Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

FJM has gone dark for the foreseeable future. Sorry folks. We may post once in a while, but it's pretty much over. You can still e-mail dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, or Coach.

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Monday, January 30, 2006


Sportswriting Rule #1: It's Totally Cool To Make Up Unsubstantiated Correlations

Class, open your textbook to page 44, and you should find an article by the venerable Henry Schulman. Hit us with your knowledge, Hank!


Notice, aspiring sportswriters, how the title is vague enough as to not make any sense. Schulman is clearly at the top of his game here. Whatever "it" literally is, Schulman has it.

"The lack of team chemistry in 2005 was an issue. Was it the biggest reason for the Giants having a losing record (75-87) for the first time in nine years? Hardly. Bonds' five-month absence, the loss of closer Benitez and an awful start by the rotation rank much higher."

An inauspicious start for Schulman. Notice how he refers to things that actually happened -- namely, injuries -- in explaining the Giants' disappointing 2005 season. But quickly, a recovery into the realm of the unprovable:

"Nevertheless, a lack of cohesion inside the clubhouse and on the field did not help. A month into the season, newcomer Vizquel publicly bemoaned what he viewed as a shortage of team play. In mid-June, Alou highlighted the off-field polarization by revealing he had not gone to dinner with a single teammate."

YES! Truly excellent work here -- and the careful reader will notice that he never goes further, in any effort to explain just how this lack of cohesion might have affected the Giants' play. Omar Vizquel once bemoaned that he thought there wasn't enough team play. Good enough! Of course he probably only said these things because the Giants weren't playing well, and not vice versa, but this is a far more difficult story to write. (Extra credit assignment: Try to write an equally unsubstantiated article claiming that poor play results in players claiming a lack of "team play!")

"You can have all the talent in the world, but with the exception of Kobe and Shaq, if you don't get along you're not going to play well," (new acquisition Steve) Kline said.

Hmm. HMM. Absolutely beautiful placement of an actual example that disproves his entire thesis. Note how Schulman doesn't even attempt to give examples of teams that have actually suffered from poor cohesion -- how could anyone prove that anyway?! -- therefore creating the illustion that the Shaq / Kobe era Lakers are instead "the exception that proves the rule." A masterful stroke of nonsense, indeed.

Matheny said the 2005 clubhouse improved with the infusion of youth, an anomaly because ordinarily the experienced players set the tone.
"We started bringing in some young guys who had their own chemistry set up, and I believe that kind of infiltrated the clubhouse and made a big difference. That's a tribute to them. It's something Moises and I talked a lot about."
Then, a purposeful September added to the enjoyment of being around one another.

When attributing performance, or lack their of, to intangibles, chemistry, magic, or any other weird factor you've made up in your head, never -- NEVER! -- describe a winning stretch as "winning." "Purposeful" in this context is all but flat out incorrect, yet perfectly underscores the fact that what the Giants were actually doing was winning. Brave choice, Mr. Schulman. (Notice, also, the wise ommission of any mention of the Giants 4-game losing streak to end the season.)

That is all, students. A reminder: Tomorrow's Celizic Appreciation Society meeting has been moved to McCarver Hall, room 155.

posted by dak  # 5:50 PM
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Most Unfortunate Use of the Word "Intelligence"

Headline on

Intelligence Report: White Americans fading from NBA


posted by Junior  # 5:41 PM
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MSNBC Pays Two Writers to Overreact to the WBC: Baseball Criticism-Criticism in Two Parts

Part I.

I never like to defend Alex Rodriguez. Mainly because he is kind of a dink. Kind-of-dink he may be, his skills on a baseball diamond are not really up for debate. He is wicked good at baseball. So when I read this, the big red "Bullshit Flag" I carry around with me at all times raised itself in the direction of MSNBC's Bob Cook.

I should note that the flag no longer exists, having burst into flames when Bob Cook wrote the following introductory paragraph:

Alex Rodriguez’s tortuous vascillating [sic] over whether he would play for the United States, the Dominican Republic or not play at all in the World Baseball Classic was the most drawn-out public display of indecision since Meat Loaf repeatedly begged Ellen Foley to “let me sleep on it” as she demanded “I gotta know right now” in “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”


His basic premise for this article, that the Dominican Republic should feel lucky that they won't have A-Rod to ruin their WBC chances by choking his AL MVP guts out all over their games against Italy or whatever, is flawed in two main ways.

1) It presupposes that A-Rod chokes in "important" situations. An easy argument to make if you are like Bob Cook and you fail to cite a single statistic in your entire article.
Before everyone jumps down my throat to remind me of his unmistakably chokey ALDS performance against Anaheim last year, and his not-really-all-that-chokey-when-you-look-at-the-numbers performance against Boston in 2004, I urge you to examine the slightly larger (yet still relatively small) sample size of A-Rod's career postseason numbers. Wait don't, because I'm about to do it for you.

G: 31
AVG: .305
OBP: .393
SLG: .534
HR: 6

Not so bad, right? On to the second way in which Bob Cook's premise is flawed.

2) It presupposes that the WBC is itself an important enough event that a poor performance would qualify as "choking." I'm sorry, but national pride nonwithstanding, isn't this an event where all pitchers will be on a strict pitch-count? Even if A-Rod does "choke" in these glorified exhibition games, is he really going to be villified in the press for it? I think no.

Part II.

It's been a while since everyone's least favorite fedora'd dunderhead, Mike Celizic sat down at his 1930s Underwood typewriter, lit up his whale-oil lamp, turned on the NBC Orchestra's Radio Hour and ranted about something nobody really cares about.

I'll give you the short version. Celizic thinks Barry Bonds has committed the ultimate act of selfishness by refusing to participate in the WBC. If this sounds familiar, it's because Celizic wrote almost the exact same article a few months ago, attacking Bonds for sitting out the rest of the Giants' more or less lost season.

Why does Mike Celizic say things like "He wants the record. The best way to do that is to concentrate on the regular season and to avoid anything that might cause injury" like it's something so unbelievably awful? Barry Bonds is on the cusp of breaking what might be the most iconic record in sports. Why do sportswriters with funny hats have such a hard time understanding why a 40+ year old guy who missed almost an entire season with very serious knee injuries would want to, I don't know, protect his knee? Especially when he has a very realistic chance at achieving baseball immortality?

