Monday, August 29, 2011

Stadium Wars--Minnesota Version, part n+1

So, guess what...the NFL lockout crisis has been over for a month, and the Minnesota State Government passed a deal that will keep it functioning for another year or so.  Guess what it is time for?  Minnesota Viking stadium saber-rattling, that's what!  The other way of framing that is "Lester Bagley Being a Dick and ProFootballTalk Enabling Him".

Here we go!

Lester Bagley sat down with ESPN 1500's Judd Zuglad, and while briefly admitting that all of the history behind the Viking's stadium issues (not mentioning last year's 6-10 record, with a 40 year old QB who was paid somewhere around $20 million) still said flatly, "There is growing concern within our ownership, there is no doubt, about where this is headed and the fact that every year, we get to the end of the session and there's a different reason why (it didn't get done)."

The main reason, of course, is that the Vikings are asking for upwards of 60% public funding.  The article, somewhat misleadingly, talks about the $300 million that the State of Minnesota would kick in, without mentioning that the various avenues that the State has attempted to raise that money have been anything from silly to flat out unconstitutional.

I searched that article for the word "Ramsey" as in "Ramsey County", which is expected to raise another $300 million, and it doesn't show up once.  But nevermind all that crap!  Ramsey County can't wait to put that stadium in the middle of nowhere.  Or at least, two of its commissioners can't wait.  The rest of Ramsey County (St. Paul) isn't so sure, and is looking for funding that doesn't screw constituents.  Which the Vikings don't care about at all.

And let's be clear--one of the great aspects of the Metrodome  was that despite the rather rudimentary Public Transportation of the Twin Cities, it was reachable by walking, by bus and by train.  The new site?  Not available by bus or train or by walking.  So, that's a great deal for fans who live in the exact neighborhood of the new stadium, and are willing to pay parking fees, and for absolutely no one else.

But here's my favorite part.  Lester Bagley says, "But now we're down to the end of the lease, and if we don't get it done this fall, we get to February (and) we will be the only NFL team without a lease," Bagley said. "The only one. There's already been knocks on the door about, 'Hey, we want to talk to you guys when your lease is up."

And Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk says, "Though no threats have been made, the threat doesn’t need to be articulated to be real."

NO THREAT?  Really, Mike Florio?  Can you read?  Because what Lester Bagley just did there was a damn threat, straight out of the Used Car Lot.  "A really nice couple just kicked the tires of this here franchise, and they really want to move it to California.  Are you sure you don't have $600 Million?  Because they do," is exactly what Lester Bagley just said.

But you know what?  I think it is bullhockey.  The threat of moving to LA is only scary if it makes sense, and it only makes sense if the Vikings seem primed to move.  But based on everything Bagley said, they are not primed to move--they are just using this moment to push for a new stadium here.  If they were going to move to LA, why bother with the threats and nonsense?  Florio may be sure that the Vikings are moving to LA if they don't get a deal, but the more they posture and threaten, the more I'm sure they are not.

But while we are at it, can we break down another Lester Bagley quote?  From the same interview: "[The Vikings] went and got a great site and a great local partner, a significant local contribution, and they put the third-largest private stadium contribution on the table after the Jets-Giants stadium and after the Cowboys. What the Wilfs have offered -- $400-plus million up front and $20 million a year (in Arden Hills) -- is the third-largest private offer in NFL history.""

Let me break that down--the great site is a SuperFund Site, and there is still disagreement about how much clean up will be needed, and who will pay for it.  So, not a "great" site, really.  "The significant local contribution" is still up for debate, and I'll tell you what, as a Ramsey County Taxpayer, if I have a choice between my taxes going to schools or a Vikings stadium, I'll take schools, thank you.  As for the third largest private offer in NFL history, that's really convenient, because it turns out that Stadium Price Inflation in a real thing.  FedEx Field, home of the Drunken Savages, cost under $350 million in 2011 dollars, and was paid exclusively by private dollars.  So, the Vikings could take their $400 million, and build a new FedEx Field, but they don't want to.  They want to build a Jerry Jones North, One Billion Dollar Monster, and they want a State and County dealing with poverty, joblessness and understocked food shelves to foot the bill.  And let's remember what Jerry Jones did to make his stadium happen.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but:  Screw You, Minnesota Vikings.  Build Your Own Damn Home.

But Stadiums Fix Everything

It is sad/funny that it doesn't really matter how many different economists not in the employ of NFL ownership groups state the obvious--that stadiums don't provide anywhere near the economic bump they are assumed to, the opposite will continue to be assumed by just about everybody else.

It seems to me that I've read more than one anti-stadium piece that has in it somewhere, "No one disputes the economic boost a new stadium would provide, but..."  Well, actually--a whole bunch of people dispute it.  And they are all rather smart when it comes to figuring out that sort of thing.  That doesn't stop owners (or potential owners) from being kind of dickish when someone puts a report out there--"Tim Leiweke, AEG president and chief executive, used his appearance before the panel to criticize “those who occasionally come out of classrooms and question whether or not sports facilities have an economic impact.”

