Saturday, February 26, 2011

NFL Owners Worst Nightmare: A Rockefeller Saying "Open the Books"

Sure it is Senator Jay Rockefeller, but still, that name resonates in people's minds as being the voice of 19th century entitled rich, and the moderate politics over the past 40 years or so.

Jay Rockefeller (Senator, WV) has looked over the NFL argument, and he doesn't find it very compelling:

Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to sort out this stalemate is for the owners and the league to answer the biggest sticking point: money.

What I'd like to see from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners is a simple display of good faith: Show the union your books. Don't keep secrets. If there are financial pressures that keep you from agreeing to the revenue-sharing plan proposed by the players, let's see the proof...

..Taking this simple step would answer the criticism from players that teams are extremely profitable but owners are unwilling to share the bonanza with the players who make it all possible.

When a motherfucking Rockefeller says you are over-reaching, you had better note that shit, NFL owners.  Jay Rockefeller's grandpa invented the shit you are trying to pull, and Jay knows your bullshit.  Just sayin'.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fare Thee Well, Corey Brewer, You Goofy Bastard

I've come to terms with the fact that Corey Brewer has been traded away from the Wolves, despite my rather desperate pleas for it to not happen.  And I understand that while I'm not entirely alone in my disappointment, I'm surely in the minority--I've heard stories of folks on Facebook comparing Brewer's departure to Nick Punto leaving the Twins--a comparison that makes me want to vomit on my fists and punch the people saying it.  Those people get vomit punches!*  I find myself much more upset over the departure of Corey Brewer than I was over Al Jefferson's trade.  After all, this was a guy that less than a year ago the Timberwolves franchise was touting as the Most Improved Player.  And I had beaten them to that point of view.

But I think I was always honest about Brewer's skills--he was and is and will continue to be frustratingly erratic.  He'll be brilliant for a half, borderline retarded for the other half.  He'll rip four steals, but turn over the ball in a half court set five times.  But no one could doubt his passion.  And I do get that the Wolves have Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, and Martell Webster all playing the same swing spot, and it was a question of redundancy, as much as anything else.  I get all of that.

And I get that Anthony Randolph is here now, and every talking head in Minnesota is telling me that we've got a great new commodity with a high upside--he's 6' 11", with a 7' 3" wingspan!  He's Athletic!  No telling what his ceiling might be!  And he's been on the bench for a couple of games now, and even scored his first points as Timberwolf tonight, and I'm waiting for the look on his face to stop screaming, "If this team hadn't specifically asked for me, I could be playing with Amare and Carmelo."  It's been a week, and maybe Michael Beasley needs to take this kid (all of two years younger than Beasley) and remind him that Beasley was traded in a very similar fashion, and has found a way to be excited and engaged and engaging even though his old team is now one of the most dynamic, controversial, marketable, hated, loved teams in all of the NBA, and he's now on the Wolves. I'm not saying Randolph needs to remake his personality, but I've watched three games with him mostly on the bench, and I don't know if I've seen him once even clap when one of his new teammates sinks a basket.  Get on the trolley, Anthony.

In the meantime, I'm going to remind everyone just how fun Corey Brewer was on this team--on a horrible, horrible team, Brewer provided us with some of the best highlights this franchise has had in half a decade.  He will be missed, honestly.


*I could write a 2000 word treatise on how the Minnesota fan base, regardless of sport or team, is one of the most fickle, impossible to deal with, collective pain in the ass fan base in the world, and I don't know if I would have scratched the surface after those 2000 words.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Old School Thursday: Naughty By Nature

and no, not OPP. (look for the Tupac cameo)

DC Skins: 2010 Season Review

Trust me, this is going to hurt me worse than it hurts you. My preseason preview offers a dark counterpoint to the final results.

2010 was another abysmal year for the Washington professional football team. The defense plummeted from 10th in yards to 31st, and looked bad doing it. The offense couldn't run or pass protect. Special Teams were not much help. And to round it out, the coaching staff seemed to just absolutely piss on hospitality.

Defense scoring: t-21st

I've made this point ad nauseum, but it bears remembering: DC switched to a 3-4 defense for the first time in its history, for no good reason and with heinous results. My preseason worst case scenario? "That the defense never settles in to play instinctively." BINGO!

While the emphasis on forcing turnovers had positive results early, the team lost that focus and was meanwhile bad at every level. Gaping holes in LB and nickel/dime coverage resulted in tons of big plays and points. The D-line did not do its job.

Biggest needs: free safety, outside linebacker, nose tackle.

Offense scoring: 25th

The QB situation is the most fucked up and hopeless as I can remember, and I've seen some shitty QBs play for the burgundy and gold over the years. The biggest hope for the team is that Shanahan trades down from #10 and gets a bunch of later round picks to stock up on O-linemen. This unit is simply not good enough. The fact that our profound lack of talent at RB and WR is an afterthought underlines the severity of the problem.

My preseason worst case scenario? "McNabb, running for his life just like Jason Campbell, goes down with an injury and Gross Rexman takes over." BINGO, except for the injury.

Many assholes who are probably right think that DC will pick up some young QB and retain Gross Rexman as a caretaker. Which is a lot like making Jeffrey Dahmer the leader of your asian boy scout troop.

Biggest needs: right guard, center, quarterback.

Special Teams

Sad to say, this mediocre unit was the best of the three phases. The coverage units were strong, and the return game had some jolt -- though consistently called back on infuriating penalties.

The punter and kicker were well below average, shanking and spanking at the worst possible times. My preseason worst case scenario? "That special teams remain an afterthought." BINGO!

Biggest needs: kicker, punter.


2009's 4-12 effort was almost unwatchable. 2010's 6-10 performance actually was unwatchable. When Gross Rexman was promoted to starting QB for the rest of the season, I politely washed my hands of this year's DC Skins.

Assuming that we have the NFL in 2011, Shanahan's job looks harder than when he took over. Perhaps this ugliness is necessary, rooting out the maggots from the rice. If this team improves, I will consider it a validation of Shanahan's strong reputation.

