Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Through the Beer Goggles: Home Opener

Unemployment watch: 78 days and counting. What better way to fill the void than by checking out the Red Sox home opener alone in a bar. And when I say alone, I mean literally me, the bartender and the cook. Though I may have felt like Kim Jong Il, at least I was able to watch a great opening day game. Here are some of my drunken thoughts.

  • Mookie. That's really all that needs to be said about this game and I'm guessing we will have many more games where he almost single-handedly wills the team to victory. Red Sox beat writer Alex Speier (now with the hated Boston Globe, but he's by far the best Sox writer in Boston right now) has been referring to Mookie as #featsofmookie on Twitter for about 2 years now because almost everything he is doing is some kind of record or amazing play. Here is a recap of what he accomplished yesterday:
    • Makes a leaping catch of a certain home run off the bat of Bryce Harper in the first inning saving 2 runs. Mookie has played outfield professionally for less than a year. Harper is also 1 of only 3 players younger than Mookie in MLB right now.
    • After drawing a leadoff walk and with David Ortiz at bat, he steals second. Then, because he is a robot, he calculates the distance away from third and top line speed of Jordan Zimmerman and computes that he will be able to also steal third base on the same play with .2 milliseconds to spare because of the Papi Shift. He is just the 11th player in baseball history to steal two bases on the same play. The last player to do it? Dustin Pedroia last year on a Papi Shift. In case you didn't know, these two guys are now teammates. I have a feeling like Pedey is going to be a positive influence on Mookie.
    • In his next at bat he drills a 3 run homer over the Monster and in his next at bat hits a sac fly for his 4th RBI. I swear Mookie doesn't hit fly balls, they are all line drives. I could be getting this stat wrong, but I think someone on NESN said that Mookie is the first Red Sox leadoff man ever to hit a home run, drive in 4 runs and steal 2 bases in a game. Not Boggs, Nomar, Damon, Dom Dimaggio, or even Rickey Henderson.
  • Let's talk about the $82 million man for a second. Rick Porcello, I fear, is going to end up being the biggest goat on this team for the next 5 years because people can't wrap their head around his value. He had a pretty good game yesterday (4 runs, but only 3 earned over 8 innings with 6 Ks and only 1 BB). Most importantly he let the tired Sox bullpen off the hook. He's going to be a really good innings eater for this team over the course of his contract because he limits walks and pitches to contact. Unfortunately, this heavy contact approach will lead to some mistakes and a lot of times it will feel like he's pitching worse than he is. So far I have not been too impressed by the location of his pitches. He is leaving way too many pitches up in the zone and he is getting punished on these mistakes. You can see him drop his elbow and get under the pitch when it ends up high. It's definitely a mechanical issue that I hope the Sox can fix. If he can stay consistently down he will be a really good pitcher. If not, watch out.
  • Ortiz hit his second homer of the year, but he has looked pretty bad this year even against right handers. He didn't play a lot in Spring Training so he may be getting his timing down still. Luckily, for Ortiz and the Sox, the DH position has diminished so much that Papi doesn't have to hit too well to be valuable. The average DH last year hit .246/.317/.416. Ortiz has only failed to reach any of those numbers once, in 2009, when he had a .238 average but still hit 28 home runs.
  • I'm over Shane Victorino. Sorry Kati Black. I wanted to give him longer than a week, but he's done. Too much punishment on that body. I want to make a Hawaiian joke but I don't know if that's racist so I'll put that one aside. Any way, we will be forced to live with Shane for a little while longer as Rusney Castillo is nursing a sore shoulder in AAA.
  • I love that 2 of the biggest off-season "Ace" targets, Zimmerman and Cole Hamels, have been absolutely destroyed by the Sox offense. Baseball is the best.
  • Xander Bogaerts didn't exactly kill the ball yesterday and he did make an error, but in the few games since the 19 inning bloodbath, he has just looked more confident at bat and in the field. I really think confidence is going to be huge for him. When he starts casually chewing on his gum like an Aruban Brad Pitt you know good things are going to happen.
  • Thank Xenu baseball is back.
  • Finally, no That's So Random today, but here is a music video in case any non-sports fans actually read this. The start of the baseball season is my favorite time of the year, especially because it coincides with spring in Boston. I have not stopped smiling for the past week. To show you how enthusiastic I am about this, here is a video of twins playing the Beverly Hills 90210 theme song on one guitar. I don't know if I'll ever be as happy as the one twin at the beginning of the video, but it's pretty close. Also, would love to see Jon and Sam Hendricks recreate this...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yoan and Isaiah


That is what the Celtics and Red Sox added in the last few days. That is generally what wins out in the end in sports. That is what we pay to see.

With the additions of Isaiah Thomas and Yoan Moncada, the Celtics and Red Sox, respectively, added two talented players to their organizations. We will take a look at each move individually, but the key here is that both teams improved their talent base without giving up much to do so.