From the LA Times, here's the analyst pissing off Leiweke in Los Angeles.

(via Eschaton)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Old School Thursday: Eric B. & Rakim

only the second Eric B. & Rakim on OST?  CRAZY.   Mad love to GPMFFL, and Brothers Lund.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Early 2011 Preseason Evaluation

The Skins didn't look bad against the defending AFC champion Steelers. They played hard, escaped without injuries and didn't make any egregious errors. I believe that the 2011 DC Skins will be the story of a C-list team rising to the B-list, like when Carrot Top became cool again (with hip irony) for seven minutes.

The offensive line and the entire defense must continue to improve on their good work so far. It appears that both units are beginning to grasp the schemes in their second year. John Beck is still the hand-picked starter at QB, despite not playing against the Steelers. Gross Rexman played under control and didn't turn the ball over, but Coach Shanahan has coveted Beck for years. Perhaps he sees what no one else can.

Tim Hightower will be your starting running back. He runs with high knees and explodes through contact. Also proficient on 3rd down, he's a very good blocker and receiver.

The catch? Fumbles, many of them game-changers. Ten fumbles in three years isn't terrible and is ameliorated by his 23 career TDs.

Hightower's rate of 1 fumble every 44 attempts looks lame versus Arian Foster's 1 in 109 attempts, but fits right in with Washington's 2011 average of 1 fumble every 50 rush attempts. It is worrisome that he has been fumbling in practice.

Lil' Brandon Banks, who returned kicks with electricity last year, is considered a longshot to make the team because of his size (5'7, 155 lbs). He would have had another 3 or 4 TDs last year if it weren't for holding calls.

Banks was stabbed in the abdomen last winter. The Skins drafted a bigger replacement, who is a better WR prospect. But in the first preseason game, the rookie muffed two kicks while Banks returned a punt for 19 yards and took a kick for 58 yards.

Here's hoping Brandon Banks makes the team. He's my secret favorite player.

Unnecessary Photo Editorial Moment

The Twins have traded Delmon Young for not much at all. Apparently, the Star Trib felt it necessary to run that story this way.  Is it me, or is using that photo kind of dick move? Delmon admittedly hasn't had a good year this year, but you'd be hard-pressed to name a Twin who has had a good year. If Michael Cuddyer (maybe the one Twin having a pretty good year at the plate) ever gets traded, I guarantee you the photo they use for him will be his home run swing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Old School Thursday: Kwame

the originator (according to Wikipedia) of polka dots in hip-hop fashion.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Grossman: Fat Man

Thank goodness I took high school German, because I finally translated the meaning of Washington's most experienced QB's name: "fat man."

Before translation (2010):

After translation (2011): Gross, man. Are we absolutely sure Jeff George isn't available?

You Should Be Reading Criminal: Last of the Innocent

I'm just going to take a quick moment to sing the praises of a comic book, if you don't mind.  This here blog has been known to delve into comic book nerdiness before. Specifically, I have delved into it before.

Ed Brubaker, who was the man who killed Captain America, at least for awhile, also has been writing a dynamite noir-ish crime book called, aptly and simply enough, "Criminal".  He's been at it for years.  I own every single issue.  Each self-contained 5 or 6 issue story line has been great, especially for those of us who love the old school noir crime stories.  And the 70's era resurgence.  Along with artist Sean Phillips and colorist Val Staples (who is a secret MVP of the series--his washed old colors really bring the noir aspect to life), Brubaker has had great fun with the niche.

But the new series, Criminal:  Last of the Innocent is particularly nasty.  Brubaker has crafted a noir story out of poor boy forced to choose between small town love and rich girl slumming love.  The protagonist's best friend is a dope fiend who, when high, can't stop eating.  It takes an issue or two before one realizes that what Brubaker has done is CRIMINALIZE the gang of Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead.  It is a nasty realization.  Imagine if Archie got married to Veronica, but hated himself for doing it, and decided to jab an icepick into Veronica's eye.  That's Brubaker!  And it is brilliant fun to read.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Nerds Ahoy, Captain.

Nobody was really happy with the old QB passer rating. What kind of perfect score is 158.3? I never understood why they couldn't just grade-curve that shit into a hundred point scale, but it doesn't matter any more.

Formerly an amalgam of passing accuracy, yardage, TDs and INTs, the rating was only useful in gross comparisons between quarterbacks. But in most arguments, people simply turn to TD-INT ratio, rather than warping their minds around an arbitrary rating system. TD-INT ratio, at a glance, establishes that (for example) despite Jay Cutler's high volume of yards, he's a shitty quarterback.

Good news! The rating system is still arbitrary, but now it's a shitload more complicated. At least they got it into a scale of 100. The NFL is being colonized by the nerds, and it begins with the new Total Quarterback Rating.

