Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yes, Yes I am ready for some football

Sweet Jesus, I'm loving the shorter offseason. I love hitting ESPN.com and seeing a rumor and then checking an hour or so later and it being a done deal. No more "Sources say...." or a deal being discussed for weeks and then being called off. Love it.

Don't look now but Mike Brown just traded Chad Johnson for peanuts and let Jonathan Joseph walk to the Texans. Now this will be interesting. I told a friend that because of the new salary floor, Mike Brown would give Joseph a ridiculous deal that would push Nnamdi Asomugha's price through the roof. This would allow Cincy to keep Joseph, Brown to say he was improving the team, and meet the salary cap floor. Mike, clearly half assing it in his old age, let Joseph go. This means the Bengals still have to hit the salary cap floor, and just about every big name free agent not named Nnamdi is taken. I can't wait for the news that Cedric Benson just got a 4 year deal, worth 70 million (68 million guaranteed).

Happy to see Chad go to New England. As someone who has watched just about every pro snap he's taken, Chad still has something left in the tank. Don't let the numbers fool you. He's had to deal with minor injuries, a run heavy offense, Carson Palmer at QB and deferring to TO within the last couple of years. He's not the receiver he was from 2002-07, but he's far from done. I hope he does great things in New England.

Keep holding your ground, Carson.

Haynesworth to New England was a steal. I don't care how much of a dick the guy was last year, if you can get him for that price it's a steal.

I'm with you on McNabb and Sidney Rice. Both deals sound nice at first, until you remember in the past 12 months McNabb has been beaten out by Mike Vick, a guy traded for Domonique Rodgers Cromartie and Rex Grossman. Apparently, Rice hated Minnesota for the way his injury/contract situation was handled, he willingly decided to play for Pete Caroll. Go figure.

The deals I really don't get are the ones Carolina is handing out. Congratulations, you just locked up the core of a 2-14 team.

I like the Kolb and Holmes deals. Say he turns out to be so much as an average quarterback. You pair him with Fitzgerald and that terrible NFC West, and you're competing for 7-8 wins aka a division crown every year. At best, he has some potential and you have your starter for the next several years. At worst, he's still better than Derek Anderson. I get this deal. I agree Holmes probably got a little too much loot, but he's a gamer. Considering Sidney Rice just got 41 million, Holmes at 50 mil doesn't sound TOO bad.

I only like the Reggie Bush move if Miami does the right thing and signs Vince Young. I demand the Dolphins field the 2005 NCAA All American backfield. Lendale White is available too, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Reggie Bush can't stop winning. I mentioned last year that he should just retire after his Super Bowl victory. Between that, the (stripped) Heisman, the millions of dollars, and Kim Kardashian on his arm it couldn't get much better. Now he gets to frolic in South Beach under lowered expectations on the football field. Some guys have all the luck.

I'm infatuated with the idea of Nnamdi going to the Jets. I really hope this happens.

When I say Yao is the most skilled of my generation, I mean that he could do the most things well. Not that he was necessarily the best. Yao had the high post game, low post game, mid range jumper, double digit rebounder, two blocks per game, excellent passer and he'd give you 80% from the free throw line. I can't think of a center from my generation that can give you all of that. When I say my generation, I think of guys that came into the league during the time I was watching the NBA. Ewing/Hakeem/Robinson were all drafted before I was born. My generation of centers includes Shaq, Alonzo Mourning, Dwight Howard, Ben Wallace and Jermaine O'Neal. I think of Amare` as a PF, but he has 5 All NBA team selections at center so I guess you could throw him in there. Not a lot of great names. I think Yao is more skilled than any of those guys but not necessarily a better player.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Amy Winehouse. I was legitimately saddened by her passing, but not surprised in the least bit. What a talent. She was one of the few artists that I would actively check to see what, if anything, that she was working on. The soul, the voice and the style all captured me the first time I gave her a listen. I thought "Back to Black" couldn't be topped, but "Frank" gave it a run for its money, in my eyes. I was hoping she'd get her act together enough to work on the project with Raphael Saadiq and ?uestlove, or to put out another solo album. Guess not.

