Monday, August 08, 2016

I feel bad for Alex Rodriguez's legacy (not him, just his legacy)

Alex Rodriguez will be retiring at the end of the week. There will be no farewell tour with teams paying tribute to A-Rod with gifts like they did for Rivera, Jeter, and Ortiz. Red Sox fans at Fenway will be able to bid farewell to A-Rod one last time this week before his last game at Yankee Stadium on Friday. I wonder if they'll cheer or boo. Perhaps a mixture of both.

I don't feel bad for Alex Rodriguez. He seems like a dick. And it's tough to pity someone who has made hundreds of millions of dollars playing baseball. However, I do feel bad for his legacy. It deserves better. If you separate the unlikable man from the achievements, you'll see that they deserve more praise and appreciation than they'll receive.

Alex Rodriguez took PEDs throughout his career. Does that matter? Are we still pretending that it matters? Did it give him a competitive advantage, or just put him on the same level as everyone else? Compared to his HGH and steroid assisted peers, A-Rod hit hundreds more homeruns. Furthermore, he hit nearly 700 homers off pitchers who went to the same "pharmacy" as he did. It's not an advantage if just about everyone has it.

And if you discredit A-Rod's stats because of PED usage, you have to do the same to others who have used. That includes David Ortiz, fellow Red Sox fans. So let's just move on from the PED issue.

There were a few years when Alex Rodriguez was the best player in baseball, and it wasn't even close. He won 3 MVPs, and in 2007 he received 26 of 28 first-place votes. With the Rangers, he led the AL in homers 3 years in a row and won 2 Gold Gloves at short-stop. So he hit homeruns and was the best fielder at the toughest defensive position.

But all people could talk about was his $252 million contract. His performance was unfairly juxtaposed against the expectations of what was then a ludicrous contract. So no matter how many homeruns he hit, all people saw was the price tag.

Looking back, I can't believe how much resentment there was from fans and pundits directed toward A-Rod for being paid. Was he supposed to negotiate the contract down so he would get paid less? That would be like Emma Watson offering to sleep with me, and me responding "Nope, second base is as far as I'm willing to go. I don't want people to hate me."

A-Rod also didn't get enough credit in the Great Short-Stop Arguments from 1997 to 2003, probably due to his playing in the AL West. If you don't remember or are too young, those were the days when fans in Boston, New York, and all over the country debated who was better: Jeter or Nomar. And as two large fanbases and an East coast oriented sports media compared the two, the best short-stop in baseball (A-Rod) was being largely ignored. Nobody in the East cared about what happened with the Mariners or Rangers. The 10pm airing of Baseball Tonight started at the same time as their games, and the morning sports page was published too early for full box scores. For a few years, A-Rod was a better short-stop and player than Jeter or Nomar. But the debate was still localized to the Northeast.

You can make an argument that A-Rod is a better player than Jeter. Power is an important part of the game and Rodriguez's power numbers dwarf Jeter's. A-Rod has about 440 more homeruns than Jeter, and slugged .550 compared to Jeter's .440. A-Rod also has a slightly higher OBP (.380 vs. .377). Jeter stole only 29 more bases. A-Rod knocked in 773 more runs. So A-Rod got on base, he could run, he could field, he could hit, he could hit for power.

Of course, Jeter was clutch and A-Rod was a bit of a choker. And maybe that makes up the difference between the power hitter and the non-power hitter. My point is that A-Rod is in many ways better than one of the most cherished players in the illustrious history of the New York Yankees, and people don't even realize it.

And did you know A-Rod has 3,000 hits? I don't remember that. He's 20th all-time in hits, just behind Tony Gwynn.

He's on lists with some of the all-time best players in the sport. He's 4th in homeruns behind Bonds, Aaron, and Ruth. He's 3rd in RBI behind Ruth and Aaron, and along with Cap Anson is one of only four players with 2,000+ RBI. He's 25th in slugging .0004 ahead of David Ortiz. He's 8th in runs scored behind Mays and Pete Rose. He's 6th in total bases between Ty Cobb and Ruth.

It's mostly A-Rod's own fault that his career and legacy don't get the respect they deserve. Which is a shame because he was a great player. And while I don't care much about him, I do feel a little bad that his career won't be looked at with the respect it merits.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Patriots-Broncos Drinking Game: AFC Championship Edition

Patriots, Broncos. Manning, Brady. An AFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. What could be any better than that? I'll tell you what... Drinking so much alcohol you'll need to watch the 4th quarter in the Emergency Room. Here's a drinking game to play while the Patriots face the Broncos Sunday in the AFC Championship...

