Recent Comments by dfleming

Stats Guru: Patriots Hold Onto Ball Far Better Than Any Other Team

Jay Glazer is reporting the NFL is zeroing in on a locker room attendant who took balls somewhere between the officials room and the field and has video.

posted by dfleming at 04:43 PM on January 26

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

League statement - so far, they know the balls in the first half were under inflated despite a pre-game inspection, balls were re-inflated at halftime and remained inflated in the second half.

This statement on, say Monday night, would seem like an appropriate amount of detail, as all of the cursory measurements and referee actions would've been defined by then. But this is day five. If the Pats are co-operating as the league says, you could assume they would've had all video, plus interviews with all key staff, available at their disposal almost immediately. And yet - on Friday - they're talking about retaining a forensic investigative firm, as though that has just occurred to them?

This is absolutely bonkers bad management on the part of the NFL. At this rate, it is going to dominate into next week - the week that is supposed to be about hyping the biggest game of the year. Is Goodell going to hide from the media until the investigation is complete? Because it's the only thing they're going to want to talk to him about now - not just the facts, but also the bizarrely slow investigation that took at least 4 days to interview Tom Brady.

It'll be a distraction not only for the Pats players, but also for the Seahawks who have to prepare for the personnel they think will be on the field, as well as do a ton of media next week.

posted by dfleming at 02:25 PM on January 23

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Tom Brady claimed today he's never been interviewed by the league about the balls. Four days in, and the NFL hasn't talked to him?

That's baffling. I don't even know what else they could be doing the four days previous other than interviewing key people and watching video. Tom Brady is, arguably, the most key person involved. It is incredible that we're four days in with only Troy Vincent's "we're looking into it" statement as the only thing from the NFL.

I get that I'm beating a dead horse nobody really wants to ride (and I'm stopping after this post), but as I said upthread, for me - if this ends up being true, I'm fucking done as a Pats fan. Full stop. So I'd like to at least have one person on the record with access to some information who says that they believe the Pats intentionally cheated, and a sequence of events or confirmation of facts. It isn't Pagano. It's apparently not D'Qwell Jackson. It's not Tom Brady, or Bill Belichick.

So it is coming down to someone in the NFL head office waking from their collective nap to actually confirm exactly what happened, and ideally, by whom. I'm willing to wait for that before I pour a scotch and commiserate over fallen stars.

posted by dfleming at 08:30 PM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

It's unclear what position you are trying to carve out. Sorry if you already did. Would you have me believe that this was accidental? A coincidence?

No - I find it painfully ironic that someone calling for "the fucking truth" is so ingrained in a story that currently has anonymous league sources at the core of it and no actual, you know, report you can read.

11/12 balls has not been confirmed by anyone - it's one story's anonymous sources. 2 PSI has not been confirmed by anyone. Heck, the Mortensen story has a contradiction between two different reports - one that balls were refilled and put back in for the second half, another that different balls were put in for the second half because the first were irregular.

There are sources saying that the Colts noticed balls in a previous game - and others saying the Ravens tipped them off. So forgive me for not rushing to a conclusion on a story where nobody with access to actual information is on the record yet. Nobody on the Ravens, or the Colts, has confirmed anything they did. Wait, sorry - Pagano is on the record saying he didn't notice anything.

Tomorrow, maybe I wake up to a league source, on the record, confirming all of this. Or - maybe it's a story that a lot of the sources were incorrect and it has been blown out of proportion.

So that's my position - Brady's press conference confirmed his position that he knows nothing, to which I would expect some confirmed evidence to prove that isn't true before I indict him as disingenuous, a liar, and a cheat. If he got up and said "yeah, I did something", that would be a new fact, for which we have very, very few at this point. But that didn't happen.

I haven't played football in 10 years and I could easily tell the difference ... anyone on this forum could.

...except that the idea that the Pats have been doing this at least since November has not been noticed by refs who actually do handle the balls every week. How does that figure in to "anyone could" if they couldn't?

posted by dfleming at 07:24 PM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

That's not true, he later qualified that by saying "to his knowledge." Look, I'm not trying to crucify Brady in particular. The guy can play the, "I just throw the ball" card. But Patriots, come up with an organizational response.

