Monday, November 30, 2009

Frustrated.

Because we're not supposed to criticize college basketball players -- since they're young and not getting paid and are representing my alma mater, and all -- I have instead decided to say this about Maurice Acker and David Cubillan. It's the same thing your buddy might tell you if he's trying to set you up with a big girl:

Mo Acker and David Cubillan are very nice people. In fact, after the night they collectively had yesterday (53 minutes, 4 points, 0-6 on threes, 3 assists, 2 rebounds -- COMBINED), I think it's safe to say they're two of the nicest people who have ever played at Marquette. Sure, we got spoiled with four years of Dom James, but, still, you'd think that two very, very nice young men could muster a handful of points and assists in a game. Instead, they were invisible. And nice. Very, very, maddeningly nice.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ok, I'm done with the NBA again.

After a long week of hunting and stuffing my face, I was ready for a full day of doing nothing but sitting on the couch watching sports. And since every day of sports is better when you have an increased rooting interest, I decided to stop by Centsports to place a few wagers on yesterday's events.

Now, I've had a rough run of luck lately (lost six straight parlays), so I was back down to a dime in my account. In an effort to climb out of that hole, I bet said dime on this four way parlay:

CBB: Marquette (+5) over Michigan
CFB: Illinois (+21) over Cincinnati
CFB: Over 40 combined for Colorado-Nebraska
NBA: Bucks (+5) over Oklahoma City

As I'm sure most of you know, Marquette cruised to a victory over Michigan. One down.

And Illinois? They were out of it for most of the game, but Cincinnati's defense kept them just close enough to only lose by 13. Two down.

I'm not going to lie - even with money riding on it, I couldn't pretend to give a shit about Colorado-Nebraska. But, I checked back sometime in the middle of the second half and it was already 28-14. Three down.

Then there was the turd in the punch bowl. It's been a long time since I've cared about the NBA, and I probably shouldn't have allowed myself to get suckered in. With that said, this Bucks team kind of looks like fun, from a distance. I'll admit, I watched Brandon Jennings score 55 against the Warriors and it was a good time. So, certainly they could keep it within 5 against a low-level Western Conference team, right?

Wrong. Last night's game reminded me of everything I hate about watching NBA basketball. The me-first-and-nothing-else-second mentality. Terrible shot decisions. Sloppy play. Players giving up on plays five seconds into the shot clock. All the fundamental skills of a bad high school girls team, demonstrated by players who are supposed to be professionals.

And where the hell was Brandon Jennings? The player I tuned in to watch, Milwaukee's supposed franchise savior, sat out a large chunk of the first quarter and nearly all of the third. While Jennings sat the bench and watched Ersan Ilyasova throw up airballs*, the Thunder went on a 25-4 run and never looked back.

* - Dude, seriously. How many times do you have to miss the same shot? You're on the court with some decent basketball players. Even Michael Redd was less worthless offensively than you last night. Pass the damn ball.

Actually, though, the moment that sticks out in my mind belongs to Hakim Warrick. With the Bucks snowballing downhill in the third quarter, Warrick got an uncontested dunk and hung on the rim for roughly 6 minutes, drawing a T. It's a stupid thing to do, but at least he should learn from it, right? Nope. Next time he scored was another dunk, and he did the same goddamn thing, causing me to yell loud enough to send the dog into hiding. Fortunately, the refs weren't paying attention this time.

It's moments like that that drove me away from the NBA in the first place. And after watching last night's mess, it'll be a while before I give it a chance again.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rumormongering: 'Why doesn't anyone believe me about this Tiger Woods shit?' edition

Me: 'hey, did you hear that rumor about Tiger Woods?'

9 out of 10 people: 'Oh, that terrible accident?'

Me: 'No! Fucker cheated on his wife! Wonder if that 'accident' had anything to do with the wife finding out.'

9 out of 10 people: 'Tiger wouldn't do that.'


Seriously?!

Wes Matthews, NBA starter?

Apparently I have been in some sort of cave for a couple of weeks. I was trying to watch the WGN news at 9 (that's channel 9 at 9... chicken fuckers) and it was interrupted midway by the start of the Bulls at Jazz game. Starting lineups were introduced and, low and behold, Wes Matthews was announced.

I knew he made the team out of necessity (Utah had a few injuries and decided to go into luxury tax territory to carry him for a few games) and then proved himself well enough for a full-time roster spot with good playing time but I was unaware of this starting business. I Googled it and it appears Wes has been starting for two weeks solid.


While his offensive numbers weren't impressive last night (6 pts in 22 minutes of play) he was all over the place and touched the ball quite a bit. I think the Jazz, as a relatively young team, are a good fit for Wes.


From undrafted to rookie starter, way to go Wes!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Thanksgiving, embrace your inner Quevedotarian

Is there an American holiday* more dedicated to gluttony than Thanksgiving? I don't think there is. If ever there was an opportunity to become a Quevedotarian for a day, it's Thanksgiving.

* - Quevedo Day doesn't count. Yes, it's a holiday which originated in America, but it has yet to be accepted by most states.

And how does one become a Quevedotarian, you ask? Are you really that dumb**? One starts by gathering all the food one can find. This is hungry work, so feel free to grab a snack on the way. Then, in a display that would make the producers of Man vs Food shudder, you're going to eat it all. But this is Thanksgiving, so you have to kick it up a notch***, covering all of this food with one of the three major fat groups: gravy, butter, and whipped cream. If you'd like to add a touch of irony, wash it down with a diet soda or twelve.

** - It's a rhetorical question, dumbass.
*** - Bam!

Since you're sitting at home reading a blog at night on a holiday weekend, odds are you're already a prime candidate for Quevedotarianism****. But, on the off chance you're not already an expert glutton, here's a quick Quevedotarian-approved Thanksgiving menu:

**** - Did you see what I did there? I implied you might be fat and lazy*****.
***** - Really, I'm just using the asterisks at this point as a demonstration for Rubie, who could use them in his work, but instead abuses the hell out of parentheses. Seriously. Have you seen him use a set of parentheses inside another set of parentheses******?
****** - Yes, this has actually happened.

