Friday, March 30, 2007

Angels address offensive shortcomings, tell Guererro to swing harder

Spring Training 2007 Preview: Los Angeles Angels

The Angels failed to add a power bat this offseason to bolster their relatively mediocre offense, but Manager Mike Scioscia believes he has come up with the solution to the problem.

"We're going to tell Vladimir Guererro to swing a whole lot harder," Scioscia said.

Scioscia did not elaborate on this point, but, rather, leaned back in his chair and demonstratively dusted off his hands for about five minutes.

Angels General Manager Bill Stoneman, reportedly on the hot seat this season after failing to add a true middle-of-the-order presence to the Angels' lineup, immediately and wholeheartedly jumped on the idea of having Guererro swing at the ball even harder.

"Think about it," he said. "Vlad has hit 65 homers the past two years, twice what anyone else on the team has done. But - he's also hit 63 doubles in that span. If he swings a lot harder, you figure, probably 40 of those doubles go over the fence, he finishes the year with 60 some homers and viola! Offense is fixed."

Guererro seemed open to the idea of swinging harder, though refused to take credit for being the Angels' lone source of offense.

"I'll see what I can do," he said.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bloggers are nerds and the internet is stupid, Part Ten Trillion

Is there anything more painful than old people making fun of phenomenons they don't even try to understand? Check out this exceptionally bizarre and disturbing piece uncovered by my personal favorite sports site,, who rip into Dan Shaughnessy for this baffling article about Curt Schilling's new blog and the people who read it.

Enough links in that sentence? Here's a link to a very fat cat.

Shaughnessy's article is disturbingly out-of-touch and chillingly unfunny throughout, and the Firejoemorgan site does a more than worthy job of tearing the article to shreds, but the paragraph that really nailed me was this one, with Shaughnessy writing from the point of view of a fictional fan posting on Curt Schilling's site:

Fanboy38: God bless you, Schill. You are the greatest human being, ever. I'm glad you have this blog because I could never speak to you face-to-face. It's so much easier to communicate anonymously, without eye contact or using my real name. That's why blogs are better.

Shaughnessy is actually insinuating that these Schilling fans would prefer to talk to him on a blog than in person, as though they have ready, face-to-face access with Schilling at all times but instead choose to only speak to him online because they're afraid of eye contact. He then furthers the point with an open-ended "that's why blogs are better" comment, arguing that people who read blogs prefer them to all aspects of tangible life. How many blog readers have ever realistically taken up this position? Absolutely none, ever? Then why rail against it?

It is gut-wrenchingly ironic how every attempt by elder authors to criticize, lampoon, and dismiss the significance of the internet and its patrons ends up being far more ignorant and exponentially more stereotypical than any of the subjects that their frustrated, bitter, writing-on-the-walls-seeing minds are lashing out against. Am I biased because I write a blog myself? Perhaps. But I think I'm more biased because I'm a rational, generally content human being with little interest in reveling in narrow-minded bitterness.

Safe to say, next time I see Shaughnessy's Eric-Idle-with-cum-in-his-hair fro on "Rome Is Burning," it's going to be hard to take him seriously, and not just because he has a ridiculous fro that looks like Eric Idle's fro would if it had cum in it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

NCAA vows to intentionally botch seeding in '08 to create upsets

The NCAA selection committee has issued a formal apology to college basketball fans for seeding teams too accurately this year, which has resulted in a disastrous Final Four consisting solely of incredibly talented, exciting, well-coached basketball teams. To prevent similar debacles from occurring in future tournaments, the NCAA has officially decided to seed teams incorrectly from now on in the hopes of increasing the propensity for sportstalk-fueling upsets.

"All these good teams in the Final Four this year, I feel like we really dropped the ball," said Gary D. Walters, head of the NCAA Men's Basketball selection committee. "Fans don't want to see really outstanding teams playing basketball well and therefore earning spots in the finals against one another. Something had to be done to get some upsets going, and we feel like this new 'wrong seeding' plan might do the trick."

The new seeding plan carries the following mandates:

- The top team in the Big East can be seeded no higher than number four, and all other teams in the Big East will be seeded 11 or lower, allowing people to say "wow, the Big East really got screwed this year, I could easily see (Pitt/Marquette/Louisville etc.) knocking off a three seed."