Anytime a commentator says:
"AFC" = 1 drink of beer
"Championship" = 1 drink
"Manning" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Winner" = 1 drink
"Seventeen(th)" = drink for 17 seconds
"Meeting" = 1 drink
"Playoffs" = 1 drink
"History" = 1 drink
"Legacy" = 1 drink
"Super Bowl" = 1 drink
"Fifty" = 1 drink
"Mile high" = 1 drink, 1 hit from a joint
Anything about the air being thin = hold your breath for 15 seconds, then drink for 5 seconds
Anything about the weather being nice = 1 drink
"Crowd noise" = 1 drink
"Home field" = 1 drink
"Injury" = 1 drink
"Malcolm" = 1 drink
"Jackson" = 1 drink


Anytime this is on screen...
A Roman numeral = drink for as many seconds as the number (e.g. XVII=drink for 17 seconds)
Highlights from previous Manning/Brady games = drink during entire highlight
Highlights of Brady/Patriots struggling in Denver = drink during entire highlight
The number 18 (on the field or in a graphic) = 1 drink
A trophy = 1 drink per trophy
Manning face = 1 shot of liquor (and permission to vomit)
A Manning besides Peyton = 1 drink per Manning
A horse (real or cartoon) = 1 drink
A horseshoe (real or as part of a logo) = 1 drink per shoe
A mountain = 1 drink pear peak
John Elway = 1 drink
Brock Osweiler = 1 drink
Wade Philips = 1 drink
Matt Patricia = 1 drink
Ernie Adams = 1 glass of wine
Josh McDaniels = 1 drink
A graphic about injuries = 1 drink
A coin toss (live or video) = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink the entire time he's talking


Anytime this happens...
Someone says "Omaha" = 1 drink
Broncos fans say that stupid "incomplete" chant = 1 drink
Brady and/or Manning are compared to all-time greats = 1 drink for each player compared to
Jamie Collins makes a freakishly athletic play = 1 drink
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink
Julian Edelman breaks a tackle = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski destroys someone/something = 1 drink
You're worried Edelman or Gronk is injured = half a beer
Gronk spikes something = finish your beer, spike empty can/bottle on ground (bonus points for glass bottles)
Manning says the name of a city besides Omaha = 2 drinks
Manning says the name of a state/province = 5 drinks
Manning says the name of a country = finish your beer
Manning seems to adjust the play = 1 drink
Commentators praise Manning for a good play call = 1 drink
Commentators avoid criticizing Manning for a bad play call = 1 drink
Broncos run the ball = 1 drink
Manning overthrows a receiver = 1 drink
Manning underthrows a receiver = 1 drink
Manning makes an accurate throw longer than 10 yards = half a beer
Manning fumbles or throws a pick = 1 shot of liquor
Commentators criticize Manning for a mistake (unlikely) = 1 entire beer, 2 shots of liquor
The commentators mention HGH (this will not happen) = drink all alcohol in the building by the end of the game, which will be extra rough in an apartment building or a bar, so feel free to take performance enhancing substances to help


So enjoy the game on the field between the Patriots and Broncos, as well as the game off the field between you and your liver. Make sure you have a path shoveled wide enough for the paramedics to carry you out on a stretcher.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Patriots-Giants drinking game: painful memories edition

One streak will end Sunday. Either the Patriots' 11-game winning streak, or Giants' 3-game winning streak against the Patriots.

Throughout the week, few people seemed to actually talk about this game in 2015, instead focusing on games played 4 and 8 years ago, by almost completely different sets of players. For the Patriots, this is a tough road game against a good opponent. And they probably won't make nervous mistakes like so many Pats' opponents have this season. Then again, a 5-4 record in the NFL this year isn't very impressive. Being slightly above average in an incredibly below average league is like repeating the 4th grade and then getting a B-. Who cares?

Speaking of who cares, who cares about my game analysis? Let's get to the drinking game!

The rules...