Isaiah Thomas

Nick Van Exel 2.0. Lil' Jason Terry. Rich man's Nate Robinson. These are all comparisons I have read for Thomas since he was traded to the Celtics last Thursday. This translates to a scoring guard with an attack mentality. A man with big talent, even bigger balls and a small body. A man with such big balls and such a small body it's a wonder the forces of gravity don't just suck him earthbound.

The Celtics traded 2 months of Marcus Thornton (who's contract is up after this year) and a 2016 1st round pick from Cleveland (that would likely be in the mid 20's as long as Lebron is around) for the next three years of Thomas. Thomas is only 26 years old and he is signed to one of the best contracts in basketball, one that actually declines over the life of the deal.

Thomas is unlike anyone the Celtics have right now or really have had since they traded Paul Pierce. Brad Stevens' motion offense is a thing of beauty. It's great for a team that does not have a go to scorer. It's all about ball movement and is very Spursian. Unfortunately, in the 4th quarter, without a go-to scorer the offense stagnates. Thomas changes all of that. He wants the ball in his hands when the clock is winding down. And unlike Evan Turner, he can actually do something with it.

In his two games in green so far, he has averaged 21 points and 5 assists (against 4.5 turnovers...yikes). I watched him in the second half of the Phoenix game and I am very impressed so far. He's the only player on the team that can dribble (I had nightmares last night of Jae Crowder running the fast break). He throws some very cool passes (some a little too cool as evidenced by all the turnovers). He looks to be a good mid range shooter and a pretty good 3 point shooter. He can get absolutely anywhere he wants on the floor. He is somehow an amazing finisher despite standing only 5'9". He gives James Young a friend in the left handers club. He's also got an energy and attitude that the club was sorely lacking (sorry Kelly Olynyk, your lady hair and cankles were never going to be the heart and soul of this club). He also sucks on defense, but let's ignore that for now.

It seems like the major complaint from the fans and media surrounding the deal is that adding talent and trading away a draft pick runs counter to what Danny Ainge has been doing the last two seasons. I disagree. Ainge has been collecting assets since he stole the Nets lunch money in the Pierce-Garnett deal. With those assets, the goal was to maintain flexibility for an opportunity to present itself. If the team could be bad enough to land a top 5 pick, he would pursue that path as he did last year. If he was able to turn a trade exception into a first round pick and a talented young player like Tyler Zeller, he would pursue that even if it made the team better. If a superstar became available, he could trade for him.

In the case of Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics did not land a superstar, but they did land a good player who can help the team in the future. They did not give up much to get him and his salary going forward helps the team maintain flexibility. Thomas is yet another asset on a team full of them. He could be our sixth man and go-to scorer for the next three years, but he could also be the sweetener in a trade for a superstar. He makes the team better this year, but he doesn't guarantee them a playoff spot especially with the other 7-8 seed contenders improving at the deadline.

The reality is that there are 4 teams definitely worse than the Celtics (Lakers, Knicks, Sixers, T'Wolves) that the team was never going to catch at the bottom of the standings. They are also probably better than the Magic and, because of the difficulty of the West, the Kings, Nuggets and Jazz. No matter what the team did there was a strong likelihood they weren't going to finish worse than 9th. So if they add a player who is going to help the team for the future but it drops them to the 11th pick, I'd say it's a pretty strong move. I've been as guilty as anyone the last two years worrying about draft position, but I think with the top 3 out of reach it's time to stop worrying.

The NBA has been much more of a crap shoot lately. With freshman dominating the lottery, it seems like the variability of a prospects future is larger than ever. While the top 2 or 3 picks still hold tremendous value, the value of, say, 4-14 seems to be much more blurry. The 2013 draft, which was supposed to be a bad draft but has turned out pretty solid, contains a ton of talent drafted outside of the top 10 including Kelly Olynyk, Dennis Schroeder, Giannis Atentokoumpo (this is not the way to spell his name, sorry), Shabazz Muhammad, Michael Carter-Williams, Gorgui Dieng, Mason Plumlee, and the possible best player of the draft Rudy Gobert (who was drafted at 27). If you played a series with those players against the players picked in the top 10 (including bust number 1 Anthony Bennett), the not-top-10 would win.

Adding Isaiah Thomas may hurt the draft position, but he does not hurt their chance to build a championship contender. The number one pick in the 2015 draft is not walking through that door with or without IT. Enjoy the swagger, the left hand, the nifty layups, the big grin, and most of all, the giant balls. Balls.

Yoan Moncada

It may not seem like it, but $63 million for a player who could be the number 1 pick in the draft is a steal. Major League Baseball (and all team sports) artificially deflate the value of amateur talent through the draft (and now international signing bonus restrictions). The only way for a top US amateur to play professionally is to submit himself to the draft. When that player is drafted, he can either sign with the team that drafted him (not of his choice) for more or less the amount dictated by the league based on his draft slot, or refuse to sign and wait a year to be drafted again and start the process all over again in perpetuity (I won't turn this article into an abolish the draft piece, you can get that here: Abolish The Draft). The only team that can get the top player in the draft, the next Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, is the team with the worst record. So when a player good enough and young enough to be selected first overall is a free agent, the open market dictates the player's value rather than the penny pinching billionaires who don't want to share their wealth with teenagers. Going to $31.5 million is certainly unprecedented, but when you consider the skill set it makes a lot of sense.

