It's time, ladies and gents. It's time for the Apologist to dust off his basketball thinking cap and expose his innate ability to inaccurately predict the course of events in the NBA playoffs. And he's done talking in the third person. For now.
The NBA regular season, much like the NHL, has become sort of a moot point in the modern era. All of your accomplishments can be disregarded in an instant. Because when the ball goes up on the playoff's first tip, it's anyone's game. But unlike the NHL, the NBA's postseason is usually very predictable. Aside from the occasional anomalies like the '06 Heat or, of course, last year's Mavericks, you don't usually see a team hoisting the championship trophy that you didn't expect to be there.
I know you're thinking, "Aps? Is this supposed to make me want to watch?" Just stay with me. This is headed somewhere… maybe.
At a glance, this year's postseason doesn't look much different than last year's. Of the 16 teams preparing for the playoffs, only the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz weren't in it last year. The biggest stars in basketball are all back (except for the big man with the bad back) and nearly every one of them is playing on a team that's better than last year's (except for the aforementioned big man's and the other big man who just got his first ring). But a look beneath the surface reveals that a lot has changed in the last 12 months.
For several teams that have seen their dominance slipping in recent years, this may be their last, best shot. The Lakers, Celtics and Spurs have been fixtures in the playoffs for the last five seasons. But they all know that their stars are nearing the ends of their careers and the window of opportunity is closing. Luckily for them, they're still led by cores that are as driven & determined as any in the league.
The Spurs might be the most impressive of the three, simply because the best player of their recent championship teams is now maybe their third best and they haven't missed a beat. Not to mention, their first round exit against a much younger Memphis Grizzlies team (the kind of inexperienced bunch the Spurs used to slice and dice like butchers) made it seem as though their time was up a year ago. But leave it to the most underrated coach in modern day sports, Gregg Popovich, who circulates fresh talent through his system with absurd ease, to push them right back to the top of the Western Conference. And with a core of veterans the likes of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, only a fool wouldn't consider them a title contender.
It hasn't been quite so easy for the Boston Celtics this season. After finally losing their grip on Eastern Conference dominance last season when they were bounced by the Heat in 5 games, the 'Big 3' spent most of this regular season wondering which one of them would be the first to go. I felt certain that after losing Jeff Green for the season, the C's would scrap this season for the sake of the future. And I was almost right. A deal fell apart literally at the last possible minute that would've sent Ray Allen to Memphis for O.J. Mayo. But here they are, back in the playoffs and back to being a team no one wants to face for best-of-7 series. Yes, they're older and arguably more brittle, but thanks to another great coaching job by Doc Rivers, they've been able to develop some young talent (see: Avery Bradley) that should take some of the pressure off the veterans.
The Celtics and Spurs have been saved by their coaching staffs. The Lakers seem to be winning in spite of it. Don't get me wrong. I'm nowhere near the Mike Brown hater that a lot of people are. It's an easy bandwagon to jump on. But the fact is this guy walked in to replace arguably the greatest coach of any sport ever. So it was no surprise when he quickly established the fact that he was going to stay out of Kobe's way because Kobe had to "let him coach him". It is a player's league, but when your head coach basically announces, "I don't have control over my best player", it's hard to say your coaching is one of your team's strengths. That's why I was shocked when I heard that Black Mamba had agreed to sit out the last game of the regular season, thus forfeiting his chance at being the second oldest player to win a scoring title. (He would've been second to, of course, Michael "Please sell the Bobcats so we can just go back to remembering the great player that you were!" Jordan). But what I forgot is that Kobe is just 1 ring shy of tying Michael Jordan with 6 NBA titles. And with Andrew Bynum finally fulfilling the expectations he has flirted with for years, Bryant has a reason to believe he has a shot this year. So maybe he and Brown will find a way to make it work and erase the Lakers' hideous playoff exit last year by challenging the Spurs and Thunder for the Western Conference title.
Still, it's obvious that the more popular storylines will be about the new guard. There's a slew of up and coming squads that aren't quite ready, but could still make waves this year like the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Indiana, Utah and Philadelphia. I don't expect any of them to get out of the first round, but a good showing would go a long way towards building their confidence for the future. Obviously the Clippers are the sexiest of those squads simply because of the Poster Child, Blake Griffin. Who doesn't want to see him vault over the other Gasol and throw down a dunk with the same ferocity we've seen all season? But if Memphis could bounce a better, more experienced Spurs squad, I don't see this inexperienced group led by Vinny "I look like I got lost and just sat down on the Clippers' bench to gather my thoughts" DelNegro getting past the first round.
Now let's talk about the two biggest stars to never see the Finals, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant. Both men are marquee players who have lifted their respective teams from obscurity to the doorstep of greatness. Still, both men are treading dangerously close to hearing the "Why haven't you won a championship yet?" questions that chase LeBron James.
