Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quick Rap

1. The Badgers are about to finish off an impressive win over Michigan on the road behind excellent play form Marcus Landry, Travon Hughes, and Jon Leuer. I hope people do not take the Bo Ryan era for granted.

2. Viking Fans Suck.

3. BP interviews Jack Z. If you're cool enough to subscribe.

4. The Bucks really do (sort of) own the Spurs.

5. Who's gonna win it?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Packers' String of Bad Luck


1. The Packers played the Cowboys before they acquired Roy Williams. They played the Cowboys before Tony Womo bwoke his pinky. Before they lost Felix Jones. Before Marion Barber got dinged up.

2. The Packers played Tampa Bay with a healthy Ernest Graham, before their defense imploded down the stretch (whether due to Kiffin moving on or not, they were pathetic in their last 4-5 games.)

3. The Packers played the Saints after the Saints had regained Marcus Colston AND found Lance Moore, and after they had replaced Reggie Bush with the Superior Pierre Thomas.

4. The Packers played the Texans after Matt Schaub recovered from his injury, and so missed the immortal Sage Rosenfels. They also had to face Steve Slaton as the every-down back instead of the Ahman Green platoon earlier in the year.

5. The Packers lost to Atlanta by 3 in a game where Mason Crosby missed a field goal. They lost to Tennessee in overtime. They lost to Minnesota by 1 in a game in which Mason Crosby missed a field goal. They lost to Chicago by 3 in a game in which Mason Crosby had 2 field goals blocked. Mason Crosby missed 7 FGs all season, and 4 of those 7 decided games.

6. Of the 10 Packer losses, 9 were to teams that finished .500 or better. The only truly bad loss was to Jacksonville.

7. The Packers had the misfortune of playing the incredibly deep Southern divisions, including Atlanta (Wild Card), Carolina (2 Seed, NFC), Tampa (Eliminated from playoffs on last day), New Orleans, Tennessee (#1 Seed, AFC), Indy (Wild Card), and Houston. The New York Jets, on the other hand, played the Western divisions including San Diego (Won division at 8-8), Arizona (won terrible division at 9-7, only outscored opponents by 1 point on the year), Oakland (terrible), Kansas City (terrible), St. Louis (Uber-terrible), Denver, San Francisco (terrible), and Seattle (terrible).

8. The Packers suffered tons of injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

9. The Packers had terrible fumble luck.

10. The entire loss to the Bears was one bit of bad luck after another.

11. From FO:

Green Bay ends up with 8.9 Pythagorean wins, which means the difference between their actual win-loss percentage and the Pythagorean projection is -.183. The Packers end up ranking as the ninth most "unlucky" team since the 1970 merger. As you might expect, eight of the other nine teams in the top ten improved the following year, most by three wins or more.

I would bet that even if the Packers regress a bit talent-wise next year that their record will still improve. Some of this has to regress to the mean. Mason Crosby’s misses will more frequently occur at low-leverage times. The schedule will probably be easier. They’ll catch more teams at good times. They probably won’t be stung by injuries as harshly.

So I’m optimistic going forward.

Finally, Michael Turner broke the dreaded 370 carry barrier in week 17. Fantasy players beware. That said, this guy makes a compelling case that there is no “curse of 370,” however, note that his criticism consists mainly of pointing out that getting 370 carries in the first place is an outlier, and that decline is simply regression to the mean. Good point, but it still means that a decline is likely, even if overuse is not the cause.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Great Favre Debate

So...Brett Favre for a third rounder is how it shakes out. What do you think? The season is over, did the Packers make the right move?


Aaron Rodgers: 28 TD|13 INT|4038 YDS|63.6%|34 SACKED|4 RTD|3 lost fumbles (10 total)

Brett Favre: 22 TD|22 INT|3472 YDS|65.7%|30 SACKED|1 RTD|3 lost fumbles (10 total)

QB Rating:
Rodgers - 93.8 (6th in the league)
Favre - 81.0 (21st in the league)

Packers: 6-10
Jets: 9-7
Titans (Kerry Collins): 13-3 (best record in NFL)

Rodgers was 4th in total passing yards, 8th in attempts per game (33.5)
Favre was 11th in total passing yards, 10th in attempts per game (32.6)
Yards per pass: Rodgers - 7.5 Favre: 6.7
Rodgers was 6th in passing yards per game: 252.4
Favre was 15th in passing yards per game: 217
Passing plays of 20 yards or more: Rodgers - 48 (5th in league) Favre - 40 (12th in league)
Passing plays of 40+: Rodgers - 16 (tied 1st) Favre - 7 (13th)
Aaron Rodgers was sacked 7th most in the league, Favre 10th. (I was surprised to see Cassel at the top).

Sunday, December 28, 2008


The Packers season may be over, but at least the Bears and Cowboys will be home as well. Also, Tony Romo? You are not good.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fuck these Refs

Trot out the 4th string team, bring a ton of publicity to this bowl game, and get an investigation started on this officiating crew. 

Absolutely pathetic.  There is nothing more crooked than college football.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Mike Cameron is Overpaid?

The past few weeks I've been diving into more and more.  Today, points to another exciting feature.  At the bottom of each player page is now a value section.  The section compares a player to replacement level, shows how many wins he is worth and what that equates to in real dollars.  Conveniently it also shows the players salary.  Here is Mike Cameron.  In 2008, he was worth 4.1 wins over replacement level.  This makes him worth $18.3 million last season.  He was paid $6.3 million.  On the other hand, is Melky Cabrera.  Last year, he was "worth" -0.1 wins.  Playing Cabrera cost the Yankees a tenth of a win.  He should have paid them $700,000 for letting him on the field.  As it was, the Yankees gave him a half million.  Essentially, while his salary was only worth $500k, the Yankees gave away $1.2 million and it cost them 1/10th a win. 

But, you say, Cabrera was good in 2006 and 2007!  He has potential!  His career value added?  0.1 wins.  In three of his 4 seasons he has been worse than replacement level, only helping the Yankees in 2006, when he was worth 1.2 wins over replacement.  The past two years he has been worth -0.6 over replacement level.  Over his seven season, Cameron has averaged 3.8 wins over replacement, bouncing back from a lull in 07 to be very good in 2008.