  • Turduckens are for pansies. A true Quevedotarian opts for the Oinking Turducken - a boneless duck, inside a boneless chicken, inside a turkey, wrapped in bacon. For added calories, serve with mashed potatoes and bacon grease gravy. Skip the cranberry sauce and any vegetables that may have snuck on the table*******.
  • At least three side dishes you developed a recipe for after seeing it on ThisIsWhyYoureFat.com. I'll recommend the Smortuary, the Toaster Orgy, and to add some extra bacon, The Irish Hog.
  • And finally, finish it off with Pumpkin Pie ala Bazookie. The whole thing. Maybe two.
******* - Seriously, we're working on a masterpiece here, and you were going to screw it up with something healthy? You really are an idiot.

This is actually a light Thanksgiving. You should be done with this by the time the Packers are done finding a way to lose to the Lions tomorrow. Thankfully, most pizza places are still open tomorrow, for when you're hungry again around 4:30. Until then, feel free to munch on some Bold Party Chex Mix********.

******** - Rubie, I still can't believe you called this your favorite junk food. Really? You couldn't do better than that?


Random Musings on Marquette Hoops

I wasn't able to watch last night's Marquette game in person, but I did get to watch it in the stunning clarity of Time Warner Sports, channel 32. It's the second full game I've had a chance to watch, so I feel that qualifies me to make some broad sweeping generalizations on what I think of things so far.

-Ok I know it's been 4 cream puffs to start the year, but I have been pretty impressed with how well Marquette has shot the ball so far. They've posted shooting percentages of 50% or higher in each of the first 4 games. The 3-point percentages have increased each game as well, culminating with a downright silly 60% from behind the arc last night. This is some fine work, even against cupcakes. You would've expected to see at least one night where we go out and shoot 38% and still win due to the inferior competition. I have been especially pleased with how well guys are shooting in the mid-range. Buycks and DJO seem to really have the pull-up, mid-range jumper as a part of their arsenal. Combining them with what Butler and Lazar can do in that area adds an interesting element to the offense. It creates a little different look than what we're used to seeing. James, Matthews and McNeal were all such great finishers that they usually eschewed the mid-range pull-ups for a chance at something around the rim.

-Which segues nicely into my next point. SBTG sent me a text last night about how much he likes the way MU is attacking the zone so far this year. I completely agree. Obviously, any time you shoot 60% from 3-land you're going to obliterate any attempts at playing zone. However, I think the aforementioned pull-up game can also be a very useful weapon against teams that intend to stop you with the zone. I'm not Jim Boeheim, but even I know that zones are vulnerable when you can get past the first level, and score without having to get all the way to the rack and challenge the second level. If Lazar, Butler, Buycks, Johnson-Odom are doing this consistently, and Cubillan and Acker can continue to show the 3-point competency they've demonstrated thus far, then Marquette will be a much tougher team to zone up against this year.

-To quote Rubie Q at Haunted Hoops, "DJO might be GOOD!" I really hope the flashes he showed last night are just the beginning of what we might see from Darius Johnson-Odom.

-Yes, I know that these games have come against the dregs of the the college hoops world, and it will invariably be tougher once we start playing teams with better athletes, etc. But given the fact that the expectations are pretty damn low, and we had no clue what we were going to get out of this crop of newcomers, I'd say the things I've seen thus far have been pretty positive. ("Positive" to be read with Mike McCarthy accent.) I'm pretty excited to see what happens agains Xavier tomorrow. Because if there's one thing that I know about Xavier it's....um..... that they're usuall pretty decent, and they play in the A-10. I thought I knew more, but I guess that's it. Damn.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Where Did James Come From?

When It Rains It Pours

Unfortunately the MU program suffered another season ending injury last night when our lone semi-competent center Chris Otule fractured his right foot. WTF! No this isn't GroundHog Day because last year it was actually Chris' left foot that was fractured that forced him to miss most of the preseason practices and first 10 games of the season. I'm at a loss here. What is the deal with foot injuries in our program? Is this common elsewhere? I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I'm guessing that we have lost 6-8 players in the last 5 years to foot injuries. And that doesn't even include losing Jerel (hand), Dominic (hand), and Junior Cadougan (ruptured achilles) due to other problems. Since Crean's departure, Buzz has just been getting shit on with transfers and injuries........so much so that we rarely (if ever) have had a full complement of 13 available players. I'm not saying that losing Otule blows our shot at a title run, or even blows our shot at making the tourney, but from a depth standpoint, this makes Jimmy and Lazar that much more vulnerable to foul trouble every night.......the 2 guys that WILL influence how successful MU is this year. Sucks.

Report: Sam Winters Candidate for ND Coaching Position

Mixed reports coming out of South Bend reflect Jimmy Clausen as either the victim of a sucker punch thrown by a disappointed Irish fan or an out of control drunk with a long rap sheet that has been covered up by Charlie Weis and the ND program.

Sam Winters was unavailable for comment regarding his status as a potential coaching candidate or his opinion on the Jimmy Clausen situation. Winters is best known for leading the ESU Timberwolves to a Bowl game after losing his Heisman trophy candidate QB, Joe Kane, to an undisclosed injury for half of the season. Jimmy McGinty and Tony D'Amato are also reported to have interest in the position.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Am Idiot, Hear Me Whine.

Hello there, young'ins. My name is Bryan Burwell. I've lived in the great state of Mizzoura for the past 83 years, and, in that time, I've witnessed some mighty fine ball-playin'. I've seen Bobby Gibson, and I've seen the Wizard, and I've seen Big Mac, and I've seen Skip Schumaker and his magnificent mustache.

Because I've seen so much ball-playin', I'm, of course, infinitely more qualified than you Facebookin' little fuckwits to opine on the merits of the modern ballplayer. And today, you young folk have managed to righteously piss me off by votin' for some long-haired she-male -- I think his name is Lincecum -- in the Cy Young balloting. Somehow, you slapnuts didn't realize that there were two better candidates here in St. Lou.

I'm old, and I'm dyspeptic, and I'm really, really fuckin' confused. And now you're gonna hear about it:

Of all the many mysteries surrounding our national pastime, none is more baffling than the rather peculiar obsession by so many who profess a love of baseball who repeatedly try to turn this wonderfully simple game into a mind-numbing, highfalutin' brain twister.

