Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

League Optimization: NFL    

Time to revive the series I never completed...

If you've ever had a boil between your buttocks (which I haven't) then you know that the only way to relieve the pain is to freeze the boil and chisel it off.  Today I will chisel the NFL's ass boils from betwixt its cheeks.

This is a toughie.  The NFL is not only exceedingly strong at the moment, but it's also configured in an ideal 32-team alignment, so contraction is off the table.  Also note that there are very few sick franchises in the league, and the ones that ail are ailing because they want to ail.  (Just ail, baby!)  Therefore I expect this to be a very short examination.  Turn your head and cough.  And try to relax... this will feel a little cold...

The Contestants

The only relocation target worth discussing is Los Angeles.  They could (and clearly would) support a team.  But with the league in such good health, you can't add an LA franchise without ripping the soul out from one of the following markets:

  • Arizona
  • Oakland
  • San Diego
  • Jacksonville
Just because they've just christened their new stadium (the Pink Taco!) doesn't mean they stop being the Arizona Cardinals.  That having been said, I think it would be cruel to move the team from Phoenix now.  We have no idea whether the people of Arizona would support a real football team in a real stadium, because in 20 years they've never had that.  The one-time sad sacks of the league (Patriots, Bengals, Buccaneers) have shown that NFL football done right is a can't-miss proposition.  STAY

Al Davis is the wildcard, or in his case the batshit-crazycard.  I could see him swooping down on LA (again) and taking the market away from Jacksonville, leaving Wayne Weaver an angry man with an angrier fanbase.  But I'm not touching them.  Keeping their idiot team and its idiot fans sequestered in Oakland keeps the rest of us clean and disease-free.  (Man, if I could put money on the inevitable North American flu pandemic starting because some dipshit Raider fan ate a sausage off the ground in the parking lot...)  STAY

San Diego
The Chargers always seem to come up, if only because of the proximity.  Like the Clippers before them, Los Angeles beckons, and provides San Diegans (?) with the best opportunity to remain loyal if they choose to do so.  I remember back when the Pats had a deal in place to move to Hartford... and I didn't give even a tiny, rabbit-sized nugget of shit about it.  Who would even care?  They'd still be on TV, and they're not, like, out of the area.  LA is not San Diego, but the same thinking is more likely to apply to Charger fans than to, say, Vikings fans.  Still... not the best move.  STAY

Bingo.  The team is run well, they've had some good years, haven't had very many bad years at all.  A model franchise.  And the fans aren't coming out.  When even a last place team can (and will) sell out, that situation is downright unacceptable, even before factoring the tiny media market.  I'd love to bail them out, since I'm a sucker for teams in non-traditional markets... but it just makes too much sense.  MOVE

The New Alignment

Ah, the tricky part.  Picking the poor bastards who lose their team is the easy part... figuring out how to put a team in LA without breaking up the intense AFC West rivalries is the hard part.  The obvious move is to put the Chiefs in the south, where they can develop the same distaste for Indianapolis that the rest of us have.  But they have blood rivalries with the Raiders and Broncos that you don't really want to break up.

But let's also look at another team that nobody gives a rat's ass about: Atlanta.  Boy, do I love realigning and relocating their teams.  Maybe it makes me happy to think that a rotten city with no fans and a track record of playoff failures can be punished.  Regardless, the upside of having zero history is that there aren't any really worthwhile rivalries to concern ourselves with.  Atlanta could be just as happy in the AFC fighting for Southern supremacy against the Titans as they would be in the same battle with Carolina or Tampa or whatever.  And if they aren't... who'd care?  Their 23 fans?  Please.  Screw 'em.

So if we rotate the Falcons into Jacksonville's old spot... then stick the Los Angeles Jaguars in the NFC West... all we have to do is put the Rams in the Falcons' old NFC South spot (rekindling the Rams/Saints rivalry from the Rams' early-2000s "dynasty") and we have a workable new alignment.