Moreover, where are all the shots at all the other players who are skipping the WBC? Oh wait. That's right. Barry Bonds is the only player sitting this thing out.

Look, Mike, I agree with you. Barry Bonds is a jerk. Everyone knows that. He probably did steroids. So did a lot of other dudes. But also he might, barring injury, break Hank Aaron's career home run record. Isn't that more important than playing some inconsequential exhibition games aginst the Netherlands?

posted by Murbles  # 4:11 PM
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I Guess It Depends How You Define "Wacky"

Someday, in like 3 weeks, pitchers and catchers will report and I swear we'll be back on our game.

Until then, consider this article on the 12 "wackiest" Super Bowl moments in history.

Now I axe you, which one of these is wackier?

1) A field goal kicker attempts a pass after a botched long snap.
2) Eighty percent of the country "accidentally" sees the naked breast of one of the nation's most popular entertainers, complete with crazy star-shaped nipple cozy.

Unfortunately-named columnist Jeff Gordon goes with number 1.

posted by dak  # 3:36 PM
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Saturday, January 28, 2006


Phil Rogers Follow-Up

From the post below, which tracks Phil Rogers's thoughts on Kevin Millwood:

"...[Millwood's] ground-ball style should help him at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

The funny thing about this is, Millwood's not a GB pitcher. His career GB/FB ratio is almost exactly 1.00. His 1.34GB/FB ratio last year was 38th highest in MLB, just after Mike Maroth. (For comparison, Brandon Webb's last year was way over 4.00.)

Millwood is, if anything, a K/FB pitcher. But I wouldn't expect Rogers to know that, because he is not a sports columnist. He is a certified auto parts technician. Right? Oh, no -- wait. He is a sports columnist.


posted by Unknown  # 10:18 PM
Maybe this is just piling on at this point, but I'd like to add that I timed myself, and it took me 91 seconds to compile the information about these two pitchers and their GB/FB ratios. But I guess I can't expect Phil Rogers to conduct 91 seconds worth of research before writing his article, because he's not a sports columnist. He's a Vermont-based Bed-and-Breakfast manager. Right? Oh, shoot -- nope -- forgot again. He's a sports columnist.
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Friday, January 27, 2006


Does Anyone Think Kevin Millwood at $60 Million Over 5 Years is a Good Deal?

Look, there are no certainties when it comes to long-term contract values. It's possible that Kevin Millwood will be worth $12 million a year when he's 36. I just don't think it's likely.

Phil Rogers, however, thinks the Millwood signing was one of the best of the offseason.

RHP Kevin Millwood | Age: 31
Contract: 5 years, $60 million
2005: 9-11, AL-best 2.86 ERA

You know what his defense-adjusted ERA was? 3.61. It was good. Jarrod Washburn's DERA was 3.48. (His contract seems bad, too. But it's a for a lot less total money than Millwood's.)

Sure, Scott Boras did his usual tap dance to the bank, getting the maximum value for another one of his clients. But give first-year Texas general manager Jon Daniels credit for landing his franchise the rare pitcher who walks and talks like an ace.

Some might say that there are too many stupid lists on FJM. Not me.

Roy Halladay
Randy Johnson
Mark Buehrle
Kirk Saarloos (great walker, cannot pitch well, though)

Curt Schilling
Pedro Martinez
Ozzie Guillen (Surprise! Not even a pitcher or an active player. Still, ace talker.)

Roger Clemens
Kevin Millwood

So you see, the Rangers were very fortunate indeed to land Millwood.

That's what Millwood was when he left Atlanta after 2002, and he has only grown mentally tougher in the three seasons he spent in Philadelphia and Cleveland. He used his sinker-slider combination well enough at Jacobs Field to lead the American League in ERA last season, and his ground-ball style should help him at Ameriquest Field in Arlington. The Rangers need someone to show their collection of young power pitchers that you can succeed at this hitter's park, and Millwood will provide a good example.

That's great, but really, how much is it worth for him to "show that you can succeed"? $1 million a year? 2? Will Kameron Loe and Juan Dominguez suddenly lower the ERAs by half a run once they see Millwood post a 4.30 ERA at home next year?

With Michael Young, Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock and Rod Barajas, the Rangers have a core of players to compete with Oakland and the Angels in the AL West. They needed to change the face of a defeated pitching staff, and Daniels did that. Millwood might not have five good seasons in him -- no pitcher in his 30s is a good bet for that -- but this deal will be worth it if Millwood helps a floundering organization re-establish its credibility.

He's one year removed from a 4.85 ERA (90 ERA+) and he's essentially been league average or worse for five of his eight full seasons in the major leagues.

At least Phil is consistently wrong, though. He also hates the low-risk, one year Dodger deal for Nomar Garciaparra and loves the $16 million given to 41-year-old crazy person Kenny Rogers.

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posted by Junior  # 7:49 PM
Same article, in re: Raffy Furcal.

"There's no doubt Furcal is a very good shortstop and a solid leadoff hitter. But his skills were always secondary to the likes of Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and others in Atlanta."

You see guys, when it comes to evaluating free-agent signings, it doesn't matter how good a player one is, it only matters how good one is relative to the other players on one's former team.

That's just straight-up Rogersball. And if you can't handle it, get your shit out of Phil's kitchen.
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I Wonder How Much Traffic He's Getting From That

Check out the sponsor of Coco Crisp's Baseball Reference page.

My favorite explanation is that Coco Crisp himself runs that website.


posted by Junior  # 7:26 PM
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Thursday, January 26, 2006


It Really Wouldn't Be That Hard to Do a One-Second Google Search and Fix That

Simmons: It bothers me that I don't know what VORP is, I feel inadequate. No wonder they don't take me seriously on the SOSH Red Sox board.

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posted by Junior  # 3:04 PM
"[I]t's right up there with Norman Dale's "I love you guys" speech in "Hoosiers" and Paul Crewe's "For Caretaker" speech in "The Longest Yard" in my book."

"But with Damon, as I wrote in my column (after he left), they pursued him with the same enthusiasm of Nicole Richie halfheartedly poking at a Caesar salad."

"I bet Schilling reads this stuff, shakes his head, then goes to work out with the same look on his face that Clubber Lang had training for the first title fight with Rocky."