- Three of the four number one seeds will be given to Big Ten teams, although in the event that a legitimate team emerges from the Big Ten, like this year's Ohio State, they will be dropped to an 8 seed and immediately labelled a "Cinderella."

- Any teams that most people haven't heard of (i.e., Memphis, Butler, Southern Ill.) will be seeded no higher than 13, regardless of their record.

- If no double-digit seeds make the Final Four, the lowest-seeded remaining team will instantly be changed to a 15 seed, and everyone will have root for them, including fans of the three other remaining teams.

- Finally, the entire PAC-10 will automatically make the tournament and be given seeds 2 through 6.

"I hope this new plan works," said Walters, "because I really don't want fans to be tortured like they have been this year. Florida / UCLA and Ohio State / Georgetown? Who's going to want to watch this crap? People keep telling me 'I miss George Mason, I miss...' then they try to think of another example like George Mason and can't but still, it makes me feel really guilty for putting them through these predictable-in-retrospect catastrophes."

"Next year," added Walters, "when someone at the water cooler says 'hey, how bout North Carolina? Ten seed making it to the Final Four, huh?' I'll know that I've done my job right."

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Ottawa Senators Ain't Tissues

Yay! Another Linda Cohn column! This time, though, it's actually something I agree with - she argues that the Ottawa Senators might be more prepared for the playoffs this year because they haven't coasted through the regular season blowing teams out and they're a little less reliant on pure talent for offense. However, since I'm an A-hole, and the article is nonsense, let's take another close look at what ESPN considers to be worthy NHL journalism:

Thanks to March Madness, it's been a couple of weeks since my last column. I'm not talking about the true March Madness that takes place each season in the NHL.

...I'm talking about that fake, college basketball March Madness! When I said the term "March Madness," you probably thought I was talking about regular season hockey games being played in March, but no, I meant the huge, important NCAA Basketball tournament that is constantly referred to as "March Madness."

No, the Worldwide Leader sent me to Pittsburgh to do play-by-play duties for the first two rounds of the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Still, the women's tournament got me thinking about the Ottawa Senators.

How badly was your mind wandering while watching these Women's basketball games? I guess I can't blame you, I can't really watch them either.

Year after year, the Senators were a team rich with talent. Scoring came easy, and so did wins. Regular-season wins, that is. When the playoffs rolled around, the Senators transformed into a box of tissues -- soft.

First off, I don't think the Senators magically became soft when the playoffs began, but rather were soft all season but were never really pushed or exposed til the playoffs. Secondly, if your hockey team transforms into a box of tissues, softness is only one of many issues that will prevent you from winning games.

Over the past five regular seasons, the Senators' average point total was an eye-opening 106.2. Their average number appearances in the Stanley Cup finals -- zero.

The Devils have appeared in the Cup Finals twice in the last five seasons, and no other team has appeared more than once. Obviously, Ottawa choked a little harder than most teams, but still, if they had made a finals appearance, would the sentence read, "...the Senators' average point total was an eye-opening 106.2. Their average number appearances in the Stanley Cup finals -- 0.2"? Unless you're trying to be dramatic by saying "ZERO," I'm not sure when else "average Cup Finals appearances" would ever be brought up as an actual thing.

Losing Zdeno Chara and Martin Havlat forced coach Bryan Murray's club to change its style of play.

Martin Havlat played 18 regular season games last year and zero playoff games. The Senators weren't exactly playing "Havlatball."

While Ottawa had teams with tremendous skill, those teams were short in the heart, desire and efficiency departments. But, you can now flush those boxes of tissues down the drain. The 2006-07 Sens are more sandpaper than cotton ball!

Watch out, NHL - you can't apply makeup with this year's Ottawa Senators, but you can remove paint with them! They are an object that is slightly rougher than the object they were last year! Also, how can you get rid of boxes of tissues by "flushing them down the drain?" That's not just a crappy metaphor, it's bad common sense.

Also, while I agree that the Senators appear a little more system-oriented and less reliant on talent this year (although they are giving up .15 more goals per game), it's not like last year's team got flushed down a drain and replaced by totally new guys.

