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Just The Sports: 2006-04-09

Just The Sports

Saturday, April 15, 2006

If You Were A Premier Athlete, You'd Hate Fans, Too

Seriously, how does doing that make the fan any better than Bonds?

The only proper comeback would be for Barry Bonds to walk into the stands and show that guy his game check. Maybe then this holier-than-thou fan would sit down in his seat and stop acting like an ignorant ass (pun intended).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Slump or Not A Slump?

John Donovan raised an interesting question today in his article about Jeff Francoeur. For those of you who do not already know, Francoeur was the feel-good story of last year's MLB season. He was a hometown kid, played his high school ball in Atlanta, and was not only getting the chance to play professional baseball for the Atlanta Braves, but was doing so at a very high level. At least in the beginning. Since then, Francoeur has been in a tailspin when it comes to his productivity at the plate.

In Donovan's article, he opines when exactly Francoeur will work his way out of his 3 for 37 hitting slump. While this is not the most ridiculous question a sports writer has ever asked, one has to wonder about the wording of the aforementioned question. To ask if Francoeur is in a slump presupposes that he should be doing better than he currently is. However, I want to bring an opposing view to discussing the issue that is Francoeur's poor hitting. What if the good hitting was the aberration? What if what everyone sees as a problem is merely Francoeur regressing to the mean?

When Francoeur was first called up to the big leagues in July, he could do no wrong against major league pitching. In his first month, Francoeur accumulated amazing stats: .413 BA, .413 OBP, .913 SLG, and 1.326 OPS. Of course he did this in only 46 at-bats.

August, when Francoeur had 109 at-bats, saw his hitting stats drop some. While they were still respectable (.312 BA, .364 OBP, .514 SLG, and .878 OPS), evidence pointed to the fact that the more plate appearances Francoeur had, the worse a hitter he became.

By the time September rolled around, Francoeur was no longer a hot-shot rookie. Every team the Braves faced had by then compiled a scouting report on Frenchy and knew he was too aggressive at the plate and would swing at bad pitches. His stats for September certainly reflected this: (.247 BA, .287 OBP, .452 SLG, .739 OPS).

So with each month in Jeff Francoeur's career, there has been a regression across the board in his batting statistics. With this mountain of evidence, it is not too unsafe to conclude Francoeur may not be the great hitter everyone thought he was. Time will tell how Francoeur's career plays out, but if he keeps on the track he's on, he will mostly likely play himself right out of the major leagues.

Note: Of course, in today's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Francoeur goes 3 for 4 with 2 HRs.

A Little Experiment

You may have already seen Dwyane Wade's Converse video, but if you haven't you can check it out below (SOUND).

The commercial is basically a montage of highlights showing Wade falling to the ground only to get back up again. There do not seem to be any real problems with the commercial, besides the fact the budget for it could not have been more than fifty dollars. That is, until the slogan comes across the screen at the very end...

Fall Seven Times. Stand Up Eight.

While this may have been a catchy slogan to the Converse marketing department, it is also an impossibility.

The first time I saw this commercial, I questioned the arithmetic of it. In fact, I knew it was wrong, but I wanted to give Converse the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe a person could fall down seven times and then stand up eight. I really did, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

So today, to erase all doubt, I tried to do what the commercial said, in essence falling down seven times and getting back up eight times. Needless to say, I failed since after the seventh time standing up after my seventh fall, I couldn't very well stand up while I was already standing.

My advice to Converse is either to pull the commercial because it makes your company look like it is run by chimpanzees or learn how to do simple arithmetic.

Fans Are Idiots, Too

If there was any question about whether fans are the dumbest, most knee-jerk reactionary people on the planet, let all doubt be removed from your mind. One has only to look as far as Charlotte, NC to see supporting evidence of the fact.

The last time Keyshawn Johnson attended an NBA game in Charlotte he was viciously booed and security guards followed him out of the building to ensure his safety.

That was almost four months ago, when Johnson was a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Now that he's a member of the Carolina Panthers, the wide receiver is one of the most popular guys in Charlotte.

Johnson received a rousing ovation shortly after settling into his courtside seat at Wednesday night's game between the Bobcats and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Over this span of four months, Keyshawn Johnson has not changed at all. His personality as a wide receiver who overvalues his talents is the same now as it was then. He is still a possession receiver who will not impress anyone with his speed. He will still get in the face of a quarterback or coach and demand he be thrown the ball more, with no thought to how this might disrupt team chemistry.

So what has changed, you ask? Nothing more than the colors on Keyshawn's uniform. Does this make sense to anyone? How can a group of people go from hating a guy so much he fears for his safety to a few months later giving the same guy a standing ovation? Are fans' memories that short? Or is it something else entirely?