"I thought you were just soaking the moment in, and only because the place was so freaking loud that it almost seemed like the scene in "Karate Kid 2" when Daniel-San has to fight the crazy Japanese kid to the death and everyone is banging those drumsticks."

Sweet cultural refs, brah!
Schilling, a man whose job it is to throw baseballs, knows more about sabermetric analysis than Simmons, a man whose job it is to ANALYZE BASEBALL.

Actually, I take that back. Simmons' job is to mention movies he's seen.
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Friday, January 20, 2006


Who Knew?

FJM Blind Item of the Day!

Which Dominican-born slugger is the target of uber-gay E! gossip columnist Ted Casablanca's latest man-crush?

Hint: It's David Ortiz! (?!)

posted by Murbles  # 7:13 PM
Congratulations, Murbles.

Your daily perusal of TC's gossip column finally paid off.
No, dak. My daily readings of TC's column paid off last week when I learned that Michelle Rodriguez skipped the premire of "Bloodrayne." Scandalous!
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I'm Going To See Kevin Garnett At The Comedy Store This Saturday -- Who Wants Tickets?

Sorry. It's just -- those ads are insane. (In a bad way.)

posted by dak  # 5:41 PM
i had forgotten how awesome kg was in the movie gladiator.
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Monday, January 16, 2006



1: of, relating to, or designed for attack
2: contrary to a particular or prevailing sense of what is decent, proper, or moral

For a good example of how the quality "offensive" is demonstrated in everyday speech, let's turn to Steeler LB Joey Porter:

"It was just one of those games, the world wanted Indy to win so bad, they were going to do whatever they could. It was like the 9/11 year when they wanted the Patriots (who beat the Steelers in the AFC final) to win it for the world, just for the patriotic of the world. That's what they wanted for Indy today."

Remember the worst tragedy this country has ever faced? It's totally cool to cite that event in relation to an alleged conspiracy among NFL referees, right? Okay, good. Just checking.

Although, maybe Porter has a point, because remember how that tragedy was centered in Foxborough, Mass.? Oh no -- wait. It was New York. And Washington, D.C. And...someplace else...oh. Pennsylvania.

Labels: ,

posted by Unknown  # 1:27 AM
For some reason my favorite part of this is the phrase "the 9/11 year."
Can we all just agree the officiating was worse than the alleged "Holocaust" and move on?
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Saturday, January 14, 2006



A nice tidbit from reader Jim P., though it has nothing to do with baseball or Colin Cowherd's sweet guitar solos.

Apparently Cris Collinsworth has picked both the Patriots and the Broncos in tonight's game.

You have to admit: if the Broncos and Patriots both win, Collinsworth's looking pretty good.

posted by dak  # 5:38 PM
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Friday, January 13, 2006


12 Minutes of Hell, With Colin Cowherd

Are sports radio personalities fair game for us? And by that I mean, are we just shooting fish in a barrel? Even moreso than when we like dissect a Tim McCarver quotation? Frankly, I hear so much terrible sports radio that I rarely feel compelled to comment on it, viewing it as sort of the Ann Coulter of sports commentary -- so extreme and hystrionic and silly as to not be worth getting upset about. But this segment, which aired Tuesday during ESPN Radio's "The Herd" with Colin Cowherd, was so inane, I just couldn't help but put the rest of my life on hold, transcribe it, and present it here, for you.

I wish I could convey his strained, howling voice...the condescending way he makes his points, as if he were speaking to a four year-old...the way his arrogance and self-assuredness positively oozes through one's car speakers as he blathers on...and I once again urge you to follow the link in the post sub and hear it all for yourself. But if you cannot, please accept this endless post as a substitute.

The title of the segment: "More than Stats." It is here, in its entirety, with some comments from yours truly. Sorry for the length of the post, but to really do it justice, you need to experience the whole awful twelve minutes.

All grammar, syntax, and idiocy is [sic].

The problem with the Hall of Fame – it’s become Nerd World. [ridiculous "nerd" voice] “Hey, if you look at his OPB -- yes you know me -- his OPS, if you multiply it using a sliding chart and you put some marmalade on your toes, he appears to be a 14th ballot Hall of Famer.” The Hall of Fame has become “Nerd World in Orlando.”


Right off the bat, here, I am very excited. I wish I could paint a picture for you of how unfunny Colin Cowherd's "nerd voice" is. Suffice it to say: it is really unfunny. Also, some things I love about his intro: he (intentionally?) misquotes OBP as OPB, and then adds an "OPP" reference.

"OPP." That song from like twenty years ago.

Also: his examples of what a nerd might use when discussing baseball are (1) a "sliding chart" and (2) "putting marmalade on [one's] toes." Devastating, to us nerds. I don't know how I will ever recover from such punchy and hilarious parody.

The electric guitar riff, as with all electric guitar riffs in radio shows, feels decidedly unironic.

Jose Canseco should be in the Hall of Fame and here’s why. It’s called “Hall of Fame.” “Fame” for “famous.” For ten years he was the most talked about player in the league. He is the whistle blower, the only honest person in this sport, who called out the game’s discrepancies and lies. He is famous, he is relevant and he is talked about. [nerd voice] “Well his numbers don’t compare—“ I don’t care. It’s called Hall of Fame, not "Hall of Very Good."

This is just good, good stuff. It will be important, as we move along here, to try to remember the central theses of Cowherd's argument -- both because they are idiotic and because he contradicts each and every one of them before the 12 minutes are up. Let's summarize:

Jose Canseco should be in the Hall of Fame because he is famous. I will say right off the bat that the "fame" part of "Hall of Fame" should not be taken literally. Cowherd spends a good deal of time making his argument based on semantics -- he says that because it is called the Hall of Fame, if Player X is famous, Player X should be in the Hall of Fame. This seems to me to short-circuit a key fact; namely, that "Hall of Fame" as a phrase, when modified by the adjective "Baseball," probably is intended to mean: an institution that recognizes the best baseball players. One would not think that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would admit Jessica Simpson or Britney Spears, who are two of the most famous musicians right now, simply because of the number of US Weekly articles in which they appear. They would also have to be good Rock and Roll musicians. See how that works?