A brief summary of scouting reports on Moncada that I've read around the internet. He plays short stop in Cuba, but at his current size and agility profile he projects to be a more natural 3B or 2B. He's a switch hitter who projects better from the left side (Keith Law said his hitting from the right side is a little rigid). He's very strong and fast and physically imposing in person. He's got good hand-eye coordination so he could hit for a high average. He could be a 20 homer-20 steal type player with the ability to hit over 30 homers if he reaches his potential. Some scouts say he could be the number 1 pick and a superstar, others say he is a 1st rounder that projects as above average. He should take a year or two in the minors to get used to US ball. He's not a sure thing, nobody is at 19, but he's a very very good prospect and is now one of the top 20 in all of baseball.

The beauty is that all the Red Sox had to give up to get him is money. They didn't have to trade away their top major league talent for a top prospect like the Cubs did last year with Jeff Samardzija (spelled that right on the first try!). They didn't have to trade away all of their major league talent to be the worst team in baseball for three years like the Astros did. They just went out and signed the guy. Yes it was a lot of money and yes he could be a total bust, but it's only money and it doesn't even count against the luxury tax line, if that means anything to the team still. The cherry on top is that the next highest bidder was the Yankees and they need Moncada a lot more than the Sox do!

For their money they get a 19 year old prospect who should move quickly through the minors and can play multiple positions. You may have noticed that all of the positions he can play already go about 2 deep at the major league level, but 2 years from now who knows what the team will look like. Maybe Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts are traded for pitching (please, please no). Maybe Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez have to or can move to first base. Maybe Dustin Pedroia's body breaks down to the point where he is a backup or has to be traded to the weaker National League (the Phillies just traded Jimmy Rollins, their former MVP and career hits leader so it's not impossible). Maybe Moncada is traded for pitching or is a bust. The point is, no team ever lost a championship for having too much talent.

There are no real downsides to this signing. That $63 mil is money the team could spend elsewhere, but it likely would have been spent on a player over 30 on the downside of his career. The team can't give out bonuses to international prospects over $300k for the next two years, but that was the case even before the Moncada signing because they already went way over their league imposed budget. Those are the only two downsides, nothing else.

We don't know what will become of Moncada, but the upside is ridiculous and that is all that matters here.


  • Quick story on Isaiah Thomas that the non-sports fans should enjoy. If his name sounds familiar it is because there was a Hall of Fame point guard that played for the Pistons in the 80's and 90's named Isiah Thomas (spelled differently). The Pistons were the most hated team in basketball and were called the "Bad Boys". They were massive douchebags and Isiah was the applicator (do douchebags have applicators?). Any way, our Isaiah's father, James, grew up in California and was a die-hard Lakers fan. The Lakers had defeated the Pistons in the 1988 Finals and were set to face them again in 1989. James made a bet with a friend that his Lakers would win, but if they lost he had to name his son, you guessed it, Isaiah. Hopefully through some deductive reasoning you can figure out who won the '89 Finals. I'm glad my father never made a bet about the Celtics-Lakers so I didn't end up being named Kareem Abdul-Bergeron.
  • Tonight is the series finale of Parks and Recreation. Nothing funny to say about it, just remember to watch it. If I'm not too emotionally decimated after watching it, I will do a review of the whole series tomorrow.
  • I didn't live Tweet the Oscars this weekend, but I have a few thoughts to share:
    • I'm pissed that Michael Keaton didn't win Best Actor. Even if it would have felt a little like a "Lifetime Achievement Award", he was awesome in Birdman and he is fucking Batman. The dude who played Stephen Hawking did an impression for two hours. That should get you cast in SNL, not an Oscar. I think actors doing biopics should be ineligible for Oscars, otherwise give guys like Jay Pharoah the award for his impression of Denzel.
    • I'm also bummed that Rosamund Pike didn't win Best Actress even though I really like Julianne Moore. If you haven't seen Gone Girl you should really check it out. MINOR SPOILER ALERT Not that I would ever cheat on Sarah, but if you watch this movie and Rosamund's performance and still think it's a good idea to cheat on someone, well you deserve what is coming to you.
    • It's rare that one person can claim the two creepiest moments of the night, but god damn it John Travolta did it. His thetan count must have been extra high that night. He must have been channeling the spirit of Bill Cosby. That was the best work he has done since Broken Arrow. Congratulations to John.
    • I can't tell if this new Lady Gaga schtick is more annoying than her old schtick or they are equally awful. I'm just glad she let Tony Bennett rest for a night.
    • No better place than a 4 hour mutual masturbation fest to address all the world's ills. Racism is now over, immigration is solved, and 150 million women just got a pay raise today! Thanks actors!
  • Was scrolling through the guide on my TV and noticed a Rosie O'Donnell standup special. I didn't watch it, but it reminded me of my favorite joke in Chappelle Show history: during the "Player Haters Ball" they show pictures of celebrities for the player haters to hate on. When they get to a picture of Rosie, Chappelle's character says "She wears underwear with dick holes in em."
  • My show recommendation of the week is Better Call Saul. If you watched Breaking Bad you should already know about this show and already be watching it. Even if you did't watch Breaking Bad you could watch this show and be fine. It's funnier than it's predecessor and it has started off really strong. It will never reach the heights of Breaking Bad just because that show was one of the best 5 or so in history, but it has started off stronger than BB. In case you forgot, that show started off pretty slowly. It had good acting but not a lot happened right off the bat and it wasn't even a lock to go beyond one season. If Better Call Saul can be half the show it's fore-father was, then we are all lucky. 
  • Finally, because it is the series finale of Parks and Recreation, here is "5000 Candles in the Wind" by Mouse Rat:

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Avoid James Shields

Sources are saying that James Shields will sign with a team by the end of this week. There are no specific teams rumored right now, but word is that he has multiple offers and he plans to choose one. The Red Sox may or may not be one of those teams, but given the dollars and years he is expected to sign for, I hope the team stays away.

I've already covered the new additions the team has made. They have not acquired an "ace" in the purest sense of the term, but they have a breakout candidate in Rick Porcello and enough depth, including their Triple A starters, that the rotation should be at least average. Recent projections from FanGraphs show that they think the Sox will have the 5th best rotation in all baseball because of this depth. 5th best may be a stretch given the uncertainty surrounding each starter, but it shows that the rotation is much healthier than the greater public (especially the geniuses in the Boston media) realize. This overall health is just the first reason the team should bow out of the sweepstakes.

The second reason is his age combined with the miles on his arm. 33 is really starting to push it when you are talking about most starting pitchers. Guys like Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, Dan Haren, Matt Morris, Jason Schmidt, even Pedro Martinez all started to drop off in their early 30s. Most of these guys were poster boys for durability until then. A lot of them were out of the league before they even hit 35. The years of throwing a lot of innings finally caught up to them and their bodies broke down. Very few pitchers remain effective into their late 30s and most of those guys are Hall of Famers, knuckleballers or soft-tossing lefties. Shields is none of those.

The last reason is that I question how good Shields really is. He strikes out a decent amount of guys and limits walks and home runs. But a lot of his value is tied up in his durability, which may soon disappear. He has also played in two serious pitching parks in his career so the home run limiting may be a mirage. Finally, the last two seasons he has played in front of some great defenses in Kansas City. All of this doesn't mean he isn't a good pitcher, but I wonder if it is covering up his actual level of talent.

Despite the rhyme scheme, Big Game James has been an inaccurate nickname, especially lately. In 60 career post season innings, his walks, hits and home runs go up while his strikeouts go down. This all leads to an ERA that is almost 2 full runs higher than his regular season ERA. Now, lots of pitchers pitch worse in the post season when the competition is tougher, but Shields has literally made a name for himself as someone who steps up when it counts. 60 innings are not much, but I am curious if it shows that his actual talent level is something less than what we see over a long season/career. In the post season, durability, Shields' chief skill, goes out the window. Talent is often the best predictor of future success so if he's not as talented as we think, then the future wouldn't be bright.

Look, in 2015 I expect Shields to be better than every pitcher on this team besides Porcello (can you tell I'm excited for Pretty Ricky?). At 33, his best years might be behind him but he is still a very effective pitcher. His strikeout to walk ratio was 17th in baseball last year (and better than anyone on the roster right now). He was 5th in innings pitched and has been equally durable for the last 8 years. FanGraphs projects him to be worth 3 WAR, which would tie him for the team lead with Pretty Ricky. For the right price, Shields would be a great addition to the team in 2015.

The problem is, we likely aren't talking about a 1 year pillow deal like they used to land Adrian Beltre after a down season in a pitcher's park. Shields is coming off a strong year in 2014 so he doen't need to rebuild his value. He has pitched in pitcher's parks his whole career so going to a hitter's park is likely to hurt his numbers. At 33 this is probably his last chance to get a long term deal so you can bet he is going to find one. Every player in baseball is valuable at the right price (besides Ryan Howard), but Shields is definitely going to exceed the price I am comfortable with.

A quick and dirty way to calculate how much a player is worth is to figure out how many wins they are worth over the life of a contract and multiply it by how much money teams are paying per win (basically take the total payroll of all teams and divide it by the total number of wins in the whole league). We know what Shields is expected to produce in 2015 (3 WAR) and that the league values wins at about $7 million right now. To figure out each subsequent year we basically take away a half win to account for age decline and we increase the value of a win about $0.5 million due to recent trends.