NFL Craziness

Man…I love having football back.  I can’t say that I love the shortened offseason, but I do kind of like having all of this good stuff smashed into a small period of time.  I love looking every day and seeing all the trades and free agent signings.  And the timing is pretty amazing.  All of this is falling at the same time as the MLB trade deadline.  So I can bring up a website and see “McNabb traded to the Vikings” right above “Beltran traded to the Giants.”  It’s amazing. 

Before I talk about any of that, allow me to talk about your beloved Bengals.
Seriously.  What is going on with Mike Brown?
I can understand the whole “not wanted to set a bad precedent” thing, as far as allowing dissatisfied players to dictate their fate with the team.  I get it.  What I don’t get is his high-and-mighty stance.  Here’s some quotes from an article:

“Carson signed a contract. He made a commitment. He gave his word.  We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment.  We expected him to perform here. He’s going to walk away from his commitment. We aren’t going to reward him for doing it.”

You want to talk about commitment?  When Palmer signed with the Bengals, Brown (no doubt) made a commitment to winning.  He has not honored that commitment.  Palmer relied on Brown’s commitment to winning, and look where it got him.  I don’t blame Palmer for wanting to walk away.  And kudos to him on keeping his mouth shut.  He said his piece, and has been relatively quiet ever since. 
Anyway, all this “commitment” talk doesn’t make much sense.  I get that Palmer signed a contract with the Bengals.  But how many times have the Bengals cut a player or fired a coach?  (The answer is, a lot.)  Every time they did that, the Bengals organization (and Mike Brown) did not honor their commitment.  So don’t get all high-and-mighty, preaching about commitment, when you have broken hundreds of commitments over the years.  Plus, be honest with yourself, Mike Brown.  The Bengals are not the best run (or most honorable) franchise in the NFL.  Let it go.  Trade Palmer.  You took your hard line stance with Ochocinco, but Palmer has been nothing but a model citizen his entire time with the team.  Do the right thing and trade him.

I have some quick thoughts on some of the moves that have happened so far:

-          McNabb to the Vikings.  I loved it...but then I started thinking about it.  I’ve never been a huge McNabb fan, but I was thinking that he could do some good in Minnesota.  But who will he be throwing to?  Rice is gone.  I’m having a hard time pulling up their depth chart, but does that leave his two main options as Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin?  Also, McNabb thrived in a system where he threw a lot of checkdowns to the running backs.  That’s not really a big part of Peterson’s game.  Granted, McNabb is a better option than Christian Ponder (seriously…what kind of team takes Ponder #12 overall?), but that’s not saying very much.

-          Sidney Rice to the Seahawks.  I don’t get it.  I realize that Seattle thinks they’re on the verge of contending.  But throwing $41 million at a receiver coming off hip-surgery seems to be a terrible idea.  Especially when the QB on that team looks like it’s going to be Tavaris Jackson.  I get that the NFC West is a weak division, but I just don’t get this at all.  Speaking of things I don’t get…

-          The hype on Kevin Kolb.  I get that he was supposed to be the #1 option at QB in Philadelphia last year.  I get that the Philadelphia coaches saw enough potential in Kolb that they traded McNabb.  But I’ve never understood all of the hype he’s been receiving.  “Kolb will turn the Cardinals around.”  There’s a chance, but I don’t think it’s a very big chance.  Is he a better option than Derek Anderson, John Skelton or Max Hall?  Absolutely.  But, much like McNabb and Ponder, that’s not saying much.  In his 4 years, Kolb has played in 19 games (starting 7).  He has completed 60.8% of his passes, thrown 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and has a yards per attempt of 6.5.  Granted, there’s not a lot of data to go on, but those aren’t great numbers.  I mentioned this before, but I started rewatching all the Packers games from last season.  They started the season in Philadelphia, in what was supposed to be the beginning of the Kolb era.  Granted, the Packers defense was terrific last year, but still…Kolb had a terrible game.  He got knocked out with a concussion towards the end of the first half.  So, in the first half of the Kolb era, what did he do?  5/10 with 24 yards passing.  That’s atrocious.  Granted, he had a couple of decent games (he lit up Atlanta), but, from what I’ve seen (and just glancing at the stats), he’s had far more terrible (or below-average) games than good ones.  Now, is a fairly mediocre QB good enough to win the NFC West when he’s throwing to Larry Fitzgerald?  Perhaps.  I guess we’ll see.
One final point on Kolb.  With what it took for the Cardinals to get him (Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick), why wouldn't the Cardinals have thrown that at the Redskins for McNabb?  (Actually, the Cards wouldn't even have needed to give up that much, as the Vikings got him for a pair of late-round draft picks.)  Keep McNabb for a couple years, and try to develop one of your young guys as a starter.  Who would you rather have: McNabb for 2 years, or Kolb for 5?  They're trying to keep Fitzgerald happy, so they need to win now.