Second, we have the argument that Canseco should be in the HOF for being (a) a whistle-blower, (b) "the only honest person in the sport," (c) famous, relevant, and talked about. Now, far be it from me to argue with a man who does such a good imitation of a nerd, but I would humbly suggest that even if we are going to allow such things to be qualifications for the HOF, doesn't Canseco's candidacy get damaged by the fact that he was the guy who started the whole steroids mess to begin with? And lied about it, repeatedly? And got lots of other guys into it? And just generally cheated like crazy?

By Cowherd's new and excitingly dumb set of criteria, if Harold Baines had murdered Ron Kittle with a fungo bat in 1983, then buried the body, then admitted it after he (Baines) retired, and wrote a book about it, and testified in front of Congress about how he taught a bunch of people how to brain their fellow players with fungo bats, and he, Baines, got really famous for it...first ballot?

It is already a sham, because littered through the Hall of Fame are huge hypocrisies. Pete Rose is the all-time hit king, Major League Baseball allows gambling all over the sport, and gambling advertising, yet the all-time hit king doesn’t get in. Total hypocrisy. We’ve got players who were nice to the media but very very good, not great, getting in. Jim Rice dominates for 12 years, he doesn’t? Jack Morris, best right-hander in the game arguably for ten years, doesn’t?

By the way, obviously, all of the paragraph breaks here are arbitrary and KT-generated. I insert this here only for a dramatic pause before what I call Massive Cowherd Boner #1, which is:

I mean, if you’re an MVP, you’re a Hall of Fame guy.

The insane contradictions have begun. Didn't CC just say "It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good?" And now he says that anyone who wins the MVP should be in the Hall of Fame? The MVP? That is voted on by the same media he just derided (and will again later) as being suckers for a nice ballplayer -- so much so that they will vote in a mediocre player if he was nice to them? But if you win an MVP you should be in the HOF? Are you kidding me?

Juan Gonzalez
Mo Vaughn
George Bell
Don Mattingly
Ken Caminiti
Terry Pendleton
Kevin Mitchell
Willie McGee
Willie Hernandez
Don Baylor
George Foster
Jeff Burroughs
Fred Lynn
Zoilo Versalles

It is the Hall of Fame, Colin. Not the Hall of Very Good.

Rafael Palmeiro would have gotten in – never been an MVP, never was close. In 19 years, only 5 did he even make the all-star team.

Remember the year (1989) Mike Schmidt was hitting .203 with 6 HR in May and retired? And then he still made the All-Star team? You know why stuff like that happens? Because the all-star team is a stupid fan-based popularity contest and has nothing at all to do with actual performance.

But it’s become nerd world. Where everybody constructs arguments based on data and research, and if you accumulate over time a bunch of numbers – that’s not great, that’s just working in a factory for 30 years. If you work in a factory for 26 years and are good, that doesn’t make you great. Good doesn’t become great over time -- good’s good and great’s great.

Let's begin the Colin Cowherd drinking game, wherein we do a shot everytime Colin says the words "good" or "great." We will all be dead in thirty seconds.

Also, I really enjoy the way he sneers at the classic nerd activity of constructing arguments based on data and research. It is much better to construct them using parodies of nerd voices as you scream meaningless phrases into a microphone in Bristol, CT.

You’re either a model or a supermodel. If you’re a model for 30 years, you’re not elevated to a supermodel. You’re a supermodel if you’re Tyra Banks. Okay? There’s a model and then there’s a supermodel. The Hall of Fame is supermodel territory.

Those of you blessedly unfamilliar with CC's on-air persona may find this analogy odd. Those of you who listen to him regularly -- perhaps because your radio broke while tuned to ESPN Radio, or perhaps because you are working at a NASA weather monitoring station in Greenland and it's the only channel you receive, or perhaps because you are a masochistic sports fan whose stupid friend dak started a blog a year ago designed to comment on sports commentary and you just can't help yourself -- will note that such analogies are par for the AM drive-time course.

What is particularly galling about CC's analogies is not so much that once he establishes one he will repeat it as many times as he can in every segment of his show -- to the point where you think man, maybe this guy has like hard-core short-term "Memento"-style memory loss or something -- but how an overwhelming number of them involve models and/or strippers. To wit: a recent show in which he said a number (37? 52?) of times that no one should give Terrell Owens a long-term contract because he is like a stripper, and "You don't marry the stripper." The psychological and -sexual implications of Cowherd comparing the muscularly-gifted T.O. to a female stripper I leave to the FJM readership to decipher.

Some supermodels aren’t the prettiest girls – there is a “wow” factor to them. This is what Basketball’s Hall of Fame has thought for years. Basketball has the Harlem Globetrotters. They’re an exhibition team in the Hall of Fame. They have referees, they have people who were huge and influential and relevant in moments in time. They didn’t have it based on numbers. It’s based on relevance and importance and impact.

I'm pretty sure the Basketball HOF also takes "excellence in basketball" into consideration when inducting people. And for the record -- and this is important, here -- the Baseball HOF also has a lot of exhibits involving umpires and "moments in time" and "people who were huge" and all of that stuff. They have Curt Schilling's sock and Len Barker's perfect game ball (I assume) and probably the bat that Fernando Tatis used to hit two grand slams in an inning off Chan Ho Park. They have all sorts of "moments in time" stuff. They just reserve membership for the players who had the best careers.

Jose Canseco is absolutely one of the 12 most known names in the history of the sport.

MCB #2. Here, I'll prove it:

Babe Ruth
Willie Mays
Hank Aaron
Jackie Robinson
Roger Clemens
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Mark McGwire
Sammy Sosa
Ted Williams
Ty Cobb
Mickey Mantle
Joe Dimaggio
Pete Rose

There. Thirteen people more "known" in baseball than Jose Canseco.

From his home runs to his ego to the bash brothers to the whistle-blowing with steroids, he is absolutely relevant in the history of baseball. In the history of the sport. They’ll write stories about Jose Canseco. They ain’t writing them about Richie Ashburn, who compiled and constructed good numbers over time. It is called the Hall of Fame. “Famous” is part of the equation.