The organizational response if they honestly don't know is "we don't know." It really doesn't sound like there's a statement on earth that is going to make you believe anything other than what you already do.

posted by dfleming at 06:10 PM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

You know - one thing has me confused here - one of the key "facts" so far is the 11/12 balls stat - but Tom said he selected 24 balls before this game. Sometimes it's 12, sometimes 16, this one was 24. So - where are the other 12 balls in that "fact"?

He's also saying he didn't alter the balls, but he's not coming out and saying nobody in his organization did.

He said specifically he was comfortable saying nobody in the organization did anything to the balls. About 2/3 of the way through the interview.

But yeah, there's also the one opinion that matters, the fucking truth.

Truth is not an opinion. It is fact.

posted by dfleming at 05:15 PM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

It's fucking nuts how disingenuous Tom Brady is in this interview.

If he doesn't know anything (hypothetically) - what would he say that would be genuine right now to satisfy you?

posted by dfleming at 04:43 PM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Fines keep me from driving twenty over and they'll keep the Patriots from tossing flaccid pigskins around. I don't care if people drive ten over and I don't care if Tom Brady wants his balls at 11 PSI.

The latter part of your argument negates the first - some things you think are illegal that shouldn't be (otherwise you'd care about them), therefore the fine isn't prevent you from acting however you want to act. So it's useless.

Plus - I am sure you're aware you're way more likely to get caught doing 20 over than 10, which isn't about the fine as it is the likelihood of getting prosecuted for the crime. So yet again, I think the speeding analogy isn't correct.

posted by dfleming at 12:12 PM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Harbaugh said they never touched the Patriots offensive balls* but Glazer says the Ravens did tip the Colts off which makes the whole "Colts noticed it earlier this year" thing weird.

It's also strange that the balls are seemingly undetectable by officials who are handling them and the Ravens say they never touched them (despite the fact Daryl Smith picked a Brady pass off, so in fact someone did), so either they had no basis to tip them off, or they did because they did in fact touch a game ball. Either way - something in that story is incorrect.

posted by dfleming at 11:55 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Sure, but I think we disagree on the severity of the crime. I think it's speeding, punishable by fine if it gets out of hand.

But the point of penalties is to prevent - not to punish - otherwise, they're just revenue generators (which is most people's big problem with speeding fines and how they mysteriously happen at the end of the month.)

posted by dfleming at 11:47 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

J. Glazer is reporting that the Ravens tipped off the Colts about the Patriots' footballs inflation issue.

John Harbaugh came out and say they noticed the kicking balls were underinflated and didn't think it was a conspiracy. Kicking balls don't get handled by the teams pre-game.

Which means there is some clandestine shit happening behind the scene or some incongruity going on between sources.

posted by dfleming at 11:39 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

If I thought they would throw me in prison for speeding, I wouldn't speed, but they never have before so I knowingly break the law and drive ten over.

So we're in agreement that the right punishment might prevent an act from happening.

Well - if all that happens when you break rules is you pay a fine (which is minuscule compared to the revenue generated by getting to the Super Bowl), there is absolutely no reason for people to follow the rules. Which is the point of a punitive system - to prevent, not to penalize.

posted by dfleming at 11:29 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

They intentionally broke the rule but I don't even know why the rule exists.

Equipment standards are not a new thing - as seen here, the spectrum goes from Aaron Rodgers who wants the ball overful, to Tom Brady who wants it underfilled.

So, in order to get some consistency in equipment that doesn't favour anyone, you have a standard for how the equipment is prepared that allows for some variation that would likely occur during typical game play.

People agree to these rules as part of playing to the NFL. You might not like 'em all, but it's implicit upon your receiving a salary that you adhere to all of them, not just the ones you agree with.

Sure, but it should be speeding ticket punishment, not murder punishment.

A more apt comparison is conspiracy to commit a crime vs. the crime itself. Yes - it's not as bad - but we punish severely because when they intended to cheat, they didn't know it was going to be a blowout where the act was inconsequential, otherwise they wouldn't have done it at all.

That is of course assuming that's what actually happened, which is as of yet up in the air.

posted by dfleming at 10:53 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Bill Belichick's statement to the media is interesting, particularly because it doesn't say anything about anyone else (read: the QB who likes his balls deflated) and their role in it. Just that Bill B doesn't really care about footballs.

posted by dfleming at 10:18 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Only if there are rules that stipulate it. Lacking that, the punishment should fit the specific violation.