But I can definitely see how this team could get worse. And then they'll try to switch the defense back to a 4-3 and just fucking suck for years. With Gross Rexman leading the way (eight turnovers in three games last year!), bad things are possible. BINGO!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jim Souhan Wants to Burn the Franchise Down Again

As I have noted, Jim Souhan is a crazy vacillator.  He can go from "This Team Is Bad But Young, So Be Patient" to "Holy Shit, This Team is Terrible" in just a few days.  It should be no surprise, I guess, to see him further morph into "Blow Up This Franchise and Start Again (Again)" in just a couple of weeks time.  But he's stupid to suggest it.

Last year, the Timberwolves finished with 15 wins.  They have 13 now.  That suggests improvement to me, though I clearly don't know as much about basketball as Jim Souhan does. Will the Wolves win at least 3 more games this year?  It seems likely.

Souhan is full-on pissy after the loss to the Clippers right before the All-Star break: "In the enervating annals of Wolvesdom, we have suffered the Ebis and Averys of outrageous fortune, we have gagged on East Bay Funk and choked on that bitter candy known as Starbury, and yet today, your Minnesota Timberwolves might be the worst they've ever been."

Sorry, Jimmy Souhan, but that's a ridiculous proposition.  They were obviously worse last year.  They were probably even worse the year before.  And in terms of being actually competitive, they were maybe never worse than Garnett's last year before we finally traded him away, and gave him a chance to win somewhere else.  Or maybe Souhan reflects lovingly on the years of Masturbating, Suicidal Big Men and Ricky Davis.

The idea that this team, the youngest team in the NBA, is the worst team in the history of the Wolves is laughably stupid.  Souhan is a reactionary idiot, as I've shown a number of times.

And thus, his solutions are predictably stupid:

#1. Fire the owner.  I actually don't hate this idea, as dumb as it is.  But it's a solid decade too late.  And impossible.  Glen Taylor really, really fucked the franchise when he pushed to resign Joe Smith in violation of NBA rules, and the Wolves lost draft picks in the process.  That's when it was time to fire Glen Taylor.  Now?  He seems like he has a pretty solid management team that knows what it takes to get competitive in the NBA after years of crappy McHale managing.

#2. Fire the GM.  This is a stupid, stupid idea.  Around the league, forever, they've been mocking Kahn, but you know what?  He got two first round picks for Al Jefferson.  He held onto KLOVE, who is only putting together an offensive season that hasn't been seen in 30 years. He got Michael Beasley for nothing.  He picked up Martell Webster; he signed Darko Milicic to a deal that still seems pretty cheap to me.  He drafted Wesley Johnson.  But what does Souhan say about all of those canny moves?   "David Kahn's arrogance prompted him to run his first draft before hiring a coach and, presumably, without consulting anyone who knows anything about basketball. He is the boss who implements 100 bad ideas, knowing that if he lucks out with one innovation, he can build his entire reputation around it while the 99 failures are forgotten."

I'd love to have Souhan explain in detail all the bad moves that Kahn has made.  For all the talk about the bad drafts that Kahn had, he drafted guards and a great small forward. I, for one, like Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson and Wayne Ellington.

#3 Fire Rambis.  So says Souhan.  "We have reached this unimaginable juncture: Taylor has made us miss McHale. As a coach, McHale could have been great if he had wanted to be. Missing McHale as a GM is like missing eczema."

I couldn't disagree more, and the idea that Souhan thinks that is indisputable makes me think that he might be mildly retarded.  No one misses McHale, except for those of us who remember him, fondly on the radio with a young Kevin Harlan.

The Timberwolves are the youngest team in the league; they have KLOVE and Michael Beasley.  Those are tent poles, and Kahn positioned the team to hold on to KLOVE and get Beasley.  They have drafted great young talent in Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, and Wayne Ellington.  They haven't yet traded away defensive badass Corey Brewer.  They have a ton of draft picks, still.  Pissing on the youngest team in the NBA, halfway through their reclamation project is stupid.  But if Jim Souhan is one thing, it is fucking stupid.  No offense, Jim!

Friday, February 18, 2011

John Wall Redefines Bounce Pass

Brian Frederick on Dylan Ratigan

Brian (who is apparently a fan of this blog) doesn't say everything I would have (though that's easy to say when I'm not on TV) but he puts up a pretty good argument that if fans (and let's be honest--non-fans who live in the taxable zones) are going to put up over Six Billion Dollars to build stadiums, they maybe should have some say in what is happening.

I don't know I agree with that argument, of course.  Taxes always go to things that you probably don't like.  I would have loved to withhold my money from the Iraq War, for example.  Apparently, there are people who don't like science being taught in schools, and yet, they pay their taxes, for the most part.  But Brian has a real point when it comes to special taxes in cities to build stadiums, and the lack of back-and-forth between fans and owners, in particular.  And is exactly this kind of Cable News inquiry that I don't think the NFL Owners figured on.  Dylan Ratigan is a no-nonsense centrist with some left leanings, and it is clear whose side he is on.  

I think the greatest chance we have at having a very limited lockout, with few concessions from players is sunlight from the media.  If they are willing to do their job, the owners are in trouble, despite all the cards they hold.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What That NFL Complaint to the NLRB Means

Editor's Note:  Smart but Flaky IDYFT contributor and labor lawyer barnyard wrote this piece.  I'm posting it, as the importance of that complaint becomes more and less important with the news that both sides have submitted to the mediation process.  Here's barnyard:

It’s old news that on Monday, February 14th the NFL Owners filed an Unfair Labor Practice (“ULP”) Charge against the NFLPA, prompting NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs (longest title ever) George Atallah to quip via Twitter that he would have preferred flowers and chocolate.  Pretty funny, but also relevant for reasons that I’ll get to in a bit. 