For Rose, this will be he and the Bulls' second straight season as the overall number 1. But whereas last year's postseason began with Rose accepting his MVP trophy, this postseason starts with Rose being his team's biggest question mark. The team was able to hang onto the league's best record while Rose missed significant time with multiple injuries. And you'd like to believe he'll be ready to step in and play at the level we've become accustomed to, it's just hard to imagine he won't have some rust to shake off. And a feisty, defense-first squad like Philadelphia might not be the best medicine, followed most likely by an even better defensive unit in the Boston Celtics. Look, the safe money is on Chicago, but don't be surprised if they look less like Jordan's Bulls and more like Artest's.
Kevin Durant has a different, arguably more difficult problem in Oklahoma. His body is just fine. For the third straight year, he's the league's top scorer. The Thunder are a popular pick to win it all. There's just this one little problem… the second best player on the team doesn't always play like the second best player on the team. Russell Westbrook might be the next best point guard in the league after Derrick Rose. But whereas Rose is the de facto shot taker in crunch time, Westbrook has gone through stretches where he seemingly forgets that Kevin Durant is on his team. If Durant and coach Scotty Brooks can't figure out how to get through to him, the Thunder will again be denied a trip to the Finals.
But the biggest storyline and most common factor from last season is this: All of the pressure is on LeBron James and the Miami Heat. This is the way it will be and the way it should be, until BronBron brings an NBA title to Biscayne Bay.
All the other championship contenders have some sort of excuse if things don't break their way. Boston, LA & San Antonio are old. Chicago is banged up. Dallas lost their mojo. OKC has never been there before.
For Miami, there are no excuses. Yes, they have all the same flaws they had last year, but that doesn't matter. Because they have LeBron James.
Everyone knows that LeBron's lightening rod status is simply an afterglow of his awful Decision, but the fact is that every superstar without a ring goes through this. And the bigger the star, the larger the pressure. Granted, he made things worse with things like, "Not 5. Not 6. Not 7." But even the most vehement LeBron hater admits behind closed doors that it's likely only a matter of time before James raises Larry O'Brien's trophy. Just like we all knew that someday, some way, Peyton Manning would get his much-deserved Super Bowl ring. But you still have to go out there and do it.
Fortunately for LeBron, this year's road to the Finals looks significantly easier than last year's. Unless Mike Woodson really is the defensive mastermind he's been made out to be lately around NYC, the Knicks don't seem like much of a threat in the first round. Iman Schumpert and Landry Fields have looked like top-tier defenders at times, but asking them to guard James & Wade night after night seems like too much. What about Carmelo you ask? Well… defense and Melo don't really… hang out that often. Conversely, the Heat have four different players who can guard Anthony. And while the Knicks have improved defensively, their offense still revolves around Melo scoring and scoring big.
After that comes either the Orlando Magic, who lost their edge against Miami when Howard went down, or the rising, but not ready for primetime, Pacers. Is it foolish to dismiss a Pacers team that quietly had the league's fifth best record? Possibly. Do you really think I'm going to take them against the Heat? Of course not.
Presumably, the next leg of LeBron's journey will take him either to Boston or Chicago. If I had to choose right now, I think it's going to be Chicago, but I have almost no confidence in that choice. As I said before, Rose is banged up and has barely played in the last month. Plus, he hasn't beaten the Celtics in the playoffs before. And if any team can figure out a way to shut him down, it's Boston. Still, the only person who knows the Celtics as well as Doc Rivers is Tom Thibodeau. Ergo, I flip flop on my own opinions as I write them. Whatever.
Regardless of whether I'm right or wrong, the Heat have one common advantage over both possible conference finals opponents. They beat them both in 5 games last year. So my gut tells me that the team with more talent that beat Chicago in this same series a year ago will do it again, sending the Heat back to the Finals for the second year in a row.
But that's where my crystal ball begins to really cloud up. Every day, I feel like a different team could make it out of the West. The obvious choice to make is the Oklahoma City Thunder. And Lord knows, if they can get through the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs (their most likely paths), they'll be more than deserving of OKC's first Western Conference title. But can they? I do worry about Westbrook. If he shows that he gets it and gets Durant the ball in crunch time, they can make it. If not, either LA or San Antonio might be able to knock them out. Still, the safest bet is that the Thunder will finally break through and make their first Finals appearance.
In the end, I think it's a moot point. I'd honestly love to see any of those western teams make it to the Finals. For me, these playoffs, regardless of the outcome, will all come down to King James. Months after the Finals are over, most people will remember them as the title that LeBron did or didn't win. Love him or hate him, he's that big a deal. His team's flaws will be overlooked, while all of his will be spotlighted and exposed. If the Heat win the title, but his numbers are paltry, it will be remembered as the championship trip where he was proven to be unclutch. Or if he dominates the stats sheet, but they come up short, he'll be the selfish ball hog who's never going to win a title. Only winning and winning impressively will undo this treatment. And I think he understands this. I believe he knows the hole he has dug for himself and he's made great strides this season to put himself in a position to get out of it.