Yikes. Okay. Yes, he is relevant in the history of baseball. That does not mean he should be elected to the HOF as a player. Yes, they will write stories about him: some of them will praise his actions. Some will point out that he was a massive fraud as a player. Some will claim that he only came clean to sell books. This is all interesting and relevant and all that. None of it will change the fact that even using performance-enhancing drugs, he is not worthy of inclusion into the HOF as a player. Why can CC not distinguish between relevance as a personality and performance as a player?

What really bugs me is, CC might have an argument if he said that the HOF should maybe build a new wing or something for "newsmakers" and nominate people for permanent inclusion who significantly impacted the course of baseball history. Like Canseco. Or Bud Selig. Or Donald Fehr. I can see this argument. I cannot accept that anyone who does anything that makes him "famous" should be in the HOF proper.

David, you’re in LA, and you’re in the Herd.

David: Whassup, Colin, glad to be here. Speaking of, ah, nerds, you know, nobody went on the mound looking goofier than Orel Hershiser -- like Ned Flanders or Richie Cunningham. But his stuff was filthy. You know, he dominated – [inaudible] – so I just gotta give him props for the Hall of Fame.

At this point, KT is thinking to himself: "Please, please, please do not defend Orel Hershiser as a legitimate HOFer, Colin. Please."

Cowherd: For ten years Orel Hershiser was the most unhittable guy in the game. Hall of Famer.

Oh, Colin. What did you go and do?


Career ERA+: 112
Career W/L: 204-150
Average 162-game K total: 140
Season high K: 190

Even if you subscribe to CC's argument that the HOF should be about "dominant stretches" and dominant stretches only, I invite anyone to go here and find the ten year period that Orel Hershiser was "the most unhittable guy in the game." You will not find it, but I invite you to try. (Hint: in order to accomplish this, you can use nerd stats like "WHIP," which is a nerdy nerd nerd tool used to figure out roughly how hittable a guy is. I apologize for using data and research to back my claim, instead of Colin Cowherd's insane knee-jerk comment to David in L.A. Let's hope the HOF doesn't make the same mistake.)

I have never understood the argument that if you have a bunch of solid years for 19 years, that should elevate it to “great.” You’re a model or you’re a supermodel, and it doesn’t matter how long you model – you’re never elevated to a supermodel. A bunch of goods don’t make a great. Great’s great, famous is famous, infamous is infamous. The basketball Hall of Fame’s got it right. People who are relevant, people who are talked about, people who are important to the growth of the sport, to the relevance of the sport. It’s called a Basketball Hall of Fame.

Let's play a nerd-game, Colin. Which is to say, let's "think" with our "brains." What if Horace Grant retired, and then didn't make it into the HOF, and then revealed, in a tell-all book and several appearances on like "I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!" and the like, that he, Horace, was a huge meth dealer in the NBA for 17 years and that the NBA has a massive meth problem. I just don't think that he would be inducted into the Basketball HOF. CC has two arguments -- Canseco is famous so he should be in, and anyone who dominates or is "relevant" should be in. Ironically, he then says "infamous is infamous," which only serves to remind us that what Canseco is, in fact, in retrospect, is "infamous." Which is why his "fame" is not exactly what the HOF is looking for in terms of permanent membership.

Rodney in Indianapolis, what up, Rodney?

Editor's note: as soon as KT heard Rodney from Indianapolis's voice, he, KT, was pretty sure he was going to hate Rodney from Indianapolis. He just didn't anticipate how much.

Rodney: How’s it going, man, love the show. Hey, I gotta disagree with you on Palmeiro, though. I think you’re right that I don’t want to hear about the range factor, I don’t want to hear about ERA-plus or OPS or any of these made-up statistics. But 500 and 3000 -- those are statistics that rubber-stamp you for the Hall of Fame in my opinion. And I think good does become great if you do it for 20 years at a high level, so I think Palmeiro, barring the steroids phenomenon over the last year or so, he’s a Hall of Famer.

Rodney was a very derisive fellow, and one could tell from the sneer in his voice just how pansy-ass and stupid (and I believe yes Rodney from Indianapolis would probably love to use the word nerdy here) these so-called "statistics" are. They are for nerds! Only nerds use stats like "OPS -- what is that? Some kind of made up nerd language for nerds to talk to other nerds? I mean, OPS? What are you, a nerd!?!??! What the hell is ERA-Plus, anyway, nerdboy? I'm Rodney from Indianapolis, you sons of bitches!

If you do not know:

OPS is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage. A crude but fairly effective way to determine how good a baseball player is.
ERA+ is simply ERA that has been adjusted to account for certain factors, e.g. the ballpark a pitcher plays in. It can be a much truer measure of a pitcher's value than just ERA. It is not "made-up" anymore than any statistic is "made-up."
Range factor stinks -- Rodney from Indianapolis has us there. But not for the reason he thinks he does.
Rodney from Indianapolis is a shitheel frat guy who uses "rubber-stamp" as a verb and once had to be rushed to an emergency room because he jammed his entire fist inside his rectal cavity. [Ed. note -- some of this is conjecture.]

Cowherd: Well, I’d say this: if you work at a company for 20 years and you make about 60 grand, did your company ever consider you great? No, or they’d have paid you 500 grand. Loyal doesn’t make great. Loyal doesn’t make you a visionary. Loyal makes you loyal. Good makes you good. Very good makes you very good. And supermodels are just better than models.

Still playing the drinking game? Are you dead from alcohol poisoning yet? You had to do six shots in that paragraph alone.

Now, I would never suggest that Colin Cowherd is a grade-A dummy. But this analogy really puzzles me. First of all, if you work at the same company for 20 years and the maximum salary for an employee at that company is $60,000, then yes, I would say that your company considers you great. But more importantly, if you are going to use effing monetary compensation, even in an analogy, to discuss HOF credentials, then every single major leaguer should be in the HOF. They are all paid so much because they are all elite -- they are the best few hundred players on the planet. Put 'em all in!

The Hall of Fame in baseball has become a bunch of numbers you have to hit no matter how you get there. I mean, let’s say this – let me give you this – what if Julio Franco, he’s like 47, what if he now accomplished 4000 hits? What if a guy was just healthy -- let me give you this argument, using the argument you just used. If I ended up with 4000 hits but played 39 years in the game, because I had, I was just, genetically I was just incredibly lucky, and nobody got sick, am I a Hall of Famer? Cause I was a .248 hitter for 39 years? That makes me in, and Jim Rice is not? And Jack Morris and Steve Garvey are not?