Don't let anyone tell you that Cameron is bad or that employing him is like lighting $10 million on fire.  In reality he was worth $18.3 million last year, and the only season he was worth less than $10 million was 2005 (when he was worth $7.2 million).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

CC Sabathia is only worth a second rounder

Yankees signed Mark Texiera, simultaneously fucking the Brewers.  

Broken system is broken.

Holy shit my anger may be tempered by Ken Rosenthal:
The Brewers expressed interest in Adam Dunn as they were mulling a Mike Camerontrade (Corey Hart would've played center).

Too bad Rosenthal is a filthy liar.

KUBIAK v. Reality

When Football Outsiders made their prognostications this year in Pro Football Prospectus, the projection for Aaron Rodgers was viewed by most people as very optimistic. That projection was as follows:

3729 yds, 25 TDs, 13 ints, and a rushing TD.

I discussed this with many people on the internets and in person, and most said they would be ecstatic if Rodgers could put up these kinds of numbers. Well, through 15 games Rodgers has put up this line:

3730 yards, 25 TD's, 13 ints, and 4 rushing TDs.

(Note: In the linked post at the old sports bar ESK jokingly (I think) predicted 5 rushing TDs, which is a distinct possibility).

Maybe the Pack will melt down against the Lions and Rodgers will throw 5 picks, but it looks quite likely that Rodgers will exceed this prediction by a substantial amount. (It really looks like the Outsiders were just off by a game, actually.)

The Outsiders had Greg Jennings as follows:

1044 yds, 9 TDs

In reality, through 15 games:

1191, 9 TDs

And Driver...

1033 yds, 8 TD.

In reality:

901, 4 TDs

Well, nobody's perfect, and those TDs were spread around elsewhere.

Where the Outsiders were wrong was Ryan Grant and the offensive line in general, (although they liked Brandon Jackson), however, my main point here is to show that Aaron Rodgers has exceeded any reasonable expectation, and in my opinion, he has exceeded some of the highest expectations that were set for him.

"Yeah there's lots of reasons the Bears won but Orton really seemed to make plays when it was do or die."

The title of this post is from a comment by frequent commenter (and valuable provider of dissent) Eric. And similar things have been said on the radio and in newspapers this morning, so my intent in not just to pick on Eric, but really?

Take a look at the last drives by both Orton and Rodgers, and you tell me where Orton "made plays" where Rodgers didn't.

On Rodgers' final drive the Packers got a good kick return from Will Blackmon aided by a mind-numbingly stupid penalty from Adrian Peterson. Rodgers then went 2/3 for 11 yards to get into solid field goal range, at which point the Packers chose to run three straight times. I have no problem with that strategy. Mason Crosby then had a 38 yard kick blocked.

On Orton's final drive he threw one nice pass to Greg Olsen which gained an extra 15 yards on a bullshit unnecessary roughness penalty. At this point, Matt Forte ran for 4 yards, -3 yards, caught a 14 yard pass (on a play where I would have been perfectly capable of throwing him the ball), ran for -1 yards, and 1 yard, at which point Robbie Gould kicked a 38 yard field goal (exactly the same distance as Mason Crosby's miss).

So yes, Orton was awesome at giving the ball to Matt Forte.

We should also point out that when it was not "do or die" Orton hit Charles Woodson and Nick Collins right between the numbers. Rodgers threw a pick too, sure, but it was a fluky tipped pass on a correct "hot route" read to Driver.

While it is literally true that Aaron Rodgers "failed to win another one," as Tony Kornheiser put it, lumping this one in with those losses where Rodgers threw last-drive interceptions is really unfair. Rodgers did everything he could, and everything that was asked of him in this game, and special teams let him down (over and over and over).

This was a fluky loss in general, as are most losses due to special teams play. From having two field goals blocked, to poor kick coverage, to Bush getting hit in the ass with a punt, this was about bad special teams and bad luck (and some high-leverage blown calls). If the Packers had not come into this game with such a bad record we would dismiss this as "just one of those games," which is what we should do anyway.

The fact is that Kyle Orton was terrible. He completed just over 50 percent of his passes, he threw two bad interceptions, and he only averaged 5.3 yards per pass. His rating was 48.7. Aaron Rodgers averaged 6.7 yards per pass, completed over 60% of his passes, had only one fluky pick, and in general, played pretty well. He also wasn't sacked despite constant pressure (he and Favre have both been sacked 30 times this year, for those who care about such things). Orton was sacked 3 times. He threw 2 TDs to Orton's 1. His rating was 87.6.

ESK's pithy response to this comment was perfect, so let's close with that:

E.S.K. said...
Orton blocked that field goal attempt?

Monday, December 22, 2008

AJ Hawk: You are embarrassingly bad at football

Embarrassingly bad.  Terribly, terribly bad at football.

I hate you.

Packers-Bears Open Thread

This is the biggest game we have left. We can still make Bear fans miserable.

Go Pack!

I Should Not Listen To Sports Talk Radio

"Anyone who says that the Packers are better off with Rodgers this year is just being silly. The Packers lost 8 games over last year and the Jets gained like 5. That's not all Favre but it's some Favre."

-Mark Belling

Mark Belling is a moron about basically everything, and sports is no exception. Mark Belling graced my radio because it's Packer/Bear week and all other stations were also intolerable, and saying basically the same thing. This is just stupid.

Look, Brett may have been better had he stayed in Green Bay, but we'll never know. What we do know is:

1. Brett has been average in New York, and downright terrible down the stretch. In the last 4 weeks, Favre's average QB rating is 57.95, and he's thrown 6 picks and only 1 TD.

2. Favre has talented receivers in Lavranues Coles, Jericho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller.

3. Favre has a solid running attack to help him out. Thomas Jones is 5th in the league in rushing and has a very good 4.6 YPC average. Leon Washington averages 5.5 YPC, and is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield.