Anytime a commentator says:
"Super Bowl" = 1 drink of beer
"New York" = 1 drink
"Manning" = 1 drink
"Tom" = 1 drink
"Brady" = 1 drink
"Coughlin" = 1 drink
"Malcolm" = 1 drink
"Chandler" = 1 drink
"Tyree" = 1 drink
"Manningham" = 1 drink (plus the 1 drink for saying "Manning")
"Streak" = 1 drink
"Undefeated" = 1 drink
"18 and 1" = drink beer for 18 seconds, then drink 1 shot of liquor
"Pierre-Paul" = 1 drink
"Fireworks" = 1 drink


Anytime this is happens:
DraftKings or FanDuel commercial = 1 drink (not allowed to do so in New York)
Odell Beckham Jr. catches something with both hands = 1 drink
DeflateGate is mentioned = 1 drink
Shane Vereen catch or carry = 1 drink
Brandon Meriweather dirty play = 1 drink
Tom Brady takes longer than 2 seconds to get rid of the ball = 1 drink
Julian Edelman seems to get concussed = 1 drink
Rob Gronkowski breaks a tackle = 1 drink
Gronk scores a touchdown = finish your beer, spike the can/bottle (bonus points for spiking glass)
LeGarrette Blount breaks a 10+ yard run = 1 drink
Jamie Collins does something freakishly athletic = 1 drink
Chandler Jones records a sack = 1 drink
Touchback = 1 drink
Kickoff or punt return = drink for the duration of the return
Matthew Slater makes a special teams tackle = 1 drink


Anytime this is on screen:
Fall foliage = 1 drink, bonus points if it's pumpkin flavored
DraftKings logo = 1 drink
Highlights of a Super Bowl = drink for the duration of the highlight, then throw up if it was against the Giants
Roman numerals = 1 drink per set of numerals
Highlights of a Giants receiver making a ridiculous catch = drink entire beer, take a shot, snort a line of oxy
Clip of a former Patriots receiver named Wes dropping a catch = finish your beer, pop a Molly, and sign with the Rams
Bill Belichick as a NY Giants coach = drink a giant sized beer, like those Fosters beers
60 Minutes promo = 1 drink per clock tick
Jason Pierre-Paul's bandaged hand = 1 drink
Graphic about Pats' O-line injuries = 1 drink per injured player mentioned
A sign about DeflateGate = 1 drink
The New York skyline = 1 drink
The disgusting wastelands of north New Jersey = 1 drink
Bob Kraft = 1 drink
Kraft talking to someone = drink while he's talking

So enjoy the Pats-Giants game, get lubed up, and please don't play this drinking game because you'll probably die.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Clay Buchholz re-injures elbow celebrating $13 million option

You thought that was a real headline, right? That's how fragile Clay Buchholz is. And the Red Sox have picked up his option for 2016, worth $13 million. Buchholz, when healthy, is incredibly streaky. He can rip off 8 to 10 Ace-like starts, then suck for weeks. From season to season, month to month, start to start, you have no idea which Clay Buchholz will show up. Here is the roller coaster ride of his ERAs for the past 5 seasons: 3.48, 4.56, 1.74, 5.34, 3.26. He's never had consecutive seasons with ERAs within 1 run of each other.

The one thing you can rely on with Clay is that he'll get injured. He's 31 and he's only started 20+ games in 3 seasons. He's never started 30.

The argument for exercising the option is that $13 million isn't a ton of money, and it's only one year. And as I said, Buchholz when healthy is capable of brilliance. So why not? Minimal risk, potential for high reward.

But $13 million is too much for unreliability. I love low risk/high reward ventures. Not when the guy is as inconsistent as Buchholz, and ALSO as injury prone. The injury isn't even a risk, it's essentially a sure thing.

Another reason to not want Buchholz is that due to he unreliability, you're going to have to make sure you have 6 potential starters available. Either that or try to acquire one in June or July when his arm breaks down. And good luck finding a replacement for him if he falls apart in September. By keeping Buchholz, it forces you to also get some form of insurance.

It comes down to this: If he were a free agent, would you want to spend $13 million on him? I wouldn't.

Even as a back of the rotation guy, he's too unreliable. I'd rather have a mediocre innings eater that I could depend on to keep the team in games and preserve the bullpen. Give me 28 starts and 160 innings of decent pitching. With Buchholz it's 10 to 29 starts, and 100-200 innings, some great, some awful.

In 4 of Buchholz's 18 starts last season, he failed to go 5 innings. It was 6 times in 2014. About every 5 starts he'll drop a turd on the mound and you'll have difficulty clawing back to get into the game. Not to mention tax your bullpen in the process.

