or he let Simmons write his column for him.

So what about last week? A little more of the same, except that he went 9-4 against the spread, because he's not a fucking idiot. But still, read this shit:

WASHINGTON (-5.5) over Titans

You played SimCity, right? You know, the original SimCity, the one you had on a gigantic 5.25-inch floppy disk, that SimCity. Do you remember how bad your attempts at a metropolis were when you played SimCity as a little kid? They were bizarre, nihilistic works of art.

Residential buildings just slapped next to smokestacks. A decaying commercial zone, victimized by a statistically improbable number of simultaneous earthquakes and Godzilla attacks. Electrical lines building a grid totally unconnected to any power plant. For public safety, six police stations and six fire stations placed directly next to one another next to a road that never loops back on itself and just runs out in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and the totally useful sports stadium, presumably attended by the one poor, confused family who showed up to live in one of your residential zones for a couple of in-game seconds before immediately leaving in a terrified huff.

Washington vs. Tennessee is the football equivalent of that city you created.

Oooh!  But which unwatchable and irrelevant 1970s movie is that game like?  Which season of The Challenge is it like?

Texans (+3) over STEELERS

OK. It’s time to talk about this ubiquitous J.J. Watt commercial that’s taken over television in the past two weeks.

[entirely too long seven breakdown of this piece of uninteresting corporate advertising follows, treating the ad like it was written by Hemingway and containing zero good jokes along with a bunch of dumb references and rhetorical questions]

Look, I know Barnwell has always been prone to throw a couple mediocre jokes into his analysis.  But during Simmons's suspension, it sure seemed to get a lot worse.  I hope Barnwell goes back to being the old Barnwell soon.  Simmons-Barnwell hybrid sucks ass.  Anyways, Simmons did do his fucking dumb as rocks guess the line podcast this week, so maybe that means he's back; but he also didn't tweet a Thursday night pick, so who the fuck knows.  Whatever the outcome, if it results in less Simmons in the world, it's a good thing.

Anyways, Simmons has been busy lately; the suspension appears to have mercifully cut his NBA team preview video series off after he and Jalen Rose got through the 11 worst teams in the league.  (I say mercifully, because holy fucking flying cats, did you try to watch any of those?  That shit wouldn't fly on local access cable at 4 AM. Other than the money, why is Jalen Rose working so much with this numbnuts?  Oh, that's right.  It's probably about the money.)  But he and Zach Lowe have released their annual "watchability rankings" for NBA teams, designed to let League Pass subscribers know which teams are worth checking in on from time to time.

For once, I'm not going to hammer on the premise of a Simmons article.  This is actually something worth writing (not necessarily by Simmons; but by somebody).  TNT and ESPN show so many goddamn unwatchable games it makes steam come out of my ears.  It's bad enough that some of the good teams from big cities play ugly basketball, like the Bulls and Rockets.  It's 1000 times worse that regardless of what a shitpile the Lakers and Knicks are, they're each going to be on national TV like 25 times this year.  It's horrid.  The Lakers, now that Nash is out for the year, could very well lose 60 games.  The Knicks should make the playoffs, but as I've ranted about before, that's because of the joke of a division they play in.  So for fans that don't want a Cavs/Nets or Thunder/Lakers blowout to be their only TV option, League Pass makes sense (even though it runs pretty poorly a lot of the time), and thus we might as well have a watchability ranking.

Of course, whether this is a good idea and whether it is executed competently are two entirely different things.  And not even the presence of Lowe is enough to keep this from turning into a blimp crash.  Come one, come all, marvel at Bill's obvious idiocy even when he is talking about the one sport he kind of knows, he's discussing a reasonable topic, and he has an awesome wingman.

BUT FIRST!  Someone decided that Bill "Voice Made For Photography" Simmons needed more TV time.

VIEWING ALERT!!!!! At 7 p.m. ET on Thursday (10/23), The Grantland Basketball Hour makes its triumphant debut on ESPN.