2005-06 Senators Ice Time leaders: Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Chris Phillips, Jason Spezza, Andrej Meszaros

2006-07 Senators Ice Time leaders: Wade Redden, Chris Phillips, Andrej Meszaros, Daniel Alfredsson, Anton Volchenkov, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza

Pretty much the same group minus the 6'9", extremely physical Chara. These are still the same tissues as last year, just slightly less soft tissues. They might irritate your nose.

With or without home ice, don't sleep on the Sens. They're no longer pillow-soft.

They're not tissues, cotton balls, pillows, blankets, marshmallows, stuffed animals, fur coats, kittens, cotton candy, soft serve ice cream, sofas, coonskin caps, or one of those big stuntman airbags for jumping off buildings and landing. No. This year, the Ottawa Senators are HUMAN ADULTS.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blue Jays lock up Wells, looking to deal Wells
Spring Training '07 Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays signed center fielder and franchise face Vernon Wells to a 7-year, $126 million contract this offseason, but now are in a position where they have only two weeks to move Wells' enormous contract before the 2007 season begins.

Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi was alternatingly ecstatic and anxious about the situation.

"We are absolutely thrilled to come to an agreement," Ricciardi said, "Vernon is one of the most popular players in our team's history, and also one of the best, and we could not be happier to finally have him under contract for the next seven years."

Ricciardi added, "However, our fans understand that this game is a business, and sometimes teams have to make difficult decisions that, while perhaps not popular, are for the good of the franchise. We simply cannot afford to commit such a large percentage of our payroll to one individual, even one as spectacular as Vernon."

Wells reportedly held back tears when the deal was finalized, then continued to hold them back when he learned he would be leaving Toronto, the only franchise he has played for in his eight-year career.

"To have financial security for myself and my family," choked an emotional Wells, "it's just beyond words. I understand that there is no way Toronto will be able to pay me this money, though, and while it will be difficult to leave the city and these fans who've been so supportive of me over the years, well, it's kind of bitter sweet."

Wells added, "My career is at a crossroads. A wonderful, wonderful crossroads."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Them's Pirates got moxie

Pirates Manager Jim Tracy said the following to describe Ian Snell's five scoreless innings of spring training ball yesterday:

"He had good sink, and his moxie was way up there."

Not that outlandish, but in my book, anyone who unironically uses olde tyme expressions to describe actual things is instantly my favorite human being.

As long as the Buccos keep Chris Duffy on the trolley and Salomon Torres keeps his gatsby out of the giggle water, it could be a cat's pajamas of a wowzamadoo for the Pirates in aught seven.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Headlines: Tuesday, March 20

Wells determined to eat diabetes

San Diego Padres pitcher David Wells was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes yesterday, but he today vowed to eat the disease, and that he would not allow it to affect his on-field performance.

"I've eaten worse things than diabetes," said Wells, chewing on a massive fried turkey leg in the Padres clubhouse. "People dare me to eat awful shit all the time - coins, rosin bags, Brian Giles' tanning solution, you name it. I once ate a stereo and belched 'Hells Bells' for Trevor Hoffman. I don't think eating this diabetes will be that much of a challenge."

Bengals lineman arrested for being punched by Joey Porter

Yet another Cincinnati Bengal is in legal trouble after offensive lineman Levi Jones was arrested for being punched by Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter at a casino blackjack table. The punch-receiving was just another of many criminal acts that has put more than six Bengals at odds with the law in the last eighteen months.

Last week, Bengals defensive end Justin Smith was arrested after his car was rear-ended by a drunk driver, though a Hamilton County judge recommended the minimum sentence of six months in prison for Smith because of his lack of prior convictions.

Reds move Griffey to right to prepare for injury

Cincinnati Reds manager Jerry Narron said that Ken Griffey Jr. will open the season in right field this year, putting him at a much easier position to replace once he gets injured.

"It's really tough to replace a center fielder," explained Narron. "Every year, he goes down and it leaves us with a big hole out there, so we figure if we start him in right, when he gets hurt, we can just throw Josh Hamilton over there or something. Wait, do we have Jeff Conine now? Whatever."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Most point-having NCAA article ever!