The ULP Charge was a pretty blatant public relations maneuver that is arguably a frivolous abuse of the National Labor Relations Board, but if not frivolous it is certainly humorous if you enjoy the hubris of people who just don’t get it.  A few days later I still haven’t seen much to breakdown the significance of this move, and I think some breakdown is worthwhile since it provides another chance to pile on the Owners and their obvious role as the bad actors in this entire drama.
First, the basics of what the hell an Unfair Labor Practice Charge amounts to.  The National Labor Relations Board is the special court (not technically a court, but you are reading a sports blog) that is tasked with interpreting and enforcing the country’s labor laws (back in the day they decided labor disputes needed their own interpretive body for reasons I don’t feel like getting into and you probably don’t want to hear).  An Unfair Labor Practice Charge is an accusation that someone violated the National Labor Relations Act (the first of four or five seminal pieces of legislation that control labor-management relations), and is resolved first by the National Labor Relations Board.

The NFL Owners’ ULP Charge is an accusation of ‘bad faith bargaining’ on the part of the NFLPA.  Bad faith bargaining is a very subjective violation of the National Labor Relations Act, and really amounts to a case-by-case version of passing the smell test.  The reason we need a tough-to-apply smell test to interpret our labor laws is one of the glaring shortcomings of the National Labor Relations Act is that it forces parties to sit down and bargain, but doesn’t mandate that they ever come to an agreement (the temporarily sexy Employee Free Choice Act from early in the Obama administration would have imposed collective bargaining agreements on parties unable to a ink a deal after a certain amount of time). 

Bad faith bargaining comes in a variety of flavors, but in this case is an accusation from the NFL Owners that their counterpart at the collective bargaining table is sitting down to talk about issues (again, the law mandates you have to sit and talk), but has no intent of trying to reach an agreement (to try and make up for the fact that reaching an agreement isn’t mandatory, the law uncomfortably mandates you have to try).  In labor law short hand this type of bad faith bargaining is called ‘surface bargaining.’  In normal person shorthand this type of behavior is called ‘being a dick.’

This accusation of ‘surface bargaining’ hilariously comes from the Owners just days after they used the labor-management version of the nuclear option by stepping away from the table this past week in response to a fifty-fifty flat split of revenue from the NFLPA.  Without weighing in on the merits of the NFLPA’s offer (um, it was an inherently reasonable proposal), it has that quality of hilarious hubris when a party walks away from the table and accuses the other guy of not wanting to sit down and hammer out a deal. 

To be fair, the ULP Charge is apparently based on the NFLPA’s strategy reveal that they would decertify the union to position for an antitrust charge if a new deal is not reached by the March 4th deadline.  Given the owners knew of this strategy months ago when the NFLPA openly announced it, and this ‘surface bargaining’ charge comes at a hilariously stupid time, and it is unlikely the National Labor Relations Board will rule on the ULP Charge before March 4th, I’m guessing the NFL Owners planned all along to time the Charge for February 14th in an attempt to gain a public relations boost by leveling an accusation of labor crime. 

I mentioned before that bad faith bargaining is a subjective test that basically asks you to pass the smell test.  Understanding we have far from a complete understanding of all the interactions, it is really tough to look at the NFLPA and accuse them of not really wanting to reach an agreement.  Hell, their first proposal of a fifty – fifty revenue split is already a ten percent give back of revenue (I’m working from the belief that it is a 60 – 40 split right now, but who knows). 

Remember that Atallah Tweet I said would eventually be relevant?  Here it is:  I think it may be the closest indication of bad faith bargaining on the part of the union.  Remove that harmless swipe, and the NFLPA has been nothing but professional and with a sense of urgency since the NFL Owners picked this fight by lopping a year of the existing collective bargaining agreement.  The worst that can be said is Atallah’s tweet demonstrates the NFLPA is not taking the matter seriously and therefore doesn’t really want to reach an agreement (not an adult accusation).  

Old School Thursday: Ice-T

Oh, Ice-T.  You are a cool and refreshing beverage.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Roger Goodell's New Op-Ed, Explained

don't trust this man
You can read Goodell's piece in full here.  Not shockingly, that's the website of the ownership group.

Quick word count:  "players":  13 times.  "fans":  11 times.  "owners":  once! (and in a quote from Kevin Mawae at that).  "Teams" is the code word for owners, and it is used 7 times.  You can't trust a group that won't even name their actual role, but instead hide in synecdoche.

Let's start here--Goodell writes, "The status quo means no rookie wage scale and the continuation of outrageous sums paid to many unproven rookies. In 2009, for example, NFL clubs contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field. Instead, we will shift significant parts of that money to proven veterans and retired players."

Let's leave aside for now the whole issue as to whether drafts aren't inherently unfair to the young men forced to participate in them, and just focus on these numbers a bit.

They are, I'm sure, accurate, but disingenuous.  The problem with talking about the draft this way is it makes it sound as though the entire system is broken.  Let's look at that 2009 Draft money.  Of that $1.2 billion, $479 million of it went to the first ten players drafted.  Of the $585 guaranteed, $267 million went to those first ten players--that's 40% and 46% of all that money, respectively.  It isn't the entire system that's broken, theoretically, from the owner's standpoint.  It's not even the entire first round--ask the Packers how they feel about their 5 year, $13.2 million for Clay Matthews (selected at #26).  I bet they are pretty ecstatic about that investment, seeing as it led directly to a Super Bowl.  Hell, they are probably feeling pretty good about BJ Raji's deal, even though since he was selected at #9, he's getting paid about twice as much.  The problem isn't the draft--it's the amounts being handed out at the very top.  And I imagine there's a lot of room to negotiate there with the players.  They know the salaries are a zero-sum game, and that veterans get hurt when rookies get paid that much.  But it's a much smaller problem than Goodell makes it sound.  Cap rookie signing bonuses at even $25 million, and you would save a ton of money within the system.

Goodell:  "The status quo means 16 regular-season and four preseason games — even though fans have rejected and dismissed four preseason games at every opportunity. We need to deliver more value to our fans by giving them more of what they want at responsible prices. This can be achieved if we work together and focus on more ways to make the game safer and reduce unnecessary contact during the season and in the off-season."