I didn't watch!  And I never will!

Your hosts? Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, who will be joined by Jeff Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, Michelle Beadle, Zach Lowe and rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. We made up only two of those guests.

LOL!  Those last two guys were brutally murdered!

Watch us live, add us to your DVR season pass, do whatever you need to do.


One hour of free basketball chatter, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN. See you there.

I'd rather eat glass.

Last year’s League Pass Rankings kicked off with Simmons writing, “If I watch more than 75 total minutes of the Suns this season, I’m gonna feel like I failed.”

You failed years ago, buddy boy.

So clearly, you came to the right place for intelligent analysis and an all-encompassing feel for the league. Our mission remains the same: Figure out which 2014-15 NBA teams have the best chance to steal our attention, night after night, as we’re watching five games at once. Both Simmons and Lowe awarded all 30 teams between 0 and 10 points in each of the following five categories.

Using categories and a points system is a fine way to do this kind of thing.  A fine way, that is, until Simmons then spends most of the article questioning the legitimacy of his own horseshit manufactured rankings, that are a function of his own fucking system.  It makes me want to stick a fork in an outlet.

Category No. 1: Relevance/Zeitgeist
Interpreted as “relevance to the playoff picture,” 


“relevance to NBA junkies on the Internet,” 

What does that mean?  I'm not saying it doesn't exist as a separate concept from relevance to the playoff picture, but what the fuck does it mean?

and “general day-to-day relevance.” 

I do know what that means.  It means absolutely nothing.  It was included here to make Bill feel like he's been extra smart and analytical.

Category No. 2: Hoops Nerdgasm Potential

I don't think nerds of any kind, including sports nerds like me, should embrace the term "nerdgasm."  That makes us even less likely to ever get sex without paying for it.

Covers special events like, “OH MY GOD, Phoenix is playing Bledsoe, Dragic and Isaiah Thomas right now with Gerald Green at the 4 and a Morris twin at center!” 


— as well as everything Pop and Carlisle are doing on a daily basis, 

Meh.  Those guys are both great coaches, but is it really particularly titillating to see what lineups they've constructed or which players Pop gave the night off?  This isn't really "nerdgasm" (last time I'm typing that, by the way) material.  It's more like, stuff that you appreciate when you see how many games the Spurs and Mavs are winning.

everything that Stan Van Gundy and David Blatt might try this season, and everything that gets Haralabob Voulgaris fired up on Twitter (in a good way). 

SVG is a great coach but the Pistons are trash.  I don't think he can prevent that.  David Blatt is a rookie NBA coach who will probably make a bunch of dumb mistakes this year.  Not seeing the appeal.  Voulgaris is a guy who writes sometimes funny tweets about the NBA.  If you're watching games because you hope he's going to tweet about them later, your priorities are backwards.

If you’re coaching so creatively that you coax Zach into one of those 4,500-word columns with 15 embedded YouTube clips, you’ll score highly here.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Not that Lowe isn't a good writer, just that, meh, I watch games to watch games.  I'm not a coach.  I don't need to be impressed by the 14 different screen and roll variations the Cavs draw up, in part because I won't recognize them as the game is happening anyways.  And this should go without saying, but neither will Bill.  He may not even recognize them in the YouTube clips AS he's reading the Lowe article.

Category No. 3: League Pass Minutiae
Covers the quality of announcing teams (a.k.a. The Sean Elliott Mute Button Factor) and sideline reporters (we love you, Abby Chin!), as well as uniform colors, crowd behavior, any wide shot of empty seats on TV (sorry, Miami), the home arena’s floor pattern, the mascots, and for a second time, the mascots. You know, all the stuff Zach obsesses over.