New England
A Whale's Vagina
New York Jets
Kansas City

New York Giants
Green Bay
New Orleans
San Francisco
Tampa Bay
St. Louis Los Angeles

The only alternative I could see would be to move the Saints into the AFC South instead of the Falcons.  The Saints would have an instant blood feud with Houston, but St. Louis would be really screwed, with neither a geographic nor a competitive rival closer than Atlanta.  So that's out.


Is this much of an improvement?  Probably not.  Moving Atlanta away from Carolina is a realignment "minus."  But it's still outweighed by the "plus" of giving the Saints someone to play with, and putting Los Angeles in a geographically appropriate division.  And it's better than, say, the Vikings moving to LA, which would make Chris Berman cry a greasy, fat-laden tear at the thought of breaking up the NFC Norris.  But if the Jags were to move, I'd think this is better than leaving LA in Tennessee's division.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

The State Of Boston    

Things are good!

Red Sox
They signed up their only two potential offseason losses, and did so cheaply. It's a testament to the Red Sox organization that a couple of smart guys like Curt Schilling and Mike Lowell, both of whom had enormous market value, took less to stay. After watching the Dan Duquette era, this is maybe the best part of the revival: that Boston actually is a city where ballplayers will sign for less, and that the previous statement isn't just something the fans tell themselves to justify their cruel treatment of the local losers. Anyway, it's positive news w/o any qualification on it.

I'm still curious what they intend to do with Coco Crisp, and whether they intend to toss their hat into the Johan Santana derby. Theo Epstein is usually active at the winter meetings, so I'd expect one of those two things to become a major hot stove story.

They had their C-game last night (especially on defense... wowee!) and still won pretty effortlessly. I found that quite comforting, actually. They popped out a turd and won anyway. Good on them.

More urgent/important is the purported "discovery" by Andy Reid that the team's weakness is its secondary and short coverage by the linebackers. DUH! Once you get past Asante Samuel, it's a hell-hole in there. Even Rodney Harrison has been awfully silent. If there's no pass rush, then of course they will be exposed. While the whole "blueprint" meme is pretty on-target... the notion that Andy Reid "discovered" this strategy is just stupid. Yes, the way to beat the Patriots is to stop their four unstoppable defensive linemen (including the soon-to-be-very-rich-elsewhere Jarvis Green) and not throw towards Samuel. Also, I just discovered that the "blueprint" for preventing typos is to use a spell-checker before hitting Send. COMPLIMENT ME JOHN MADDEN FOR BEING SMART AND FAT

The other troubling thing was to see Randy Moss shut down so effectively. Wes Welker stepped up, but seeing Moss get shut down in the cold brings a lot of late-season Vikings collapses to mind. Something to stow away for later.

They are playing like garbage. Really. Paul Pierce in particular is leaning back on his old tricks... take the ball, ram it past double-team, hope they don't strip me. Low-percentage shots. What made me fall back in love with the team was their ball movement, not Pierce's scoring aggregates. When the C's go on their scoring runs, it's because they're finding open shooters; when they drop behind, it's because they get lazy with their shot selection. Between Ray, KG and PP, they WILL move the ball if they choose to. It's that simple.

Anyway, the other message is that America had better not sleep on Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, because they're both making the most of their newfound job security. This season is shaping up to be Rondo's coming-out party; he makes plays, and he's hitting open 18-footers with the greatest of ease. Perkins has brick fingers on offense, but his always-tight defense is all that will really matter.

In conclusion, last Saturday's fuck-you buzzer-beater was absolutely beautiful, for so many reasons. The bush-league Bobcats talked shit all through the timeout leading up to the inbounds pass. I sat there, watching Jeff MacInnis shoot his mouth off to fucking Kevin Garnett, and thought "they're gonna steal the ball, and they're gonna win." And sure enough, Eddie House stole the ball, and forgotten man Ray Allen sent the Bobcats to bed. What a moment.