Fans don't have to be the final arbiter of how the league is run, and just because fans aren't willing to pay full ticket price to see preseason games doesn't mean that they will chomp at the bit to see, for example, last year's Vikings and last year's Drunken Savages play one more game in Week 18 to see who gets to 7-10 and who falls to 6-11.  As it is, the league has a pretty good balance, schedule wise.  If you want to pare a couple of preseason games off the schedule, go right ahead--but if you aren't willing to do that without adding games to the regular season, we can stop pretending that this is a move for anyone but the owners (the noun that must not be used!).  This is about trying to stuff as many human money sacks into seats as possible, end of story.

Fans reject preseason games for all the reasons that coaches love them--they use those games to figure out the bottom of their rosters--who is a good special teams gunner who could be a 2nd kick returner, or a 5th receiver?  Who is our third best quarterback?  What combination of all these athletes gives us the best chance to win?  I'm guessing coaches need those games, and are probably quietly fuming about the idea that their real game simulations that are the preseason are being threatened.

Goodell:  "The status quo means failing to recognize the many costs of financing, building, maintaining and operating stadiums. We need new stadiums in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego; and the ability for more league investment in new technology to improve service to fans in stadiums and at home."

On a personal note, Roger--fuck you.  The people of the Twin Cities know how much it costs to operate stadiums, and arenas, and ballparks.  We can't go a year without some billionaire, hat in hand, begging for more money.  We've got the Vikings offering to pay for one third of their new stadium.  And yet, I haven't heard much in the way of a trade-off, like offering the city 2/3rds of all concessions, or parking or whatever.  And never mind that the state is in massive debt.  Let's create a tax, raise a bunch of money, and instead of using it to fix our crumbling infrastructure, or keep schools open, or any of the things that actually improve a community--let's give it a billionaire who inherited all his money from Daddy (no offense, Zygi!).  Quick note--the Vikings were valued at over $835 million in 2009.  When the Wilfs bought the franchise in 2005, they paid $600 million.  The man they bought The Vikings from--Simpson's Cowboy Businessman come to life Red McCombs--bought the Vikings in 1998 for $250 million.  That's a company whose value has more than tripled and gone up almost $600 million dollars in value in just over 10 years.  And they need our help to build a new dollhouse for their toys?  Maybe they can sell 5% of their stake to the city of Minneapolis to help offset the cost.  Or has that been made illegal under NFL rules?  Again--fuck you, Roger.

One more quote, and one that has one simple response, that the owners have reacted to as if the players were asking for their first born.  First, here's Roger, "The status quo means players continuing to keep 60 percent of available revenue, in good years or bad, no matter how the national economy or the economics of the league have changed. From 2001 to 2009, player compensation doubled and the teams committed a total of $34 billion to player costs. The NFL is healthy in many respects, but we do not have a healthy business model that can sustain growth."

Prove your assertion, sir.  Show your work.  OPEN THE BOOKS.  Whatever simple phrase you choose, it comes down to the same thing.  We know how much the players make.  That's all public.  How about we make the process open and fair, and the owners show at least the NFLPA how much they've actually made.  "Open the books" is as simple as a request as an union can make, and yet so far, the NFL and Goodell have bristled, or have claimed that the Packers books are an adequate source of information.  They are not.  They don't even represent 4% of all franchises, and it is wholly unique in the NFL besides.

The 2011 season can be saved, but the first step belongs to the owners--enough of the obfuscation, enough of bemoaning your financial straits, but not showing the proof, enough of sham complaints to the NLRB, and certainly enough of walking out on discussions at the first disagreeable thing you hear.  Sit down, please realize that there is no way in hell you deserve getting $2 billion off the top without opening your books, and go from there.  Thanks, ya dickbags!

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Case You Missed It...Wayne Rooney Had a Corker

Wayne Rooney's Amazing Goal! - Watch more funny videos here

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NFL Coaching Spazz-About

Black Monday was more of a shotgun blast for NFL coaches this season. With more coaches fired during the season than ever before, the "hot seat" turned into an ejector seat for these franchises. The smoke has cleared and all HC positions in the league are filled.

Dallas Cowboys fired Wade Phillips on 11/8, a great loss for Dallas-haters everywhere (and we are everywhere). Interim coach Jason Garrett, long-groomed for the HC post, went 5-3 and there is no question that he had the team playing better. He takes over a charhouse of overexposed pretty boys and bluster-buckets. Come August, they will once again be preseason favorites. But they will come up short, because they are assholes.

Minnesota Vikings fired Brad Childress on 11/22 and by all accounts it was necessary. Interim coach Leslie Frazier went 3-3, including a surprising win over the Eagles which drew the blueprint for how to stifle Vick. Frazier was rewarded with a contract and will build from a team similar to the pre-Favre explogasm: talented but mercurial and desperately lacking a QB. Far too early to tell if Frazier is up to the task, but guarded optimism is reasonable.

San Francisco 49ers fired Mike Singletary on 12/26 and people have been piling on Singletary since then. Absurdly high expectations in a weak division were shattered by week one (31-6 loss at Seattle) and the team nosedived. This is a team still without a QB and full-time RB. Former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh has a strong pedigree and this team could be relatively good in a bad division. They are young and need true leadership.

Carolina Panthers did not renew the contract of John Fox after a miserable, withered 2-14 season. They are replacing him with top-flight Chargers D-Coordinator Ron Rivera. The success of this move depends on first-time O-Coordinator Chudzinski, former TE coach in San Diego. Rivera has no HC experience to fall back on and the team is in desperate need of guidance especially at QB. I don't expect a quick turnaround for this franchise.

Denver Broncos fired Josh McDaniels on 12/6, a move welcomed by all. McDaniels tore apart a good team to build a monument of ego. But it was, in fact, a tomb. Denver wisely hired John Fox, a steady and experienced defense-first HC. This franchise was driven off the road: it might be a season or two before the Broncos are competitive.