Judging based on uniform colors, crowd behavior, shots of empty seats, or home arena floor patterns is completely retarded.  But mascots rule, and I have absolutely no problem with judgment based on announcing teams.  Any non-Boston hockey fan who's ever been subjected to Jack Edwards knows that a terrible announcer can ruin a game with his or her buttfuckery.  (Fortunately, to my knowledge there is not a single local NBA announcer who comes within a mile of Edwards.)

Category No. 4: Individual Player Appeal
If you employ the likes of LeBron, Durant or Curry on your team? You’re looking great for this category. If you revolve your team around Boogie Cousins? You’re looking great with one of us and shockingly decent with the other one. But if your only exciting player is missing the entire 2014-15 season with a broken leg? You might be looking at a Robert Parish — a.k.a. the double zero.

HE WAS A CELTIC GO FACKIN' C'S!  This category is pretty dumb in the context of this article, as that is the exact kind of thing a "hoops nerd" should NOT care about.  First of all, watch good teams because they're good, regardless of whether they're the Clippers or the Spurs.  Second of all, pretty much every guard and small forward in the NBA is exciting to watch if you're a basketball fan, as are a good number of the big men.  If you judge a game's watchability on OOOH DO THEY HAVE A GUY WHO DOES CRAZY DUNKS AND CAN HIT 3s, then you should watch every game.

Category No. 5: Unintentional Comedy/Irrational Affection/Personality Intangibles

Turn the Simmonsmeter up to 11.

This intentionally vague category covers moments like “Enes Kanter just took his 10th 3 of the night,” “Byron Scott is defending Phoenix’s 3-guard offense with Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Steve Nash right now,” 

Hey, that's double counting!  We already saw that offense when we ejaculated everywhere back in Category No. 2!

“Boris Diaw is feeling it,” any text or tweet that simply reads “Dante Exum!!!!,” 

Don't text your friends the name of a player who just made a good play.  That's a dumb thing to do.

“Marcus Smart just dove for a loose ball and inadvertently took out the scorer’s table while down 25 with 90 seconds to play,” 


“Giannis is starting at point guard,” 

He's not.

“Dion Waiters is feeling it,” “Dirk just made his seventh straight one-legged fall-away,” “Blake Griffin just

And so on and so forth.  You get it.  This is a fine category, except that like I just said, pretty much every game features guys who can do incredible things, so... just watch.  No need to make a big production out of your pre-watching.

We each scored all 30 teams on our own, then combined those scores into a bigger score that you’ll read below. The lowest possible score? Zero. 

Thank you for clarifying what 0 times 10 is.

The highest possible score? 100. (Hypothetically achieved by the 1986 Celts, 2005 Suns, 2011 Heat and 1982 Lakers.) 


This is getting kind of long, so I'm not going to do a full detailed breakdown.  Below are some LOWlights (lol) from Part 1 of Bill's rankings, which are written as a dialogue between him and Lowe.  I am very glad they chose that format because it makes it easy to tell when something utterly inane was Bill's idea versus Zach's idea.  Not that it would be hard to do if their thoughts were combined together; but this makes things that much clearer.

Re: the Pacers

Simmons: They have to trade David West within the next three months, right? In the Bill and Jalen Preview for the Pacers (coming Wednesday!), Jalen smartly pushes for a West-to-Charlotte trade for former Hoosier Noah Vonleh or former Hoosier Cody Zeller. 

Bill thinks Jalen is so well-spoken.  Also, big thumbs down for the HEY THAT PRO TEAM SHOULD TRADE FOR COLLEGE PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN THE SAME GEOGRAPHICAL AREA idea fart, regardless of whether it was Jalen or Bill who came up with it.

The Pacers should bottom out for a year and get a meaningful asset for West … right?

ALWAYS TANK WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE!  NEVER BE AVERAGE!  EVERY TEAM SHOULD BE TRYING TO WIN 82 OR 0 GAMES!  THERE IS NO INBETWEEN!  Well, it's really not that simple ever, or in this case, as Zach will patiently explain.