In the latest round of ESPN downplaying the excitement of a sporting event which is not broadcast on ESPN, Pat Forde wrote a thoroughly pointless article about how March Madness is going to be boring because there's no Cinderella team this year. Three quick things that anger me before we get to the article's gooey inside:

1 - Would ESPN be talking about how boring the tournament is if it weren't being broadcast on CBS? If the tournament were on ABC, we'd have 30 minute breakdowns of every matchup on Sportscenter, with everyone in the studio raving about how Thursday at 12:10 ET can't come soon enough, and every tickerbar for the next five days would have a lengthy section devoted to every matchup, with the date, time, and different facts about each matchup scrolling by throughout the day.

2 - Is anyone actually saying "aw, man, you mean we might have to watch Florida vs Kansas and Georgetown vs UNC? This sucks!"

3 - Every year, people talk about how much they don't care about the World Series when the Yankees and Red Sox aren't involved. Apparently, a young Tigers team just a couple years removed from a joke season and a banged-up, falling-apart Cardinals team that managed to crawl through two rounds of the playoffs don't count as Cinderellas? I'm not saying I was thrilled to watch the Tigers and the Cardinals in '06, but come on, sportswriters, pick a mindset - do you want to see underdogs or not?

As if the purpose for Forde's article isn't stupid enough, the actual article itself is some of the most substandard (non-NHL) journalism I have ever seen on The article begins:

Cinderella, the plucky princess of March Madness, died a quick and undramatic death over the weekend. She was 12... Pause with us while we mourn Cindy's passing for a moment.

This sure is awfully literal - did he really have to give a specific age to this dead little girl that he's describing? At first I thought he picked '12' because of the 12 seeds, but no 12 seeds played in round 2, VCU and Winthrop were 11s. Forde literally just made up the age of a symbolic child who was killed by high-seeded basketball teams this weekend. She was also "plucky."

The 2007 version of a glass-slippered party crasher is No. 7 seed UNLV, which is a joke. As I've been saying since the brackets were unveiled, Vegas was criminally underrated by the selection committee. The Runnin' Rebels were a 4- or 5-seed in underdog's clothing.

I give Forde props for jamming Cinderella analogies into every paragraph, and he's on such a roll, he kind of mentions Little Red Riding Hood too? A 4-seed dressed up as an underdog? Didn't Little Red Selection Committee notice what big ears Grandma UNLV had? What a pointlessly angry paragraph.

This doesn't mean she can't (and won't) rise from the dead in years to come. But for the time being, we'll have to stuff a sock in all the parity talk.

Now we're talking about supernatural zombie Cinderella possibly rising from the dead? I have a simpler, albeit crazier explanation: out of sheer probability, one of the twenty-eight double-digit seeds usually manages to win two games in a given year. This year, for the first time in a while, none of them did. This does not mean we have to stuff any socks into any types of talk, nor does it mean that a fictional girl is going to have to undergo a miracle resurrection next year for an underdog to make it through. If anything, one could argue that the fact that almost all the high seeds won is kind of an exciting anomaly in itself.

If either [Butler or Southern Ill.] wins, we'll be back to rhapsodizing about the achievements of the little guys. But neither will qualify as Cinderella. She's stretched out on a cold slab in the March Madness morgue.

What?? Now there's a literal morgue in fairy tale land? I also love Forde's complete dismissal of any potential excitement that might arise (on CBS) next week. "If Butler or Southern Illinois knock off the one-seeds, it'll be a huge upset that everyone will be talking about. But it can't be fairy tale girl, because she is in a morgue, so don't get too excited when you're watching the games on not-ESPN this weekend. Did I mention how exciting NASCAR, which ESPN is expanding its overage of, is?"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Indians sign Grant Hill to fix injured bullpen

Spring Training '07 Preview: Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians, rattled by the retirement of banged-up Keith Foulke and the uncertainty surrounding Joe Borowski, decided to solidify their bullpen by signing former NBA star Grant Hill to a 4 year, $28 million contract. Reactions from the Indians' franchise has been nothing but optimistic, from the dugout all the way to the front office.

"He's such a likeable guy," said Indians GM Mark Shapiro, "everyone's always pulling for him. If he can stay healthy, he'll fit in great, he's a real character addition to our bullpen."

