Friday, January 25, 2008

I am a partisan.

But it just seemed noteworthy to me that the Twins spent money today, handing out huge contracts to (sham) 2006 MVP Justin Morneau and OF Michael Cuddyer. The numbers on it are six years, $80 millions for Morneau and three and $23 for Cuddyer. Clearly $100+ million could have been better spent on a Santana extension, especially that considering the two who got paid today both had arbitration years left. For months we've been hearing numbers between $120 and $150 millions being what Santana is looking for, either from the Twins, a possible team involved in a trade, or from his free agency next year.

Six More Years of Ugly
(Canadian jokes are not that funny)

I assume that the front office did not sink this money into the two much less valuable players who are still under their control without trying to get it to Santana first. (It is 2008, not 2000 - I don't believe that any GM could possibly misunderstand the value of his own players enough to prize Morneau over Santana.*) It follows, then, that they offered this cash and more to Johan first, and were rebuked. Therefore, unless the Twins have another $100+ million about (they do - but, well, here's the link) this makes them even less likely to retain their ace beyond this year, or possibly, beyond this offseason. So, you know, the chances of him ending up on my team seem larger to me today.

I can't believe I have just added to this most covered of topics on the overflowing internet. I feel like I just wrote an article condemning a Spears.

(*Aside: This is precisely the misvaluation that earned Morneau his MVP in the first place, over his more worthy teammates Santana and Joe Mauer.) There could also be a Bavasi jab here.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

The Glory and The Shame - January 2008

In my ongoing quest to catalog which sports figures are enjoying the greatest increase and/or decrease in good fortunes, I give you this, from the loving oven of my heart. Let this glorious shame wash over you and cleanse you of your sins.


1 - Eli Manning

What once was pitiful and filled with remorse has sprung forth from the depths of mediocrity. Behold! The Quarterback! Hushing his many critics for a whole week, Eli has served to prove at last that the Giants totally overpaid for him and still regret it. Sorry, Eli...

2 - Bud Selig
How did he get an extension so soon after the steroids implosion? This man has omega-pimp powers that historians will be struggling to explain for decades to come. Full, double hand slap, pimp powers.
3 - Dwight Howard
Currently enjoying a season of dominance not seen since the movie 'Kazaam' ruled the box office for two years and 3 weeks, Dwight Howard has become the darling of the NBA season. Alas, after the Magic lose to the Rockets in the finals he'll be traded away for a 12 piece KFC bucket. It'll be a fine season in the meantime.

1 - Mascots

2 - Gilbert Arenas
The sting lies in knowing how much better your team has played without you. Yet another injury in a contract year as well? *tsk tsk* Hopefully his side career of becoming the next Apollo Creed can work out after all.

3 - Mangenius
Manny G, seen here in happier days, has endured perhaps the most difficult year of them all. But he didn't lost to the Dolphins, and that will have to serve as an icy cold comfort.


Jesus Christ
Always know that for every hit you get, you must thank Jesus for allowing this to happen, and be grateful that Jesus hates the pitcher you're facing for having masturbated all through college and a bit during the honeymoon.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

NBA Pioneers

We live in dark and troubling times for the National Basketball Association. Michael Jordan continues to hide his diminishing basketball skills by distracting us with his general managing prowess. The Knicks continue to deny New Yorkers their rightful place upon the throne of glory. The Bulls hope in vain to see a slumbering Ben Wallace emerge and offer up a few points before curling up in his nest of money and spittle. Truly, all things Basketball have been in better shape. Some fear that the NBA, and indeed all of sports writing in general, shall never recover from the continued omnipresence of Bill Simmons and his Celtics.

But let's return to our roots, let us go backwards in time to find a renewed wellspring of hope and purity. Farther back than World B. Free, further back than the 10,oooth woman to feel Wilts loving caress, further back than imagined. Back to a time when all was new in Basketball, when one figure stood tall above every new discovery, the one who started it all...

Harriet Tubman - NBA pioneer.