In this instance, the rule book only really sets a floor for tampering with balls after they've been checked - $25,000, plus discretionary additional penalties subject to other agreements in the game.

I think on the basis of the balls being tampered with, you can't throw Brady and Bellichek out of the Superbowl. That's just appeasing a witch hunt who isn't even waiting for an official NFL investigation report to render a verdict anyways.

If you can provide some evidence (i.e., camera footage, or perhaps a ball boy who is being paid by the NFL who comes clean) that goes from the existence of balls that are not up to standard to a cause/effect relationship with one or both of Brady or Bellichek directing people, yeah, throw them out of the game. That's a fair ways from where the public evidence is today.

"I swear these are the only two times we've ever broken the rules. It's purely coincidental that you've also caught us the only two times we cheated. I guarantee that we've never attempted to circumvent the rules in ANY other case."

I am amused at the juxtaposed view of Bill Bellichek being a Keyser Soze-esque genius mastermind who is so much smarter than everyone else in the NFL and who must be constantly getting away with things, but also the same schmuck who's gotten caught cheating twice as much as virtually everyone else in the NFL. How patently absurd.

posted by dfleming at 09:59 AM on January 22

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

If he were to suspend Belichick it would ruin the game.

Anyone with a pitchfork in their hand would probably disagree with that statement - whether or not it impacted the end result, I think there's a non-zero number of fans who think an attempt to cheat on the way to the Superbowl should affect your chance of winning the Superbowl. Lots of writers are already talking about this being an *asterick game.

posted by dfleming at 04:27 PM on January 21

11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports

Yes - cold air does reduce the pressure, but not enough to drop it 2 PSI below the minimum if it was properly inflated before the game if that is indeed a fact. Thanks, physics classes.

Truth be told, I remain skeptical until a non-anonymous report comes out that contains a variety of facts - right now, there are former referees out there saying even if they were under-inflated, they would've been re-inflated at half-time (i.e., the blowout happened regardless), there are reports that the Colts complained about this in NE in November (i.e, a potential pattern of behaviour on either side), and there are reports the balls were noticeably deflated enough for Colts players to notice them straight away, but not for referees to notice them at all, which to me is a bit of an incongruity as it's the refs who theoretically look at balls for deformities, punctures, or other abnormalities.

Then there's the chain of command and sequence of events, and the need to actually prove someone did something on purpose. The absence of an answer to what happened is not guilt, and there are huge absences in information right now that swing heavily one way or another.

But - I will say this - as someone who's been a Pats fan his whole life, if the conclusion is a credible set of evidence that proved the Pats were attempting (whether or not it actually impacts the results or not) to gain an edge and got caught, I am fucking done with this team. Fool me twice, and all that. But the knowledge base is nowhere near that yet, which isn't really the requirement for axes to be ground in the interim.

posted by dfleming at 12:45 PM on January 21

Patriots crush Colts in the rain

Don't the refs pick the ball up, wipe them, and place a different one after most plays? Surely if the balls were significantly deflated, the refs had easy access to them during the game to notice themselves and/or confirm, either on the sidelines or in the locker rooms at half.

They heard about it before halftime, and if there was some legs to it, they wouldn't have come back onto the field in "illegal" condition. So the 28-0 second half wouldn't have been affected at all.

That said - after SpyGate, Pats fans just have to accept that writing stories about Pats cheating is good business. Last week, PFT got huge legs out of the eligibility kerfuffle, despite the fact the league acknowledges everything was on the level. For Jets fans, it's every story about dysfunction, and for Raiders fans, it's every story about incompetence that gets blown out of proportion.

posted by dfleming at 11:07 AM on January 20

High school coach suspended after basketball team wins by 159 points.

Telling your team to half-ass it isn't really the answer here - he had his scrubs in the entire second half (where they outscored the opposition 57-1), and the opponents still didn't score a basket.

In leagues where there is this much disparity (the game after, they won 80-19, and in the article there are a number of mentions of winning by tons of points), there should just be a mercy rule where when a team gets up by 50 points, the game is called. There's no point in playing past that point - might as well call the game and the teams can practice instead.

posted by dfleming at 09:06 PM on January 18

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Daniel Carcillo's up to his old tricks again.

posted by dfleming at 09:30 AM on January 18

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

I agree - I think one year of managing Matt Cassell is a lot different than systemically dominating a division year after year. Wilfork, McCourty, Gronk and the other key guys who make this tick right now will likely be retired, elsewhere, or getting on in age.