You thought I was just kidding with the dropping of the "g"s on all of those words in the intro, didn't you? You thought I was playing on the tired "this sportswriter is a crotchety old man" meme, right? Ha! JOKE'S ON YOU, COCKSUCKERS! That's how this bastard actually writes!

When did pitching victories become passé?

About the same time saying "passé" did, Jacque.

Apparently I have been misled for all these years. Here I was thinking that guys who win 18, 19, 20 or 25 games were some kind of special. I always figured that a guy who was able to go out on the mound every five days and pretty much guarantee his team a victory was one of those Cy Young-type hurlers everyone dreams about.

Two things:

(1) Keep this "takes the ball every five days" criterion in your back pocket. It'll prove exceedingly useful when Mr. Burwell starts talking about Chris Carpenter in a few paragraphs -- the same Chris Carpenter who missed a month of the season due to injury and, therefore, wasn't able to take the ball every five days ...

(2) More important is this "guy who takes the ball every five days and guarantees his team a victory" shit. Now, of course, no pitcher can guarantee his team a victory every time out; really, what you're looking for is a guy who can consistently give you six, seven, or eight solid innings and only cough up a couple of runs.

In fact, I think some people measure that type of performance. They call it a quality start: six innings, three or less earned runs. It's not a foolproof stat, by any means, but, if you're talking "eats innings and keeps his team in the game," it ain't half bad.

Care to guess who led the National League in quality starts in 2009?

I'll give you a hint: he plays in San Francisco, he has long hair, and Bryan Burwell hates him because he only won 15 games this past season.

Now I find out that I am wrong. Baseball's new wave of deep thinkers and pseudo-intellectuals have told me so loud and clear with the voting in this year's Cy Young awards.

"Pseudo-intellectuals" is an interesting word choice, no? When I think of "pseudo-intellectuals," I typically don't think of people who have facts, data, and reason on their side. I tend to think of people who -- I don't know -- write a sour grapes column because their hometown pitcher didn't win an award, despite the fact that the pitcher led the league in an utterly irrelevant statistic. But maybe that's just me.

Particularly in the NL voting, I am taken aback, because two voters — ESPN.com's Keith Law and Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus — did not include Chris Carpenter on their ballots. Law also had the NL's winningest pitcher, Adam Wainwright (19-8), in third place on his ballot behind Lincecum (15-7) and Javier Vazquez (15-10).

Yes, how dare they? It's not like anyone else voted for Lincecum first. And it's not like Vazquez had better numbers than Carpenter; I mean, he didn't strike out 100 more batters, or post a near-identical FIP or WHIP in 25 more innings, or put up a WAR that was a full win better than Carpenter. Ignoramuses. Bumpuses!

Armed with all their sabermetrics, Carroll and Law — and obviously a lot of other voters — were able to determine that winning the most games in the heat of a pennant push was not nearly as important as looking good while losing.

As fellow condescending smartass -- and BCB Weekend Daddy -- Fatter than Joey points out: picking on Law and Carroll, while acknowledging that "a lot of other voters" were of like mind, is akin to singling out Utah and Idaho for voting for Ronny Reagan in 1984 and saying: "What the fuck were you two thinking?"

Look, I think Lincecum is a heck of a pitcher, arguably the most gifted hurler in baseball. But I always thought the Cy Young was intended to honor the pitcher with the best season, not necessarily to reward the guy who has the best stuff.

Do you still have room in your back pocket? I know you've got the "takes the ball every five days" nugget in there, but I want you to make room for the "pitcher with the best season" piece, too, 'cuz that's going to come in handy when Old Man Burwell completely ignores Lincecum's preposterous June-to-July numbers (11 starts, 4 CG, 2 shut outs, 99 Ks in 83 IP, 1.73 ERA, opposing OPS of .534).

So here's what I still don't get. How can you look at what Wainwright did from a won-loss standpoint and essentially dismiss it in favor of Lincecum?

I can do so, and do so with little (if any) hesitation, because:
  • Lincecum had a better ERA, even though he had a worse defense behind him (witness: Lincecum's FIP was nearly eight-tenths (0.8) of a run better than Wainwright's);
  • Lincecum had four complete games and two shut outs, to Wainwright's one and zero (respectively);
  • Lincecum had a much better K/9 rate;
  • Lincecum had a much better WHIP (1.05 to 1.21);
  • Lincecum gave up 10 homers in 225 innings, while Wainwright gave up 17 in 233 innings;
  • Lincecum had an opposing batting average of .209, while Wainwright put up an opposing BA of .247.
See? It's called "thinking." You can do it, too, Bryan Burwell. It's fucking awesome.

As gifted a pitcher as Lincecum clearly is, he faltered down the stretch when his team was in the playoff hunt. In his last 10 starts, the San Francisco ace was only 3-4 with a 3.15 ERA.

He's right, Lincecum was only 3-4. Now, he lost three of those games by scores of 4-2, 2-1, and 3-0 (respectively), but that doesn't matter. In that last game, for example, Lincecum should've given up (-1) runs. Sure, that's impossible, but if he was really Cy Young material, he'd find a way to make it happen.

(Also: Lincecum faced the Dodgers twice, the Rockies three times, and the NL Champion Phillies once in those final ten starts. For comparison's sake, Wainwright matched up against the Dodgers once and the Rockies once in his final 10 starts. Just sayin' ...)

Oh, and also: PULL THE "BEST SEASON" PIECE OUT OF YOUR BACK POCKET! Smack him in the junk with it! VENGEANCE IS OURS.

I'm sorry, but that has to mean something, doesn't it? If won-loss records are suddenly obsolete, why do we bother to keep the stat?

Probably for the same reason we ask Lou Pinella to cram his gunt into a size 36 baseball pant: because baseball, for all of the great things about the sport, is the slowest-evolving institution this side of Holy Mother Church.

Over the final three months of the season, Wainwright had an 11-3 record with a stunning 1.90 ERA. In Wainwright's last 11 starts, the Cards lost one game. All of this was done in the heat of a push to the postseason.