To answer my own question, something like this can only happen because fans are the most hypocritical part of sports. They pretend loyalty, talking about how they love a particular player and how the player embodies everything the fans hold dear in their lives. While this may very well be true at the time, if this same player were to switch to a rival team, no time would pass before the same fans would be calling this same player a traitor and blaming him for everything wrong with sports all because he wanted financial security in his life.

Having to endure two-faced treatment like that day in and day out for the length of their careers, it is no wonder the majority of players hate fans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

At Least Pretend

While I was reading Bill Simmons' mailbag, where he responds to his readers' questions, I came across this little nugget of an answer.

SG: That's right, just five months until the 2006 season! (By the way, I'd like to thank the NFL Schedule Gods for finally including the Patriots on the "Teams With A Cream Puff Schedule" list. So we get to play Buffalo twice, the Jets twice, Houston, Tennessee, everyone in the NFC North, plus Indy and Denver at home? Thank you, Schedule Gods. That nearly made up for the Vinatieri/McGinest departures. Actually, no, it didn't. Not even close. Uh-oh, my blood sugar is crashing again.)

To try to guess which teams will have the easiest or hardest schedules five months before not only the season begins, but the final rosters have been decided can mean only one of two things. Either you are extremely bored or you get paid to make predictions, which will inevitably turn out to be wrong. And who is better at being wrong than sports writers?

However, Simmons assuming that he knows which schedule is easy and which one is hard months before the season begins does not concern me today. What does concern me is the way in which he thanks the NFL Schedule Gods for scheduling Buffalo and the Jets twice. Both Buffalo and the Jets are in the same division as the Patriots, meaning the Patriots play them twice a year every single year. It is not as if this is an anomaly and worthy of thanking anyone.

And if he thinks the Patriots have it easy by getting to play Houston and Tennessee once each, just think what Colts fans are thinking right now about the schedule that allows the Colts to play both of these teams twice. They must be just ecstatic. Unless, of course, the Colts fans understand what Bill Simmons does not and already knew that Indianapolis would be playing its division foes twice.

Setting the Record Straight

Despite what Mike Greenberg, co-host of Mike and Mike in the Morning, said earlier this morning, Jim Rome did not beat up Jim Everett, former quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

JT the Brick Has The IQ Of One

JT the Brick is obviously campaigning for the position of GM for the Yankees. Whereas Brian Cashman has been befuddled as to why the Yankees have not won a World Series in (gasp!) a whole five years, the Brick is here to provide him with the answers. I just hope Brian Cashman can find time to read what is wrong with the Yankees roster.

The New York Yankees, the most expensive team in baseball, still appear to have the same problems that have kept them from winning the World Series since 2000.

It is not the Yankees' birthright to win the World Series every year no matter what the Brick thinks. In fact, it is not surprising at all that they have not won a World Series since 2000 and I am not talking about any problems they may have with their roster. I am talking about the probability of any team winning a World Series title. There are 31 teams in Major League Baseball, which means before each season begins, every team has a 1/31, or 3%, chance of winning the World Series. No matter what the name on the front of a player's jersey is.

Plus having a high payroll only gives the illusion that a team will be better than its opponents, but it is probably more an indicator that the team is overpaying for its players.

The Yankees were not impressive during a weekend series with the Angels in Anaheim.

The Angels are probably one of the five best teams in the major leagues this year. So losing two out of three games to one of the five best teams in MLB during a West Coast road series by a total of four runs does not mean the Yankees will not win the World Series or that they are a bad team. What it does mean is a good team playing at home has a decided advantage over any opponent it faces.

Also, it is pretty impressive that the Yankees outscored the Angels 13-8 during the series.

The Yankees' lineup could be the most potent in the history, but they still have a difficult time manufacturing runs. Every player tries to hit a double or a home run.

I wish I could go back in time and find whoever it was who started using the term "manufacturing runs" so I could kill him before he was able to add it to the lexicon of sports cliches. Then I would return to the present, content with the knowledge I would never have to hear so ridiculous a phrase again.

To say a team manufactures a run is patently stupid. According to, the word "manufacture" can mean one of three things...
    1. To make or process (a raw material) into a finished product, especially by means of a large-scale industrial operation.
    2. To make or process (a product), especially with the use of industrial machines.
  1. To create, produce, or turn out in a mechanical manner: “His books seem to have been manufactured rather than composed” (Dwight Macdonald).
  2. To concoct or invent; fabricate: manufacture an excuse.
Not one of these definitions applies to a baseball player who crosses home plate safely. But if you insist on using ridiculous terminology, then I will use your own terminology to make you look like an idiot.