The pipeline of good talent needs to flow, and a QB to bring some consistent magic is paramount.

posted by dfleming at 12:35 PM on January 14

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

The combination of Rex and Greg Roman are going to lead to a lot of 7- and 8-man fronts until one of them show they can build the semblance of a consistent passing attack to be feared.

Should be a hell of a D though.

posted by dfleming at 12:05 PM on January 14

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

Even among Blue Jay first basemen, John Olerud accumulating 14 WAR more than Carlos Delgado over nearly identically long careers makes me pretty shocked. Sorry for ever doubting you, O helmeted one!

posted by dfleming at 04:47 PM on January 13

Colts Silence Broncos Offense, Make Peyton Manning Look Old

If that spreadsheet is correct (if you put it together yerfatma, you're a mensch), Brady's lost twice in the playoff with a spread higher than 4 points, whereas Manning's lost four times with spreads larger than 9 alone.

Not surprised it was a bullshit statement, but a bit surprised by big the pile was.

No quarterback who won multiple Super Bowl rings as the starter is ever going to be described as a "yeah, but ..."

Eli's as close as you might get to one, but the way he played those two runs was unbelievable and the Giants would classify as having glaring weaknesses more often than not, if we're adding a multiplier to Peyton's record for that.

posted by dfleming at 04:35 PM on January 12

Colts Silence Broncos Offense, Make Peyton Manning Look Old

Come to think of it Brady has lost more games in the playoffs as a heavy favorite than has Peyton.

Is Brady also then a "Yeah, but .." ?

Ignoring the fact I don't think this statement is actually true (please cite, and define heavy while you're at it), considering Brady's 19-8 career in the playoffs, is your argument that losing heavy favorite games negates what you do at even-odds or even as underdogs to reach 19 career postseason wins and three rings?

posted by dfleming at 01:40 PM on January 12

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The best way I was able to visualize the functional miss was the recognition that two of the guys in my men's league team provided me the majority of my offensive rebounding opportunities. They have soft shots and shoot when they see guys crashing the rim or well-positioned.

As a result, we get a lot more opportunities to get high % second attempts. If they convert 40% of the time, and we get 60% of the rebounds and convert those to points 60% of the time, over the two possessions we're looking at a 76% chance of a points.

Whereas, our madman 2 seems to love to pull up and miss when there are 2-3 of their team surrounding the rim. If he too shoots 40%, but we only get 20% of the rebounds and convert to points 60% of the time, we're now looking at a 52% chance of points over the two possessions.

Same shooting percentage, different team outcome. Functional missers FTW.

posted by dfleming at 12:44 PM on January 12

Colts Silence Broncos Offense, Make Peyton Manning Look Old


If it hadn't have been for that game winning drive in 2006 (forgiving an otherwise awful playoff performance that year), Peyton's legacy would be a lot harder to define as one of the best ever.

11-13, 9 one-and-dones, it's not enough to boot him from a top 5 list, but it certainly is something for people to chew on. Plus, it doesn't help that his slack-jawed younger brother went savant twice and got himself two trophies in the same time period.

The reality is, there are dozens of moments to show that he has been one of the most dominant clutch players of all times - but he just couldn't string enough of them together in Jan/Feb. So it goes.

If this is it for him, it's a sad way for him to go, but the back half of this year everyone says he's looked hurt or old or both. It doesn't bode well for 2015.

posted by dfleming at 11:00 AM on January 12

Cowboys Defeat Lions After Controversial Penalty Non-Call

I think they're listening, phaedon.

posted by dfleming at 04:24 PM on January 05

Cowboys Defeat Lions After Controversial Penalty Non-Call

Dean Blandio says the Cowboys got away with one and maybe two, but not the one you expected.

posted by dfleming at 03:21 PM on January 05

Cowboys Defeat Lions After Controversial Penalty Non-Call

The immediate dip on the incompletion was .79 to .69 (the shitty punt bringing it down to.58), but that's not including any WP bump they would've gotten from even a first down at Dallas's 31 as a result of one of the penalties.