In the early days of Basketball discovery, black men and women were kept uneducated, in order to ensure white dominance on the courts. In these times stepped Harriet, a leader of men and a wicked three-point shot. Harriet quickly emerged as a civil rights pioneer. Under cloak of night, Tubman would lead the slaves to the free lands where they could perfect their court vision without fear of a southern populace denying them.

Harriet Tubman went on to perfect both the pick and roll and the steal. During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman invented the back door pass, which lead to many crippling southern losses on the court. This morale crushing dominance has been said to help lead to the south surrendering.

In order to ensure a better tomorrow, we cannot discard the past. We must never forget the towering contribution made by this amazing woman.

Harriet Tubman - Legend, Pioneer, Champion.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

BBWAA vs. The Academy: This time it's personal

This latest FJM post has inspired me to take a look at the past decade and see who did a worse job: the BBWAA at voting for MVP, or the Academy at voting for Best Picture? Enjoy.


AL MVP: Jason Giambi
NL MVP: Jeff Kent
Best Picture: Gladiator

All steroid crap aside, Giambi had an insane OBP (.476) and has second-place finisher Frank Thomas beat in almost every category. You could've made a solid argument for A-Rod, who had a similar OPS+ to Thomas (162 vs. 163) and still played SS at the time.
Barry Bonds probably should've won in the NL. He had the better OBP (.440 vs. .424 for Kent) the better OPS+ (188 vs. 162), and leads Kent in most of the major counting stats. On the other hand, Kent played a more demanding position (2B vs. LF). Then there's Mike Piazza, who put up similar numbers to Kent while playing C. We'll call it a draw.

"Gladiator" was exactly the type of testosterone-fueled pointlessness that made me loathe 300. "Traffic" was the better and smarter film, and thus should've won here. Hell, I'd vote for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" over "Gladiator".

Who did worse: The Academy


AL MVP: Ichiro Suzuki
NL MVP: Barry Bonds
Best Picture: A Beautiful Mind

It's hard for me to be objective about Ichiro, so I won't bother with this. Sure, Giambi led him in nearly every category possible (except SB and BA), but did the A's win 116 games that year, and does Giambi have a cool batting stance? Didn't think so. As for Bonds, I suppose when you hit 73 homers and put up a 1.378 OPS, you're going to get nearly unanimous support for MVP. No real argument there.

2001 was a really weak year for the Oscars. "A Beautiful Mind" wasn't that great (did Akiva Goldsman really win an Oscar for this?), but who else to vote for? "Lord of the Rings"? "Gosford Park"? "Moulin Rouge"? I forgot "In The Bedroom" even existed until I saw the nomination list.

Who did worse: The Academy, I guess.


AL MVP: Miguel Tejada
NL MVP: Barry Bonds
Best Picture: Chicago

I'm calling bullshit on Tejada's win here. A-Rod had more home runs (57 vs. 34), a higher OPS (1.015 vs. .862), a much higher OBP (.392 vs. .354), a better OPS+ (158 vs. 128) and was way, way better at SS. Bull. Shit. I don't have an argument against Bonds, as usual.

The win for "Chicago" wasn't all too surprising, considering the Academy's hard-on for musicals. But how cool would've it been to see "Spirited Away" get a nod here, and possibly win? One can dream...

Who did worse: the BBWAA


AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Barry Bonds
Best Picture: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Close call on the AL race. Carlos Delgado has a small advantage in most of the stats, and Jorge Posada gets bonus points for playing C. But A-Rod still has the edge here, if only for one reason: he played amazing SS, while Delgado was a statue at 1B. As for the NL, yawn.

Some people would say LOTR is overrated, that it is style-over-substance, ham fisted, over-the-top tripe whose sole reason for existence is to stroke the ego of Peter Jackson. Those people are communists. Fuck them. In the ass. With an authentic Elvish sword I got off Ebay and hung on my wall.

Who did worse: Push


AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero
NL MVP: Barry Bonds
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby

Not much to bitch about here, as both winners pretty clearly had better seasons than their competition.

"Million Dollar Baby" was a fine movie, if a bit melodramatic. That can be attributed to Paul Haggis' script--more on him later. Since Hillary Swank is from Bellingham, I feel compelled to support her; however, she has been trying my patience lately.