-          Santonio Holmes re-signs with the Jets for $50 million over 5 years.  I get why they did it.  He was terrific for them last year.  But Sanchez just isn’t a very good quarterback.  This team is built on their running game and defense.  I understand that Holmes stretches out a defense, and his presence on the outside can help to open up running lanes on the inside.  I also understand that the Jets kind of needed to do this.  I get it.  I just think it’s a lot of money for a wide receiver in that system.

-          Reggie Bush to the Dolphins.  I like this move.  I think he could do well down there.  If they can get a decent QB on that team (or if Henne can step it up a little), they could make some noise. 

-          The Packers dropped Nick Barnett.  It makes me sad, but I get it.  They have a lot of talented linebackers, and I don’t know that they really had room for a guy who has been injured the past two years.  I wish him the best…I really think he can still be an impact player somewhere.

-          Hasselbeck to the Titans.  I know they needed to bring in a veteran QB, with them kicking Young to the curb, and not quite being ready for Jake Locker/Rusty Smith time.  But I don’t get the love surrounding this move.  “He’s a good leader.  He’ll catch on to the system quickly and help ease Locker into the starting role.”  Says who?  He hasn’t started 16 games in a season since 2007 (and he’s only done it 3 times in his career).  Apparently people thing he had a good year last year, because he performed well in the playoff game against the Saints.  Granted, he did have a really good game…but his season stats aren’t great.  Last year he completed 59.9% of his passes (in an offense that revolved around short passes), and threw 12 touchdowns against 17 interceptions.  If he’s the answer, I’m not sure what the question was.

-          Steve Breaston to the Chiefs.  I like it.  Did the Chiefs walk into the playoffs last year having played one of the weakest schedules in the NFL?  Yes…they absolutely did.  And they were exposed by the Ravens in the playoffs.  Dwyane Bowe had a terrific year last year, but they didn’t have a reliable #2 option.  They have that with Breaston.  Granted, Breaston works best out of the slot, but I think he’ll fit in nicely with the Chiefs.  This isn't to say that I think the Chiefs are going to be good this year, but I like this move.

Now I’ll talk for a second about James Jones.  Aaron Rodgers went on record last week, saying that the Packers needed to re-sign Jones.  I don’t know how much I agree with that.  If he can be signed for a reasonable amount, I’m on board with it.  But don’t break the bank for him.  I like him, but he’s prone to drops (as everyone who watched a Packers playoff game can tell you).  I would like to get another receiver at some point (Driver doesn’t have much longer), but I think we’d have a great receiving corps this year, even without Jones.  Jennings, Driver, Nelson and Cobb.  That looks to be a pretty good group right there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Farewell to Simmons

Don't get me wrong: I am by no means saying that the Pistons will be good next year.  That team is kind of a mess.  But they'll be better than they were this past year.  Granted, it isn't saying much, but I imagine they'll improve...if only a little.

I like that trade.  Why don't you get on the horn to Dumars and see if you can make that happen.  Whenever there's a season, that is.

I'm also sad to see Yao go.  I can certainly understand it...those injuries were a killer, and you knew they were coming every year.  They even tried to limit his minutes last year, and he didn't even make it to the break.  Very sad.  I loved watching him when he was healthy.
I'm curious as to what other centers you put in your generation?  I'm a little older, so Hakeem, Robinson & Ewing were a part of my generation, and I'd put all three of those guys above Yao.  You wouldn't put Shaq ahead of Yao?  Dwight?  I'd like to see your rankings.

I loved that Shaq's first order of business was to talk about "The Big Two" in Miami...and have everyone in the world of sports talk about it.  "Shaq said what?  The big two?  Man...he's really making a splash in his debut, isn't he?"  Not really at all, actually.  In fact, everyone else had already said that when all of them joined the Heat.  What Shaq said wasn't witty or biting.  It was rehashing something that everyone else had already said.
And I don't imagine things are going to change much.  He'll say things to make headlines, and he'll say things for laughs.  He's not anywhere close to Barkley, and he never will be.