They threw in a lot more details, but the main innovation is in deciding the "worth" of any given pass. A three yards pass on first down in the first quarter is meaningless. A three yard pass on 3rd and 2 in the 4th quarter is meaningful. Suck on that, Stan Gable.

Despite its "Total" inclusiveness, they left out things like the quality of the defense. It's a slippery slope, because then the nerds would have to come up with a new stat for measuring defenses. With sabermetric moneyball-type stats such as DVOA (fuck if I know or care), the nerds are cramming advanced "metrics" into every nook and cranny of a game which actually is still determined by blocking and tackling.

Using the new Total Quarterback Rating, we learn that Jay Cutler is a shitty quarterback. Thanks for the update, nerds. The main reason for the new statistic lies in its detailed complexity, which no coach could ever calculate. That means that more nerds will have to be employed by every team, and they'll be working overtime.

No one ever said nerds weren't smart.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

DC Skins: Subtle?

Abdicating the crown of offseason champs to the Philly "Cream Dream" Eagles, the DC Skins are embarking on an outrageous scheme: building for next year.

Washington needs to field 3 quality receivers, find a durable RB, add a shitload of defensive players to finish the conversion to a 3-4, overhaul the O-line and establish a starting QB. Their approach has been subtle, of all things.

Given all their holes, Washington has no realistic chance of contending this year, barring a totally plum awesome miracle.

Wide Receiver
Their biggest free agent acquisition was re-signing their own leading receiver Santana Moss. Adding slow-but-steady Jabar Gaffney for 4 years/$10 million allowed them to take a fly on meteoric-yet-manslaughterish Donte Stallworth for 1 year.

They drafted two receivers and early accounts show that rookie Leonard "Lanky" Hankerson (coached by Cris Carter, tutored by Mark Duper) looks quite impressive; Aldrick Robinson is showing good stuff too.

Tight End is the deepest position on the team, and I may be alone in this, but I think they might deal away one of them for help elsewhere. Considering the poor talent level in key positions, the Skins have a superfluity of receivers at this moment.

Running Back
Incumbent power back Ryan Torain showed flashes last year, but also displayed the fragility which has marred his career. In addition to drafting two speedy backs, they added Hightower from the Cardinals who is a great talent with a slight fumbling problem.

This position battle is the most intriguing on the team. Now we just have to hope that Kyle Shanahan calls runs more often than last year's 35% (30th in the league -- blecch).

Washington has emphasized Defense in the draft and free agency. Not a bad idea, since they fell from a top ten unit the previous ten years to *barf* 31st in 2010. I swear I'll never ask again, but why did we switch to a 3-4?

DC signed OJ Atogwe for free safety before the lockout, a great complement to Laron Landry should our SS ever recover from his Achilles injury.

The other acquisitions all require transitioning players from a 4-3 base. This is frustrating. Players such as Barry Cofield and high-touted rookies Kerrigan and Jenkins will learn new positions on a new team in only a few weeks. I should note that Cofield played NT in college, and is looking forward to returning to a 3-4.

Last year they were once again one of the oldest teams in the league and it showed. With perhaps 7 new starters on defense, DC is emphasizing youth over previous accomplishments. No, really.
No, really.

Offensive Line
This third-rate unit has been the boner in the pudding for years. Re-signing T Jammal Brown and adding G Chris Chester at least keeps them from getting worse. But unless they find a true center and another guard, not to mention some backups who don't completely suck, improvements in the skill positions won't matter.

For some reason, I feel like I'm repeating myself.

Saving the best for last? Ick.

I have a feeling this is going to get worse before it gets better. The known quantity is a pile of shit I've been making fun of for years, Gross Rexman. Poor arm strength, no charisma and deplorable ball protection.

I don't have an action photo of John Beck because there simply isn't one. His only experience was mop-up duty on a terrible Dolphins team way back in 2007, before I was a published novelist. He has not played a game since.

DC also added Kellen Clemens, a career backup for the Jets. Another unknown quantity, he hasn't done anything to indicate that he can be a starting QB in the NFL. There are also a couple rookies in the mix, but they probably won't make the first cut.

This is how it breaks down: Gross Rexman knows the offense, but reached the shrink-wrap limits of his ability years ago. Clemens is another short-passing specialist without the experience to make a serious challenge. The titular starter, Beck, has the physical tools but apparently isn't throwing well in practice.

This is the time of year when I'm normally drafting hopeful columns about how DC might squeeze out ten wins. I have no such illusions. However, the overall movement towards younger talent and away from overpaid has-beens might be considered a victory in itself. Such a strategy, looking ahead to 2012, may eventually pay dividends. Unless Snyder fires the coach after our 6-10 season.

Old School Thursday: Kool Moe Dee

Kool Moe Dee was the owner of the coolest slow spin in hip-hop.

Kool Moe Dee - How Ya Like Me Now by klmbaby
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