Who did worse: Push


AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
Best Picture: Crash

I'm just going to ignore the MVP winners this time. This entire paragraph will be devoted to exorcising my Paul Haggis demon once and for all.

Paul Haggis, if you're reading this: fuck you. You're rich, middle-aged and white; what the fuck do you know about racism, or inner-city urban life? Your obsession with cutting and pasting Hallmark quotes into your screenplays have dragged down otherwise good movies like "Casino Royale" and "Million Dollar Baby". And now we have "Crash", which not only robbed Brokeback Mountain of a much-deserved award, but it had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the crotch. We get it! Racism is bad! Now stop bludgeoning us over the head and get off your fucking pulpit. You fucking douchetit.

Who did worse: The Academy, by a mile.


AL MVP: Justin Morneau
NL MVP: Ryan Howard
Best Picture: The Departed

In a way, I'm kinda glad Jeter didn't win, because then it would give ESPN yet another reason to slob his knob. But there's really no way around this: Jeter had the better year, and should've won. A 132 OPS+ is pretty damn good for a shortstop, and he has Morneau beat by a mile in OBP (.417 vs. .375). Howard's 57 homers look pretty on the stat sheet, but consider this: Albert Pujols hit 49, while playing in 16 less games than Howard. He also had the better OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and played a much better glove at 1B than Howard.

"The Departed" was a great film, and deserved its win. However, I'm still pissed that "Little Miss Sunshine" robbed "Children of Men" of a nomination.

Who did worse: the BBWAA

Final Analysis

We can see here that the Academy has done a slightly worse job at picking the best movie of the year than the BBWAA. This wasn't an exhaustive research, of course: the '00s are a small sample size, and was mostly a decade dominated by Barry Bonds and A-Rod, so it's hard to argue those choices. 2007, of course, was a different story with Jimmy Rollins, and I won't rehash what others have said elsewhere. This year's Oscar race should be a tossup between "No Country For Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood". However, if "Atonement" wins, I'm leaving Hollywood. In flames.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

NFL Draft Mocking, Part 1

The regular season is done. 20 of the 32 teams are done (well, 21, once my Seahawks break my heart in a poetic fashion on Saturday.) Most people are likely breaking down the weekend's playoff matchups to see who has the edge, who has more heart, who has the better bedroom skills, to determine which team will ultimately earn the right to get crushed by the Patroits.

But not me. I'm devoting my time to one thing and one thing only: mock drafting.

I have a sick, sick obsession with mock drafts. Every year I tell myself, "self, this is dumb. Who the fuck knows what GMs are going to pick months in advance?" But every year, I get sucked back into the guessing game. It's a force as unstoppable as Eli Manning's Citizen Eco-Drive.

The NFL draft's recent explosion in popularity has certainly been interesting, if a bit stupefying, to witness. Not more than 6-7 years ago, the draft was an afterthought, something you catch up on in the next days' newspaper, discuss your favorite team's picks for a few minutes, then forget it and wait for training camp. Nowadays, it is an all-weekend extravaganza, web sites are popping up that gauge the senior classes years in advance, and the NFL Combine is now a televised event. There has even been talk of moving the first round to a prime-time slot to attract more viewers. Is it oversaturation? Probably. Personally I don't get the entertainment value of watching a bunch of guys run drills while TV analysts sit around, trying not to look bored. If I wanted that I'd just watch 2004 Olympics reruns.

But I digress. I still find it fun to play GM, to bring out my inner Mel Kiper, so here Part 1 of my mock, picks 1-10. A quick note: the 3-5 picks will be determined by a complicated series of coin flips. So I flipped a coin several times, and the result was such: Oakland 3rd, Atlanta 4th, Kansas City 5th. On to the picks:

1. Miami Dolphins: Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
Bill Parcells could go in several directions here: he could take Jake Long, Chris Long, Darren McFadden, or he could trade the pick altogether. Assuming none of that happens, Dorsey is the obvious pick. He will bring instant credibility to an otherwise atrocious defense, and will also lower the median age by about 7 years.