I love Brian Wilson.  There are times when I think I'm going to get sick of him...but then I read an interview with him, and I remember why I like him so much.  He does odd things, but he really seems to be doing it just for the hell of it.  And the big thing for me is that his teammates seem to love him.  If he was doing all that stuff and none of his teammates could stand him, that's one thing.  But the fact that they all love him speaks volumes.  I'm a big fan.

Simmons?  An ass?  You watch your mouth, sir.
Actually, I decided that I was giving up on Simmons.  I'm done.  I may check back in for a basketball column or his football picks from time to time, but I'm done with just reading everything he writes.  I came to this decision a few weeks ago.  He has written at least three columns since then, and I don't feel like I'm missing a thing.  When I see he has a new column posted, I just smile, then proceed to read something else.  It's extremely freeing, and I'm glad I did it.  It's been a long time coming.
And, in case you're wondering which article it was that broke me, it was the one about how there are no real movie stars anymore.  I got about three paragraphs in, and just said, "I'm done."  I haven't looked back, and I haven't missed him.

Since you talked about a book, I guess I will, too.  I bought a book called Flip Flop Fly Ball last week.  I read a review of it on Hardball Times, and it sounded interesting.  It's written by a British guy who just really got into baseball.  As he learned more about it, the more he loved it.  So he put together a blog where he makes random charts related to baseball.  It's a bit off-the-wall, but it's pretty interesting.  Things like, "If A-Rod's salary was a stack of pennies, how tall would it be?"  It's hard to describe, but it's amazingly interesting, and a lot of fun to look at.  I love it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

NFL Top 100 List and Yao Ming

I can't imagine Knight at PG and Stuckey at SG proves to be successful in any way, shape or form for Detroit. Stuckey is a decent enough player, but he hasn't really improved in three years. I think his ideal role is being a dynamite 6th man for a team where he can switch from PG to SG when needed. When he's playing on the wing with another shooter playing point? Not a recipe for success. I'll tell you who I really gets the shaft if this is true: Greg Monroe. He's solid, but won't get much of a chance to show it with Knight/Stuckey/Ben Gordon manning the guard spots.

Stuckey and Will Bynum to Minnesota for Michael Beasley. Minnesota gets to move Wes Johnson to his natural position of SF, as well as clear some minutes for first round pick Derrick Williams at SF. Rubio gets a backup, in Bynum, that isn't Luke Ridnour or Sebastian Telfair. Detroit is likely to lose Chris Wilcox and Tayshaun Prince to free agency. Plug Beasley in at the 3 or 4 and hope he's on his A game with a chance for a big contract on the line. This would also get Rip Hamilton back into the starting lineup where he can showcase just enough to get himself dealt to a contender, instead of moping on the bench. Done and done.

I'm sad to see Yao Ming retire. Yao always seemed like a nice guy, legitimately humorous and I really enjoyed watching him play. The only guy that I've consistently seen eat Dwight Howard alive. To be fair to Dwight, they haven't played since the 2008-09 season and Dwight has improved greatly, but Yao would routinely school him. This video always killed me too. Farewell, Yao. Dare I say, the most skilled center of my generation?

In watching videos on Yao, I got to watching some old Steve Francis footage. My goodness. Stevie Franchise was a little before his time. If he came up during this YouTube/Twitter era, he and Jason "White Chocolate" Williams would have been legends.

And yes, I'm being very liberal with use of the word "legend".

Blog favorite Shaquille O'Neal is joining the TNT cast with Barkley, Kenny and Ernie Johnson. Great. In one offseason, I've seen my two favorite announcing teams broken up. First, Mark Jackson leaves JVG and Mike Breen high and dry. Now this. What becomes of Chris Webber? He had developed into a very nice 4th man and a great guy to fill in when Barkley or Kenny was absent. I imagine Shaq will just begin blurting things out looking for a laugh. I hope I'm wrong.