I don't even know where to start. How about some nerd stats?

If you averaged 600 AB a year for 39 years and hit .248, you'd have closer to say 5,800 hits. And that, I think, yes -- that would get you into the HOF, as you would have broken the all-time hit mark by more than 1500.

However, if you were a .248 hitter, you probably wouldn't last 39 years in the big leagues. Unless you hit a lot of HR and had a good SLG. (Sorry -- got nerdy there, for a second.) But even if I don't take CC's comments here at face value -- doing so is, admittedly, a bit disingenuous, since I get his point -- then, I will say, no, you would not get in. because you would be a freak of nature who was truly mediocre for an absurdly long period of time. However -- and this is key -- if you are very very very good for a long period of time, then yes, you do get in. No one would argue that if you are league-average for 39 years you are a HOFer. That's reductionist and stupid. And make-believe and pointless and boring to talk about.

To me, long being good doesn’t make you great. Great’s great. Tom Brady’s great. I don’t care if Tom Brady gets in a car wreck tomorrow. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s great.

If you're paying the drinking game, that's an amazing six more shots in like ten seconds.

Should Trent Green – I mean, how ridiculous is this to assert? – that if Trent Green has better numbers than Tom Brady because he plays 20 longer – 20 years longer than Tom Brady, Trent Green’s in the Hall of fame and Tom Brady’s not. Tom Brady’s a Hall of Famer. He’s never lost a playoff game. If he, if he passed away tonight in his sleep: 10-0 in the playoffs, three superbowls. He’s not a Hall of Famer? But Billy Kilmer, who played a bunch of years – and maybe, I don’t look at Billy Kilmer’s numbers very often – he would be?

No one has ever suggested this. Yes, Tom Brady is great. Yes, he is a HOFer. No, Billy Kilmer would not be if he played for a long time. He had a career 53% completion rate and never even threw for 2600 yards in a season. (Though he did have an unbelievable 509 yards rushing in his rookie year with SFO, and scored 10 TD's. Were they running the option? Was he a RB? What gives?)

Also, as a Pats fan, I would like to respectfully ask that you stop coming up with horrifying scenarios involving Tom Brady's death.

Matt in Boston, what up Matt?

Matt: How’s it going Colin?

Cowherd: Good.

Matt: [strong Boston accent] Listen, I really love your show, but I completely disagree with what you’re saying today. The Baseball Hall of Fame puts in famous people. They put in Peter Gammons last year, they put in broadcasters and writers into a separate wing. Those people make the game what it is. As far as the players are concerned --

Cowherd: [weirdly argumentative] What is the game?

Matt: --you put it, you put in great players, and you don’t have to have a long career. Sandy Koufax is in the Hall of Fame, 'cause he had 6 dominant seasons. But you also reward people like Hank Aaron, who played 20-plus seasons, and you have a long sustaining career. You can’t just put in – Orel Hershiser was great for a period of four years in the late-80’s and early ‘90s.

Ahhhhh. The soothing sounds of a thick Boston accent that introduces reason and sanity into an argument. Nice work, Matt. Cowherd's interruption kills me, because he is just picking a fight, and doesn't even know why. He just wanted to interrupt the guy, becaue he, Matt, was making very good points that exposed the flaws in CC's argument. Let's see how CC responds.

Cowherd: Orel Hershiser, Peter Gammons. Or Peter Gammons. Who’s more relevant to baseball? Orel Hershiser by a mile. [dripping with condescension] And Peter Gammons is a wonderful writer. But he’s a wonderful writer. Jose Canseco, in my opinion – it’s FAME.

I will argue forever that Peter Gammons, whose Sunday notes column in the Globe was required reading, and who basically invented the on-site baseball insider that is so prevalent today, is so much more relevant to baseball than Orel Hershiser that even asking the question gives me hives. And -- and this is really the point -- didn't Cowherd just spend a long time talking about how the Basketball HOF is better than the Baseball HOF because the Basketball HOF lets in referees and Globetrotters and so forth????? Help me out here. That was his argument, right? And then, minutes later, with a tone in his voice similar to that of a wronged woman explaining to her no-good boyfriend that his cheating ways will simply not be tolerated any longer, he absolutely dismisses Peter Gammons with the ultimate insult: he's a writer. How dare he be elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame, which is reserved for pretty good RHP from the 80's.

J.C. in Tampa, what up J.C.?

J.C.: How you doing Colin? I could not agree with you any more – everything you’re saying is absolutely correct. The thing about people, like, my example would be Pedro Martinez. The guy might not win 250 games in his career, he might retire next year, the year after. Is he not a first-ballot Hall of Famer?

Quick interruption to say: everyone in the whole goddamn universe thinks that Pedro Martinez is a first-ballot HOFer. I repeat: everyone thinks this. You are not proving anything by arguing this.

Now, pay close attention to J.C.'s next comment:

Cowherd: Oh, absolutely he is. Oh--

J.C: He’s a famous, famous guy. He changed the game for little guys everywhere. That can say, hey, I’m here, I am who I am, like me, love me, whatever, I’m great, I know it. Orel Hershiser’s in the same category.

Oh my God. I'll make this as short as I can:

Pedro Martinez (career):

IP: 2513
WHIP: 1.02 (six seasons under 1.00. 0.737 in 2000)
K: 2861

Orel Hershiser (career)

IP: 3130
WHIP: 1.26
K: 2014

In 600 fewer IP, Pedro has 850 more Ks. Pedro is one of the five most dominant pitchers ever. He had a five-year run where he was simply playing a different game. Orel Hershiser is orders of magnitude worse than Pedro Martinez.

Also, this: "Hey, I’m here, I am who I am, like me, love me, whatever, I’m great, I know it." is poetry for the halfwit.

J.C. (cont'd): He’s not as flamboyant, obviously, but man, being a Mets fan, I saw him dominate, those World Series, those World Series… back in ’88, what was it, 25, 26 straight innings scoreless? Nobody’s ever done anything like that.

It was 59. I like that he says: nobody's ever done anything like that! while quoting the stat at less than half its value. Way to make a strong argument.

Cowherd: I thought it was 50. I thought it was greater than that. Maybe—I’m not a baseball stat guy.