Lowe: Hmm … West has a $12.6 million option for the 2015-16 season, and it’s the rare option that presents an interesting choice for the player. As a 34-year-old on a semi-expiring deal, West just doesn’t have a lot of trade value. I don’t see the Hornets giving up a potential good young big for him, but they are the right sort of team for a trade like this — a longtime sad sack with some irrational exuberance and/or desperation to accelerate their rise.

Right.  So West 1) is old and declining, so less of an asset in that sense, and 2) isn't actually an expiring deal, so way less of an asset in that sense.  Thus maybe it's not in Indiana's interests to go into the season saying WE GOTTA UNLOAD THIS GUY.  ASAP.  DON'T CARE WHAT WE GET FOR HIM.

Simmons: We disagree — it’s difficult enough to find a playoff-proven veteran/locker room leader that West’s value might be higher than you think. 

"Hey you, guy who knows more about the NBA than I could ever possibly know about anything--you are wrong.  West is a PROVEN 15 and 7 guy in the playoffs.  People forget that."

I would flip Zeller for him in 2.2 seconds. Imagine Charlotte becoming a genuine contender. 

Because they traded Zeller for West?  Did the Pacers throw in a magically healed Paul George who's ready to play right now, too?

And even better, imagine West and Lance improbably reuniting. 


If it happens, I hope someone takes a cell phone video of West rejoicing upon hearing that he got traded to a contender … and then realizing that he has to play with Lance again.

Oh man!  That's what sports are REALLY all about!  Viral videos of what athletes do when they're not playing!  Bill needs a job at TMZ.

Re: the Magic

Simmons: Serious question: Would this team win more games with Jacque Vaughn or Mo Vaughn coaching?

Awesome joke.  Straight out of 1997.

Re: the Nuggets

Simmons: I bumped them two points just because marijuana is legal in Colorado — on a night with a low number of games, at least we can watch Denver’s home games and guess which opponents may have wake-and-baked that morning.

LOL!  Marijuana reefers!  That's what some guys who visit Denver will be smoking, you can bet on that!  Remember when that one kid you grew up around who was always getting into trouble started smoking weed at a relatively young age, and would look all high and stuff?  This will be like that!!!!!!

Re: the Celtics

Simmons: What about Rondo for the Derrick Williams/Reggie Evans expirings, Ben McLemore and a top-seven-protected 2015 pick? That trade makes the 2015 NBA season 5 percent more fun — admit it.

NO ONE DENIES THIS.  Rondo could take the Kings all the way to 10th place in the west!  The Celtics would get the better end of the deal!  WHO SAYS NO??????????????

Lowe: I think Boston would do that. 

They're going nowhere fast and Rondo is in the last year of his deal.  You fucking think they might want to pick up McLemore in exchange for someone they don't need and a little bit of expiring money that they also don't need?  But why in the Christ would the Kings do this?  So they can clear slightly more money next offseason?  They're ditching Rudy Gay and the cap might go up, or at least will definitely go up in two offseasons.  They're not just going to hand McLemore to Boston because that would give Bill a case of the warm fuzzies.

But let’s say the cap sticks at the projected $66.3 million for 2015-16, then rises into the mid–$80 million range in 2016-17 — an outcome that is not a foregone conclusion on either side, by the way. That could present Boston with the chance to re-sign Rondo this summer at a number that ends up looking good. I’ve always thought that was the best scenario for them, barring a knockout trade package — to get Rondo back below the max and use him as a lever to draw the next big star to Boston.

Ah, there you go.  THAT'S why the Kings would do it--so they can help Boston achieve their best case scenario with regard to Rondo--trade him for an asset, and then re-sign him after a tanking season and keep the asset.




Re: the Heat

Simmons: Here’s a clip of Dan Le Batard walking the streets of Miami in February.

["Milk was a bad choice" clip from Anchorman, a movie that came out more than ten years ago and was quoted to the point of death as of 2009 or so]


[Same clip, because why not double down on your unfunny and untopical reference?]