Ray Lewis is the fourth best player in the NFL. Ray Lewis isn't the fourth best player on his team. He MIGHT be the fourth best player on the Ravens defense. He's not even the best player named Ray in the NFL. Or his own team. Better luck next year to Aaron Rodgers, who didn't crack the top ten. Though to be fair, I had this coming. I was the one that chose to keep reading the list even after seeing Donovan McNabb ranked as the 100th best player from the 2010-11 NFL season.

How do you feel about Brian Wilson? On one hand, I kinda wish he'd go away. On the other hand, baseball doesn't have nearly enough personalities. I also feel like I'd do copious amounts of drugs too if I was getting paid 6.5 million to pitch one inning every other night.

I bought the ESPN book "Those Guys Have All the Fun...". So far it's OK. It's going into detail about how ESPN first got started, which is interesting. It's doing so in painstaking detail which makes some of it hard to get through. I hope it gets better. Apparently your pal Simmons comes off as an ass in the book. Go figure.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Post Where Dusty Backtracks a Little

Okay…so many “a damn good series” was a bit of an overstatement on my part.  I just was hearing all of that “he had a terrible series” talk, and I wanted to go against that somewhat.  I think I overdid it.
But I still maintain that he didn’t have a terrible series.  Did he have a great series?  No.  But it wasn’t as awful as a lot of people were making it out to be.  All year, the Heat were killed for not playing well “as a team”.  LeBron & Wade were just taking turns with the ball.  Throughout the playoffs, we saw LeBron kind of work himself more into the facilitator role.  Not taking as many shots.  He took over a couple games, but not many.  From what I saw of the Finals, it looked like he kind of fell back into that role a little more, and he lost some of his aggressiveness as a result.  He was looking to pass first, and looking for his shot second.  That’s not a terrible role for a point guard, but, for LeBron, he really should’ve been more aggressive.  I’m not going to kill him over that, because finding that balance between Cleveland LeBron and Miami LeBron doesn’t happen overnight.  That’s a tough thing to do. 
But (and we talked about this while you were in town) I fully expect to see the Heat back in the Finals next year (or the next year there’s a season).  They got killed this year by the media for every loss…every misstep.  They can’t win the close games.  They can’t win against the good teams.  They don’t know how to play as a team.  In their first year together, they made the Finals, and took it to 6 games.  That’s no small feat.  They’ll get better at playing together.  They’ll make some moves to better compliment the stars on that team.  They’ll mesh better.  The fact that they made the Finals in their first year together should be scary for the rest of the league.

I’m not the biggest Knight fan, either.  I don’t hate him, but he’s a guy that definitely could have benefited from another year in college.  He seemed to get better as the year went on, but he still doesn’t seem like a point guard.  And, from what I understand, they’re planning on keeping Stuckey around and playing him as the SG.  Not sure how that will work, but I guess we’ll see.

I like that your impassioned plea for Beasley was followed not long after by him getting busted for possession.  It’s not that big a deal (everyone knows the kid likes to smoke), but it made me laugh.
Still, I’m with you on that.  He has a ton of talent, and had a pretty good season last year.  He could help a lot of teams.  I’d love it if the Pistons took a chance on him.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Things really couldn’t go much worse than they did last year.

I watched the Tigers beat the Royals 3-1 last night.  It was nice to see Scherzer pitching well again…his past few starts haven’t been kind to him.  Still, I hate looking at the line-up and seeing Inge and his .190 average in there.  Hey…he may not hit for average, but at least he doesn’t have any power and has declining defensive skills.  Anytime you can field a guy like that, you have to do it.

I’m fascinated with entrance music.  It’s my favorite part of going to a game…hearing all the music.  I love that Avila steps into the batter’s box to the sounds of the Black Keys.  It’s fitting that Rolen digs in to Coldplay. 

Glad you like it.  He’s planning on doing more things with it as he thinks of them.  I don’t know if you looked at his last post (All-Time best pitching rivalries), but he made sure to represent each team.  So, even if your Redlegs weren’t featured in the top 10, you can see where they fall.  I like that, because I (like my brother, and like most fans, I assume), immediately start looking for my team on lists like that.  “That’s great with the #1…but where are the Tigers?”
I looked at that Howard chart.  Very cool.

I really need this NFL lockout to be over.  I’ve enjoyed going back and watching the games from the Packers Super Bowl run, but I’m ready to start reading about training camps and free agency.  It looks like they’re getting close to a resolution of some kind, which would be great.