2. St. Louis Rams: Jake Long, OT, Michigan
I normally get annoyed when people excuse bad seasons by saying, "we had a lot of injuries." Everyone has injuries, but what separates the good teams from the great ones is good enough depth to overcome those injuries. However, when you lose Marc Bulger, Stephen Jackson, Orlando Pace and half your O-line to injuries, that is probably understandable. Pace is nearing the end of the line, and Long is the perfect pick here to eventually replace him.

3. Oakland Raiders: Chris Long, DE/LB, Virginia
Al Davis is a crazy old bastard who hires guys like Art Shell because of sentimental reasons. What makes you think he won't take Howie Long's son for this same purpose? Of course, Chris is a pretty good player, so it won't be a totally bad pick.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
I'll let you make your own Ron Mexico/Bobby Petrino joke here. It's obvious the Falcons need a QB, but Matt Ryan, Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson are reaches at #4. So they will settle for what is perhaps the best player in this draft, what with Warrick Dunn aging and Jerious Norwood not #1 back material.

5. Kansas City Chiefs: Sam Baker, OT, USC
Why did Larry Johnson disappear? Why didn't Brodie Croyle show as much promise as hoped? Simple. The O-line blows.

6. New York Jets: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC
The Jets would love for Chris Long or McFadden to slip here, but if they don't then Ellis is a fine option to anchor the D-line.

7. New England Patriots (from San Francisco): Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State
When you go 16-0, you obviously don't have many holes on the roster. But one area of concern is the secondary, where Asante Samuel is due to become a free agent. James Laurinaitis is a strong possibility here, but the Pats hate drafting linebackers.

8. Baltimore Ravens: Andre Woodson, QB, Kentucky
And the first QB comes off the board. People love Matt Ryan and his "NFL ready" skills, whatever that means, but Woodson has much more upside, as I believe that Ryan and Brian Brohm have already hit their ceiling. Consider Woodson/Ryan to be this year's Young/Leinart.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: James Laurinaitas, MLB, Ohio Stats
The law of averages says that at least one of the Bengals' first-round picks on defense will pan out someday.

10. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Phillips, S, Miami
Don't blame Reggie Bush or Sean Payton for the Saints' regression this year. Blame a secondary that has been so godawful it redefines the meaning of "godawful."

I will post picks 11-20 soon.

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Na na na na na na na na (Hey!)

I don't know when this picture of Tom Brady started circulating - for all I know, people may have been making fun of his scraggly arms and tiny man-tits (so unlike me) for years, and I'm just catching on now. Whatever the case, in the intervening 8 years since this picture was taken, Brady has turned into the Adonis of Baby-Mamma Drama, and everyone can look at it and say, "look at how cute he used to be! He's all growns up now!" Fun story, cute picture, like showing a baby picture of Will Smith or Hitler or something, so we can all marvel at how someone who is famous used to be young and not-famous (just like us!). But really, the insidious part of this whole affair is, why the fuck does the NFL take semi-naked pictures (or videos, I guess, since this looks like a vidcap) of draft prospects in the first place? I mean, I guess they asked him to strip down to his underwear in order to be weighed, so that all the teams that passed on him can say, "he only weighed 180 pounds (or whatever the fuck), how could we know he'd be good at throwing footballs and reading defenses, two things that are intimately connected to how much a person weighs?" But after they got him on the scales, couldn't they give him some slacks, a shirt, some fucking overalls, something, so he could do his on-spot interview with a modicum of dignity? He's being prodded and looked over like a piece of meat, couldn't you at least pretend that this is a professional process and avoid videotaping him in his underwear too? I have to assume that they have videos like this of all of the players who enter the NFL draft, since Brady wasn't exactly a top-tier prospect coming out of college, so somewhere in the NFL's archives a hard drive is filled with thousands of hours of what basically amounts to soft-core pornography. In the end, perhaps this answers the question of why the NFL is so against allowing players to jump straight from high school to the pros - not because of the level of competition, but because all of a sudden their draft workout videos turn from relatively harmless (yet creepy) documentary evidence of the physiques of 21 year old men to criminally prosecutable child pornography. In any case, I think I know who's running the scouting combine:

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