Re: the Bucks

Simmons: That’s part of my 2016 sports czar campaign — regular citizens will no longer be allowed to fund stadiums for professional sports owners if those owners spent the past two years destroying a players’ union in a one-sided lockout, creating an owner-friendly salary structure and doubling/tripling the value of their franchises with the latest media rights megadeal. The good people of Wisconsin shouldn’t spend ONE PENNY on that new stadium. Tell those billionaires to screw off.

Simmons, still pandering to Bucks fans after all these years because 50 diptards wrote the owner an email asking them to hire Bill for the front office.  Kind of sad.  Really sad, actually.  Related note: fuck NBA owners.  At least Bill and I can agree on that.

Re: the Hawks

Lowe: And yet despite all this — all the beauty of Mike Budenholzer’s system, all the talent on hand — you ranked them 10 spots lower than I did. Nothing divides us like the Hawks and Grizzlies. The Hawks are a delight to watch, and they have an awesome new court. Also, should we call Mike Scott the regional manager? The office manager? Does going by “Mike” instead of “Michael” invalidate this? The character Michael Scott was awful at basketball, but he was a chucker — just like Mike Scott!

Lowe wanted to make sure he got in on the untimely and unfunny references game.

Simmons: Why not just call him “The Office”? 


Would you consider Charlotte a 2015 contender if they flipped Noah Vonleh AND Cody Zeller for Al Horford? Who says no? Sorry … you know I have to do this every 1,200 words. It’s part of my contract.


Simmons: Two pectoral tears, a racism scandal, a crazy ownership situation and possible tanking … maybe the Hawks ARE ranked correctly.

OH!  Thank goodness.  I was worried that the arbitrary ranking system you invented for this column might have produced some incorrect outputs.  Good to see it's functioning flawlessly.  NEWS FLASH ASSHOLE, IT'S YOUR SYSTEM.  YOU DON'T LIKE IT, JUST CHANGE IT AND RANK THE TEAMS HOW YOU WANT TO.  STOP DIDDLING YOURSELF AND JUST WRITE ABOUT BASKETBALL.  FUCKING TITS.  I HATE THIS GUY.

More from part 2 of this Simmons/Lowe "discussion" next week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bill's Guide to Gambling (alternate title: How to Lose Money By Being Stupid), Part 3 of 3

Whoa, I kind of took a break there.  I figured that Bill was on a break (check his Instagram for awesome pictures of him golfing!  Actually maybe don't bother), so I might as well take one too.  Here's what I learned: blogging is fun.  Let's finish Bill's comprehensive gambling guide, since he's back from suspension tomorrow.

I'd like to say for sure that even if I were hired to work at Grantland like Bill Barnwell (who did a slightly-less-awful-than-Simmons job of making picks in Bill's absence), I wouldn't turn into a Simmons disciple, but I can't, because you literally couldn't pay me to work at Grantland.  At every salary level reasonably able to be offered by a somewhat popular sports website owned by a big media company, I would sooner panhandle than work for anything associated with ESPN.  But I won't say "You couldn't pay me enough" to work there.  Because you know what?  For $1,000,000 per second, I will happily sell my soul to Disney.  No problem.  Just give me the contract.

OK, back to Simmons.  Underdogs went 13-16-1 since my last post, making them 44-43 on the year.  So remind me--is it the year of the dog?

Rule: Don’t forget — it’s the Year of the Dog!!!

Ohmygod it is!  It's the year of the dog!!!!!!

Write it down! YEAR OF THE DOG!!!!!!!!! Got it?

I literally did!  I literally just did!!!!  Where is my free money?!?!?!?!?!

Before we hit the rest of the Week 1 picks, I wanted to mention my “circle” theory 

About as useful as my "Larry B has a huge penis" theory.

that I keep bringing up in podcasts but haven’t properly explained in print. 