I'm guessing by manufacture runs, you mean that a player will get a slap hit single, steal second base, advance to third base on a sacrifice bunt, and then score on a sacrifice fly. In your world, this is probably perfect baseball, but this strategy is only smart when the score is tied during the late innings of a game and a team only needs one run. Otherwise you're throwing away outs.

What I don't understand is what you think a home run is, if not manufacturing runs. The only difference is at the end of a home run and the end of manufacturing runs is two outs, as in the home run won't cost two outs.

The Yankees already trail Boston by three games and that is significant. Every Yankees veteran talked about getting off to a quick start, unlike the slow start that plagued them for most of the 2005 season.

Since the Yankees, at the time this article was published, had only played six games, not even 10% of their schedule, it may be just a little too early to conclude what kind of start they are getting off to.

Also, the slow start that plagued them for most of the 2005 season only ended with them winning the AL East pennant.

These two teams make up the best and most prestigious rivalry in professional sports, and Boston has the upper hand early in 2006.

Neither team has the upper hand in this rivalry since they have not played each other yet.

The Red Sox have won four games in a row on the road and seem to understand that they need to get off to a quick start if they want to compete for the playoffs in September.

The Red Sox have also played two teams in the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles who are in the bottom half of MLB teams this year. The Rangers will probably finish third in the AL West division while the Orioles are competing for fourth place in the AL East division.

Compare that to the teams the Yankees lost to, the Angels and the Oakland A's, who will each be vying for first place in the AL West. Now you tell me if based on the results of the first six games where the Yankees and Red Sox have not played the same teams you can tell which is better. I didn't think so.

Fans in Boston understand what it will take for the Red Sox to make the playoffs this season.

All baseball fans know what it will take for the Red Sox to make the playoffs. We're not exactly talking about brain surgery here. Either the Red Sox have to win their division or win the American League wild card.

While Johnny Damon looks like he is adjusting nicely to his new role as the leadoff man for a power team

What exactly does Johnny Damon have to adjust to? That is the exact role he played last year for the Boston Red Sox. There is nothing new about it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Case of the Mondays? I Think Not

I cannot fully express to you the joy I feel upon waking up on Monday mornings. While some view Mondays as the end of the weekend and the beginning of another boring work week, I view it as a chance to read another one of Peter King's articles and then make fun of it so as to put his idiocy on display for all two of my readers. Some days I must confess I am afraid that Peter will have gone through a whole article without saying something moronic leaving me with nothing to write about. But if there is one good thing about Peter King, it's that he never lets me down.

1. I think this is the thing about Favre's indecision: I don't blame him. Not one bit.

You don't blame Brett Favre for pretending he is going to retire and making the Green Bay Packers go along with this whole charade? Who else is there to blame? No one is making him not make a decision. And not only will he refuse to announce publicly that he is coming back for another year of mediocre play, but Favre is also criticizing the Packers organization for not doing enough during the free agency period to improve the Packers.

I have said this before and I will say it again. Brett Favre is the biggest media hog of this sports generation. He is nothing more than a camera whore, but the media lets him get away with it because he is a good ole country boy who speaks with a Southern accent. And everyone knows the nation and the media love a white man who speaks with a Southern accent (see Matthew McConaughey, Archie Manning, Keith Jackson, and the NASCAR boys).

The truth is the best thing the Packers could have done during free agency to become a better team would have been to cut ties with Brett Favre. Maybe then they wouldn't have to play a has-been quarterback who will throw 29 interceptions in a season again and then blame his "poor" supporting cast. Favre is the reason the Packers lost a number of their games last year, but Peter King probably wouldn't blame him for those losses either.

But I would caution everyone who seems so certain that Favre has played his last game to remember one of his statements from his news conference on Saturday. "It's in my blood. I love to play the game.'' I have not spoken with Favre, but I have spoken with several Packers employees in recent weeks. They all say he seems pretty bored sitting on his 465 acres near Hattiesburg, Miss. So I can't tell you what he'll do. But if I have to put the mortgage down on one side or the other, I'd say it's 55-45 he won't play again.

Peter, you provided two examples of why Favre will come back to play in the upcoming season. Then your conclusion was that he will not play again. When trying to make a point, it is best to use examples that support your conclusion instead of ones that debunk it. That way you can't be made to look like a fool.

c. You all think I'm a closet sexist, but not only do I not back down from my opinion last week that ESPN screwed up by putting the women's basketball semifinals on ESPN and the first game of the baseball season on ESPN2, I feel even more strongly about it now.