4. Favre has a good defense behind him, especially against the run (at least until lately).

In short, there are not many excuses for Favre's numbers, and Favre's numbers just aren't very good. Let's compare Favre/Rodgers/Pennington

Favre - 67% completions, 3239 yards, 21 TDs, 19 Picks, 6.7 Average, 84.0 QB Rating.
Rodgers - 63.5% Completions, 3470 Yards, 23 TDs, 12 Picks, 7.4 Average, 91.8 QB Rating. In one fewer game.
Pennington - 67% Completions, 3,453 Yards, 17 TDs, 7 Picks, 7.7 Average, 96.4 QB Rating

If Brett Favre wasn't Brett Favre, he would clearly be considered the worst of this group. Favre has once again been a turnover machine, but he's not had the efficiency or big play ability of either Rodgers or Pennington.

If you prefer advanced stats, they shake out like this:

1. Pennington - DYAR = 976, 8th overall, DVOA = 23%, 6th overall
2. Rodgers - DYAR = 818, 11th overall, DVOA = 16.3%, 11th overall
3. Favre - DYAR = 428, 19th overall, DVOA = 1.0%, 21st overall, just behind the 49ers Shaun Hill.

In short, there are no statistical measurements, other than Favre Whimsy Ratio (FWR), in which anyone can say that it is silly to claim that the Packers are better off with Rodgers, and FWR is a stat that I just made up right now. There is NO GOOD ARGUMENT that Favre is currently a better QB than Rodgers OR Chad Pennington.

The Jets added other players who addressed bigger needs (like Faneca and Jenkins) and the Packers problems have been chronicled on this site many times (here and here for instance). To the extent that Aaron Rodgers is a problem, (and he has been pretty rough late in games), he's a very, very minor problem. If anyone should be getting credit, it's Pennington. Who the hell is even on the Dolphins? Devon Besse and Greg Camarillo?

Anyway, I apologize for being a broken record, but this drives me nuts. I know people are unhinged about Favre and can't look at anything having to do with Favre in any rational way, but the fact is that we have a bunch of data this year, and that data tells us that Favre has been pretty bad on a winning team, while Rodgers has been pretty good on a losing team (which I would argue is more impressive than being good on a good team), and Pennington has been pretty good on a good team.

And again, I LIKE Favre. I really do. He is one of my all time favorite players. I own a Favre autographed football, a signed picture, and a rookie card. I've sometimes, in my weaker moments, contemplated creating a bifurcated Favre/Molitor Jersey.

But facts are facts.

The Old Man And The Snow

The snow in Seattle and the swirling winds of the Meadowlands will probably be the death of the Jets this year. As those of us who've watched Brett Favre play over the last two years now know with as much certainty as you can know anything;

Brett Favre isn't good in the cold.

I don't want to hear any comments about Brett's record under x degrees and other such nonsense. It's irrelevant. Brett USED to be good in the cold. Very very good. The fact is, however, that the older you are, the harder it gets to be cold.

Which is too bad, because the Pack could use a higher draft pick.

By the Way...

If Brett Favre's leadership voodoo is what turned the Jets around this year, just think how good the Dolphins would have been with Brett instead of Chad Pennington, as Chad Pennington apparently brings no leadership voodoo to the table. They might have gone 16-0.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Depressing Packer Stat Of The Week

It's tough to pick just one, but if you're wondering about just how bad the run defense is, well...

Green Bay tackle Michael Montgomery has a stop rate of 43 percent on running plays, as his average run tackle comes after a 3.5-yard gain. No other defensive lineman with at least 25 run tackles has a stop rate of less than 50 percent.

Emphasis mine. So no other defensive lineman with any sort of playing time is even remotely close to being as bad at stopping the run as is Mr. Montgomery. Nice.

In a bad weather game this Monday look for Matt Forte to be huge.

And don't be at all surprised if Detroit gets its first win in week 17. The Lions can't play defense, but the way the Packers have been playing defense lately, Kevin Johnson and Megatron might be able to do enough damage to get the Lions over the hump. Plus they'll have all of that intel from Brett.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Minor Deals

The Brewers signed OFs Trot Nixon and Chris Duffy to minor league deals.

Nixon is an intriguing little signing. He was, in his younger days, a high OBP guy who could hit for some power, and he's been especially productive against righties. He basically didn't play in 2008, but if there's anything left in the tank, he's worth holding on to. PECOTA is actually a pretty big fan of Trot.

Here's his 2007 scouting report:

For a fan favorite in his walk year, Nixon had a rough go. Slowed by a groin strain, he still hit .311/.415/.455 in the first half--short in the power department, the result of less leg in his swing, but still a performance to be reckoned with. Things fell apart from there; Nixon missed all of August with a Grade 2 biceps strain and a scary staph infection. Upon returning, he hit just .147/.266/.250 in September, hardly an advertisement for his next contract. Whether he returns to Boston for a farewell tour or signs elsewhere, he won`t be critical to anyone`s plans given his injury history, but he can still be useful in a reduced role.

Chris Duffy is old for a prospect. He's a speedster who can play some center, but he's had confidence issues in the past, and while he has shown flashes, he's likely a 4th OF at best, and probably not even that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tempered Enthusiasm

Doug Melvin was thwarted in his attempt to significantly downgrade a position of relative strength, according to Haudricourt.

So, the Brewers are planning on starting the season with Mike Cameron in center, and I am pretty damned stoked about it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


If Texieria signs the reported deal with the Red Sox, Mike Lowell and Manny Delcarmen will be in Milwaukee and JJ Hardy will be in Boston.  Other players will be involved.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Your Packer Open Thread, And Some Media Criticism

I'm at work today, and I listened to WTMJ while getting here. At 10:15 Dennis Krause brought up the "fact" that Aaron Rodgers had trouble converting third downs all season and cited his 1-10 performance on third downs last week. No one, of course, checked this "fact" because as we all know, facts have no place on the radio.

Well, here on the interwebs our standards are a bit higher. I'm sure that the Packers 3rd down conversion rate is much lower after last week, but before last week the Packers were converting 44.4% of their third downs compared to only 37.8% for their opponents.