Cincinnati Bengals inexplicably re-signed Marvin Lewis. The "leader" of the most dysfunctional, poorly-behaved team in the league (that's right, Raiders and Cowboys) was retained, despite mountains of police and reality TV evidence. The Bengals clearly have no interest in being a good team.

Cleveland Browns fired Eric Mangini on 1/3. They hired Rams O-Coordinator Pat Shurmur. Although the Browns showed some signs of life during their 5-11 season, Cleveland chucked Mangini for an inexperienced HC who is brother to Fritz Shurmur, confidante of Holmgren. Bleh. Incompetence, or merely nepotism? Either way, the Browns won't field a winner any time soon.

Oakland Raiders fired Tom Cable on 1/4, despite signs that his team was finally improving. They swept the AFC West, but missed the playoffs. In a move which must be infuriating for Raiders fans, Al Davis cut Cable loose and replaced him with O-Coordinator Hue Jackson. Call me cynical, but I don't think this relationship will last very long.

Tennessee Titans fired Jeff Fisher on 1/28. It was a surprise. Fisher had been forced to fire several of his coordinators, and his desire to hire his son may have played into the decision to fire the longest-tenured coach in the NFL. The team itself has been in a rut, much of which can be attributed to inconsistent QB play; a tremendous lack of discipline is impossible to ignore. Mike Munchak will rise from O-line coach to HC; he'll need quality coordinators and that might be a problem.

Lazy Redskins Post: Brandon Banks Stabbed

Really, I copied this from an email to a deep-time friend and Steelers fan about my favorite DC Skin Brandon Banks getting "superficially" stabbed:

Have you seen a picture of #16 Brandon Banks, NFL return specialist? I swear I told you about him all year... sorry to post it in the email but here goes.

Well that's pretty cute ... dwarfed by the QB, right? But here's why I, they, and you should love him:

I love how you can see that the Lions players have given up, thinking: "Holy Shit that little dude is FAST!"

And this is why I'm sad the little guy got stabbed.

Put your hands together for little Brandon Banks, he needs the love more than anybody.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why I Hope/Think Liriano and Brewer Aren't Going Nowhere

The Star Tribune bloggers have been busy making news/rumors, and both Joe Christensen and Jerry Zgoda used similar logic in explaining why young potential stars are on maybe on the trading block.  Joe covers the Twins, and he wrote about how the Twins would be willing to trade Francisco Liriano if the price was right.  Which is always true, I think, for any player.  "the price is right" is a description and a caveat--what is the price?

But other folks have done a very good job suggesting that Joe C. was getting ahead of himself and ahead of the Twins as well.  Twinkie Town did as good of a job as anyone could have breaking down the stats that Joe C cited, and included a great line about how if you have the best slider in the MLB, shouldn't you use it?  Good point, sirs.  Well presented.

A similar argument that Twinkie Town used when discussing Liriano could be applied to the "news" Jerry Zgoda broke/suggested/opined in covering the Wolves.  Now, no one but the most dedicated Wolves/Corey Brewer fans care about where he ends up outside of the context of the Carmelo Anthony trade.  As it has been noted before, I'm one of those fans.  So I was filled with anger when I read Zgoda's assertion that the Wolves would be looking to trade Brewer, regardless of whether it was part of the Knicks-Nuggets blockbuster or not.    Said Zgoda of the Wolves plans for Brewer: "They're looking to get something of value for a guy it sure seems like they've decided isn't part of their future, not after not talking contract extension with him last fall."

Christensen used very similar logic in discussing why Liriano might be trade bait--the lack of an interest in a long term deal.  But this overlooks something rather large and crucial--both players have a rather obvious injury history.  If a team has a chance to say, "Hey, before we sign you to a big deal, let's make sure you really are healthy", why wouldn't they do so?  The risk is higher with Liriano, because of the way those MLB contract extensions work and the danger of exposing a player to free agency.  But if the Twins know for sure they've got a stud, then they will re-sign Liriano.  For the Wolves, the risk of Brewer getting more money somewhere else is practically non-existent.  (And Brewer's agent is certainly overreaching when (if the reports are true) he's trying to make him a $13 million/year guy)

And that's important, when it comes to Brewer.  His second year was basically a waste--due to injuries, he played in all of 15 games.  He was healthy last year, but played on a totally craptacular team.  His agent is trying to get him paid based on that year, and the Wolves see him and use him (as he would be on any other legit team) as a high energy guy off the bench.  Not signing Brewer to an extension last year wasn't proof that the Wolves were ready to get rid of him, as Zgoda assumes.  It was a sign that the new management is engaging in something that former regimes of the Timberwolves never considered when they pursued Joe Smith, Ricky Davis, T-Hud, Marko Jaric, etc--it is a term known as "risk management".  At that point, Brewer had played exactly one year of healthy non-rookie basketball.  Why would you extend a role player's contract at point?  Play out the string--see what he does this year, and extend when it is appropriate. It is logical, but not a sign of dissatisfaction.

Now, Zgoda also quotes David Kahn as saying that they have too many wing players, and that's probably true.  But seeing as Beasley keeps aggravating his ankle, and Martell Webster has back spasms, it seems that all of a sudden, the Wolves have two reliable wingers--Brewer and Wes Johnson.  I don't see either of them going anywhere.

It is possible when dealing with injury-prone guys with high upside to take the lack of a long term contract offer to be a bigger deal than it is.  Here's hoping that's true.  Liriano and Brewer deserve to stay in the Twin Cities, and prove their worth.

Old School Thursday: Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo

Sally Jenkins Has Had Enough

I would not have seen this article, if not for the ever diligent folks at NFL Fan's Union.  But Sally Jenkins, one of the very, very good sportswriters at the Washington Post went to the Super Bowl, and she's had enough.  After several paragraphs ripping the decadence of the Super Bowl at the cost of the fans who were not even allowed to sit in the seats they paid for (and who are now suing, and damn right on them), she gets to the crux of the matter:

"But how much growth does the league need? It already generates an estimated $8 billion, and owners get the first $1 billion off the top. If you really love the NFL - and I do - you have to wonder if the billionizing of the league is really good for it. The average cost of attending a game for a family of four is $412.64. At Cowboys Stadium, it's a staggering $758.58. That's what the league calls growth."