Actual vs. potential, the swing was a lot higher whether they scored or not, and higher at that time than the same play would've been in the 1st quarter.

That's not to say that I don't agree with you that Det had ample opportunities before or after this play to win the game (and that the 4th and 6 completion wasn't more important statistically, due to the timing and the nature of the completion being a 21 yarder), but scenario 1 vs. scenario 2 was a big statistical swing for one play, and particularly poignant when you saw a reason for it to be called a different way.

posted by dfleming at 02:52 PM on January 05

Cowboys Defeat Lions After Controversial Penalty Non-Call

Gerry Austin's take: Not a penalty, but once the flag was thrown it should've stayed thrown, and Bryant left the field quickly so no flag there.

The problem is people get flags taking their helmet off arguing a call while actively leaving the field pretty regularly. Very rarely is it the demonstrable "take helmet off and throw it" example.

He came on to the field with it already off, which means his intention was not to actively leave the field for the duration of his helmet being off. That's why I think it's a guaranteed flag - it's one thing to be on your way off, another to be on your way on. The leeway has to be based on the perceived intent of the player (i.e., a player who's become less of a risk is given it, those increasing their risk are not), otherwise reffing descends into anarchy.

I get there's a nuance to all of the rules, but the nuance in this instance seems to be leeway in favour of a team that had just received a very favorable call reversal.

Although Detroit fans won't want to hear it, because the non-call is a great scapegoat and I would blame it too in their position

It is a universal truth in all close games that teams could have done things differently to avoid needing a call to go their way at the end. It doesn't negate that controversial calls at the end of the game are magnified in their importance to the end user of the product.

Anything can happen always, but the statistical probability of victory getting one of those two penalty calls in that instance was pretty damn high. That's what smarts, whether or not it's an objective look at 60 minutes worth of football. The same call earlier in the game has less of an immediate probability of victory swing as it does there.

posted by dfleming at 01:00 PM on January 05

Cowboys Defeat Lions After Controversial Penalty Non-Call

Whether or not it was interference, Dez Bryant had his helmet off and ran onto the field to argue the call. That one does not need interpretation - that's an automatic first down, and one it's hard to have missed given they weren't even huddling on the previous call.

posted by dfleming at 11:19 AM on January 05

New York Jets Fire Rex Ryan, GM John Idzik

He never had a really good QB and in the current NFL it doesn't seem like you can win without a top tier QB, or at least one capable of playing one for a season or two depending on how you feel about Flacco and Eli Manning.

Is it a lack of natural QB talent or an inability to develop quarterbacks because he isn't very good as an offensive strategist - opting for a continued run-first mentality in a league that increasingly relies on a good air game?

Nearly all of the top QBs took some time to develop, but progressed under good coaching. Rex had two highly-regarded prospects (acknowledging they weren't Peyton Manning sure things, but neither were many in the top 10), both of whom seemed to regress rather than progress under his leadership.

I think Rex gets another head coaching job because he's got the image, but like Dick LeBeau I think some people are specialists and the head coaching job needs to be higher-level than that and not everyone is cut out for it.

posted by dfleming at 10:05 AM on December 30

Hall of Fame voting raises more questions than answers

I don't get his point - does he want people excluded from being on the ballot at all so he doesn't have to make tough moral calls? Because I don't follow the logic train - if he believes that Barry Bonds' offences are egregious enough to warrant being left off a ballot entirely, then he's made a morality judgment in thinking that's true. It's the same as not voting for them - the only difference being he's not the one accountable for the decision.

I think the whole balloting system (and how people have limited eligibility and need to get 5% to stay on a ballot) and the fact that baseball writers are the ultimate judges of who does/does not get into the hall is a lot worse than writers actually having to consider more than straight numbers in their decision on who gets their votes. Forgive me for thinking the BBWAA aren't exactly overwhelmed by the process here - one, as a lay fan, I'd happily take on.

posted by dfleming at 03:03 PM on December 25

The Boston Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo to Dallas

I really doubt Nelson stays around - he specifically left Orlando to play for a contender. This seems like the kind of situation where he either gets waived or moved again. That said, the way he played in Dallas, I don't see a lot of playoff-worth teams who'll get a big upgrade by dealing assets to get him.

The first-rounder is reported to be heavily protected and very likely to be 2016 or further and there's not much chance of it being mid-round or earlier. So the likely outcome is a development player who's a couple of years from contributing heavily.