Amazingly, even the Bruins are growing on me. They aren't going anywhere, but I have to tip my cap to favorite whipping-boys Tim Thomas and Dennis Wideman.

Thomas is a hockey verison of David Eckstein; too short, nobody wanted him, what a competitor, blah blah blah. So I hate him, and I truly detest when his fans give him credit for winning and look the other way when his mediocrity returns to the surface. But this year, Thomas actually is the reason they're winning. He has to save 30-35 shots a night for the team to win (because their blue line situation is so atrocious)... and he's actually doing it. So I give credit. It may not last, but I'll take it while we have it.

Wideman, meanwhile, is already visibly better than he was in October. He's starting to mix net-positive plays in with his trademark bonehead turnovers. More credit given there for starting to get his act together. Still not seeing much value (he's not even remotely physical as a defender) but any improvement is welcome.

The last thing I want to say is: Marc Savard. Can you Bruin bastards PLEASE play up to this guy's level? Or at least hit the empty nets Savard gives you twice a night? This guy's got worth-the-price-of-admission passing skills, and they're lost on offensive doofuses like P.J. Axelsson and Old Man Murray. Pearls before swine.

Sorry, boys... I'm pretty much done with you. The "choker" business may be overblown, but that collapse was just awful. And you could see it coming. It really was a choke. Ugh.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pounding The Glass    

Three cheers for Bruins rookie Tuukka Rask, who got his first NHL win in net tonight in Toronto, against the team that drafted him. He played extremely well, making several key saves and only being beaten on freak bounces.

Rask was bailed out by three very nifty plays by the B's to regain control of the game. Marc Savard's feed to P.J. Axelsson on the game-tying marker was particularly sweet. Rask owes Savard and Chuck Kobasew their dinners tonight.

Also notable is that the Leafs didn't have the sprouts to start the goalie Rask was traded for, the struggling Andrew Raycroft, in their own net. I remember blasting the trade at the time, but only inasmuch as Rask was too far off to help the main club. But if Rask is close enough to spot-start behind Tim Thomas and the disappointing/injured Manny Fernandez, that only bodes well for the Bruins becoming a real team sometime in the next 12-18 months! Yay!

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In Defense Of Caliendo    

This is a slight diversion, thematically, but I've gotta say it.

Frank Caliendo's impressions are really, really good.

You heard me, Coltrane. I speak the truth that everyone else is afraid to hear!!! I laugh at his impressions. I thought the bumpers that aired during the LDS and NLCS series could have been better, but the impressions are wild.

Watch his Barkley/Walton/Albert impressions and tell me that doesn't come from talent.

I will grant that where Caliendo really leaves himself open to criticism is the schticky, uncreative way he goes about his business. His impressions don't involve memorable, hilarious lines; there isn't anything in there to laugh at besides the uncanniness of the impression. And he falls back on juxtaposition jokes, letting one voice (say, Madden) set up another (Bush). It's like a mashup remix... how a DJ (say, Danger Mouse) will remix a Jay-Z song with a Beatles song, and that odd juxtaposition is the main selling point. Same thing.

So yeah, once you get into the question of whether he's a comedian who says things funny or a comedian who says funny things, Caliendo loses big-time. But you can't say his work isn't impressive, so to speak. It may be a lot like giving Gallagher credit for knowing how to smash a watermelon, but at least Caliendo's got a respectable act. Which is more than we can say for Dane "THERE IS ONLY ONE TESTICLE IN MY SACK-TOBER" Cook.

(I'll also point out that certain readers of this blog find the Coors Light press conference commercials funny. Come on. Oh, whoops, I mean COME ON!!!)

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Worst Day Of The Year... For Jackass Sports Radio Hosts!    

Congratulations to Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein for sparing their respective fanbases 18 million simultaneous heart attacks and one absolutely moronic storyline by not swapping third basemen.  Mike Lowell and A-Rod are best suited right where they were and are.  Yankees fans get to continue warming up to A-Rod, and the Boston love affair with Lowell can continue to blossom.  Handshakes all around.  All's well that ends well.