It is tempting to call Jenkins a bit late to the party on this issue, but two things jump out at me.  She wrote, last year, a devastating article on the state of medical treatment in the NFL.  The only flaw may have been that the subject of her article was O.J. McDuffie.  Six months later, at the 2010 season opened to watch Philly Eagle Stewart Bradley stagger around with clear concussion symptoms, only to be sent out again later in the game, the 2010 season became all about concussions.  But read that article written in May 2010, and remember what they were saying about Big Ben in the Super Bowl--he's wearing a shoe two sizes too big, he's a warrior, etc.  Sounds somewhat like OJ, yeah?

But back to the Stadium issue--even if Jenkins were late to the debate, at least she's ended up on the right side.  Neil deMause, whose blog I've spoken highly of before, got his two cents in with Jenkins, instead of being completely ignored.  And Jenkins really hits the point hard, and it is the kind of thing that should be front and center in the new CBA:

"But in the end, this Super Bowl taught me a lesson: Luxury can actually be debasing. The last great building binge in the NFL was from 1995 through 2003, when 21 stadiums were built or refurbished in order to create more luxury boxes, at cost of $6.4 billion. Know how much of that the public paid for? $4.4 billion. Why are we giving 32 rich guys that kind of money, just to prey on us at the box office and concessions? The Dallas deal should be the last of its kind."

It all interweaves, you see--the owners gouge us for the privilege of the experience at being at the game.  They fight desperately with themselves, as they continue to win bigger and bigger contracts and technological innovations that make us want to stay home and watch the games on TV.  Their stadiums cost more and more, somehow outpacing the billions and billions of dollars from the TV contracts and their own price-gouging. And they need another $1 Billion dollars back from the players.  (And let's not even get to the almost  completely ignored internecine warfare between owners who have new stadiums and those who don't, even though that may be where the real story is).

They blame the players for the huge contracts that they themselves award them, even as NFL players, on average, get paid less and have shorter careers (usually due to injuries) than professional players in any other major American sport, even as their own doctors are paid to get the unhealthy just well enough to go out and play.  As Jenkins and Stewart Bradley so well demonstrated, they are called "team doctors" for a reason.  The culture is so built in that players will take to Twitter to rip a not well particularly liked QB (like, say, Jay Cutler) for not being tough, even when his knee ligaments have been torn!

The Super Bowl match up of Steelers - Packers was almost a cosmic irony--two teams who have had what are essentially special dispensations to continue to exist.  The Rooneys have owned the Steelers for ever, but were almost forced out by NFL ownership rules; the Packers are community-owned, something the NFL has gone to great lengths to never let happen again.  And they played their ultimate match-up in the most gaudy, over-the-top, publicly financed building the NFL has ever seen, until, presumably, LA gets its stadium built.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

IDYFT Playoff Pick'em: The Winner

It was a brutal fight to the death. But as the Packers ultimately defeated the Steelers, so too did the IDYFT Pick'em crown a champion.

While Big BM hit the Big Bonus (+7) for picking the Packers at the start of the playoffs, both Jess and Ryan completed the amazing Long Bomb Bonus for +17. That's what you get for calling the Superbowl winner in September.

With the final score of 31-25, Jess was the closest for both scores (27-24), while Big BM picked up points for calling on the Packers for 35.

The Trivia Question Bonus supplied some much-needed points: both the Ravens and Pats were most-picked for the Clash, while Buffalo was on the underdog list the most often. Ryan, Adw and Jess nailed both Trivia Questions.

All this typing is making me thirsty ...

Final Standings
1. Jess: 61 pts (+39)
2. Big BM: 56 pts (+29)
3. Ryan: 36 pts (+23)
4. Leftnut: 32 pts (+9)
Adw: 32 pts (+12)
5. MuMan: 24 pts (+6)

That is correct, folks. Jess swept the 2010 Pick'ems, which makes her a four-time champion. Outrageous. Truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

Jess, you are set to enjoy two (2) literary prizes! As such, perhaps an indication in the comments section of what kind of books and authors you like. Don't post your address there, but send it to me in an email. Congratulations. Again.

Meanwhile, will there be a 2011 NFL Pick'em? Only time (in the sense of how long it takes the NFLPA to cave in) will tell. Stay tuned, true believers!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Super Bowl Victory

Thank you buzzfeed for making sure this became a thing today.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Does Dan Wetzel Know His Super Bowl History?

Apparently folks are all worried and cringing their hands over the couple of inches of precipitation that have fallen in the Greater Jerry Jones Area of Arlington, Texas leading into the Super Bowl.  Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports rightly condemns those pussies who worry about a Super Bowl played inside a dome with just a touch of weather.  But in doing so, he makes me wonder just how well versed he is in how Super Bowls work.

Consider these quotes:

"If you’re going to stage Super Bowls in locales that are immune to inclement weather then your list of host cities is Miami, Tampa and San Diego, with Phoenix, where it gets cold, but not icy, as a borderline option. That’s it."

It is 71 degrees in Phoenix, so that was a weird thing to say. Sure, their overnight temp might drop just a bit below 50 degrees, but that sounds nice to me.  But it appears that Dan Wetzel speaks more truth than he knows.  Miami has hosted 10 Super Bowls.  Tampa has hosted four.  San Diego 3, Phoenix 2.  New Orleans (which really should have been on the list, freak ice storm or no) has hosted nine.  Wetzel, I assume, is only using current NFL cities, or he surely would have included Los Angeles, who have hosted seven Super Bowls.  The Super Bowl is almost exclusively held in southern cities--just because Wetzel doesn't include Atlanta (a dome in a southern city that has hosted two Super Bowls) or Houston doesn't mean you couldn't include them.