Wright's a niche player - Crowder is more or less a straight wing, with little upside at the 2. Powell's a body.

I think the way Rondo had played this year, the haul they got was more or less what they could expect. It doesn't seem like it's the kind of haul you'd get for a guy with the potential for star play that Rondo has, but a bit like Vince Carter leaving Toronto (with the added deflator of a big, recent injury), if the player isn't playing up to their potential and they're pretty publicly looking to get out, it does tie your hands a little bit.

posted by dfleming at 07:26 AM on December 19

Welcome to Middle Infielder Island

I won a bunch of defensive player awards up to college as a second baseman and I attributed it to the field right around the corner from us (we grew up in the hood) being a horrific mix of gravel, rocks and very little upkeep. My dad/friends would go with me to hit an hour a day's worth of unpredictable ground balls and one-hops.

There were a number of bloody noses from balls that bounced the wrong way, but come game time it made the traditional fields seem like carpet.

posted by dfleming at 01:53 PM on December 16

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The current MVP odds according to those invest in their beliefs.

Sure, but the last defensive player being named MVP was in 1986 and 6 of the last 7 were quarterbacks. It's the money decision to bet on the best QB available based on who typically gets voted. There are a lot of people who question whether or not a defensive player can even get fair consideration from many voters.

Arian Foster is a top tier running back. I have a feeling Andre Johnson still has more in the tank than his quarterbacks were getting out of him.

Arian's missed 11 of the team's last 30 games - which is to say he's an elite RB 2/3 of the time. Eddie Lacy is a 24-year-old tier 2 back with 1,300 all-purpose yards and 12 TDs, which puts him near the top of the second tier, if not in the top tier.

At this point in their careers, would you take Hopkins/Johnson over Nelson/Cobb? Even with Johnson having more in the tank than he's showing, I just don't see the gap between the two pairings being that great. They're both elite pairings in the NFL.

posted by dfleming at 07:06 AM on December 16

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

If the Texans had Aaron Rodgers they would on their way to a division title.

That is crazy talk. The point differential on his own scores, scores called back due to people holding him(another last night against Indy) and the amount of energy teams spend on offence just trying to deal with him is the reason they are winning games at all.

Rodgers has more talent and health on both sides of the field in GB than he would have in Texas without Watt.

posted by dfleming at 03:09 PM on December 15

SportsFilter: The Thursday Huddle

In the grand scheme of things, a few months of Jon Lester for one year of Rick Porcello is a heck of a deal.

Masterson for $9.5m seems pretty pricey, but at least his alternating horrible season/great season career cycle means he's due for a great year this year.

Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa seem joined at the hip - they were traded to Boston together, and are now heading to Arizona together.

posted by dfleming at 05:39 PM on December 11

Jon Lester Signs 6-Year, $155 Million Deal with Chicago Cubs

And Lester is a postseason ace?

3-0 and one earned run allowed in three World Series starts and 21 innings. No slouch for sure.

posted by dfleming at 06:47 PM on December 10

Jon Lester Signs 6-Year, $155 Million Deal with Chicago Cubs

Lester isn't going to bring the additional 17 wins the Cubs need to make the post season even if he has a career year.

Lester, Montero, Hammel, Joe Maddon and a stable of young, talented, and growing players is a damn good way to close the gap, anyways.

Put another way - outside of your completely arbitrary two-year deadline on his effectiveness, at least two of the real contenders for his services - the Giants and Dodgers - were guys it was going to be easier to hurdle for a wild card spot with him than against him. If Lester's a 4.0 WAR pitcher next year, you gain 8 games on the potential outcome that he signs with one of them.

posted by dfleming at 12:19 PM on December 10

Searching for Balance: The NBAs Lopsided Conference Problem

I don't really get what the restructuring will do - there's a salary cap in place, and a bunch of big money team in the East who seemed plagued by front-office incompetence. That won't last forever - well, for the Knicks, maybe it will.