Hill failed every facet of the Indians' team physical with flying colors, and the Indians offered him the contract the next day, a class move which Hill described as "very, very surprising."

"I thought it was a joke," Hill recalls, "I'm thirty-four, I've never thrown a baseball, I'm still in the NBA, and so on. I guess they have a bunch of injured guys in their bullpen, though, and they kept telling me I'd be the 'perfect fit.' I was flattered. Surprised, not completely sure what they meant, but yeah, mostly flattered."

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians may still be looking to add another player to the bullpen mix in case Hill gets injured; among the leading candidates to be signed are former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann, former Detroit Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov, Barbaro, and Hilary Swank's character from "Million Dollar Baby."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Steve Nash = Ted Leo?

Anyone ever notice how much Steve Nash looks like indie rocker Ted Leo? Seriously, anyone? Hello? Not a lot of fans of fundamental basketball and ultra-catchy, vaguely politically charged indie rock out there? I know I'm not the only one who's ever noticed this, right?

You guys are all losers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Meche intent on not pitching like Gil Meche

Spring Training '07 Preview: Kansas City Royals

When Gil Meche agreed to a 5-year, $55 million deal with the Royals this offseason, he knew his days of coasting through the league as a fundamentally mediocre pitcher were over. In fact, Meche recalls the day of the signing as clearly as his first day in the big leagues.

"When I got this huge contract, I was all like, 'whoa shit, I need to pitch a lot better now," he said. "It was fun sort of goofing off in Seattle, tossing out the occassional decent start every couple months, but I'm making a lot of money now, so I feel like I ought to concentrate on being a really good pitcher."

Meche refuses to accept praise for his refreshing new mindset, attributing all the credit to the motivational thinking of Royals General Manager Dayton Moore.

"What were we gonna do," explained Moore, "give him $6 million and have him putz around out there with his 1.50 WHIP like he's done every year of his life? Hell no. We gave him fifty-five million dollars thinking it would be a major wake-up call, a way of letting him know, 'you're making a lot of money now, so you better not pitch like you have in your entire career up until this point.'"

Meche has gone so far out of his way to not pitch like himself, he plans to go by the name "Brandon Ryder" this season so that fans will assume he's an up-and-coming young prospect and not a pitcher coming off two 5.00+ ERA seasons in the last three years despite playing in a massive, pitcher-friendly home stadium. He has also not ruled out pitching left-handed, throwing nothing but knuckleballs, and wearing slanty-eyed novelty glasses to make himself appear Asian.

What's next, frosted tips?

"Ha, no way," laughed Meche. "A green mohawk, actually."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Rangers expect Sosa to regain '60-homer form'

Spring Training '07 Preview: Texas Rangers

General Manager Jon Daniels knows that his Texas Rangers had some problems last year: starting pitching, bullpen, the list goes on and on. The Rangers' most glaring flaw, however, besides every other imaginable aspect of baseball, was their inability to hit home runs.

Daniels could have sat idly by or made some minor cosmetic changes and pretended everything was all better, but instead, he went out and made a huge splash.

How big of a splash?

Try Sammy Sosa. As in, "three-time sixty home run hitter" Sammy Sosa.

"I couldn't believe no one had signed Sammy Sosa," Daniels explained. "When I saw he was available, I assumed it was like Jorge Sosa or some young Diamondbacks guy I'd never heard of, but when I called him in, it was really him! How did everyone forget about him, did they all just assume he was signed? Here was a guy with 588 career home runs, and he was more than willing to accept a minor league contract. What a rare find! Talented and modest."

Asked if he believed Sosa could actually duplicate his 60-HR totals from seasons past, Daniels answered, "Yeah, of course he can. Why couldn't he? How much could have possibly changed in a couple years? The guy had knee problems in 2003 and he still hit 40 homers. What, did he just get all weak now or something? In three years? How much sense does that make?"

The rest of the Rangers' front-office has echoed Daniels' enthusiasm about the Sosa signing.

Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine recalls, "When Jon said he was looking for more power, I said, 'I got two words for you: Sammy... Sosa!' I thought it was a funny joke, but I think Jon took it a little too far when he actually signed him. Although, Frank Thomas going to Oakland last year happened after someone lost a bet, and that actually turned out alright."