Did you hang on to your "best season" card? Smack Mr. Burwell in the face with it again. There's no debate that Wainwright was awesome over the last three months of the season. Lincecum was equally transcendent from June to July, and he was fucking dynamite in the first part of August, too. (What's the point? I'm not sure; I'm not the one making the dunderheaded argument.)

What's more: regarding this "heat of a push to the postseason" nonsense? The Cardinals were never less than six games ahead of the Cubs during the final 40 games of the season. Quite the pressure cooker you've got there, Bryan.

So tell me again, why is winning not an important stat anymore?

Well, it's the most important stat, when you're talking about a team. In terms of measuring individual performance, it's downright stupid, since a pitcher doesn't go out there by himself -- though, in Lincecum's case, with that K/9 rate, he probably could -- and since a pitcher rarely contributes to the team's offense.

OK, I'm tired, and this post has now stretched on for two full days, and, honestly, at this point, I'm beyond caring. The only way this column could have been any worse is if Grandpappy started quoting Herm Edwards.

...

Really?

"This is what's great about sports. This is what the greatest thing about sports is. You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game. You don't play it to just play it. That's the great thing about sports: You play to win, and I don't care if you don't have any wins. You go play to win. When you start tellin' me it doesn't matter, then retire. Get out! 'Cause it matters."

Fuck all.

(EDIT: Almost forgot -- much love to Walsh for the link.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

What Exactly Are We Rooting For?


So the Packers got a pretty big win this past Sunday. I didn't see much of it since I was in the woods, but from what I heard it was a pretty decent game, especially by Dom Capers' much reviled defenses. That's pretty cool. I like it when the Packers win. What I have found interesting is the reaction of the fans, or relative lack thereof. Last week the reaction on local talk radio and the like was overwhelming. It was obvious what needed to be done: Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy need to be hung, stabbed, shot, poisoned, tarred and feathered, drawn and quartered, not necessarily in that order. Then their wives and children sold into slavery, their family homes burned down, and the ground where they stood sown with salt. Everyone get your torches and pitchforks ready!

This week, the reaction has been all but non-existent. Now I'm no pregame show talking head, so I don't have all the answers. But the little bit I heard from those all-knowing sages of the gridiron made it sound like the Cowboys were heading to the Super Bowl Big Game in Miami, and then the Packers went out and smacked 'em around. People should be excited right? Yeah, this is how we thought the defense would play! Did you see Rodgers lead that drive to seal the game in the 4th, that was awesome! Instead, crickets. Until you mention the topic that people really want to talk about: Firing Thompson and McCarthy. Then the switchboards light up. The question the other day that got 'em all riled up, "Do you want the Packers to lose to ensure that Thompson and McCarthy get fired?" The reaction: Yes, yes we do. That boggles my fucking mind.


I want the Packers to win! That's why I'm a fan, not so I can bitch about the team and then talk about how right I was when it all goes horribly wrong. I want to watch my team win games, make the playoffs, go to Super Bowls Big Games. I find it astonishing that people actually think this way. We all know my personal feelings on McCarthy/Thompson (in case you're new to the program, McCarthy: whatever Thompson: not as bad as everyone thinks), and that's not the argument here. The point is I don't care how much one hates the coach or GM of a team, we should all hope that they are merely misunderstood geniuses. I know I do. I hope that the struggles and the frustrations are all part of the implementation of some master stroke that is going to lead the Packers to the promised land. Instead people are willing to openly admit that they hope the Packers LOSE in order to remove the coach and GM.


I can think of only one reason that the reaction against this current regime is so damn insane, and its name is Brett Favre. If the Packers had gone 6-10 last year with Favre at the helm would the public outcry and condemnation of the franchise be at this level? Doubt it. The stain of the messy divorce with the gunslinger has tainted and will forever taint (insert "taint" joke here) anything this Packers regime does. I firmly believe that if Green Bay won the rest of their games this year, there would still be a considerable portion of Packer fans out there that would still be going "Dammit." And even more would be unable to enjoy it to its fullest extent just because they know it means that Thompson and McCarthy did it, and they did it without number 4. I'm not saying that there wouldn't still be calling for their heads if the departure of Favre hadn't gone so badly, but it wouldn't have gone to ludicrous speed quite the way it has now. So if the Packer crazies have their way this year, Green Bay will be the first ever franchise tanking for a new coach and GM. Prepare the Bill Cowher talk.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

First Impressions

Now that we've gotten a taste for the new look Golden Eagles, what does everyone think? Do they look better than originally thought? Worse? On par? I can't be a good judge in this case because I only caught the 2nd half of the Maryland East Schore game, but here's what I took away from 20 minutes of basketball: Overall, they look a little better than I thought coming into the season. What I was most impressed with was the ball movement. With the lack of go to guys (something that this team isn't used to), the ball seems to move quickly around until a good shot is available......and I didn't seem to witness many unnecessary shots. This I like and is going to be critical considering very few of these guys are capable of creating on their own. Second, I like the increased aggressiveness of Butler, Cubillan, and Acker. Butler was actually taking outside jumpers (3-3 from beyond the arc I believe), Cubillan was pump faking and driving to the basket to either get a layup or kick out (something new to his game), and Acker was creating a bit more and hitting mid-range jumpers off the dribble (something he probably hasn't done since before he transferred). Considering these are the team's upper classmen, this is good to see. We know Butler is solid, and he likely will improve his offensive output this season, but if
Acker and Cubillan can seriously contribute offensively, this team will be exponentially more competitive.

Negatives: Maymon doesn't look ready yet. It appears that he may have benefited largely from his size and athleticism in high school. He seems to do okay from a physical standpoint (rebounding), but offensively he can't do what he could in high school so I think there is going to be quite an adjustment period for him. I hope he has a solid jumper that he can implement. Otule, while improved, still isn't ready to compete at the Big East level. I hope he can continue to improve enough over the next 6 weeks where he can play a solid 15 min/game.