The only acceptable role for Buchholz is at the back of a rotation that's so strong up front that it doesn't really matter what you have as a 4 or 5 starter. In which case, $13 million is too much to spend on a guy whose role doesn't matter. And it's too much to spend on a guy whose only predictable attribute is that he will get hurt at some point and force you to find someone else to start for him.

DraftKings and FanDuel players should consider suing the Colts for falsifying injury reports

I don't think stretching the truth on an injury report is a big deal. Unless you're the Colts. Unless you're the team that measured an opposing team's footballs without realizing that air pressure is affected by temperature and humidity. Unless you're the team that leaked the story to your mouthpiece Bob Kravitz hours after you got the tar beat out of you (mostly in the half of the game played with "legal" footballs).

It's sort of like arguing with someone online, and correcting their grammar or spelling. Once you do that you'd better make sure you use the right your/you're, it's/its, and then/than. And if you don't, every little mistake of yours is fair game.

Once you open that door of publicly tattling on another team for possibly breaking a rule, you'd better make sure you follow the rules to the letter. All the rules. Each and every stipulation in the book. Such as fully disclosing the nature of your most important player's injuries. As the NFL says "This policy is of paramount importance in maintaining the integrity of the game."

Integrity. The Colts violated a rule that is of "paramount importance" to the game's "integrity."

And it's not just the integrity of football games being jeopardized by the Colts' deception. With the explosion of daily fantasy sports on sites like Draft Kings and Fan Duel, where millions of dollars change hands every week, the accuracy of injury information is now similar to the accuracy of publicly owned corporations issuing earnings reports. Huge amounts of money is at stake. And publishing false injury information is like a company failing to report a loss.

How many people added Andrew Luck to their teams in the past few weeks, under the pretense that he had recovered from an arm injury but was otherwise healthy? What about TY Hilton or Donte Moncrief? How would knowledge of his rib injury have affected people's strategies? And might Draft Kings and Fan Duel have possibly modified their salary cap number for Luck if they'd known the truth?

And who had inside information about the true nature of Luck's injuries? Did any of them have Draft Kings or Fan Duel accounts? Do their friends or relatives?

In this absurdly litigious society, the Colts have opened themselves up to huge legal action. And if you picked Luck for your fantasy team, or might have picked him at a lower price, then you should call your lawyer and file suit.Take it all the way to the 2nd Circuit if you have to.

The rules are the rules, Colts. You're the ones who made a big public deal about the rules a few months ago. Which was especially pathetic since the crux of the story was that the "illegal" footballs were removed from the game, which is also when you started getting stomped on.

You couldn't beat the Patriots on the field, so you decided to beat them with the rule book. And now we see that you suck at that too. Almost as badly as you suck on the field.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why is Tuukka Rask starting tonight?

You can't say anything negative about Rask without qualifying your remarks, or risk the scorn of his many defenders. And I don't know why. His play has been shabby and lazy this season. In his career he's never come up big in a playoff series when the Bruins have needed him to. His play was one of the primary reasons the Bruins lost a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in 2010. And the best thing to happen to the 2010-11 Bruins was Rask losing the starting job to Thomas.

Yet any legitimate criticism of his play is often met with excuses and my favorite "He's not the reason they lost." (even though his job is to be a reason the team wins, not to just not be a reason they lose)

But let's limit our scrutiny of sacred cow Tuukka Rask to October of 2015. And let's also not talk about his play as a percentage of the blame pie for the Bruins' struggles. It doesn't matter if he's only 10% responsible for the B's losses, or 5% or less than 1%. His quality of play is what matters, and it's below the standards of an NHL goalie, let alone one of the allegedly better goalies in the League.

He's been lackadaisical, imprecise, passive. He cuts off angles incorrectly, he handles the puck awkwardly, and his form has been allowing pucks to leak through. He's done the bare minimum of his job. He's not the cause of the Bruins' losing, but he's not doing much to cause them to win.

So why is he in net tonight instead of Jonas Gustavsson? J-Goose hasn't been amazing, but he is trying. Unlike Rask, who seems to be trying to be benched or traded. Don't the Bruins want to reward effort and punish apathy? Jonas Gustavsson has been playing the best that Jonas Gustavsson has been playing. Rask is playing nowhere near the best that he can play.