In the West, the last two decades have involved foundational players - Kobe, Dirk, Duncan/Ginobli/Parker, Durant/Westbrook, etc - who stayed in one place and were a foundation to build on. In the East, for whatever reasons, players seem more fluid - LeBron, Bosh, Howard, etc. There are obvious exceptions, but the teams who've been good in the West for a while have been stable, and there haven't been a lot of stable Eastern teams recently, with the exception of the big 3 on the Celtics, the Pacers to some extent, and the dream team Heat.

posted by dfleming at 07:23 AM on December 03

0-16 Philadelphia 76ers Two Games from Worst Start in NBA History

76ers regular season wins this season


Flyers match penalties this season

posted by dfleming at 07:12 PM on December 01

Toronto Blue Jays trade Brett Lawrie, 3 others to Oakland As for Josh Donaldson

I think Lawrie might be one of those guys who gets healthy once he's out of Toronto - he plays the game hard, hits the deck often, and on the turf in Toronto that's a recipe for being continually banged up.

posted by dfleming at 08:23 AM on November 30

Toronto Blue Jays trade Brett Lawrie, 3 others to Oakland As for Josh Donaldson

Especially with team control for years, totally. The Blue Jays built a stable of young arms and Nolin was buried for the foreseeable future behind other guys.

posted by dfleming at 05:02 PM on November 29

SportsFilter: The Saturday Huddle

The legend of Masai Ujiri continues - getting Lowry back on an insanely reasonable deal allowed them to pick up Lou Williams and James Johnson to deepen the bench despite Landry Fields' dead weight contract.

posted by dfleming at 09:11 AM on November 23

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle

The Blue Jays get Russell Martin for 5 years, $82m. Martin's 5.5 WAR was third behind Jonathan Lucroy and Buster Posey last year among catchers and he finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Despite on face value seeming like crazy money for a 31-year-old catcher, the way he seems to call games with piecemeal, young pitching staffs just might be the wisest thing the Jays could've done with that money on the market right now.

posted by dfleming at 01:59 PM on November 17

Penny-pinching, no more!

I've read there is an opt-out in 2019 or 2020 in the deal, which makes oodles of sense getting this deep into bed with Jeffrey Loria. If his end goal was the money, he got there, but if consistently being on a competitive team matters to him, he's perhaps got the leverage to make that happen.

It's hard to imagine with Loria's track record he's going to consistently have someone behind him in the lineup that strikes enough fear for teams to consistently give him eminently hittable pitches.

This also makes Mike Trout's deal even more of a steal for the Angels, considering he's a better player on a similar arbitration-avoiding deal for about $1m/year less til 2020, when in theory they both could be free agents.

posted by dfleming at 11:15 AM on November 17

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

13 years, $325 million for Giancarlo Stanton. The annual value is 52.5% of the Marlins' total 2014 team salary.

posted by dfleming at 07:51 PM on November 14

NFL Pick 'Em, Week 10

Andy Dalton's QB rating of 2.0 last night was the worst for a QB with more than 30 passing attempts since 1983.

Of course, of the things that one could talk about being subpar last night, Jeremy Hill thought it best to focus on the Browns being worse than he thought. Hill of course torched the Browns for 55 yards on 12 carries and a lost fumble, in a performance that left fans saying "....who?"

posted by dfleming at 07:12 AM on November 07

Giants Win World Series

The plot for this alternate timeline where Yost doesn't bunt in the 5th would be interesting - he plays against the data for an entire season which gets them to game 7 in the World Series, then get hit by lightning/a heaved, massive burrito off a bridge/a Motley Crue drumstick at a concert, and when he wakes up is equipped with an entirely different analytical framework.

Because as you all know, if you change it at any other point, who knows what happens in the rest of the timeline. Perhaps he takes up swing dance because that's what the ladies in grade 11 were into.

posted by dfleming at 04:17 PM on October 30

Giants Win World Series

Affeldt really was an unsung hero this postseason - 11 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, 7 holds, and two key wins - the other being the complete bailout job he did for Santiago Castilla that preserved the lead before Ishikawa hit the big home run against St. Louis.

posted by dfleming at 07:57 AM on October 30

Giants Win World Series

If the initial starter is ineffective, doesn't the official scorer have discretion to choose any reliever he or she feels contributed most to the win, even if it was not the pitcher of record when the final lead was taken? I thought it was originally a win, they even mentioned it on air in like the 8th or 9th after Joe Buck mentioned the 5 inning save and corrected himself shortly after. So why did it turn it from a win to a save a while later?