As for Sosa himself, when asked if he felt he could regain his 60-HR form, the slugger responded with guarded optimism.

"Ummm - probably not?" replied a characteristically modest Sosa. "I guess I could maybe get a ball over a fence now, if there's a whole bunch of wind or something, I haven't really tried in like a year. I doubt I can hit the ball 500 feet anymore, but that's mostly just because I'm older; you know how getting older makes you a whole, whole lot weaker. I am a little more experienced now, and I do know the pitchers a little better, so maybe something in the 8-11 HR range isn't out of the question."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Erstad brings 60 games worth of toughness, hustle to Sox

Spring Training '07 Preview: Chicago White Sox

Ninety-six. That's the number of games played Darin Erstad has averaged over the last four seasons.

Ninety-six million. That's how gritty Darin Erstad is.

The Chicago White Sox, in an effort to get tougher and hustle some more, added Darin "Tuffygrit" Erstad this offseason. Needless to say, the team is already excited about what he can bring to the table for at least fifty or so games in 2007.

"I feel like there were about 60 games last year where we were not tough," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen attempted to say. "If we have Darin for half of those, I feel like we will be tougher and get us some winning baseball."

He added, "[BLEEP]."

White Sox GM Kenny Williams jumped at the opportunity to bring Erstad's five-tool combination of toughness, grit, hustle, presence, and injury-proneness to Chicago.

"He brings a certain presence to the clubhouse," said Williams. "Him just being there reminds other players to be tough and hustle. Even when Darin's hurt, he's still right there in the clubhouse, like he's telling the other players 'hey, I can be just as valuable when I'm not playing!' The guys really respond to that, you know?"

Angels outfielder Garrett Anderson, Erstad's longtime teammate in Anaheim, raved about Erstad's ability to affect a team's entire mentality.

"He does get hurt a lot," explained Anderson, "but when he's out, if your team struggles, people talk about how you're just missing Erstad's presence in your lineup, and you don't feel so bad. If your team succeeds, then people say 'imagine how good they're gonna be when they get Erstad back!' Nothing Darin does ever has any negative impact on anything, and that's why I feel like Chicago is really gonna love him."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

FBI institutes "Mariners Protection Program"

Spring Training '07 Preview: Seattle Mariners

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently unveiled their new "Mariners Protection Program," an alternative to the Witness Protection Program that, rather than completely erasing the lives of endangered witnesses, simply places persons who testify onto the Seattle Mariners.

"We finally found a happy medium," said William Souther, the program's co-founder and director. "People don't have to give up their lives, but once they're sent to Seattle, national interest in them rapidly dissipates. It's also kind of exciting for them, they get to play on a professional baseball team."

Souther said the idea struck him after he realized that he hadn't seen nor heard anything about Adrian Beltre, runner-up for the 2004 National League MVP award, in more than two years.

"I couldn't believe how effectively they were hiding these guys," gushed Souther. "Beltre, Richie Sexson, Eddie Guardado, Carl Everett, Jarrod Washburn, Mike Hargrove - used to be sought after by other teams, then all the sudden, whoosh! Vanished into thin air. Apparently Jeff Weaver just headed out there too - good luck finding him and killing him now, Bill Stoneman!"

Souther added, "The best part of the program is, the witnesses don't have to hide from anything. Their games will be televised, they'll be covered in the papers - somehow, no one ever seems to notice or care. As long as the people they testify against aren't third generation Seattleans, they couldn't be less interested anytime they see that teal spikeyball of safety."

Mariners GM Bill Bavasi, when asked if he was concerned about having to deal with an upcoming influx of random citizens onto his baseball club, said he wasn't fazed.

"No biggie," Bavasi commented. "They can't be more useless than Jeremy Reed."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The St. Joseph's, Boston College, Stills and Nash Eagles
In one of the more pathetic sports stories I have ever heard (thanks to my friend Grib for the tip), St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia is officially adopting the Boston College Eagles as their school football team.

That factual statement is already so far beyond a joke, I'm not really sure what else I have to say in this post. Here's a cartoon airplane:

Monday, March 05, 2007

Forbes knows less about sports than that dude yelling at the bar

I'm usually Numbertruster McStatso in this blogspace, but this Forbes Magazine list attempting to quantify the 100 Best General Managers in sports is about as pitiful as it is retarded.