Of course, bringing back A-Rod means the Yankees still have a gaping hole at third...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Glengarry 3B    

Only one thing counts in this life:

You hear me, you fucking faggots?
Get mad, people. Get MAD!
You know what it takes to sell free agents?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nationals Park More Built Than I'd Have Thought    

For stadium construction nerds, here's some pics documenting the progress of Nationals Park in scenic Southeast DC.  Gosh, the place sure looks like a million bucks.  So where's the other $610 million?  (Oh, that's right... it went here.)

But seriously folks, it's encouraging news to see that there will actually be a stadium.  And a pretty classy one at that.

From the incomplete photos shown above, the park appears to have more in common with Turner Field than any other park; it's round and non-angular, with the exception of those nifty Fenway-style foul-line "bumpers."  That likely means pitcher-friendly and   I do like the open left-field area, though those swingy construction thingies aren't much to look at.  And I like the scoreboard quite a bit.  I think it's the W that does it.  (This team is truly blessed when it comes to non-logoed initials, isn't it?  The curly W and the interlocking DC are both all-time classics for me.)

One thing I'm curious about is why they chose not to incorporate the river into the playing area.  The property abuts the mighty Anacostia, as the map here demonstrates, but the field of play faces directly away from the river.  With the Giants' stadium's super-cool bay opening in right field, where home run balls often drop, why not try that?  Oh... maybe they don't want people jumping into the Anacostia after baseballs.  For health reasons.  The Anacostia (in the District, anyway) is as much a river as Jason Giambi is a first baseman: in name only.

In conclusion, take note that one of the contracting partners in the construction is Smoot Construction.  I'm guessing they handled the two foul poles.  At the same time!  (Say goodnight, Gracie...)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Inside The Mind Of A Shitty NBA Referee    

Henry Abbott interviews NBA punching bag Bennett Salvatore.

Interesting stuff.  And definitely a huge plus both in terms of providing transparency to the fans and in terms of showing the human side of a referee.  But as much as I'm sure Salvatore was as open and polite as Henry states, it still reads like a straight defense, a rationalization.  When he says "every play is a new play, and your focus has to be on the next play," I believe that he believes that, but I don't believe it to be true in practice.

The bottom line, though, is that the league allowed Henry to ask the guy real questions with real answers, and in doing so gave the public some much-needed transparency.  I'm glad to hear bad calls bother these guys, and very glad to hear a guy in his position approving of replay for that very reason.  Not that it makes it any better that the league (the entire sport, really) is officiated so arbitrarily, but it's a nice step forward.

In the tradition of Earl Weaver    

Read this FanHouse summary of Aubrey Huff doing a radio show. There's some ridiculous stuff in the extended transcripts (linked to from that page) that didn't get excerpted, but are worth a read (for instance, Huff goes off about "'jack[ing] the fucking shit outta it!'" And he wasn't talking about home runs. Heyooooo!).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Welcome back, you magnificent bastard    

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Celtics Running Di... OH SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT???!?!?    

Here's what happened about an hour ago while watching the Bruins take an early lead on the flailing Sabres:

7:25 - Hey, the Celtics are on against the Nuggets.  Melo and AI... this should be an awesome game.  Haven't checked out the New Three yet.  Gosh, it's so weird having Garnett and Allen.  Why aren't I more excited about them?

7:35 - They didn't show Garnett's powder-splash.

7:42 - Wow, that was really sw... wait, that was really sweet... no, wait...

7:46 - Blocks?  Pick-and-rolls?  Uncontested backdoor plays?  Rajon Rondo steal + layup?

- PERK!!!!!

7:49 - WHERE DID... WHAT DID... WHO... WHAT?!?!??

7:50 - Welp... I peed my pants.

And I may pee them again if I keep watching this.