The relief pitcher of record who enters the game needs to be deemed ineffective by the scorers in order for them to pick someone else as the winner. Affeldt was the pitcher of record when they scored the 3rd run and had thrown 2.1 scoreless innings which doesn't qualify as being ineffective.

There are degrees of judgment involved, but Affeldt did a solid job and deserved the win, while Baumgarner deserved the save. I think the scorers got a bit caught up initially in the romance, which to be fair, I would too.

posted by dfleming at 07:53 AM on October 30

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle

See, they would've said that to Ol' Colt a few years ago, but he didn't let a little thing like mediocrity get in the way of an occasional paycheque.

posted by dfleming at 10:38 PM on October 28

SportsFilter: The Wednesday Huddle

Got evacuated out of the downtown core about half an hour ago. Crazy, sad day.

posted by dfleming at 04:09 PM on October 22

SportsFilter: The Friday Huddle

I know the Jets carried a lot of cap space through the off season, but at 1-6, this seems like an odd move. They're not exactly one wide receiver away from anything.

They're maybe one receiver away from finishing on a high enough note that Idzick and Ryan keep their jobs. They need progress to make that happen, and Harvin's a hail mary attempt at that.

The pick doesn't really matter to either of them if they get canned following a 2- or 3-win season. I see this as borrowing from the future to keep yourself alive a little while longer.

posted by dfleming at 04:32 PM on October 18

Royals Advance to First World Series Since 1985

The Royals have a terrible GM, a terrible manager, and terrible plate discipline.

And people are going to go ahead and use them regardless as an example for how the game is changing rather than considering the "weird shit happens sometimes" effect. Like Time, who say the Royals are leading a movement with their one truly successful year in 20 years.

Pitching and defence have been the foundation of the game forever, but a single data point on a quirky team doesn't mean a trend. Go back a couple of years and both San Fran and St. Louis hardly ran at all in 2010/11. Plus - it's not been THAT long since a team that hit a lot of home runs made the World Series.

posted by dfleming at 04:00 PM on October 16

DeMarco Murray Ties Jim Brown Record

It will be interesting to see what happens with Murray the rest of the way - he's on pace to eclipse his previous high in carries in game 9. The Cowboys talked about easing off his workload, but he touched the ball 35 times last night.

He's on pace to just break Larry Johnson's carries record, which for a guy with a questionable track record for health is playing fast and loose. That said, the Cowboys are a pretty devastating team when Romo's able to play off a running game and not do-it-himself, so unless Joseph Randle shows he's able to consistently get yardage on touches, I'm not sure they can stay this good without him.

posted by dfleming at 11:39 AM on October 13

SportsFilter: The Sunday Huddle

Jesus - Joe Flacco has 5 touchdown passes at the half against a Bucs team who look utterly hopeless right now.

posted by dfleming at 02:25 PM on October 12

MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules

But remember what it was like when ESPN dropped hockey and a big chunk of its time on SportsCenter disappeared? How would that feel if it happened to baseball?

Again - baseball TV contracts continue to be more valuable than ever. This is nowhere near being a reality. Baseball is still #2 in the major 4 for ratings.

I'm surprised there are so many voices here for baseball doing nothing about game length and speed of play. Do you all really think baseball needs no changes? If so, how do you explain the long drop in World Series ratings, and why is that not a problem?

There's been a huge dip since the 2005 PED congress hearings that has never been recovered. They have a 4-7 game series' held in October - which, since the 1980's, has meant they're competing at night with prime-time shows on an expanding dial of channels.

The Super Bowl, comparatively, is one Sunday night in February, at the same time every year, and has nothing else to compete with on the dial. It also has a shit-ton of people who don't watch the game content who watch the program.

Additionally - MLB.TV and online streaming mean Neilsen ratings aren't necessarily capturing the whole picture anymore. I haven't watched a game on cable TV in years. Multiple time-zones and a 4-7 game series mean people who have to go to work can't necessarily catch San Francisco finals games.

There's also the argument that a successful Toronto team captures an entire Canada market (see: 1992 and 1993's super ratings), and they've been out of it for so long that it barely registers up here.

The point being - concluding the game is too long, in a very changing world, is the reason people don't watch the World Series anymore is ignoring a lot of factors - one huge one being, a lot of people still haven't forgiven baseball for the PED scandal.

posted by dfleming at 05:48 PM on October 04