Using a poorly conceived mishmash of flimsy stats called "winning improvement index" and "payroll containment," Forbes has determined that the best GMs in sports are:

1. Kevin McHale, Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Jay Feaster, Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Billy King, Philadelphia 76ers
4. A.J. Smith, San Diego Chargers
5. Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils
6. Don Waddell, Atlanta Thrashers

First off, besides Feaster and Lamoriello, none of the others have won a championship; King's 76ers did make the NBA Finals in 2001, meaning four of the six best GMs in sports have a combined one Finals appearance in 29 seasons (McHale's Wolves have gotten past the first round once in his 11 years there.) Also note that McHale, King, and Waddell could all conceivably be fired in the next year and their fanbases would be happy. Can the same be said for Billy Beane (#26), John Schuerholz (#42), or Ozzie Newsome (#89)? Not to mention A.J. Smith constantly feuding with coaches and giving away Drew Brees to New Orleans, or Don Waddell adding Keith Tkachuk to the group of one-dimensional forwards he calls a team, or EVERY SINGLE CONTRACT Billy King and McHale have dished out in the past four years?

All right, so the list is BS. I don't need to waste more than a paragraph debating that point. My question is, though, how can Forbes, which seems so smart when it's sitting in my investment banker friends' bathrooms, come up with such a fundamentally flawed module?

Big problem number one - this garbage "Winning Improvement index" is meaningless. Billy Beane is the highest-ranked baseball GM at #26, just one spot above fucking Bobby Clarke, who was fired earlier this year and probably should have been two years ago. The list apparently treats winning and winning percentage as numerical equivalents between all sports; in the NFL, the Chargers went 14-2 this year, in the NBA, the Mavericks have an .847 win percentage, and in the NHL, with win totals weighted because of overtime victories, Buffalo technically has a .733 win percentage. Meanwhile, no team in baseball even finished above .600 in 2006, and the '01 Mariners, who set a modern record for wins, still only finished at .716. No matter what, improvement in baseball is never going to be as numerically drastic as it will in the other sports, and, as a result, Dave Taylor (#18) of the hapless LA Kings is a better GM than the Twins' Terry Ryan (#53).

Big problem number two - Counting "winning improvement" and not just "winning" improperly rewards GMs who happen to have taken over for struggling teams. The Chargers were 31-65 in the six seasons prior to A.J. Smith's arrival, which not only means that pretty much anything the Chargers would have done under Smith would have been an improvement, but it also means that Smith was allowed to reap the benefits of five seasons of high drafting, including the infamous Michael Vick trade orchestrated by John Butler prior to Smith's tenure that resulted in LaDanian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, and Drew Brees coming to San Diego. The team obviously improved after that, and, long story short, A.J. Smith has a Winning Improvement index of 209, securing his space on Dumbnumbers Magazine's list of stupid doodooheads.

I could go on to talk about how the list only measures vague franchise results, not the actual actions of the GMs, or about how it doesn't weigh in highs and lows or playoff success, or pretty much anything about anything, for that matter, but what's the point? We all know that it would just more or less confirm what this list tells us - that Isiah Thomas of the Knicks (#82) and Dave Littlefield of the Pirates (#84) are better GMs than the Red Wings' Ken Holland (#90) and his three poorly indexed Stanley Cups.
Leyland motivates Tigers with vaguely gruff mumbles

Spring Training '07 Preview: Detroit Tigers

Jim Leyland, the master motivator whose barely-audible strings of authoritative cliches motivated the Tigers all the way into the World Series last year now faces an even greater challenge: motivating his team again in 2007.

"We had a good year, lot of good young players," mumbled Leyland, his cigarette-soaked voice seemingly coming from his moustache. "We can't be lazy, we've got to be good again this year, do some good things, good players, and play some good baseball."

Leyland's managerial style of occassionally saying things about stuff may be a radical departure from what every other manager in the league does, but the young Tigers are not shy about praising their usually inaudible leader.