In this scenario, Shields will produce 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5 and 1 win over the next 5 years for a total of 10 wins. Each season, the win will cost $7MM, $7.5MM, $8MM, $8.5MM, $9MM. When you multiply the seasonal wins by the value of a win, you get Shields' rough monetary value each season (I rounded up to give him the benefit of the doubt):

2015: $21 million
2016: $19 million
2017: $16 million
2018: $13 million
2019: $9 million

Based on these calculations, I would feel comfortable giving Shields a contract worth $78 million over 5 years or $69 million over 4 years. Given the chatter this offseason, though, I expect him to exceed this. So please, Red Sox, stay away.

  • Got to see a little bit of the Patriots' parade today. Had a great vantage point from the front of my building. Two things: first, so happy that the state decides cleaning the streets for people to get to work isn't important, but cleaning it for a bunch of people playing hookie to yell at a bunch of 250 pound millionaires is important. I'm sure Bob Kraft paid for the overtime for the removal too. The second thing: Tom Brady is seriously handsome up close.
  • I've seen more and more previews for Will Smith's new movie, Focus. It's hard to tell whether or not it will be good based on the trailer, but it looks like it could be really good or really bad. As a super fan, I really want, no need, it to be good. I stuck with Ben Affleck through Gigli and Jersey Girl, and I have tried to stick with Will through his recent shitty stretch. Don't let me down Will, please.
  • One indication that the movie might be bad is the use of one of my least favorite phrases: "there are two types of people in this world..." In this movie he says something like you are either a hammer or a nail, which makes no god damn sense. It's something screen writers use to be deep or to set up some future showdown. Rather than just go with good/evil, they use it  to more clearly separate groups of characters. Fucking stop. People are smart enough to pick up differences in characters and understand why they are at odds during the climax. Saying "there are two types of people in this world" makes your character sound like a moron. There are at least 3 types.
  • Last year I made a New Year's resolution to learn one new thing a day. The best source of these nuggets was an email newsletter called "Now I Know" by Dan Lewis. He writes a few paragraphs on some random fact and tells really interesting stories. For instance, did you know Winston Churchill was the first person ever recorded using the term "OMG"? Or that the reason McDonald's has never sold hot dogs is because the founder Ray Kroc said "there's no telling what's inside a hot dog's skin?" It's sent out every day and it's a lot of cool, interesting stuff. Go to NowIKnow.com to sign up for the daily email.
  • It was Groundhog Day on Monday and that little shit saw his shadow so we are getting 6 more weeks of winter. But here's what I don't get. The first day of spring is March 20. This is about 6 and a half weeks from February 2. Why do we need a big rat to tell us we have 6 more weeks of winter when we can just look at a calendar?
  • Obviously I watched Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day. It's such an amazing movie, everyone knows this so there is no need to rehash it here. I want to recommend another movie with a similar science fiction premise and that is Tom Cruise's Live. Die. Repeat. The trailers and marketing for this movie were awful and most people are over Cruise because he is a total lunatic at best. But this movie was a lot of fun. It had a cool storyline, solid effects and it wasn't too over the top. Most importantly, the movie and Cruise did not take it/himself too seriously. This is a minor spoiler, but if you want to see Cruise killed over and over again, rent this movie.
  • Finally, D'Angelo was the musical guest on SNL last weekend (along with J.K. Simmons hosting; what an amazingly random pairing!). D'Angelo put out two really great funk/soul albums about 15 years ago and then disappeared. He was probably best known for the song "Untitled (How Does it Feel?)." In the video he is shot from just above  his penis with no clothes on and it looks like he is receiving a hummer. Anyway, he recently released his first album after 15 years and it is bad ass. I would kill to see a Prince/D'Angelo concert, but they would need to hand out adult diapers at the front door for all the women. Here is one of Sarah's favorite from the new album, "The Door"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Nice to meet you Malcolm

That was the craziest ending I have ever seen in sports. After Jermaine "Tyree" Kearse made his impossible catch, the script seemed to have its ending. 1st and goal from the 5 with timeouts left and the strongest running back in the sport. Marshawn Lynch would have had to average 1.3 yards per carry and the Seahawks would have saved the game. His first carry went for 4 yards and all that was left was to find out kind of weird trick play the Patriots would try on the ensuing kickoff. Then we all met Malcolm Butler.

I admittedly don't follow football beyond fantasy, which means I know about 3 defensive players in the NFL at any given time. But I'm pretty sure almost nobody knew who Butler was until there were about :30 left in Super Bowl 49 (screw Roman numerals). How do I know this? The super fan behind me screaming "Oh ya" all night who probably has the number "1" and "2" tattooed on each nut kept calling him "Jimmy" Butler all night, as if the starting shooting guard for the Chicago Bulls was also a football player.