Ultra Negative: Erik Williams! Has only seen 2 minutes of game action in the first 2 games. Considering he was a top 100 prospect coming in.......in spite of the fact that he lost a solid year due to injury.......this is really surprising to me. With all of the new faces on this team, one would think that a player of his caliber would at least see some garbage time against these highly inferior opponents. I'll wait and see what happens in the Grambling game, but if he doesn't get in then, there must be serious issues with his transition to D1 ball. I hate to even think this, but if this continues, might there be a possibility of a transfer? I sincerely hope not! Considering the state of our program, we can't afford to lose another player. That would leave MU with 3 available scholarships going into next season.........and that's with the early signing period come and gone. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Thoughts?

PS. Reid, what happened to our pre-season predictions that you were going to handle?

Bears Fan Stereotypes Unveiled

As a Bears fan, I was pretty disappointed that they didn't have the classic 'Da Bears' mustache and big glasses stereotype on this list. But it was still pretty amusing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

After Further Review: Why I Still Hate The Carlos Gomez Trade.

I know some of you don't think the J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez swap was all that bad, since Hardy's trade value had plummeted, and since we (allegedly) weren't going to get Major League-ready pitching for J.J., and since Gomez is a terrific defensive centerfielder, and since the trade allowed us to let Mike Cameron and his $10 million salary walk.

I disagree with those points, obviously -- my responses: Hardy's value plummeted largely because Melvin sent J.J. down to AAA in August, last season was an aberration at the plate for J.J., we could have gotten at least a back-of-the-rotation starter for him, and we had a better option for center field next season already in Jody Gerut -- but, after giving this some thought, I've finally figured out what bugs me so much about this trade:

Bringing in Gomez, and giving up Hardy, brings another huge "IF" to the 2010 team and its chances of contending for a post-season spot.

Here's what I mean: to be in a position to compete for the playoffs next year, a whole bunch of things are going to have to go right. Of course, that's no different than any other season for a mid-market team like the Brewers, but we just added a huge question mark at the cost of two (and maybe three) lesser question marks.

As things currently stand, here's how I break down the "ifs" going into next season. (End each of these lines with: "then the 2010 Brewers might have a chance to contend.")

MATTERHORN-SIZED "IFS"
If Jeff Suppan can reverse his career-ending death spiral and can post an ERA south of 5.75 ...
If Manny Parra can finally harness his obvious physical gifts and stop nibbling at the corners like he's Jamie Goddamn Moyer ...
If Carlos Gomez can post an OBP over .310 ...

SIGNIFICANT AND WORRISOME "IFS"
If Casey McGehee can duplicate his impressive rookie year, or if Mat Gamel turns out to be a capable everyday player ...
If Alcides Escobar can OPS around .700, while playing the spectacular defense everybody says he's capable of playing ...
If Dave Bush can once again become a competent fourth or fifth starter ...
If Rickie Weeks can stay healthy and continue the marked progress he showed at the beginning of this year ...
If Corey Hart can learn how to be selective at the plate without completely compromising his ability to actually, um, hit the fucking ball ...
If we can find/sign/create a catcher who's able to OPS over .650 ...

LESS WORRISOME, BUT STILL A BIT CONCERNING "IFS"
If Trevor Hoffman can continue to pitch well at age 53 ...
If Yovani Gallardo can make the leap from very good pitcher to top of the line, unquestioned ace pitcher ...
If Todd Coffey (and, now that I think about it, you could probably include Mitch Stetter under this one, too) doesn't suffer any ill effects from his use (and overuse) last season ...

There are more "ifs" than this, I'm sure (and feel free to add any I've missed). My big picture point is this: Hardy, in my mind, was a semi-worrisome "if": you knew you were getting very solid defense, but could he return to '07 and '08 levels at the plate? (I think he probably can; I know others think last year will prove to be the rule rather than the exception.)

Cam was also a semi-worrisome "if": could he continue to play outstanding defense, and OPS between .750 and .800, as he got longer in the tooth?

Now, with the trade (and the decision to let Cam go), we've cashed in those two lesser "ifs" for a massive one -- can Gomez turn into a minimally-competent hitter? And if we take that money we saved on Cam and J.J. and add a Doug Davis or a Jarrod Washburn (and it hurts just to type that) or a Mark Mulder, we're adding even more significant question marks. All told, none of this inspires confidence for our chances in 2010.

As per usual: your retorts and taunts are both welcome and expected.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cincinnati Trip

Ticket details are as follows. I can make the purchase once we have a final headcount.

We have two viable options - I checked ticket availability based on a group of 6.
Option #1 - sit 13 rows behind the basket - $34.50/ticket
Option #2 - sit 20 rows up in the upper deck for $14.50/ticket - this is where we sat the last time - nosebleed city

Who's is in? If you are in, what's your vote for seat location? My thought is, for $20 extra bucks, we might as well sit in better seats.

We Lost Black

According to Ganzer on this SportsBubbler message board.
http://community.sportsbubbler.com/forums/t/86619.aspx

How'd We Look On Friday?

I know Legs had a very nice game, and 'Zar was in foul trouble. Other than that, I've got nothing. Who wants to fill me in? (TWSS)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So, About That Brandon Jennings Fella ...

We had a lot of things to say when the Bucks selected Brandon Jennings with the tenth pick of this year's NBA Draft. Most of it was negative; some of it was downright mean-spirited. (I don't wanna point fingers, but one of you wrote: "Brandon Jennings? Really? The kid who's so dumb that he went to play ball in Italy for a year?" You know who you are ...)

ANYWAY, as is so often the case (except when it comes to questioning the competence of Mike McCarthy), it appears we may have misjudged this one. BraJen was off to a nice-but-not-overly-impressive start, and FPMKE was nice enough to post some camera phone shots of Jennings in Chicago, but, until Saturday, Jennings hadn't done anything that made you look up and say: "Whoa."

Then the young man dropped a double nickel on the Warriors this past weekend, including putting up twenty-nine in the third quarter. Since there's really no other way to put this, I'll just say: HOLY LIVING FUCK. Where the hell did that come from?

At the risk of jinxing his budding stardom, I'm willing to say: I'm mildly intrigued by this guy. I might even be willing to pay American cash money to take in a game at some point in the next month. Anybody else?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Predictions for Tonight

The Marquette b-ball team takes on the Centenary Gentlemen tonight. So, what do you hosers think will be the final score?