The fact is that until last week, Aaron Rodgers was a stud on third down.

They then went on to discuss how Rodgers needs to develop that "Mojo" and that "Magic" like a certain other quarterback. The round table on TMJ stated many times that "Rodgers wasn't the biggest problem" while talking about the 800 problems that he has apparently caused. Krause said that the Rodgers was "6th on his list of problems" and they all agreed that Rodgers is clearly no Favre, which you can tell just by looking at their records. He also stated that sometimes a QB just need to "be a leader and elevate his team."

That's our problem. Not enough Aaron Rodgers pep-talks to Johnny Jolly.

They also mentioned that the offense isn't as productive as last year's 13-3 squad. Fortunately, I can do basic math, and have access to the internet, where you can look up the fact that the Packers scored 435 points last year, and that through 13 games the Packers have scored 355 points this year. If you prorate that number for the rest of the season, you will discover that this Packer team is on pace to score 436 points this year, and is therefore a better offensive team.

While you're checking those PF numbers you may also note the PA numbers and note that all of last year the Pack gave up 291 points while this year they have already given up 319, and are on pace to give up 392, or over 100 more than all of last year.

But it's the offense's fault.

At this point I had to turn off my radio because listening to the show was robbing me of valuable IQ points and in another 15 minutes I would have lost the ability to drive or operate the radio.

Look, last week our commenters made a pretty good case that Rodgers has been bad "close and late," but he hasn't been as bad as that 0-6 indicates (the defense farted away Carolina and McCarthy farted away Minnesota), and on my list of problems with the Packers he does not appear. He is not a problem. He's pretty good.

And no one thinks he's better than the current Favre? Really? They discussed this as if the mere proposition is silly, and dismissed out of hand the notion that the Jets are better because of Alana Faneca and Kris Jenkins. (How's that Pennington guy doing?)

Look, I don't think it's a slam dunk that the current Rodgers is better than the current Favre, but he's put up better numbers (advanced and normal) with an inferior running game.

The lesson is, don't listen to the radio.

Anyway, we've got Packers-Jaguars in about 45 minutes. I know a bunch of people who like the Packers in this game, but I'm not seeing it. The Jags are bad at passing. The Packers can't stop the run. The not-very-good Fred Taylor is out, which means that the Jags will go with all MJD, all the time today. I expect him to have about 200 total yards and at least 2 scores. The Jags are bad, but this is a bad mathcup for the Pack.

Still, if we can pull this off and the Vikings go down our playoff odds will increase to like 10%.

Go Pack!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Some of our readers haven't figured out comments, or e-mails, and yet they've managed to find my address and send me actual mail. Please stop doing this. But in the meantime, let's answer a few.

Dear Brewed Sports Guys,

Why do you all of guys have such a hardon for Adam Dunn? Dude hits like .200 and he's slow. Plus he strikeouts alot. The Brewers already have a bunch of strikeout guys. Shouldn't we be targeting fast guys who can disrupt pitchers, steel a base or two, and do the little things? What does Tony Gwynn need to do to get a fair chance?

Fanklin in New Holstein

"Fanklin," I think you may have crafted your letter just to make ESK's head explode, but let's deal with Adam Dunn. First of all, Adam Dunn has hit 40 or more home runs in 6 consecutive seasons. Home runs are good. If you combine the number of home runs hit by Tony Gwynn Sr. and Tony Gwynn Jr., you get 135 home runs over a period of 23 years. (Of those 135 home runs, Tony Gwynn, Sr. has, uhm, 135 of them.) Adam Dunn has 135 HRs just on check-swings.

Adam Dunn also reaches base roughly 38% of the time. He is able to do so because if pitchers throw him bad pitches, he doesn't swing at them. If pitchers throw him good pitches, he hits the ball so hard that the force of the impact of the ball on high energy particles could destroy the world in a simulated "new big bang."

No, wait, that's actually the large hadron collider. But Adam Dunn and the large hadron collider get mixed up all the time.

Tony Gwynn Jr., on the other hand, is often confused with a rock tumbler. They both involve "grittiness." They both sometimes produce pretty results that aren't worth a damn thing. The biggest difference between the two is that nerds like rock tumblers, whereas stupid people who don't understand baseball like Tony Gwynn and his .300 OBP.

In all fairness Franky, I'm not sure if Adam Dunn is such a good idea anymore. When he does decline it will probably happen hard and fast, and he's about to leave his prime. Anyone who signs him is risking the dreaded "Travis Hafner" decline. But Adam Dunn, and the large hadron collider, are both risks worth taking.

So to answer your question in terms you can understand, Adam Dunn is good at baseball, and Tony Gwynn is good at having the last name "Gwynn."

Dear PaulNoonan,

Why no Badger hoops coverage? I saw that you have a Marquette guy, and that's cool and stuff, but where's the love for Bo?


Mumia A, Madison

That's a fair criticism Mumia. The short answer is that I haven't seen enough of Bucky to provide cogent analysis. When football is over you can expect both our Badger and Golden Eagle coverage to increase, but really, at this point everyone is still getting a feel for everything.

I will say that the Badgers may have a tougher time putting up the kind of dominant Big 10 season that we've come to expect from Bo's crew. For starters, they seem to be relying more on the 3-point shot this year, which will give them a higher variance, but aside from that it also looks like the Big 10 is better than usual. Michigan and Purdue seem to be vastly improved, and when Michigan State gets healthy look out. If not for Tom Crean's terrible Indiana team and an absolutely loaded Big East, you could make the case that the Big Ten is actually the strongest conference in Basketball. Heck they almost won the challenge this year!

That said, we'll try to stay on top of Marcus Landry and crew. If you have any other comments, feel free Mumia.

(That's just a little of the subliminal, radical political commentary we hide in every Brewed Sports post!)

Dear Mr. Noonan,

What do you think of Bill Simmons and his current spat with ESPN? Do you think his act is played out? Where would he go if they fired him?

Bill S., Los Angeles

Is Bill Simmons played out? Bill Simmons has been played out for like however many years the internet has existed. How many fucking Rocky columns can you write? Look, I like Rocky just fine, but come on, it's not that good.