Let me assure you, Peter. No one who read what you recently wrote about women's college basketball thinks you are a closet sexist. In fact, I'm pretty sure anyone who read it is pretty much in agreenment that not only are you out of the closet, but you are walking down the street wearing fishnet and cut-off shorts with a pink feather boa tied around your neck.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Musings of a Bad Sports Writer

Since I tried and failed to make sense of Peter Vecsey's article as he jumped from topic to topic with no thought of trying to make any coherent points, I really had no choice but to blog about it and point out again a sports writer who is bad at his job.

"I never had any trouble with Allen on the court," Brown's forked tongue spoke when the New York media questioned him about their impromptu love-in.

Impromptu? Really, Peter? I'm not at all sure you know what impromptu means. When Larry Brown and Allen Iverson speak to each other before a game or after, it is anything but impromptu. Contrary to Peter's opinion, Brown and Iverson have a great relationship with each other now. They may have not always been the case with them, especially in the early years of their player-coach relationship, but if anyone who has heard Larry Brown speak about Iverson can tell you, there is no doubt he truly respects Allen as a player and probably even loves him, too. As much as NBA coaches can truly love their players. And Iverson feels the same way about Larry Brown

Don't take my word for it, though. Here are a couple quotes from Allen Iverson about Larry Brown. The first comes from when Allen Iverson was on the Stephen A Smith Show and had just watched video footage of Larry Brown praising him as a basketball player and a person. The praise Brown gave him caused Iverson to become choked up on air. The second quote is from after Iverson learned Brown has been nominated to be head coach of the USA Basketball team.

"I always said that I wouldn't get choked up like that on TV. But I just couldn't help it. The things that [Brown] said about me, that's how I'm trying to live my life. That's how I'm trying to mold myself as a man, just try to do anything I can do to be a better person, then a better basketball player. So hearing those things from Coach, it just [affected] me..."

“I don’t think they could have chosen a better person for the coaching position. When you look at what he’s done in his career, he deserved it, he earned it. I’m just happy to see that they gave him the chance, and I just wish him well. I hope he does great!”

Usually, when people have a strong relationship bond like Brown and Iverson do, they are in the habit of holding a conversation with each other.

I see, so being late for team meetings, not practicing and cursing out the coach when removed momentarily from games are offenses unrelated to the court.

Actually, Peter, they are. Team meetings aren't usually held at half-court or anywhere else on the basketball court. Instead, professional basketball teams prefer to hold the meetings in actual rooms where they are, you know, televisions to watch film on or dry erase boards to draw up plays on. Also, not practicing means Iverson was not showing up anywhere near the 76ers' practice courts so the offense was not really related to the court. Lastly, cursing out a coach after being removed from a game technically means the players is on the sidelines and no longer on the court so once again, the offense cannot be described as a court-related one. Yes, I'm well aware I'm nitpicking.

Some 19 campaigns before, a lost soul named Bernard King averaged 32.9 points for your 24-58 Knicks. Unfathomably, such regular-season prowess wasn't enough to get Hubie Brown's Bombers into the postseason party.

Why am I bringing up the scoring leader/no playoffs correlation this very day?

I really have no idea. Unless you are going to present some evidence of other players who are leading the league in scoring and have no chance at making the playoffs.

Because the stars might be aligning that way once again. Entering this weekend, Kobe Bryant (35.1 ppg) and Iverson (32.9 ppg) were 1-2 in the points race. No surprise; they've been that way just about since the gate opened.

The question you asked, Peter, is why you brought up the correlation between leading the league in scoring and failing to take a team to the playoffs. Yet, in the following sentences of the same paragraph where you asked the question, you failed to answer your own question.

What is unique is that while Iverson's Sixers have sunk into the Schuylkill River, Bryant's Lakers plausibly could join 'em. Philly (at Chi last night) had lost its last three games and was 3-10 since last melding with mediocrity at 31-31.

First, that is not unique at all. Lots of teams endure last-season collapses. Second, mediocre teams are not .500 teams. .500 teams are average teams. Mediocre teams are teams with records below .500. Third, while this is the next paragraph in your article, you still have not given any evidence to support a correlation, either negative or positve, between players who are scoring leaders and those same players not making the playoffs.

Since Peter took too long to answer his own question, I will provide the answer myself. Of the NBA's top five scorers, four will definitely make the playoffs. The only one who is in any doubt is Allen Iverson, whose 76ers team is right now tied with the Chicago Bulls record-wise at 35-41. If it comes down to tiebreakers, though, the Bulls will end up with the 8th and final playoff spot.

So the answer to the question is there seems to be a positive correlation this season between a player being among the league leaders in scoring and his team's chances of gaining post-season entry.