I say, MU wins 81-63.

Congratulations, Chicago!

The remedy to the Bears long-standing quarterback dilemma? Apparently, it's the 2005 version of Brett Favre.

Actually, that's not fair. Favre only threw 29 interceptions in 2005. After his five-interception meltdown last night, Cutlerfucker is on pace for about 31 picks.

Come, wallow with me in misery.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank God!

Looks like Melvin is not interested in making at least one colossal blunder this offseason. From espn.com:

The Milwaukee Brewers are in the market for starting pitching this winter but GM Doug Melvin is telling rival GMs that he will not listen to offers for first baseman Prince Fielder.
Fielder is scheduled for free agency following the 2011 season and is set to make $10.5 million next season.
There were rumors this past season that the San Francisco Giants and Melvin had preliminary talks about a Matt Cain-for-Fielder swap, but apparently that idea is no longer a possibility.

Game On Friday

Anyone planning to attend the MU game on Friday night? I was thinking we could have a Q@B pre-game summit at Turner's and enjoy fish fry and some cocktails. Anyone interested?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yosty-ed! The Mike McCarthy Files.

Mike McCarthy's news conference was so mind-bogglingly dumb yesterday that I decided to resurrect our old "Yosty!" schtick to break down two of the comments.

Let's get to it:

"We did not take the team lightly because of the record. I was very concerned coming into this game. Anytime a team is coming off the bye week, if anything we may have overworked them. That's something I've got to look at."

Ignore, for a moment, the absurdity of the "we may have overworked them" line, especially since McCarthy said: "We were not prepared to the level that we should have been" immediately thereafter. Focus, instead, on the "that's something I've got to look at" part of it.

Under the heading of "Things Coach McCarthy Has To Look Into," we now have:
  • The fact that we get flagged seven or eight times a game
  • The quarterback protection
  • The fact that we don't run the ball
  • The breakdowns on special times
  • The price of petroleum
  • Whether Obama was really born in Hawai'i
  • The cause of Michael Jackson's death
  • Whatever the fuck happened with Sammy Sosa's skin
  • Why Ashton Kutcher remains so popular
  • And, now: whether the staff overworked the players this week
He's got a lot on his plate. It's amazing he finds time to coach a football team every week.

On the six sacks allowed by Mssrs. Sieve, Sieve II, Sieve III, Sieve IV, and Sieve V, and Mssr. Holds Onto the Ball Too Fucking Long:

"Well it has to stop. You can't sit here and keep taking sacks. I'm sure you're tired of asking the question. I'm tired of talking about it. That's a reflection of coaching and playing."

He says this like there's a third option, besides the problem being related to coaching or playing. "Well, they're shitty players, which doesn't help, and I'm dumb as fuck, which ain't benefitin' us either, but, really: I blame the Vatican."

Whoever owns firemikemccarthy.com: I am prepared to offer three Canadian weasels in exchange for the perpetual rights to said domain name. Hook me up.

Hey, I Was Gonna Say That

I was all set to write a post about how I wouldn't be shocked to see the Brewers make a run at John Lackey this offseason. I have ranted at length many times that not only the money coming off the books this year, but the money coming off next year as well will give the Brewers the flexibility to potentially sign a high dollar free agent this year. I don't know if Lackey's worth the money that he might command, but that's not the argument here (yet). That's what I was going to write, until I realized Buster Olney beat me to the punch. Stupid professional writers.

Says Buster:

A handful of teams are said to be ready and willing to pay the price to land an ace.

1. Milwaukee Brewers:

Remember, it was only a year ago when Milwaukee offered CC Sabathia a $100 million deal, so the Brewers clearly are prepared to pay big dollars for a big-time starting pitcher. And they have a clear need: Even with rising star Yovani Gallardo anchoring the staff, Milwaukee ranked dead last in starters' ERA at 5.37 and 27th in rotation innings this past season.

The Brewers conceivably could enter into trade conversations for Vazquez or Halladay, but this course would be problematic. Milwaukee traded aggressively in 2007 and 2008, most notably for Sabathia, and this depleted its farm system. Trading a top young player for a one-year rental like Vazquez or Halladay might not make sense.

It probably would make more sense for the Brewers to take a serious run at Lackey, who as a free agent would not cost them talent in trade. He would take pressure off Gallardo and fit their team culture.

The Brewers also could easily structure a Lackey deal to fit their payroll into the future. Jeff Suppan's contract will expire after next season, and the only real long-term obligation the Brewers have set in stone is to young slugger Ryan Braun, who is signed through the 2015 season. Milwaukee just reduced salary obligations by trading J.J. Hardy to the Twins and replacing Mike Cameron (who made $10 million last season) with Carlos Gomez.

Look, there will be questions about the Brewers' lineup next season given that they will have a group of hitters who don't do certain things very well -- Gomez doesn't get on base consistently, Jason Kendall doesn't hit for power (a .305 on-base percentage this past season), Rickie Weeks doesn't seem to stay healthy and Corey Hart has been a picture of inconsistency.

But the Brewers cannot win unless they improve their starting pitching dramatically, and Lackey, if healthy, would do that.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This Is Really The Best We Could Get?

J.J. Hardy was never one of my favorite Brewers. Between the "J.J. Makes Me Hardy" nonsense, the pink No. 7 T-shirts that dotted the crowd, his periodic sub-zero streaks at the plate, the fact that he got to (approximately) three balls hit to his left during his time in Milwaukee, and his "I'm a shortstop and I ain't playing anywhere else" hissy fit this year, I was never on board the Hardy bandwagon.

That said, I wasn't blind to the fact that he had some value. While he's nowhere near Alcides Escobar in terms of range, J.J. is a solid defender with a plus arm -- and, most importantly, he's shown the ability to put up 25-homer, .800-ish OPS seasons at a position that (right now) is offense-poor. Of course, Doug Melvin didn't do anything to help that value with his short-sighted decision to demote Hardy in August (whatever value was gained by the loss of service time and resulting extra year of team control was, in my opinion, more than canceled out by the fact that 'Stache stamped: "NOT IN NEXT YEAR'S PLANS: MUST TRADE" on J.J.'s forehead by sending him to AAA), but, still, you had to figure that J.J. was worth more than a back-up center fielder.