Ah, THAT'S the problem with whatever half-baked waste of pixels he's about to spew--it hasn't been explained in PRINT.  Finally!

We don’t have legitimate NFL juggernauts along the lines of the early-’90s Cowboys anymore; the Salary Cap Era makes it impossible. 

This is true.  He should have just ended the article right here.

By January, every playoff team just hopes they became one of the seven or eight contenders with a chance to win the Super Bowl.

This is not true.  He should have ended the article back there.  Sure, some pretty good teams (2011 Giants, 2012 Ravens) just want to hang around for as long as they can and sometimes it works out.  Then there are really awesome teams (2012 Broncos) that flat out fall apart when the chips are down, and specifically, fall apart because they fail to execute, not because "the league has too much parity boo hoo!"  This being a Simmons article, though, I suppose the oversimplification of something fairly complex is to be expected.  TEN NBA TEAMS WILL CONTRACT BY 2012.  WHO SAYS NO.

Think of it this way: You always leave an NBA season saying, 

Think of it this way: if you are writing a guide to gambling on the NFL, what's the first thing you want to do?  Yes, that's right, you took the words right out of my brain: you start babbling about the NBA.

“The best team clearly won,” with very few exceptions (2013 and 1988 being the most recent). 

Even for Bill, this is staggeringly retarded.  I'm not even sure I want to go into explaining all the times between 1988 and 2013 that the "clear" "best team" did not win, because I want to go to bed before 4 AM.  The 2011 Mavericks were clearly better than the Spurs, Bulls and Heat?  The 2007 Spurs were clearly better than the Mavericks and Suns?  The 2006 Heat, with all of their 52 wins, were clearly better than the Pistons or Spurs?  And so on and so on and so on, perhaps most glaringly demonstrated by the 1995 Rockets, who went 47-35 and finished 6th in the West (Hakeem started 72 games, by the way, so it's not like they were hampered by an injury to their HOFer), but who were apparently "clearly" the best team in the league.  Holy dinosaur shit, this is bad, even for Bill.  

You always leave an NFL season saying, “One of the best teams caught a few breaks, took care of business and deserved to win.” 

Back to being right, except you can replace "an NFL" with "a sports season of any kind at pretty much any level."

Most of it makes sense, but not all of it: the Helmet Catch, 


Rahim Moore, 

Take it from this Broncos fan: it makes perfect sense.  Moore was a 2nd year safety who was on the team for his hitting and run support, not his coverage.  He never should have been on the field for that play.  It's really not particularly surprising that he got beat deep on that play.  Flacco threw that pass like 90 yards in the air.

Kyle Williams, 

The dude fumbled a couple of times.  He's not currently on an NFL roster.  It's not like he was revered for his non-fumbling ways prior to that NFC championship game.  It was chilly and damp that evening.  This is not nonsensical in any way.

Santonio Holmes dragging his feet … 

You mean an awesome athlete make a great catch?  THE BASKETBALL EQUIVALENT OF THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, EXCEPT IN 2013 AND 1988 (I didn't mention it earlier, but of course him listing that year is a dig at the Lakers because of course it is; they won more games than anyone in the NBA that year but were CLEARLY NAWT THE BEST TEAM even though they were defending champions).  THE BASKETBALL ARIZONA CARDINALS WIN THAT SUPER BOWL 10 TIMES OUT OF 10. 

I mean, in the words of Tony D’Amato, it really is a game of inches.

Someone give this man a Pulitzer.  How many seconds do you think he spent on that line?  Four?  Zero?  Did his editor add it for him, just to see if anyone would notice? 

So you want to break into that January circle. Seven contenders usually do it, then there’s always that eighth late bloomer/sleeper/surprise team that unexpectedly crashes the party. 

No.  No.  That's not at all an accurate characterization of how the NFL playoffs work.  Fuck off and die, you hack.  