But let's take just Wetzel's cities--Miami, Tampa, San Diego and Phoenix--that's 19 Super Bowls right there. Adding Nawlins and LA gives you another 16 Super Bowls.  That's 35 Super Bowls!  Before you add Atlanta and Houston!

"The value of bringing the big game around the country to regular people and taxpayers, who have been asked (forced) to pay for NFL stadiums, should continue to overwhelm those desires though."

Emphasis mine!  Continue to?  It NEVER HAS!   Maybe Dan Wetzel should read up on what Roger Goodell said to the fine people of Atlanta, who have a stadium under 20 years of age in the American South, where it is supposed to be 55 degrees.

You want to angry me up?  Suggest that the Super Bowl was ever designed for the fans who follow the teams involved, and hasn't always been about rich tourists.  It has always been, and always will be.  Suggesting other wise is just kind of silly.

Dear David Kahn: Please, Please Don't Trade Corey Brewer

On a night that featured the Nuggets playing and beating the Timberwolves, during which Wolves commentators Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen discussed the impact of the Knicks dropping out of the trade talks about Carmelo Anthony, reports started to surface that the Knicks were back in the game, thanks to the Timberwolves.

Here's the thing--everyone knows that Carmelo wants to play for the Knicks, and the Knicks would love to have him.  There are teams willing to trade for him, with the understanding that he'd just play out the rest of his contract with them, and then sign as a free agent with the Knicks.  But maybe the Knicks are nervous that if Carmelo ends up with the Lakers or Dallas, or some other perennial winner, he'll forget about his desire to play in NYC.  That, combined with the Nets walking away, combined with the Knicks rather shocking success already, has really put the Knicks in the proverbial catbird seat (thanks, Thurber).

The Knicks, according to these reports, would just have to give up Eddy Curry's expiring contract, Anthony Randolph, and Wilson Chandler.  And in return, they get one of the five best players in the league.  That seems ridiculous.  But for me, as a fan of the Timberwolves, I'm particularly unhappy with the role we seem to have staked out, as facilitator of the trade, confusing "facilitator" with "stupid sucker".

In making this deal happen, the Wolves would give up Corey Brewer AND one of their first round draft picks to get the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph.  There are exactly two things this Timberwolves franchise does not need at this point--more money under the cap and a lackadaisical power forward.  They already have a ton of money to spend on free agents, and they already have an All Star power forward in KLOVE who ain't great on defense.

Let me be clear here--I love Corey Brewer.  Always have.   And to repeat myself a bit--Corey Brewer can be a frustrating player to love.  He will make a spectacular play that sparks a serious comeback (as he did tonight).  Even when the team falls short (as they did tonight) his play still lingers in one's memory as being particularly impressive.  He will also still have games where he scores 4 points, and turns over the ball 3 times.    He's tough to figure, as Wolves color analyst Jim Petersen has said on many occasion.  I don't have a great argument for why the Wolves should not trade him, aside from the fact that I love the style of play Brewer brings.  He's an expressive, explosive, super-athletic skinny bastard who would run into a cement wall if he thought it would improve his team's chances of winning by even 1%.  Yes, his shooting is erratic; his passes sometimes miss the mark horribly.  But no one rips the ball and finishes the other way with as much verve as Brewer.  I personally think he deserves to be in the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest more than anyone in it aside from Blake Griffin (seriously?  Ibaka, Jennings and  McGee?  Guess who the NBA wants to win this contest?) .

In summary, these reports of the rumored, possible, imminent trade of Corey Brewer fill me with sadness, and I'll just beg David KAHHHNN to not trade Brewer.  Anthony Randolph and the Extra Cash Bundle that is Eddy Curry are not enough for Brewer, dammit!  The Knicks are worried, the Nuggets are over a barrel.  Let's go with draft picks, period.   A first and a second, say.  Let the Nuggets find their own terrifically skinny, wildly erratic shooting, defensive genius.  And let's keep ours.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sid Hartman is on Fire: Who Knows What This Japanese Guy Will Do?

Grandpa Simpson Sid Hartman is as insightful as ever.  First off, let us all enjoy the implied meaning behind the headline of "Childress Spotted Tomlin's Talent".  Sid was a big believer of Brad's, even as his team spiraled out of his control, on and off the field.  Me, I was against the man almost from the very beginning.

But you get what Sid is getting at here, right?  Brad Childress practically won those Super Bowls himself in Pittsburgh by plucking Mike Tomlin out of the obscurity of being the second most important defensive coach on a team with a great secondary head coached by a former defensive back (supercock Tony Dungy, and later John Gruden).  Why, if it weren't for Brad Childress, Mike Tomlin would still be telling Ronde Barber what to do!  Congratulations, Minnesota Vikings!  In Sid Hartman's spongy brain, you have won two Super Bowls.  Of course, Sid also thought there would be no way that Torii Hunter wouldn't be playing in Target Field, and that Kevin Garnett would never be traded.

Which means his crazy take on the Twins can only be good news.  He thinks they should have kept Nick Punto. NICK PUNTO!  Fun fact:  in three of the last four years, Nick Punto has hit under .240, slides head first into first base (leading to numerous injuries), and is in his early 30's.  Enjoy the great insight of Sid as he doesn't bother to try once to pronounce the name of new Twin infielder Nishioka (who is 26 years old and just won a batting title in Japan), pronounces Alexi Casillas' last name as "Cas-ill-ess.", and can't remember the name of 3rd baseman, rookie sensation Danny Valencia.  That's a sportswriter, ladies and gentlemen!

Thursday, February 03, 2011


I'm a little gobsmacked by the reports that the coaches of the NBA, in their infinite wisdom of all things basketball, did not select Kevin Love for the All Star Game.

And the argument that is promulgated is simple:  the Timberwolves have won 11 games.  They've lost 37.  They were just blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies, and not for the first time.  This is the current formulation for explaining the snub.  Yahoo Sport's article on the All-Snubbed team said as much:  "The West coaches evidently didn’t put much stock in his accomplishments because Love’s Timberwolves have won just 11 games."