With the trade for Carlos Gomez, though, it seems that I figured wrong. This is Worst Nightmare stuff, folks.

Yes, I know that Gomez was a prized prospect in the Mets' system, and that he was one of the centerpieces of the Johan Santana trade -- but doesn't that immediately raise a red flag in your mind? This was (apparently) the guy the Twins wanted in the Santana trade, and now they're giving up on him after two years? That doesn't give you pause?

And, yes, I've heard/read that Gomez is a phenomenal defender. My response to that point is: he fucking better be, if he's going to put up Kendall-esque slash stats of .229/.287/.337.

And, finally, yes, I've heard/read that Carlos Gomez is very fast. I have a two-fold response to that point. Response One is: "So was Alex Sanchez." Response Two is: he had all of nine infield hits last year, and five bunt hits. That's it: fourteen infield hits/bunt hits in 349 plate appearances. Essentially, from an offensive standpoint, we got a very, very, very poor man's Juan Pierre. Out-fucking-standing.

But hey, you say, we freed up some payroll! Hardy is going to get a bump in arbitration, and Gomez won't make nearly as much. And, since we've got our center fielder now (either Gomez on his own or in a righty/lefty platoon with Jody Gerut), we can let Cameron walk, and there's another $10 million! That's, like, $15 million to sign a free agent pitcher, you exclaim emphatically.

And ... who, exactly, do you want to sign? Here's the list. Go ahead, peruse at your leisure. I'll wait. Done yet? After reading that, is there any doubt in your mind that we're signing Doug Davis to a three-year, $30 million contract in the next couple of months? I'll start pouring battery acid on my eyeballs right now.

In the end, what disappoints me the most is what this trade says about next season. Depending on what happens with Kendall, there are potentially three eight-hole hitters in this line-up. I love Escobar, but, at this point in his career, he has to hit seventh or eighth. It would be suicide to plug Gomez (and his career .292 OBP) anywhere in the top half of the line-up. And then there's Kendall. Or Jon Lucroy. Or Angel Salome. Or Mike Rivera. One of those four is going to be in your everyday line-up.

It's altogether conceivable that your 2009 line-up could look something like this:

1. Weeks
2. Hart (ugh)
3. Braun
4. Fielder
5. McGehee (please trade him) / Gamel (please don't trade him)
6. Gomez
7. Kendall/Rivera/Lucroy/Salome
8. Escobar
9. Pitcher

Gulp.

I've gone on far too long already, and I don't know what point I'm ultimately trying to make, so I'll end here. This is not the start to the off-season I was hoping for.

(A total aside: Is anyone else concerned about what's going to happen the first time Joe Mauer and J.J. Hardy make eye contact? The Vortex of Beauty might cause the end of the universe.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Nebraska Weekend...Thus Far

Activities
Driving: For future reference, you may want to be sure your AC works before driving to Nebraska in November. Apparently it can get pretty warm and cause your car to become nothing more than a rolling sauna if you're not prepared. Global warming is a bitch. I blame the Republicans

Nebraska basketball vs. Arkansas-Fort Smith.
Well folks, this was an exhibition game, but that did not stop Reid and D3 from attending the game at the Devaney Sports Center. Here's what we learned:
  • The Lions had a dude foul out in...THE FIRST HALF. #10 was quite overmatched, he scored the ball (big props to Andy Katz for that catch phrase), but he was quite John Polonowski-esque on the defensive side. But dude could rain the 3, he just couldn't count how many fouls he had. Apparently neither could his coach
  • The Devaney Sports Center actually can draw a crowd on the same weekend as a Husker football game. There was a surprising number of folks out to catch Husker basketball this evening.
  • Christian Standhardinger is a fucking tough name to say.
  • Larry the Cable Guy, the redneck comedian, is a huge fan of Nebraska sports. He took the time out of his busy schedule to take in tonight's game.

Friday, November 6, 2009

JJ "Makes the Twins" Hardy


Pictured: Karissa and Kristina Shannon - Hugh Hefner's girlfriends


Well first Brewers off season maneuver is in the books. JJ Hardy for Carlos Gomez. I guess I'm okay with it. JJ's trade value had been inflated severely by many Brewers fans and it looks like we address a need in CF with the deal. Gomez is younger, cheaper, and can hopefully live up to his expectations when he was a key part of the Johan Santana deal.

Its just too bad we couldn't have packaged JJ to get Zach Grienke, Matt Cain, or Clay Bucholz. Oh well! (sarcasm off)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This Might be Old News

When I was digging around the various baseball blogs for some ammo for my Yankees Hate post, I came across a Brewers tidbit that I had not previously seen. It doesn't come as a huge surprise, but I found it interesting. This is from Buster Olney's blog, on 11/1 discussing the large number of young players that could be non-tendered, rather than given arbitration (and a chance at getting an undeserved raise). If this is old news to you, please disregard. Or if you generally disregard the bullshit I write anyways, then proceed as usual.

"J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee Brewers shortstop: He is 27 years old and theoretically entering the prime of his career, having hit 26 and 24 homers in 2007 and 2008. But Hardy hit .229 with 11 homers in 2009 while earning $4.65 million. He has five years of service time and is, of course, eligible for arbitration. Through that process, he could earn a salary close to $7 million.

Now, if Hardy were a free agent, it would seem unlikely he would land a multiyear deal for anything close to $7 million, given his history of injury and inconsistency. This past winter, veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera signed for $4 million. Cesar
Izturis
got a two-year deal for $5 million.

Before the trade deadline, the Brewers asked the Red Sox for what Boston considered to be excellent prospects in return for Hardy, and part of the reason the Red Sox rejected the overture was their sense that Hardy was about to become vastly overpriced in the market. With Alcides Escobar expected to take over at shortstop, the Brewers are said to be very willing to move Hardy. But what could they get for him? And is there necessarily a market for him, when the team acquiring him knows he probably would be paid more than what a player with his track record would be paid later in the winter?The next-best option for the Brewers, perhaps, would be simply not to tender him a contract."



Freedom Costs a Buck-o-Five...