Butler is an undrafted rookie out of a Division II (shit, numerals snuck back in) school. He played only 18 snaps in the game last night and didn't start. He was kicked out of community college and sat out of football for two years. But on that one play, as everyone watching was witnessing Pete Carroll's Grady Little moment, he jumped the slant route and landed his first career interception. He now gets to take over Dave Roberts' secret penthouse in the golden dome atop the Boston State House until the next unheralded Boston hero makes a crazy play.

Other thoughts:

  • You will probably hear some people say that calling a pass play wasn't that bad of a call. In general, sure. Calling a pass play on second down from the 1 yard line is not a terrible call. Too often teams screw up by playing too conservatively and they get stuffed at the line. Belichick has made his career running play action from the 1 and throwing to a linebacker or lineman posing as a receiver. But when you have the strongest running back in football, a quarterback who is too short to see over the line and is more known for his running than his passing, you run the fucking football every time. That was an awful awful play call from a guy New Englanders knew to be a terrible coach.
  • Anyone questioning whether or not Brady and Belichick are the best QB/Coach duo in history can now probably find something new (and super important) to debate. Other duos have won 4 Super Bowl's together, but none have come in the salary cap era. With all the supporting cast who have shuffled in and out over the last 14 years, it is really amazing what these two have done.
  • Speaking of debates, I saw this stat on Twitter: Peyton Manning has had 9 one and done playoff appearances. Tom Brady has had 9 4th quarter or OT game winning drives in the playoffs.
  • The parade is going to be on Tuesday, the day after another shitty snow storm. I get that you want to celebrate immediately, but where are they going to put anyone? Half the sidewalks in the city aren't cleared properly. Cars are parked about 20 feet from the curb. I know Mayor Marty Walsh likes to party but can't you wait a couple days?
  • Other Patriots players that stood out last night: Julian Edelman who seemed to catch every important third down pass to extend a drive; Vince Wilfork inserting his glorious gut into any hole the Seahawks momentarily opened; Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner shutting down the passing game on almost every drive; Dont'a Hightower making the game saving tackle before the game saving interception because Marshawn was really close to scoring on that play.
  • The above quote from Ja'mie felt appropriate for a Super Bowl related blog. In case you were wondering, Ray Rice went to Rutgers and yes it is a public school. 
  • Everyone is shitting on the Nationwide Dead Boy commercial. Why? That was the funniest commercial in Super Bowl history. It was so inappropriate, out of place and ridiculous that people are going to remember it forever. That's what brand marketing is, basically, being memorable. Best Tweet related to the commercial: (sung to the Nationwide theme) Nationwide your kid has died!
  • The main theme of the Super Bowl commercials was "sad Dad". Nothing like a bunch of roided up monsters smashing each other to make you really reflect on how much you love your son. Now listen to a terrible cover of an American classic song and buy a pickup truck. DO IT FOR YOUR SON!!!
  • In case anyone thinks the DreamingWithJeff.com thing is a joke, go to the site. I'll wait. Did you just have the best nap of your life? You are welcome.
  • I'm sure this will make me sound insensitive, but I thought the "Throw Like a Girl" commercial was awful. I agree with the idea of the commercial. It's time to stop using that phrase. It's insensitive and moronic. But...if you want to erase that phrase from the mouths of asshole men, why would you get girls that live up to the stereotype? None of those girls could run, throw or fight well. Why wouldn't you hire Jackie Joyner Kersey, Jennie Finch and Ronda Rousey? Oh, that noise you are hearing right now is Sarah slapping me. I guess I shouldn't have touched this one.
  • TV show recommendation for the week: The Americans. This is a show, now in its third season, about Soviet spies living in America pretending to be Americans in the 80s. It's probably the best drama on TV right now. It's intense but not over the top. The fight scenes are great and the disguise wigs are even better. It stars a grown up Keri Russell from Felicity and you see her butt a few times, much to Mike Feeney's delight. The show is so good that I am absolutely rooting for the USSR to win the Cold War thus negating my entire existence. 
  • So happy the football season is finally over. Pitchers and catchers report in less than 3 weeks and I couldn't be happier.
  • Finally, Missy Elliott stole the halftime show from Katy Perry, a lion, two sharks and a shooting star. I wonder if most youngsters these days really know much about Missy. She was at the height of the rap game for a few years. Her style, created with Timbaland, who people probably now know as Justin Timberlake's buddy, was completely unique at the time. To this day there is really nobody like her and every time I hear one of her songs it feels new. Here is "Get Your Freak On"

  • And a bonus video: Leslie Mann singing the same song in 40 Year Old Virgin

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    Who is the best player on the Celtics?

    A couple weeks ago after the Celtics traded Jeff Green, I posted this question on Facebook. Since I got such a rousing discussion started (2 whole responses), I decided it was worth exploring the answer. Without Green and Rajon Rondo, there is no longer an obvious "best player" on this roster. Bill Simmons often makes this joke when two crappy teams are playing on a nationally televised game: "Tobias Harris, K.J. McDaniels, it's the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76'ers tonight on TNT." So who does Ernie Johnson call out when (if?) the Celtics ever get a nationally televised game ever again?