The Bruins have 3 wins this season, 2 of those were with Gustavsson in net. I'm not saying the B's should trade Rask, or permanently put Gustavsson ahead of Rask on the depth chart. But Rask shouldn't be starting right now. Send Rask a message and play the goalie who is giving you 100% and winning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I want the Cubs to lose tonight so I can stop rooting for the Mets

I don't like the Cubs. I don't like the general attitude that seems to define the essence of being a Cubs fan: Be happy to lose. It's not that they don't want to see their team win, it just isn't a priority to them. Or at best, it has no impact on their mood. There are more important things than winning: beer, summer afternoon sunshine, and having a good time at Wrigley is what matters most. If Cubs fans were told that moving out of Wrigley into a modern ballpark with luxury boxes would increase their chances of winning a World Series, I doubt they'd want to do it.

You know the phrase "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing?" Cubs fans are satisfied with just the first part.

I like Theo Epstein. I like Jon Lester. I outright hate Joe Maddon, and that hatred outweighs any positive feelings I have for Epstein or Lester. Maddon is obnoxious. His teams are obnoxious. If he wins a World Series, the obnoxiousness will only increase exponentially.

The Cubs are not kindred to the pre-2004 Red Sox. Even the nature of the team's two Curses are different. The Red Sox sold Babe Ruth and a number of other great players to the Yankees, and the Sox paid their penance for those sins for nearly 9 decades. The Cubs pissed off a guy with a goat, and then they weren't good for a century. Great story.

Cubs fans aren't frustrated or cranky or sarcastic enough to compare to the fellowship of the miserable that were Red Sox fans before 2004. Red Sox fans were tortured. Red Sox fans cared. Cubs fans do not.

Look at Red Sox fans' reaction to the waves of Pink Hat that infiltrated Fenway after 2004. The Pink Hats didn't care if the Sox won or who was on the team and what role they played, they just wanted to go to Fenway and take a selfie of themselves eating a hot dog. #WallyWave

All Cubs fans are Pink Hats! Their priorities are the exact same. Fuck that.

I don't want that content with failure Chicago fanbase to be rewarded with a World Series. I don't want Joe Maddon's already gargantuan ego to be augmented by a World Series ring on his finger. I don't want to hear about goats or Back to the Future II anymore. So let's go Mets.

And please, Mets, finish it tonight so I can stop hating myself for rooting for a New York team.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Patriots don't get revenge, but get a W and a few LOLs

It wasn't the embarrassing blowout that many Patriots fans had been hoping for and many sports pundits had predicted. But there's still embarrassment. There's still Tom Brady being amazing. There's still a Patriots win over the Colts.

You were never going to get "revenge" in this game, Pats fans. But the chance to reassert your superiority over the Colts while simultaneously laughing at their buffoonery carries with it a certain satisfaction.

The Patriots didn't let the hype around this game affect them. They played with focus and concentration. They made adjustments. They were patient. The Colts, on the other hand, played with too much urgency. They tried too hard to write the script of the game instead of just letting it happen. The fake punt Snapfu (term coined by Grantland's Bill Barnwell) was a perfect example of the Colts trying to force the game to play out a certain way. Just punt. Or fake.

Seriously, Pagano, you're going to go after the Patriots by trying to out-coach them? That was the "weakness" you attacked?

The Colts were able to keep this game close thanks to plays like Julian "Nine Fingers" Edelman bobbling a pass, giving Mike Adams an easy pick 6. Indy had a strong first drive as well, but even that series was a fraction of an inch away from ending with 0 points. It was a 21-20 Indy lead going into halftime, but at no point did the Colts have a firm grip on the game.

The Pats benefited from what was probably a bad call on an Indy onside kick. That was luck. What makes the good teams great is capitalizing on lucky bounces and calls. The Pats did that a few plays later when LeGarrette Blount ran for a 38-yard TD.

Danny Amendola had a big game, which was pivotal with Julian Edelman's bent pinkie finger. Edelman and Jamie Collins made the most athletic plays of the game, Edelman twisting inside defenders on a 4th down run, Collins leaping over a long-snapper to block a PAT.

And Tom Brady was Tom Brady. That interception that wasn't his fault was his first of the season. He was mobile inside the pocket, giving himself time to make plays. What continues to impress me the most about Brady is his inhuman ability to not be distracted by all the noise and the things that would affect normal human beings like us.

So the Indy game is over. And we're on to New York and the Jets. And it's for first place in the division. That's not a typo.