We’ll call that team the Wonk Team, 


since things always get wonky as soon as the Wonk Team reveals itself. 

2013's Wonk Team: the Decatur Staleys!  Watch out, NFL!

Check out how the last seven seasons played out. (Teams got two asterisks if they won the Super Bowl and one asterisk if they lost the Super Bowl.)

2013: Denver (13-3, alpha dog),* Seattle (13-3),** New England (12-4), San Francisco (12-4), Carolina (12-4), New Orleans (11-5), Cincy (11-5), San Diego (Wonk Team).

I hate that I'm even engaging on this, but Kansas City was clearly the wonk team, and they lost their first playoff game, because they weren't that good.  That is a common characteristic of what I'm assuming Bill calls "wonk teams," and just because the GREATRIOTS lost a Super Bowl to a #6 seed mediocre Giants team seven years ago, now all of a sudden we get to read about how wonk teams always gum up the works.  Sure, Seattle and Denver were pretty clearly the best teams in the NFL last year, and they met in the Super Bowl, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WONKY CHARGERS?

2012: Denver (13-3, alpha dog), Atlanta (13-3), New England (12-4), Houston (12-4), San Francisco (11-4-1),* Seattle (11-5), Green Bay (11-5), Baltimore (Wonk Team).**

Hey, look at that!  The division champion Ravens, who kicked the shit out of the Patriots in New England after squeaking by the Broncos, just happen to be a Wonk Team (tm)(patent pending).  What a surprise!

2011: Green Bay (15-1, alpha dog), New England (13-3),* New Orleans (13-3), San Francisco (13-3), Baltimore (12-4), Pittsburgh (12-4), Houston (10-6), NY Giants (Wonk Team).**

Same for the 2011 division champion Giants, who were obviously a wonk team, while the terrible mediocre Texans were not!  Funny how that works!  I can't even go through the rest of this list.  If you want to develop brainrot, by all means, be my guest.

2010: New England (14-2, alpha dog), Atlanta (13-3), Pittsburgh (12-4),* Baltimore (12-4), New Orleans (11-5), NY Jets (11-5), Chicago (11-5), Green Bay (Wonk Team).**

2009: Indy (14-2, alpha dog),* New Orleans (13-3),** San Diego (13-3), Minnesota (12-4), Dallas (11-5), Green Bay (11-5), Arizona (10-6), NY Jets (Wonk Team).

2008: Tennessee (13-3, alpha dog), Carolina (12-4), Pittsburgh (12-4),** NY Giants (12-4), Indy (12-4), Baltimore (11-5), Philly (9-6-1), Arizona (Wonk Team).*

2007: New England (16-0, alpha dog),* Green Bay (13-3), Dallas (13-3), Indy (13-3), San Diego (11-5), Jacksonville (11-5), Seattle (10-6), NY Giants (Wonk Team).**

From 2007 through 2013, the alpha dog made three Super Bowls and lost all three … and the Wonk Team won four Super Bowls and lost a fifth. That makes no sense whatsoever, 

Sure, the teams that won the Super Bowl were good teams that maybe dropped a couple regular season games they shouldn't have, but had great QBs (some would say ELITE in the case of one Joe Flacco) and played their best during the playoffs.  This makes no sense, if you're fucking stupid.  If you have an IQ over 70 it's pretty unsurprising.  QUICK, BRING UP ANOTHER HALF BAKED THEORY THAT'S PATENTLY IDIOTIC!  IT MIGHT SAVE THIS IDEA!  

but it also makes SOME sense if you believe that (a) the “Nobody Believes In Us” factor matters way more than we realize, 

/finger gun to the head blowing own brains out motion

and (b) the NFL playoffs are a freaking crapshoot.

They are.  Like the playoffs in any American pro sport.  Since I am an AMERICUNN I love me some high stakes playoff drama, but I have to admit, European soccer (for all its insufferable fans and dumb idiosyncrasies) kind of has a good thing going with the whole no playoffs thing.  Really, do we need to keep letting 86 win MLB wild card teams win the World Series?