But a World Series costs slightly more. About $208 million more, to be exact. I have often railed against the Yankees for being nothing but a bunch of mercs, put together by the big stack bully of the MLB poker table. And those who disagree would counter with the argument that the Yankees dynasty of the late 90's was built entirely on their own players (Jeter, Pettite, Rivera, Posada, Bernie Williams) and lesser acquisitons that were role players (O'Neil, Brosisus, Tino Martinez). That argument, of course, fails to mention the starting rotation on those teams, but I'll give it to ya. But this year, that case holds significantly less water. Sure Jeter, Pettite and Rivera are still there, but they aren't the core of the team anymore. The cornerstones are now ARod (acquired due to their ability to absorb his ridiculous contract, and then signed to an even more ridiculous contract), Texieria (free agent), Johnny Damon (free agent), Matsui (free agent), Swisher (traded in a salary dump), etc. Not to mention Sabathia and Burnett. If you're still trying to sell me on the fact that New York didn't straight up buy this latest championship, you're probably wasting your breath.

The distance between the Yankees and the rest of the world was made even more glaring this past offseason. When an economic downturn made the rest of the world skittish about overspending, the Yanks outbid themselves to sign the 3 highest rated free agents on the market. Baseball "insider"/sideline wiener Ken Rosenthal wrote something interesting today. Once you get past all the slurping of the Yankees, and how pure their emotion was after going 9 arduous years without a World Series title, Kenny makes the point that not only have the Yankees spend a shit ton of money lately, but they spent it wisely. Which is frightening if you're pretty much anyone except the Red Sox. Also not only did the Yanks load up this past offseason, but they're prepared to do it again this year. So, as Rosenthal also points out, don't be surprised to see Matt Holliday and a high priced pitcher or 3 end up in pinstripes next season. The basic message for everyone outside Yankee Nation: Be afraid, be very afraid. Oh, and if all this sounds like "sour grapes", that's because it is. F the Yankees.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bucks Dominate First Half...

epic fail in second half.

I was pretty impressed with the Bucks in the first half last night. They played extremely well and without the services of Michael Redd. They managed to make a pretty talented Bulls lineup look like a high school squad. With the Bulls down 43-29 at the half, I thought. for sure I'd be heading to a bar for a few hop sodas during the 3rd Quarter... then Jannero Pargo and Luol Deng showed up.


Pargo threw up a couple quick points and Deng owned the boards in the 2nd half. It ended up being a very exciting 83-81 come from behind win with the Bucks blowing their chances on the final possession. Amazing game!


I was most impressed with Brandon Jennings. The guy is really tiny but fast, fearless, and extremely talented. He drove into the lane and dished this no-look behind the back pass to Gadzuric for a dunk that was wicked awesome. Jennings is truly an exciting player to watch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I Don't Think The Packers Should Fire Ted Thompson.

$ requested more "concrete" information regarding my feelings on Ted Thompson, so, here we go:

Here are the starters / key reserves Ted has brought in through the draft:

2005 draft (and, yes, Ted was at the helm for this one):
Aaron Rodgers

Nick Collins

2006 draft
A.J. Hawk (and I've said this before: before you start bitching about Hawk, take a look at the shit-tastic first round picks in '06. Tell me: who do you want from that list?)

Daryn Colledge (and, yes, he sucked donkey balls as a left tackle. No argument there. He hasn't been as bad as a guard, though)

Greg Jennings

Jason Spitz

Johnny Jolly

(Note: Will Blackmon is also an '06 draft pick. This would be relevant if he could keep himself on the field.)

2007 draft
James Jones

Allen Barbre (and, again, this is just a list of starters; as I said before, the offensive line is an abomination, and that's Ted's fault)

Des Bishop (who will see more playing time with Chillar out)

Mason Crosby

2008 draft
Jordy Nelson

Jermichael Finley (who was rapidly approaching "Beast" status until he got kneecapped)

Matt Flynn

2009 draft
B.J. Raji

Clay Matthews XIV

T.J. Lang

Now, as for free agents, you've got: Ryan Pickett (who played the best of all the linemen last week); Brandon Chillar; Charles Woodson; John Kuhn; Donald Lee; Atari Bigby; Tramon Williams; and TD-catching dynamo Spencer Havner (undrafted out of UCLA). Ted also traded for Ryan Grant (who must die).

Moreover, as Reid pointed out yesterday, Thompson hasn't hamstrung (hamstringed?) the Packers with any terrible, Joe Johnson-esque contracts.

As for selecting McCarthy: I agree. That's a black mark. But, before this season, what reason did Thompson have to let McCarthy go? He went 8-8 in his first year (after starting the year 4-8), went to the NFC Championship Game in his second year, and then limped to 6-10 in a year where he worked in a new starting quarterback and where the defense was decimated by injuries.

All along, we've seen the problems with undisciplined play, too many penalties, and so on. This year, those problems have spiraled out of control, and all indications are that McCarthy is either unwilling (e.g., not sitting Jolly out for at least a half after that boner-rific personal foul) or unable (e.g., his "we've got to get that cleaned up" quote week after week after week) to fix it.

That's all I've got time for. Rebut away.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Bucks...The Bucks

I don't have time to watch the Bucks or post about the Bucks but from what I've seen/heard Brandon Jennings might be legit.

Anybody Got $20?

I'm taking a collection. After yesterday's performance, I'm making good on my longstanding threat and buying firemikemccarthy.com. I'm not doing this because of the play-calling, or because he can't get A-Rodg to get the ball out quicker (I still got mad love for you, Aaron, but four of those sacks were on you. Trust your reads, my man), or because his team came out flat in a must-win game.

No, I'm buying that domain for one simple reason: Johnny Jolly. That fucking personal foul was an abomination, and confirmed what I've long suspected: we are the single dumbest team in the NFL. How do we constantly get baited into shit like that? Because we're dumb. And that, more than anything, is a direct reflection on the head coach. The fact that Johnny Numbnuts wasn't benched for the rest of the game -- and, no, I don't care how good he was playing; you do something that stupid, you sit for the rest of the game -- is just icing on the cake.

So: who's got a buck-oh-five to get this bitch up and running?