Bill Simmons has experienced a phenomenon that happens to everyone as they get older. It hits some people more slowly, but it gets everyone eventually. And that phenomenon is as follows. Are you 25 years old or younger? Well let me tell you something. What you like sucks.

Now I'm smarter than the average bear, so I know that what you like doesn't really suck. And that you probably don't know who Yogi Bear is. No, Bear. Not Berra, I know you know who Yogi Berra is, but there's this cartoon bear know what, never mind. Anyway, I'm sure you will produce some timeless music and classic movies, but at some point you lose the ability to detect these things. I mean, Justin fucking TImberlake is basically Michael Jackson now, isn't he? (Not the pedophile part, the world's biggest pop-star part.) He's had staying power, he's super famous, he has a ton of hits. Someone like me cannot process this fact in his brain, but it's true.

Anyway, Bill has tried to keep up, and I applaud his effort, but it's getting kinda sad. Dude's like 40 and still watching the real world. I didn't even know that The Real World was still on. I guess they have those Real World v. Road Rules type shows too. No 40-year-old man should ever watch MTV for any reason. Bill tries to keep up with the Zeitgeist, but he's really pushing creepy. The first time he drops a twilight reference it's all over.

But while most Simmons' columns are pretty painful these days, he can still be useful. He interviewed David Stern this week and asked him some genuinely hard questions. Bill's forte was always taking the fans' perspective to the national level, and he hit Stern with Donaghy, the Artest Brawl, the massive salary dump by multiple NBA teams to lure LeBron in TWO years, and his longevity. It was a solid interview, and Simmons would do well to schedule more chats like that.

Bill, however, is losing this edge too. Most Simmons' fans suspected that LA would destroy the Sports Guy perspective, and it basically has. Aside from bordering on creppy-old-man-ness, he's also started talking like a poor man's version of entourage. Borrrring.

As for the feud, I suspect he's gone as soon as his contract is up, but that's a mistake by both parties. If ESPN were on the ball, they would give him complete editorial immunity. I know they don't want an ESPN employee ripping their own announcers, and I understand that to some extent, but ESPN needs to realize that people actually like bad announcers because they're fun to pick apart. I'm glad that Joe Theisman is gone, but damn it if I didn't talk about the idiot for a good half-hour every Monday.

This answer is now bordering on Simmons length, so I should probably put a stop to it. One last thing.

Bill. Enough with the Milwaukee fat jokes. They're not that funny, and we're not that fat.

Dear Sirs,

How can you still defend Aaron "Blodgers." Favre is 8-5 and Aaron "Blodgers" is 5-8. Winning is the goal, isn't it? You're just a bunch of Thompson-fellating Favre haters. Now if you'll excuse me I have to call Jack Del Rio.

Bert Farve, Kiln New Jersey

We've dealt with this, but I'm more curious as to what you were going for with "Blodgers." Were you trying for Blow-gers but couldn't find the hyphen key? Are you a big Harry Potter fan comparing Aaron to the injury-minded Quidditch balls?

Have a good chat with Jack. Maybe you can join he and Matt Millen in the woods for some chopping.

Sports Jerks,

Please come up with a better overtime for soccer.

David B, Los Angeles

I'm glad to see that we have so much of a presence on the West coast. Let's, almost any overtime would be better than penalty kicks. The problem with soccer is that playing simple sudden death could result in some games that are as long as cricket matches. And while Hockey can have a decent shoot-out, there's not really a 1-on-1 equivalent in soccer.

How about this. Each team picks like 5 players, like a shoot-out, and then instead of a shootout, they play HORSE. So the first guy takes a shot from somewhere with the opposing goaltender in goal, and if he makes it, the first player on the other team has to replicate the shot against his opponent's goaltender. You wouldn't necessarily have to go all the way to HORSE. Maybe just PIG. Although they would have to come up with some stupid soccer name for it, like when they changed Sudden Death to The Golden Goal. They could call this "tie" or "dive" or "gentlemanly one-upsmanship". Something lame like that.

OK, one more:

Noonans and that K guy and Benjamin, and that guy on the sidebar who never posts,

I'm in my fantasy football super bowl this weekend, and I have to choose between LeRon McClain, Dominek Hixon, and Bobby Engram. McClain plays the Steelers, and Hixon is hurt. What should I do?

Rod B, Springfield, IL

Look man, if you've gotten this far without asking me, what makes you think I can help you now? Chances are you haven't been relying on this position much anyway. And besides, most fantasy advice is bad anyway, especially on the radio. I heard some personality today recommend Ladanian Tomlinson over Dominic Rhodes. Now Tomlinson has a pretty good matchup with the Chiefs, but Dominic Rhodes is almost certainly starting, and getting most of the carries against the Detroit Lions. Also, Tomlinson isn't good any more. And while you may be worried about Addai stealing carries from Rhodes, you should be just as worried about Sproles in SD.

The Colts are going to beat the Lions and Rhodes is going to grind out the end of the game. Will SD blow out KC? Maybe, but that's a dicier play.

In answer to your actual question, start Hixon if he's healthy, but keep in mind that McClain was actually OK against Pit last time they played. None of these options are good, so don't overthink it and don't second guess.

Until next time, stop stalking me, all of you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prepare for the worst: Melky Cabrera

In his on going quest to take all of the power out of the Brewers lineup, Doug Melvin is closing in on a Cameron for Cabrera trade. The addition of Mike Lamb and Melky Cabrera into regular roles will drastically cut down on strike outs. It will also slash run production, on-base average, and power while vaulting the club to the top of the charts in terms of weak ground balls.

Good God. Melly Cabrera has terrible numbers for a catcher, much less an outfielder. This move would be absolutely terrible for the Brewers, even considering that the Yankees would benevolently throw in a pitching prospect, though supposedly not one as "promising" as Ian Kennedy.

Apparently the only road block was Melvin's hopes that Cameron would trump union demands and keep Sabathia in Milwaukee. Since that didn't happen, Melvin is free to slash some payroll.

Supposedly this deal could happen as soon as today.