You're kidding.

Again, the argument comes down to: are you relevant? I don’t care the period of time. Sandy Koufax really only had four ridiculous years. Jose Canseco had about 5, but is incredibly relevant in the history of baseball. Incredibly relevant. A dynamic personality, a polarizing personality, the only honest person in the game when it came to steroids. Why…why writers and broadcasters buddied up to the game, dismissed stories, covered stuff up, you could argue – Jose Canseco indicted himself and was brutally honest. That’s honest.

So, just to recap: Colin Cowherd's criteria for HOF induction: five great years, "relevance," dynamism, a polarizing personality, and honesty. The last of which -- honesty -- is revealed as a characteristic only after (and only due to) a decade-long string of federal crimes which allowed the HOFer to cheat at the sport into whose HOF he is being inducted. And which crimes allowed him to greatly enhance the statistics he racked up during that great five year period.

Solid, solid reasoning.

I would also insert here the argument that all of the MLBers who never took steroids are more "honest" than someone who did and then later admitted it to sell a book.

888-SAY-ESPN. Greg, you’re in the herd.

Greg: Colin, enjoy your show. Couldn’t agree more today. You’re making points that you know, I think a lot of people gonna turn their head at. Canseco belongs in. Pete Rose belongs in. You know, it’s like you’re saying, it’s not longevity, it’s what you bring to the game. It’s kind of – on the NBA side, will Dennis Rodman ever be in…inducted? Odds are, probably not. Because they don’t like his lifestyle away from the game. The fact is, these type of players bring more to the playing field than any other people that are being put in because they’re a model citizen with nice numbers. Show me somebody that made the game famous, that I’m going to remember, not somebody that goes through and works out everyday and puts up a nice number and smiles and talks politely.

We have a new criterion for HOF induction: Greg has to remember him.

Dennis Rodman isn't in the Basketball HOF because he was one-dimensional. Pete Rose isn't in the HOF because he bet on baseball, which, as is posted in every single MLB locker room, is the one thing you can do that will absolutely ban you from baseball for life. (On a side note, didn't Pete Rose demonstrate some pretty hard-core longevity?)

Cowherd: I, you know, that’s the thing about longevity. I think it’s great. I think it’s wonderful if you work at a company for 28 years. But that doesn’t make you great – it makes you loyal. It makes you possibly a very good employee -- stable, solid, dependable, it doesn’t make you great.

Four more shots, for the drinkers out there, and a wonderfully blind piece of reasoning. Nobody in the universe is arguing that only longevity should determine one's HOF induction. You also have to be skilled at the game. See?

Now, watch this: my favorite moment.

It’s like I talked about earlier with beautiful -- we can debate over who’s cute and who’s not and who’s pretty and who’s not. Beautiful’s not debatable. Everybody agrees on beautiful.

Come again?

And that’s kind of my litmus test for the Hall of Fame. If a woman walks into a room and is truly beautiful, there’s no arguing over it. We debate personality and, and, and cuteness and pretty – those are different words. Beautiful is beautiful. That’s not in the eye of the beholder – that’s in the eye of everybody.

The idea...I'm sorry, I'm choking on my own tongue...the idea that the subjective quality "beautiful" is more objective than the subjective qualities of "cute" and "pretty"...what point are you trying to make? Seriously, dude. "Beauty is in the eye of...everybody?" That's what you're saying? You're saying that Jose Canseco is objectively great in the way that Woman X is objectively beautiful?

What. The Fuck. Are you talking about.

Let's play a game. Here are ten women:

Bette Midler
Penelope Cruz
Naomi Watts
My mom
Barbara Streisand
Jennifer Lopez
Hillary Clinton
Jessica Simpson
Scarlett Johannsen
Alfre Woodward

Write down which ones you think are beautiful, which ones are cute, and which ones are pretty. Then ask everyone else in America the same question. See if there is any more or less discrepancy in the "beautiful" category than in the others. The answer, to save you infinite hours of work: no, there is not.

Let's wrap this up. What do you say?

And I’ve always felt this – I think the Basketball Hall of Fame has it right. The Baseball Hall of Fame has become: for players who reach certain levels, if they’re friendly to the media, if they befriend certain writers, if they got along with people and played the game. I mean, Jack Morris and Jim Rice – Jim Rice for 12 years -- let me read you this.

Hey -- everyone who is still reading. Remember how much Colin Cowherd hates nerds? And statistics? Get a load of this:

Jim Rice is considered a longshot Hall of Famer. Yet for a period of 12 years, mid 70’s to late 80s, Rice led all American League players in 12 different offensive categories, including: homers, RBI’s, total bases, slugging percentage, runs and hits. [long pause for dramatic effect] Among all major leaguers, only nine players – retired players – have compiled as high a career batting average and as many home runs as Jim Rice. Do you know who those players are? Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial. And Jim Rice, in that class, is not a Hall of Famer because he didn’t like the media.

Where the hell did this come from? This media thing? And you just used a lot of statistics to make an argument for a HOFer, and to prove that people who use statistics have the wrong idea about the HOF. I'm so tired.

Jim Rice is a borderline HOFer because yes, he dominated for a while, and no, he didn't last quite long enough to put up the same career #'s as other people. He is the definition of borderline.

So, it’s already a complete charade. That the home run – the hit king is not in, even though baseball embraces gambling money, casino money – watch a Yankees game. Foxwoods casino. Mohegan Sun. Well, is gambling good, or is gambling bad? It’s already a charade, it’s already full of hypocrisy. So why not let Jose Canseco in? He is the most relevant guy – I’m talking relevant, impactful guy, next to Pete Rose, not in the hall.

Weirdly, this argument may have the most weight. Again, if he had made this argument -- or, rather, a more coherent version of it -- from the beginning...well, I wouldn't be typing this. Because maybe what he is saying is, maybe the HOF should just be a place where all sorts of people are enshrined -- bad people, good people, great players, cheats, scoundrels, etc. (Of course, the massive flaw in this argument is that you could have all sorts of exhibits that recognize things like the Black Sox scandal and Canseco and whatever without actually inducting them into the HOF as players qua players. But whatever.) I don't personally agree with that argument, but it could be an argument, I guess. "The Baseball Hall of Fame has become Nerd World in Orlando" is not an argument.