They just took the first quarter 38-22 from a deep, talented Denver team, and at this writing are up 53-30.  They shot 73% from the field through sixteen minutes, taking nothing but uncontested jumpers and backdoor layups.  Perk's being left alone inside right next to the cookie jar.  Rondo and Eddie House are looking like perfectly acceptable bit players, especially Rondo, who had two steal + layup plays in the first eight minutes.

Can you tell yet that I'm sold?

The extent to which this is the return of BASKETBALL to Boston cannot be overstated.  This was jawdropping, absolutely revelatory.  These guys are for real.  This is no mere 48-win team.  There will be no transition; it's already been made.

Getcha popcorn ready.

Offseason Strategy: Yankees    

I thought I'd start a little project, of briefly discussing what I would seek to do, were I the GM of a team during this offseason. Hopefully, y'all will follow suit and we can cover as many of the teams as possible.

I'll start, naturally, with the Yankees.


1) Don't Panic
Whoops, really too late for that. Chalk up the Torre and ARod debacles to panic. That said, they got Girardi, who would have been my #1 non-Torre choice, by FAR. You'll see with the rest of this post, Don't Panic will emerge as a recurrent theme. The bottom line is that their farm system has begun producing for the first time in a decade, and that's awesome.

2) Reverse your stance on ARod, privately, and extend him the olive branch that is a $325M contract. I don't give a shit about postseason samples, he's still the best player in the game, and shows exactly 0 signs of regression. Hell, offer him the SS job, and move Jeet to 3B, if that'd make him happy. I fully realize of course that this has 0 chance of happening, cause Hank Steinbrenner would look like a complete tool if he allowed this.

3) Failing ARod, don't overpay for Miguel Cabrera. Yes, he's an absurdly good hitter, and yes, he's still young and relatively affordable (for now). That said, he's putting on weight like a freshman brah, and I don't like the double whammy of having to trade away young talent and sign him to a long term deal. Without a long term deal, he's not worth the talent they'd have to give up, and I don't think he's a sure thing to live up to that contract. At the same time, although Wilson Betemit is pretty pathetic as your everyday 3B, the yankees honestly don't need offense from that position. They can, and should, seek better short-term options elsewhere (see below), and wait on filling this hole long-term until they figure out their long-term solutions at CF and 1B.

4) Let Melky play CF every day. Toss Damon into the DH/IB/reserve OF hopper, hope he catches fire early, and trade his ass for 50 cents on the dollar. Damon = Sunk Cost.

5) Pick up the 16M option on Abreu. Done and done.

6) Platoon Shelley Duncan at 1B with Giambi. Duncan cannot hit righties. Giambi can't hit lefties. Put Giambi on a goddamn aerobics regimen, and install a v-chip in his head that shocks him whenever he tries to pull the ball. Get him back to hitting gap doubles the other way and he's still a valuable hitter. Dougie Malphabet can get spot starts, and be a defensive replacement.

7) Insert Joba and Hughes into rotation. Wait. Profit. Give them time to struggle. While growing pains can be expected of both of them, which might even (gasp!) lead to missing the playoffs, in the long run, both have the makeup to be starters, and very good ones, for a long time.

8) If you must make a trade involving one of the kids, trade either IPK or Cano. While I love Cano, I'm still unconvinced he's going to be a superstar, and his value may never be higher than it is now. I think IPK is a 4th starter for a contender at best, and while that's pretty great, if you can get major value for him from some very stupid GM, I think you make the deal.

9) Offer Lowell a 2 year deal that is 25% larger than whatever another team is offering him per year. It looks like he's staying with the Sox though, oh well.

10) Hiroki Kuroda: DO NOT WANT. I read the words, "12-8 with a 3.56 earned run average for the Carp last season. He led Japan's Central League with a 1.85 earned run average in 2006 and has 74 complete games in 244 career starts" and I get very very fearful for this guy's long-term potential. Oh, by the way, he's 33.

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