UPDATE: More New York papers are reporting it as a done deal. Brewers 09 season: date of death 12/11/2008.

Attanassio Lowers Expectations

Owner Mark Attanassio sounds like a guy who is a bit snakebit:
"One of the challenges I have is buying into a falling market. When you buy into a rising market, you can't move fast enough. The challenge here is that, look, any investment you made in 2008 on Wall Street, 12 months ago, 12 weeks ago, 12 days ago, even 12 hours ago, you are down. We have to be careful with what is going on here."
If he is anything like me (on an exponentially grander scale) Attanassio has gotten a bit of a rude awakening over the last twelve months and will hesitate to spend money on just about anything, it's human nature. Sadly, it seems this is carrying over to his baseball club:
Attanasio knows that Melvin has proven adept in previous seasons at signing players late in the winter. "We think we will see some bargains at the last minute," Attanasio said. "We'll keep our powder dry a little bit."
I'm not seeing many bargains. While contracts on the whole have not increased at a rate commensurate to previous years, there aren't a lot of cheap players on the market that can help this team. I think Randy Johnson will be forced to lower his expectations a bit, but giving $10 million to an ancient (and still effective) pitcher for 2-3 years is by no means a "bargain."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sign Adam Dunn

that is all

The Putrid Defense

Michael David Smith's Every Play Counts column focuses on the Packers' defensive woes:

The decision to line up Charles Woodson at safety makes no sense. It's not that Woodson can't play safety, it's that the Packers couldn't compensate for his absence at cornerback. Williams started at cornerback and was frequently left alone in man coverage, and he couldn't handle it.

On the Texans' third offensive play, wide receiver Kevin Walter ran deep down the left sideline, and Schaub underthrew him. The problem for the Packers is that Walter had already blown past Williams before Schaub had released the ball, meaning Williams had his back turned, trying to chase Walter, and didn't know the ball had been underthrown. That allowed Walter to come back to it and grab it at the 30-yard line. Packers safety Nick Collins came over to try to help but ended up colliding with Williams, giving Walter an easy stroll to the end zone.

Perceptions of Strength: Volume 1

So, the Brewers are officially without C.C. Sabathia.  It's a damn shame, but not the least bit surprising.

My question, and a question I will pose after each notable transaction is this:

How many games does THIS team win.  (Base it on who is on the roster now, today).

I have 74.

New York Post Calls It

After three straight days of face-to-face meetings between GM Brian
Cashman and Sabathia, the big lefty decided he wants to spend the next
six years of his career as a Yankee. The decision came late last night
after Cashman flew to see Sabathia at his home in San Francisco. By the
time the meeting was concluded, Sabathia had informed the Yankees that he had made his decision to call New York his baseball home, the Post has learned.

There are still minor hurdles to finalize, notably that Sabathia
must pass a physical. But after so much belief that Sabathia was
stalling because he wanted to avoid New York, he agreed to the largest
pitching contract in major league history, at least $140 million.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do The Packers Need An Overhaul?

I don't think so. Most NFL teams do not. A few good draft picks, and a few correct free agent acquisitions and you can fix anything not managed by Matt Millen. Look at the Falcons.

Football teams have "Cascading Personnel Disasters" just like players have cascade injuries. A few of you even identified one of these in the comments to the Overhaul post. It is very likely that the linebackers have taken a step back because of the defensive line. Fix the defensive line, and you also fix your linebackers.

It's important to keep this in mind. The front 7 isn't a 7-player problem. With a healthy Cullen Jenkins it's probably a 1 or at most a 2 player problem.

Offense is in a similar bind, especially now that Tauscher is quite possibly done as a Packer. The offensive line really could use an overhaul, but there are two problems with this:

1. Offensive line continuity is very important.

2. The Packer blocking strategy is very complicated.

That said, now is clearly the time to do it. One good thing about offensive lines is that apart from left tackle, talent tends to be fairly deep in the draft.

As for the skill positions, I think they're in pretty good shape. Greg Jennings is one of the 5 best receivers in football, and Donald Driver is still productive. Jordy Nelson looks like he'll be OK. And running backs are highly fungible, and not worth worrying about.

A few tweaks here and a few tweaks there, plus a regression to the mean in fumble recovery rate, and you're probably back in the playoffs.


There are bigger issues at work. Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy made some awful and preventable decisions, and the pattern seems to be "their guys" at the expense of good guys. Here is what stands out to me.

1. Justin Harrell. Almost literally the elephant in the room, much interior defensive line was cast aside in favor of this bust of busts. Like Cleditus Hunt without the talent, Harrell has acquired a reputation as lazy and injury prone. The poor packer run defense starts here. The Harrell pick was ripped by almost every talking head at the time, and all proved to be correct.

(Players taken after Harrell in the draft, by the way, include Aaron Ross,Dwayne Bowe, Jon Beason, Greg Olsen, Anthony Gonzalez, Eric Weddle, and Lamarr Woodley.)

Picking Harrell was bad enough, but sticking with him made it much worse.

2. The Lack of Running Back By Committee

Remember Noah Herron? And DeSean Wynn? These guys used to get a few carries now and then. Ryan Grant played great last year, and he earned his increased role, but Brandon Jackson and that rookie who got hurt should have started seeing the field more when Grant struggled. And having Noah around to pick up a blitz now and then would have been nice.

But once again, the problem was bigger than that. The Packers gave Ryan Grant a pretty big (though not disastrous) new contract. This goes against everything that the zone blocking scheme, and Ted Thompson, have done in the past. Running Backs simply aren't valuable. Look at zone blocking exhibit A out in Denver. Peyton Hillis was tearing it up until he screwed up his hamstring this week. He was, by my count, their 7th RB. And by all accounts the Packers best RB spends most of his time on the Pine so that Ryan Grant can try to live up to his contract.

More options may have put Grant on the pine earlier. Stubbornness, again, reared its ugly head.

3. The fucking punter.

God I hate the punter. Ron Wolfe's biggest regret was losing Craig Hentrich, and this should have been a warning to all future GMs. Punting is important. It has definitely cost this team at least 1 game this year. And it is all on the GM.