All discussion of Baseball HOF candidacy, at some level, is subjective. That is why we use the horrid nerd tools of "data" and "analysis" -- to minimize the subjective aspect of it, and to try to establish solid criteria that can stretch across generations. Baseball, more than any other sport, absolutely demands to be analyzed statistically, due to the nearly infinite number of categories of things that happen. Other sports have, like, "goals" and "assists." Baseball, wonderfully, has singles, doubles, triples, walks, HR, K's, ERA, W/L, OPS-against, WHIP -- massive amounts of information that players stockpile and accumulate over thousands and thousands of at-bats, over dozens of years, in irregularly-shaped ballparks.

Baseball, among its many other gifts, gives us numbers. The least we can do is pay attention to them.

I don't even know if my commentary has any cohesion. It's so effing long, I can't even go back and read it. So I'll just let Colin sign off, and then I'll go to sleep for fifteen hours.

ESPN Radio, presented by the new AT&T, Dan Patrick is next. This has been "The Herd," on ESPN Radio.


Labels: ,

posted by Unknown  # 11:40 PM
Sorry Ken, one correction. You said "strong" Boston accent where I believe you meant to say "wicked."
Bette Midler - None
Penelope Cruz - Beautiful, Cute, Pretty
Naomi Watts - Beautiful, Pretty
My mom - Don't Know
Barbara Streisand - None
Jennifer Lopez - Pretty
Hillary Clinton - None
Jessica Simpson - Pretty
Scarlett Johannsen - Beautiful, Pretty
Alfre Woodward - Gambled on Being Beautiful, Barred from Beauty Hall of Fame
I just got off the phone with Ken Tremendous, who continued to rant about Colin Cowherd for about a half an hour. (At one point, the studio lights behind him dimmed and I had to inform him that he was in fact going off on a rant, cha cha.)

Point is, Ken's post proves that if your job is to comment on sports, and in particular if you're a radio personality, there is virtually nothing you can say that will give your employers pause.

Short of being racist, or annoucning a plan to kill the Vice President or something, you can say anything. You can make stuff up. You can neglect reason and objectivity. You can completely contradict yourself, and not have to worry about being held to any standard whatsoever.

Sure, we can point the finger at the people who call in these shows and actually agree with the host. But at a certain point you have to ask yourself: aren't the people paying this guy also to blame?

Honestly. For the love of fuck: fire Joe Morgan. (And Colin Cowherd.)
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Chuck Klosterman, I Cannot Let This Stand

Not to digress too far from baseball-specific criticism criticism, but I simply could not allow this to pass without comment.

I should begin by saying that I've been the opposite of a Chuck Klosterman fan for a while now. He's pretty much the rock equivalent of Bill Simmons (Holy shit! You know who Pavement is AND you know who L.C. Greenwood is AND you dropped a Boba Fett reference on us all at once! DAMN!). And Christ, at least Bill Simmons more or less sticks to sports. I've got Klosterman coming at me in Esquire, on VH1, Spin (if I were to read Spin), and now Page 2. That's so many outlets to let people know how much you know who the Arcade Fire is!

This is the kind of shit I'm talking about:

"Aging American white people have been waiting for another Larry Bird in the same way aging hippies have been waiting for another Bob Dylan, but nobody ever gets what he or she wants: Tom Gugliotta ended up being Beck; Keith Van Horn turned out to be Conor Oberst; Mike Dunleavy is probably Ryan Adams. But Adam Morrison -- at least on the collegiate level -- is closer to Larry than Robert Zimmerman was to the Wallflowers."

If I ever seriously wrote something like that, my next move would be to throw on my favorite Sunny Day Real Estate B-Side (I don't know, maybe "Spade and Parade") and promptly blow my brains out.

This passage has, however, inspired my new favorite game. Play along at home!

Christian Laettner ended up being Doug Martsch. Bob Sura turned out to be Sam Prekop. Troy Murphy looks like a male version of Carrie Brownstein. Wally Szcerbiak is pretty much what would happen if Pedro the Lion all formed into one Voltron-like basketball player. Cherokee Parks literally IS Yo La Tengo.

See? It's fun!

posted by Murbles  # 2:27 PM
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Thursday, January 12, 2006


Mea Culpa

I heartily apologize for not yet transcribing the Colin Cowherd segment on the HOF. I promise I will do so as soon as I can. In the meantime, take a gander at Mike Celizic. That always cheers me up.

posted by Unknown  # 1:59 AM
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006


ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd

is the worst.

If you have ESPN Insider status, I implore you to go here and listen to the podcast of Tuesday's segment entitled "More than Stats." It is one of the dumbest pieces of radio I have ever heard. Seriously. It also contains some of the worst comedy I have ever heard, but for now let's focus on the content.

It is late, and I don't have the energy, but I will try to post a partial transcript soon. Until then, just trust me, and listen to it.

Sorry for the tease. More soon.


posted by Unknown  # 2:11 AM
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Saturday, January 07, 2006


With Apologies to the "New Yorker"...

...Block that Metaphor!

Joe Theismann, during the Skins-Bucs game, 3:34 PM PST:

"Right now, if this is a heavyweight fight, the cards are starting to line up for Tampa Bay."


posted by Unknown  # 6:33 PM
FJM Follies:
For approximately three minutes on Saturday, January 7, KT and Junior posted the same item about a mixed metaphor during an ABC broadcast of the Redskins-Buccaneers Wild Card game.

FJM Follies, Part II:
I believe "Theismann" has two N's.

Are you sure it was Theismann and not Paul Maguire?
From the AP report of the game:

By then, the Patriots had topped Vince Lombardi's Packers and could start thinking about literally hitting the road to the Super Bowl.

Watch out, Interstates 90 and 75!
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Friday, January 06, 2006


Steve Phillips, I Wish I Knew How To Quit You


By my count, Steve Phillips is now 8 for 41 on predicting the top 50 Free Agent signings.

Thank you, ESPN for your wonderful "insider" information.

posted by dak  # 3:26 AM
The ironic thing is, with that .195 BA, Phillips could have been signed by himself for like 3 yr./9m.
As reader Robert points out, of the eight he got right, four of them simply stayed with their own teams. And another was Kenji Johjima, who was a lock for the Mariners.
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