    *If you don't want to read a lot of words about basketball you can skip to the end for a new running feature


    The youngsters - James Young, Phil Pressey
    Young has the ability to one day be a go to scorer for this team, but he suffers, like most rookies, from a poor understanding of NBA defensive schemes. He's also only 19 so let's give him some time. Pressey can be fun to watch for about 4 minutes a game when he is darting around the court, crawling into a much taller man's shorts like a bed bug in a New York hotel. He also has the worst field goal percentage in the NBA if he played enough minutes to qualify.

    The oldsters - Gerald Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Shavlik Randolph
    The only three guys on the team older than X Mark...yikes. Wallace, with his nitrous oxide voice, has proven to be a solid team leader. But after years of living up to the nickname "Crash," he just can't do much on the court anymore. The original Tay Tay (fuck off Taylor Swift), has actually played really well since coming to the team and I considered bumping him up to the "Maybe" section. He was a part of the great 2000's Pistons teams and he is doing some good things right now. However, I really didn't expect him to even play a minute for this team and any guy who is or was a buyout candidate just can't be the team's best player. Shavlik Randolph used to play for Duke when I was at Maryland so that immediately disqualifies him. Our fans used to say "Shavlik my balls" to him when he was close by, although I guess he could use that as his own method of trash talking. Nice how that works out.

    The role players - Marcus Thornton, Jae Crowder
    Thornton is supposed to be a scorer off the bench, but he isn't getting many minutes. He has put up some games where he'll score more points than minutes played, but they don't happen too frequently. His True Shooting percentage (measures overall shooting efficiency based on 2's, 3's and FT's) is just 13th on the team this year, so he's not exactly filling his role. Crowder is one of those classic hustle guys that hardworking cities like Boston love (isn't it weird that almost every city besides LA is "hardworking" or "lunch pail"?). He is strong on defense and can hit a shot here and there. He put up 22 points in a game, but has failed to crack double digits since. Nice player and possibly worth resigning next year, but should never be more than a 7th or 8th man.


    The rookie - Marcus Smart
    I have never been so confident in predicting that a player will become my father's favorite as I am with Smart. His offense right now is the only thing holding him back from already being this team's best player (though he is shooting over 40% on 3's in January). His skill on defense is the best skill that anyone has on this team besides maybe Sully's offensive rebounding. Smart does two subtle things really well. The first is his off the ball defense. He is great at leaving his man to help cover someone cutting to the basket to prevent a pass and then speeding back to his man to not give him an open look. The second is boxing out. NBA players treat boxing out as if they are going to catch a disease from sticking their ass into another man's crotch (Magic has been retired for years, guys). Smart is all about boxing out. As soon as a shot goes up, his head spins to find the closest man to keep away from the hoop. It's beautiful.

    The sophomore - Kelly Olynyk
    Olynyk is basically the mirror image of Smart. Since starring in Dazed and Confused as a kid, Olynyk shot up to 7 feet tall but maintained the offensive skills of a point guard. He can handle the ball. He can use his height to survey the defense and make smart passes. He has taken the reigns from Rondo with his pass fakes that lead to layups. He's shot the ball decently from 3 and I believe he is the second highest scorer off the bench in the NBA behind Jamal Crawford. Sadly, his lack of athleticism, T-rex arms and doughy physique limit his ability to be a high end defensive player. He can't guard athletic 4's or strong 5's so it is hard to see what kind of defensive player he will ever be. He is also already 24 so he isn't exactly a young prospect despite his short time in the league. But sure, he's the next Dirk...

    The statistical darling - Tyler Zeller
    There is a stat created by former ESPN writer and current Grizzlies VP John Hollinger called Player Efficiency Rating (PER). It is similar to WAR in baseball as it is supposed to be a sort of catch all statistic. There are a lot of flaws to the stat like there are WAR (mainly how it values defense), but it is a quick and dirty way to see how players are performing overall. Zeller leads the team with a 19.5 PER (league average is 15, the best players usually put up something between 22 and 28, Anthony Davis is at 31.9 this year!). He's achieved this with efficient shooting and rebounding, decent defense and low turnovers. He also doesn't play a ton of minutes so he has not been overexposed. However, if I am going to call a 7-footer the best player on the team, he has to be a much better rim protector than Zeller has been. Once an opponent gets into the lane against this team, they show no fear going to the basket and that includes when Zeller is on the court. Still, this is one of Danny Ainge's best trade acquisitions.


    Really? - Evan Turner
    In general, Turner is not a great player. He is wild, inefficient, a bad leader and he sometimes doesn't care about playing defense. But he can do pretty much everything on the court (besides shoot 3's) when he is engaged and he fills up the stat sheet like our long lost Rondo. On a good team he would be nowhere near the top of the list, but here we are. He is also the guy most likely to take the final shot on this team in a close game so that counts for something.