4. Woodson to safety.

Don't move your best cover corner to safety if you play man-to-man. Just don't. It's really stupid.

5. Penalties, Penalties, Penalties.

The Overhaul

This leads us to one obvious conclusion. This GM and coach cannot be trusted to execute a complete overhaul. The more decisions they make, the worse it will be. This team is not far away in spite of their recent pathetic nature, but they need an intelligent front office to make it happen. Let's not burn it down when the arsonists will be responsible for rebuilding.

Hope Springs Eternal

According to the Outsiders, the Packers still have a 3.3% chance of making the playoffs. The Colorado Rockies once overcame taller odds than that and made the World Series, so stranger things literally have happened.

(Remember, that sequence of events required a Tony Gwynn, Jr. triple! What are the odds of that alone?)

Locker Room Presence

In the future, whenever anyone talks about someone's presence in the locker room I'm just going to assume they mean this.

Brewers "Solve" Third Base Hole

Mike Lamb has been signed.  Sadly, there is no "this paves the way for a Bill Hall trade" silver lining.  Haudricourt says the Brewers will go into 2009 with a Lamb/Hall platoon.  I can only hope they hit 9th.  He also seemed pretty stoked about Melvin choosing Lamb over Branyan, since it'll cut down strike outs.  It will also severely reduce the clubs on-base average and power numbers.

But hey, weak ground outs are pretty cool too, right?

This is downright depressing, but not as depressing as 90 losses will be if this and Todd Coffey are the biggest splashes the moustache is planning on making.

We kept the wrong suit.

Monday, December 8, 2008


It's patently obvious that this Packer team is not good. The defense is atrocious. The Texans had 4 turnovers and still won a road football game in shitty weather. What the hell? Kevin Walter looked like Randy Moss. Matt Schaub looked like Troy Aikman. The Packers secondary looked like crap. The pass rush was as absent as any sort of half time adjustments to the drubbing. Make no mistake, the Packers defense got absolutely killed yesterday.

549 yards is a God damned indictment of everything and everyone involved with the defense. AJ Hawk is inches from bust. Tramon Williams is inconsistent, Brady Poppinga is a terrible player (anyone who gets burned that badly by Vonte Fucking Leach should probably just open a vein) and Desmond Bishop is a joke. Who plays on the opposite end from Kampman? Exactly. Do the Packers currently have interior defensive linemen?

Leach was wide open in the right flat when Brady Poppinga read run and
let him go. Said Poppinga, "Just one of those plays you get caught up
on the run."

I wish you'd get caught up by a bus.

Bob Sanders is not the answer to any question other than "Name a shitty defensive coordinator."

That was God damned embarrassing. Unless Brett Favre all of a sudden turned into Lawrence Taylor during his stint in New York this team is no better with him on the field. I don't want to hear it.

Ryan Grant sucks. Tony Moll sucks. Daryn Colledge sucks.

Penalties start at the top. This team is not good enough to give up 80 penalty yards per game. This is Mike McCarthy's problem. Mike McCarthy, to put it eloquently, also sucks. Too many deep routes the first three quarters, too much conservative play in the last six minutes. This pattern holds true for every game. Six minutes left? McCarthy puckers up like Ned Beatty when he hears Dueling Banjos. Wasting a time out on that two point conversion. Really shit head? Really?

Ted Thompson needs to make changes. From the coaching staff to kick coverage, this team needs an overhaul, because that shit yesterday was pathetic.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

ESPN And Sports Mysticism

I was listening to ESPN radio's day time coverage of all of the NFL games today. I don't remember who the hosts were, but one asked the other what the biggest problem with the Packers was and he said:

"I really think it's leadership, I think they really miss Brett Favre out there."

At the beginning of the season this may have been a reasonable assertion (I guess), but right now it's really stupid. The Packers have a lot of problems, but Aaron Rodgers isn't one of them, and Brett Favre has no effect his own defense. None.

Aaron Rodgers
has a higher passer rating than Brett Favre, more yards, more yards per attempt, an equal number of touchdowns, and fewer interceptions. We got a better QB, and a draft pick.

How can you answer that question by picking QB? How about Cullen Jenkins? Bigby and Rouse? Nick Barnett (both for underperforming and getting hurt)? A.J. Hawk for underperforming?

This commentator also claimed that the Packers have rushed the ball well this year. Ryan Grant averages 4 yards per carry. He only has 4 runs of over 20 yards all year, with 3 fumbles. If you rank players by YPC, you will find the following players ahead of Ryan:

Matt Forte, Kevin Smith, Ray Rice, Mewelde Moore, Ricky Williams, Kenny Watson, Michael Pittman, Brandon Jackson, Ernest Graham, Julius Jones, Garrett Wolfe, Darren McFadden, Larry Johnson, Peyton Hillis, Maurice Morris, Jacob Hester, Kevin Faulk, J.J. Arrington, and the bad Adrian Peterson.

The fact is that Ryan Grant has had a bad year. In 30 seconds an on-air ESPN employee blamed the Packer woes on one of their strongest positions while praising one of their weakest, and not mentioning their actual defensive problems.

My day is already ruined, they could at least provide some actual analysis.

Packer v. Texans: Open Thread

It's cold outside, it's cold inside, and it's really cols at Lambeau. So I hear.

I'm not sure if the cold helps the Pack or hurts the Pack, but typically teams from warm climates or domes play poorly in cold weather, so it will probably, at the very least, slow down the Texans a bit.

Minnesota plays Detroit, and if the Packers fall today all hope will basically be gone.

Go Pack!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

UW-MU Preview

The 115th installment of the Wisconsin - Marquette Basketball game is tonight at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Wisconsin leads the overall series 62-52, but over the last six years the teams have split 3-3. Both teams are currently 6-1, the Badgers having lost to UConn in the Virgin Islands, and Marquette losing to the University of Dayton last week in Chicago.

The teams match up well against each other with Wisconsin having an advantage in the frontcourt and Marquette generally having an advantage in the backcourt. The two teams are comparable in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency. Marquette has the better raw offensive efficiency at 116 pts/100 poss., but when strength of schedule is factored in Wisconsin has the better efficiency at 115 pts. to Marquette's 110. Both teams allow their opponents 95 pts./100 poss.