"He gets me so goddamn motivated," beamed righty Justin Verlander as he unleashed a barrage of highly motivated 98 MPH fastballs during a bullpen session. "Before he got here, I was throwing in the low nineties and hanging breaking balls all the time, but when he became our manager and started mumbling things like 'big game today gotta look alive' or 'Verlander, nice something something of the something,' I just instantly started pitching so much better. I'm pretty sure one of those 'somethings' was a swear word, too."

Though Leyland's reputation as a motivator is well-known, he is more than humble when asked to explain his success as a manager.

"I don't know," Leyland admitted, "maybe other teams' managers don't say things ever or toss occassional witty quips to the press? It sure worked last year, I guess. I also [bleep] find that throwing in a bleeped swear word where one couldn't possibly belong in a sentence makes for good sound bytes. I figure that probably got us like an extra five wins."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Drew adjusting to being douchebag in entirely new league

Spring Training '07 Preview: Boston Red Sox

A new team. A new city. A new league. A new, non-douchey J.D. Drew?


The Red Sox aren't surprised that J.D. Drew has adjusted to being an enormously unlikeable douchebag in the American League - after all, they wouldn't have gambled on a 5 year, $50 million contract if they were worried Drew couldn't adjust - but they've been pleasantly surprised with just how quickly he's adjusted to American League douchebaggery.

Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan raves, "J.D. is just one of those guys who can roll out of bed, walk into the batter's box, and be a giant douche. Kind of reminds me of George Brett, you know?"

Drew has already impressed some of his teammates with his complete lack of regret for holding out, his humorously low games played totals, and his generally unwarm demeanor, but Drew says he won't be content until he establishes himself as an elite American League Douchebag.

"Douches in the American League are on a whole 'nother level," Drew said. " You got Manny, A-Rod, Billy Beane, Curt Schilling, Carl Everett is probably on some team - you're sort of starstruck at first, but it's just up to me to prove I belong."

When asked about the biggest adjustment he would have to make, Drew responded, "I think having the Designated Hitter changes some things. Now if I have an ankle injury or something, I could probably still get in the lineup as a DH, so I'll have to make sure to get a lot more injured. I'm excited - I want to be remembered as one of the most notorious douchebags ever to wear a Red Sox uniform."

He added, "At least for like two years, then maybe I'll hold out and go to, I don't know, the Angels or something?"
Suck it, Manatee!

Looks like the Buccos came ready to play this season. Bring on Bassett Hound!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Headlines: Thursday, March 1

Angels kind of hoping Matthews is still taking steroids

With news breaking that Gary Matthews Jr. may have taken steroids before his all-star 2006 season, the Los Angeles Angels, who signed Matthews to a 5 year, $50 million contract this fall, are all sort of secretly hoping that he hasn't quit the juice.

"Um, yeah, steroids are really bad," admitted Angels GM Bill Stoneman. "I guess he should stop taking them? I don't know, I really hope he doesn't go back to playing like a disposable journeyman, especially after all that money we're giving him. Hmm..."

Sabres looking for Zubrus to bolster eighth line

The Buffalo Sabres are excited about their acquisition of veteran winger Dainius Zubrus, who coach Lindy Ruff described as "A solid two-way player who should really fit in well on our eighth line."

Sabres GM Darcy Regier explained, "We already have about fifteen forwards who can score, but depth is a really important part of this league. We'll dress four lines, our fifth and sixth lines will stay in the locker room, the seventh will hang out in the parking lot, and Dainus will watch the games from his hotel room next to a telephone."

He added, "We have a window of opportinuty right now, and we don't want something like a flu outbreak or a team plane crash to derail our momentum."

Ravens swear they're done sleeping with Jamal Lewis

The Baltimore Ravens again parted ways with runningback Jamal Lewis yesterday, though numerous reports are suggesting that Baltimore may relapse and invite Lewis over before training camp starts.

"No, I'm serious this time, we're finished," coach Brian Billick kept saying repeatedly. "No, I'm not drunk. Shut up, I'm not. I'm really really serious. I'm through with Jamal, I don't care what happens to him."

Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan said that he "Isn't buying it" about Lewis and added, "When I tried to delete Jamal's number from Brian's phone, he yanked it away and started screaming at me. Does that mean we'll see Lewis in a Ravens uniform again? I don't know, you tell me."