Here’s what my 2014 circle looks like: I’m locking down Seattle (my 2014 guess: 14-2), New England (12-4), Denver (12-4), San Diego (11-5), New Orleans (11-5) and Cincy (11-5) as my six true contenders. 

Disappointingly reasonable guesses, even if the Saints look crappy and the Bengals suddenly look shaky.  I can't believe the damn Patriots got their act together yet again.  I hope Brady throws a 99 yard pick six that costs them a playoff berth in week 17.

The seventh contender: the NFC North champ (Green Bay or Chicago are both going 10-6 and it will come down to the 17th tiebreaker). And for the Wonk Team, let’s go with either Green Bay (if it’s a wild card) or A Team Coached By A Harbaugh Brother. That’s right, San Francisco and Baltimore — I’m looking at one of you to get your wonk on.

By which he means, both of those teams are good, so TRY NOT TO SHIT YOUR PANTS if one of them does well in the playoffs, because HOLY SHIT NO ONE BELIEVES IN US EXCEPT EVERY PUNDIT WHO BELIEVES IN EVERY TEAM ON A WEEK TO WEEK BASIS.

One more note: I don’t think San Francisco AND Green Bay will make the playoffs. 

They will.

At gunpoint, I’d say Green Bay is in, San Fran is out … and Baltimore will be the Wonk Team. My other three playoff teams: Tampa, Indy and Philly. So there you go.

I can't dump on him too hard because so much of this is actually somewhat reasonable, but Jesus, the Bucs?  Why?  The Lovie Smith factor?  Mike Glennon?  Hard to understand what he was going for there, until you realize he has his head up his own ass most of the time.

Why didn’t I decide on a Wonk Team to win it all? 

Because wonk teams don't exist?  Because it's idiotic to say a 9-7 team will win the Super Bowl?  It doesn't matter, no one gives a shit about your consistently shitty predictions?

I believe the Seahawks are talented enough and hungry enough to become our third back-to-back champs since 1994. 

How he managed to not make the cutoff 1999, and point out that only New England has repeated since then, is beyond me.  Maybe he actually is changing.

Unlike so many other defending champs, they didn’t lose three or four key free agents; they didn’t get fleeced of their slightly overqualified assistant coaches; they didn’t have to overpay any of their Super Bowl heroes; and they actually might be more explosive than last season because of Russell Wilson (edging closer and closer to his prime) and Percy Harvin (finally healthy). 

Meh, mostly reasonable, but after 6 weeks, it looks like Wilson is kind of bumping against his ceiling already, the defense is still great but no longer devastating, and Harvin isn't a huge difference maker.

They have the best home-field advantage in any sport. 

#hottaek!  Not that it's a dumb taek, it's just 1) been said like 50,000 times in the last 5 years by everyone, and 2) every good team has a good homefield advantage; that Seattle's seems to be a little bit better than most really isn't a "win the Super Bowl" kind of difference maker.

And best of all, everyone writes off defending champs for all the reasons mentioned earlier — we just assume the NFL is too much of a crapshoot, and that you’re never getting that lucky twice.


You know what? That’s awesome for the Seahawks. In a weird way, they’re almost the “Nobody Believes In Us” champs. 

This is the stupidest line in this whole column; pundits and fans everywhere picked the Seahawks to repeat.  But Bill has decided that didn't happen, with no evidence to support this contrarian position presented, because it fits better with his narrative.  Bill is truly a dickhead.

I have them beating my beloved Patriots in the Super Bowl, followed by four straight months of my dad complaining, “I can’t believe Pete F​-​-​-ing Carroll just beat us in the Super Bowl.”

If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, I will stop paying attention to sports forever.  Don't let me down, rest of the AFC.  I kind of like sports.

More from Barnwell/Simmons later.