The biggest difference between the two teams is the pace at which they play. This should come as no surprise as this is the general MO for both of these teams for all of recent memory. Wisconsin is one of the slowest paced teams in the country averaging 61 poss/game, while Marquette is one of the fastest at 76 poss/game.

Two of Wisconsin's strengths this season have been its defensive rebounding and its outside shooting. Wisconsin is shooing 43% from behind the arc as a team. Therefore, Wisconsin's early success has been on a strategy of limiting the number of possessions, while maximizing their offensive opportunities by making many of their 3's while limiting opponents' second chances on the defensive end. Wisconsin's biggest weakness this season has been their 3 point defense, where they are allowing opponents to make baskets at nearly the same rate.

Marquette, on the other hand, has succeeded this season at getting to the free throw line and at grabbing offensive rebounds. Marquette has been at its best when its guards drive to the basket, which opens up passing lanes and often results in getting fouled. Marquette's biggest weakness has been its shooting in general, but more specifically its 3-point shooting. This may also contribute to Marquette's higher offensive rebound rate.

Therefore, in the game tonight, the biggest thing to look for is which team controls the pace of the game. When Marquette is able to run, they will have the advantage, while when Wisconsin can slow the game down, they will control the game. The teams' weaknesses (3-point defense, 3-point shooting) should generally cancel out. At Marquette's end of the court, we will need to watch who is winning the battle for the boards. Is Wisconsin getting lots of defensive rebounds, limiting Marquette's scoring opportunities? or is Marquette getting the offense boards, and the second chances to make up for their generally lower shooting percentage?

It should make for a very good game, for those of you who have ESPNU, as the game was bumped down to show more of the college football games on tonight.

Packer (and other) Facts

1. By Pythagorean Record the Packers should have between 6-7 wins. The Eagles are the stars of this category, as they should have between 7-8 wins, and have a better point differential than everyone other than New York and Tampa Bay in the NFC. In fact, if you look at the top 6...

1. NY - 146
2. TB - 80
3. PHI - 70
4. ATL - 56
5. CAR - 54
6. GB - 39
6. DAL - 39

2. Teams with worse differentials but better records than the Pack include New Orleans, Minnesota, Chicago, and Washington.

3. It's easy to blame differentials like this on poor coaching, but luck has at least something to do with it. Opponents have lost only 3 fumbles to the Packers all year. (Of course, they've been extremely lucky with pick-6s, so maybe it balances out.)

4. If the Packers lose tomorrow, you can bet that Steve Slaton will have a lot to do with it. The diminutive running back is coming off of a 182 yard, 2 TD performance. On the season he has scored 9 TDs, only 1 fumble, and could go over 1000 yards rushing on Sunday despite platooning for the first several games this year.

5. It is dumb to move your best cover corner to strong safety:

The Packers have moved Charles Woodson, one of the best cornerbacks in the league over the last year and a half, to strong safety in order to cover for injuries to Aaron Rouse and Atari Bigby -- even though cornerback is more important than safety on a team that plays primarily man coverage. Wouldn't it make sense to move Tramon Williams (8.5 yards allowed per pass and 53 percent Success Rate according to our game charting) to safety and let Woodson (4.3 yards allowed per pass and 68 percent Success Rate) continue to cover receivers one-on-one?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hair of the Dog, 12/4/08

The Bucks defeated the Chicago Bulls 97-90 last night. Leading the way for Milwaukee was the duo of... Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Villanueva? Seriously. The box score shows a pretty all-around "attack" with Jefferson scoring 21, Charlie V scoring 23 and a bunch of guys scoring around 10. But Charlie V added 10 rebounds, while Gadzuric had 14 rebounds and 11 points in 21 minutes. Both guys provided huge sparks. It was Gadzuric in the 2nd quarter, scoring 7 and grabbing 8 boards to help take the Bucks to a 12-point halftime lead. Then, in the 4th quarter, following a 3rd quarter run by the Bulls, Charlie V took over scoring 9 straight points. Both of these guys looks far better than they have in the past. This bodes well for the Bucks. If Redd and Bogut can get back to form, the upcoming schedule should treat us well. The Bucks are now 8-12 and still in second-last in their division. They take on Charlotte (7-11) at home on Friday and then head to the road for 3 games at Lakers (15-2), Phoenix (11-8) and Golden State (5-13).

Greg Jennings, Ruvell Martin and James Jones were at the game last night sitting court side with their bodyguards (or perhaps drug dealers). At a time-out, Bango dunked over Greg Jennings. That guy is an awesome athlete. Jennings should introduce him to Ted Thompson.

As a side note, in a brilliant display of marketing genius, you can now go to a Bucks game on a Friday night and get an upper level seat and all-you-can-eat hotdogs, soda, popcorn and nachos for $30. Ewww.

Besides the sad loss of the King of the Three True Outcomes to Jack Z and the Mariners, there's not much news on the Brewers' free agents and acquisitions. If I'm reading the CC Sabathia news correctly, the only offers on the table are the Brewers' 100 Million over 5 years and the Yankees' 140 Million of 6 years. Tony Reagins says the Angels are not focusing on Sabathia. I'm still not super optimistic about it, but it does seem like the Brewers' odds of signing him are getting better. Although CC's wife wants him to pitch for the Giants. That scares me a bit. I wonder how that would affect the Giants' new ticket pricing scheme?

The club is trying something new with ticket sales in a few tough-to-sell upper-deck outfield sections of its waterfront ballpark for 2009: cost based on demand. The walk-up sales price for up to about 2,000 seats could even go up or down on game day. The change would be minimal, say somewhere between 25 cents and $2. Team president Larry Baer calls it "dynamic pricing" and figures it might just become the way of the future for professional sports franchises. The Giants have partnered with a software company that will make it possible to quickly change the ticket prices based on the popularity of a given game -- not to mention weather, a possible milestone or a player from a visiting team who brings extra interest.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008