We don't know, of course, exactly how each coach decided to vote for who.  And they certainly did a better job than the fans, seeing as Yao Ming was voted a starter.  Damn you, Chinese fans!  But here's something I'm willing to wager--they aren't putting stock in KLOVE's accomplishments because they aren't really aware of them.  They haven't watched a bunch of Timberwolves game tape, and then looked at that horrible 11-37 record (hey, they only won 15 games all year last year!) and said, "Despite what I'm seeing in this video, I've decided I just can't vote for a guy who plays for a team that only has eleven wins."  They aren't watching.  Nor should they, necessarily.  They've got bigger fish to fry, like coaching their own team.  But they dropped the ball this time.

The argument of a good player on a bad team is as old as the All Star voting system.  And it is a reasonable argument.  Clearly, the coaches saw through the Clippers record, a solid ten games below .500, and made Blake Griffin an All-Star.  Sure, the Clippers play in the Pacific, which has one team over .500 (Lakers), and the Wolves play in the Northwest, where they are the only team below .500.  Sure, you might think that the Wolves routinely face tougher opponents than the Clippers do, and if their positions were swapped, it would be reasonable to think that the Wolves could match that 19-29 record the Clippers have.  But you would be wrong to think that, apparently.

Here's the thing--Kevin Love isn't just a good player on a bad team--he's putting together a season of the ages.  He isn't just leading the league in rebounding.  He's not just hitting well over 40% from 3-point land.  He isn't just leading the league in double-doubles.  Presumably, those are the kinds of things that make people and coaches shrug and say, "Yeah, but he's the best player on a bad team" and move on.  But there have always been lots and lots of good players on bad teams.  But in almost 30 years, none of those players who were snubbed ever had a 30 point, 30 rebound game.  No one has.  Not in 28 years.  You have to go back to Moses Malone, for fuck's sake. KLOVE has done that.  KLOVE is leading the league in Efficiency.  The four guys closest to him--LeBron, Howard, Griffin and Durant--are all going to the All-Star Game.  KLOVE is averaging over 20 points and 15 rebounds per game.  Yeah, sure--good guy on a bad team--except that hasn't happened since (again) Moses Malone, in 1982.  So this is something special, dammit.  This isn't Monta Ellis.  This is a potentially generational season, and the geniuses who coach the NBA have seen fit to ignore it.

For fuck's sake, NBA Coaches--even the New York Times has noticed!  (OK, is a NYT blog written by an NBA stats geek, but still!)

Old School Thursday: Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf

From "Let us play" to "let it air"

Excellent, straying even further from the real issue.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Snyder Sues For Defamation of Character

The judge should rule against Snyder, due to lack of evidence ... of Dan Snyder's character. Ba-zing!

But seriously, folks. A few months back, I had the Cranky Redskins Fans' Guide tabbed for a while but never got around to writing about it over here at IDYFT. Written by Dave McKenna for the City Paper in DC, it is an encyclopedic account of Snyder's misdoings. It has its moments of rueful chuckling.

But it's really worth reading now that Dan Snyder is planning to sue the paper and is seeking dismissal of the writer.

One of our legal experts might weigh in on the burden of proof in defamation cases and the precedence of newspapers being forced to fire writers. My worry is that I'm writing about the DC Skins at all. I don't want to think about them until they're blowing a billion dollars on some gutless free agent.

Also, Clinton Portis is selling his DC-area home. I called it back in November, when he went on IR. Goodbye, Clinton.

NFL Lockout: Crazy Train

Back last summer, dribbling contributor Barnyard explained the NFL labor issue to me. To aid digestion for the crux of the biscuit, I wrote:
"The keystone to the owners' castle is that the TV deal for 2011 will pay them $4.4 billion even if there aren't any games. Add in the $4 billion owners would collectively save by not paying players for the year and there's a tremendous incentive for the owners to give us all the middle finger."
Bad news: although an appeal is in process, it was ruled that the NFL won't have to put that TV money in escrow until the CBA is worked out. That "tremendous incentive" is a locomotive steaming right for us. A crazy train, if you will.

At this point, some may hope the NFLPA just caves in so that we can at least have football. Saturday's negotiations will involve only the first miles of some marathon ball-breaking by the owners. Check out this smug shit from the league, after winning the aforementioned case:
"As we have said all along, a new CBA has to be hammered out at the negotiating table, not in the courtroom. If the union commits to invest as much time, energy and other resources in negotiations as it has in its litigation strategy, a new agreement could well be reached by March 4."
And spare me the flooding bullshit that the 18-game schedule is what the league owners are holding out for. It's an obvious bullshit ploy because the owners won't make any extra money.*

The billionaire NFL owners want more money, and they are going to get it.

The CBA deadline, may I remind you, is midnight of March 3rd
. After that: lockout.

* an exaggeration. Although extra games won't effect the current TV contract or season-ticket prices, teams will make money in concessions for parking during the one additional home game.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

AFL-CIO is Getting Involved

DeMaurice Smith said from Day 1 on the job that he planned to learn from and connect with other unions.  This very idea created some consternation amongst some of the idiots out there (which I discussed back in September).  

Now we are beginning to see what it will look like, and it sure looks like the AFL-CIO knows how to deliver the message.

Here's the money quote from the email I received (along with hundreds of thousands/millions of other people, of course) from the AFL-CIO's Working America.  As a much, it is hard to have more clarity than this one does.  Greed vs. Disabilities.  It is the frame of the argument that needs to be out there.  

Why are the NFL owners preparing to lock out their own players and devastate fans? One word: Greed.

The owners want to ditch a labor agreement that has been making them millions in profits. They're demanding that players accept cuts in wages and benefits, including taking away health care benefits from players and their families.
Players risk long-term disabilities and death for their teams. An average football player's career lasts only three and a half seasons—but the injuries they face on the job aren't short-lived. It's a violent sport and the intense physical trauma impacts a player for the rest of his life. It's only fair that NFL owners pick up the tab for health care to treat those injuries.
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