    Wait, come on, seriously?? - Brandon Bass
    Yes really. On a crappy team there is something to be said about consistency. While our next two players are alternating between 20 point nights and 3 point nights, Bass goes out every night and gives you 10 points, 5 rebounds and solid defense against multiple positions. I don't actually think he is the team's best player, but his hard work and lack of bitching deserve this highest of praise from an infrequent blogger that calls his site "Sexy." You are welcome Brandon. Keep up the strong work.

    The 5th year senior - Avery Bradley
    Bradley has been in the league 5 years (only 5 months older than Olynyk though), but it still feels like he is a second year player. On offense he never feels sure of himself whether he is dribbling the ball up the court or deciding to take a shot. He is maybe the worst entry passer I have ever seen. His defense has also taken a step back this year. But he is becoming a very good outside shooter and when he wants to play tough defense he is still as good as any perimeter player in the league besides Tony Allen and Smart. I think Bradley's problem is that he is most comfortable as the 4th or 5th best player on a team and right now he is being asked to be 1 or 2. In a different environment I think his play would jump even higher like it did in Ray Allen's final year in Boston.


    The AssMan - Jared Sullinger
    Sully is a very good player and he is probably the best player on the Celtics right now. He is an amazing offensive rebounder with skills similar to Dennis Rodman. I remember reading a Rodman interview in Sports Illustrated back when he was on the Bulls and he talked about how knowing the trajectory of all his teammate's shots and how they would come off the rim allowed him to out maneuver players for the rebounds. He was never the biggest or most athletic guy, but because he understood the angles, he was an otherworldly offensive rebounder. When I watch Sully go for boards, this is what I see. He's not great on the defensive glass because taller players give him problems, but he is still good. He is a pretty good defender, able to get low against taller players and he is quick on his feet for a guy his size. He is a great post player on offense with moves around the hoop you just don't see anymore. He may never become a great outside shooter, but he makes just enough that teams have to pay attention. He can be very inconsistent, but I think that is as much about the coach's game plan as any lack of skill. With his wide array of skills (and lack of competition) Jared "Sully" Sullinger is the new face of the Boston Celtics.


    • I'm going to try something new at the end of my posts. For the people reading this that don't like the sport I'm talking about or sports at all, I am going to just write some quick random thoughts that don't warrant full posts. The title will be "That's So Random", inspired by the character Ja'Mie from the HBO show Summer Heights High. If you like creepy and funny, check out that show.
    • Writing this section makes me feel like a young Andy Rooney or Peter Gammons. So do my increasingly bushy eyebrows. Sarah is a lucky girl.
    • Real quick on the deflated football scandal (no way I am calling that shit "Deflategate"). This scandal makes me embarrassed to be a sports fan. I'm not kidding. The fact that Bill Nye and Rosie O'Donnell are weighing in on this has to signal to people that it is has gotten out of control. The Patriots won 45-7. If people think that using underinflated footballs for the first half (when the game was still close) is the reason for the blowout then they should have a fucking lobotomy. Get over it. Whether they cheated or not, it's such a minor violation. Cheating is wrong no matter what, but the amount of attention you pay to each instance of cheating should be reflective of the violation. Fine the team, as the league rules dictate in this situation, and move on. 
    • Don't bother with Seth Rogen's The Interview. I saw it last night and I had very low expectations and even those weren't met. SPOILER ALERT I wanted to see it to see what the fuss was about, but it was actually incredibly tame towards North Korea, and borderline supportive! They actually make Kim Jong Un seem like a fun dude to hang out with and his death scene really isn't that bad. I know North Korea is crazy, but if they wanted to kill America over this piece of shit movie, they need to go see a therapist.
    • One thing I learned recently was how to spell "bogeyman." My mind is completely blown that there is only one "o" in that word. I'm much more afraid of a "boogie man" than I am a "bogeyman."
    • I may do a "Top Stand Up Specials" list at some point, but for now everyone should check out Bill Burr's most recent one on Netflix. Really you should check out anything he's ever done. He's brutally honest but somehow doesn't come off as ignorant, unless he admits that he is ignorant about something. From Bill: "First time I heard the story of Scientology I was like 'that is the dumbest shit I have ever heard in my life.'  While simultaneously still kinda believing that a woman that never got fucked had a baby that walked on water, died and came back three days later."
    • RIP Ernie Banks. Great baseball player. Mr. Cub. Owner of possibly the most perfect quote any man has ever uttered: "It's a great day for a ballgame, let's play two!"
    • It's the final season of Parks and Recreation. It is no longer as consistently hilarious as it used to be, but there are still great jokes and I really like watching all these characters. There was an episode that ran last week that focused entirely on Leslie and Ron and it was one of the best the show ever ran. It ended with this Willie Nelson song "Buddy". Got a little dusty in my apartment that night.