Ultimately, I do believe that LeBron James & the Miami Heat will win the championship. But I'm also smart enough to know I'm not smart enough to know for sure. All I know for sure is that I can't wait to watch.
Me. 6 am. Tomorrow.
Followers of the Deeg! It's that special time of year where we start incrementally caring about American Catch-and-Run Ball and our Buffalo Bills. Having flown in an expert to deal with the nitty gritty cogs of the Bills Draft Machine earlier this week
, it's now time for what DGWU Sports does best: drinking.
Sure, smarter followers of football would just take the night off and allow the theater of Draft night to continue without their notice, to ignore the picks until the morning after when they can see their team's choices in aggregate and without the douchebaggery. But, I tend to enjoy the actual process - even if the media's coverage is a laughable caricature of American entertainment - because it's a day where there isn't any real risk that I'll leave disppointed, since the actual, on-field results of the process won't be known for several months (or years, really).
Of course, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of things about the draft that infuriate me (and have infuriated me during the last couple weeks of build-up), which is why a Draft Drinking Game is an absolute necessity. Do you honestly think I can last a whole night chatting with The Scizz without some form of organized and competitive imbibing? I'm falling asleep from boredom just thinking about it.
My plan, then, is to keep myself busy with a drinking game tonight (created with no small amount of help and inspiration from some of my more hilarious friends on the Tweet-Machine) as I enjoy the New York City Buffalo Bills Backers Draft Party
at McFadden's Saloon tonight. If you're in the City tonight, you should really consider checking it out.
So.... without further ado, and my preface to the S.S. Disaster having been sufficiently over-written, I give you ---The DGWU Sports Draft Day Drinking Game
Preparation: Find yourself some Canadian beer. Something with relatively low alcohol content (so, no Molson XXX. Disappointing, I know) that will keep you from dying over the course of the night. Why Canadian beer? Because we're from Buffalo and we love to display our affinity for America's Hat so long as hockey season is over and we're allowed to think Toronto is "alright" again. My understanding is that McFadden's will have Molson and/or Labatt on tap, so I should be all set. Coors Light can also suffice in a pinch, but only if the meter on the side indicates that it's SUPER COLD. Anything less is a fucking disappointment.
Now, on to the rules:
There are exactly zero virgins in this picture.
1. The Teblowing Rule
: This is Draft Day. Unless it's the Jets' pick, there is no comprehensible reason for there to be any on-air discussion of Tim Tebow (and even then, there's still no real reason to talk about the team's fucking backup QB). Of course, good sense will not stop ESPN and/or the NFL Network from dropping to their knees and bowing to the new god of New Jersey Jets football at every opportunity. Everytime he's mentioned: Drink twice. Drink four if it happens in the early 7:00-7:30 timeslot.
And don't forget to follow your drink with a crucifiction pose while your buddies stab you in the side with daggers and someone in the back yells out "He really was the King of the Jews."
Too far? (s/o to The Outlander, @MattyRenn, for inspiration on this one)
2. The Tears of Heaven Rule: We'll limit this rule to just crying players. In other words, weeping mothers, coaches or teenage Tebow fans will be excluded. So, if a player cries when he's drafted, drink once. (another s/o to @MattyRenn)
***Wild Card Mark Ingram Addendum: Finish beer if crying happens as a result of email from player's incarcerated father. If you can't or don't want to finish, you may opt out of rule by standing on the bar and singing first verse and chorus of "Tears of Heaven." Anyone who cries at your rendition must buy you a shot.
3. The Chris Berman Rule: If we hear "nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills" from Berman, finish your drink, stuff a fistful of french fries in your mouth and get up on the bar to do the Truffle Shuffle. There's no way this can end badly. (inspired by the Scizz...)
4. The Upside of Drinking Rule: As if there was ever a downside to drinking, a very simple rule from the Scizz -
Drink once every time we hear about a player's "upside" or "potential."
5. The Good Touch, Bad Touch Rule: This is all @MattyRenn - when an analyst says something homoerotic about a player, say something homoerotic about a buddy and drink. With Scizz and me hanging out tonight, this was bound to happen anyway, so I would add that you each have to drink with arms intertwined. It's a lot more intimate that way and shows the world that you and your best bud have a love that will last forever.
6. The Hug Your Mama Rule
: We all love moms, right? (giggity) Mama love is particularly abundant within draft classes, so it is appropriate that we follow their good example. Every time a player hugs his moms, raise your glass, toast to your own mom and drink once for every hour that the dear woman was in labor with you. (s/o to @ScottyMCSS for the original inspiration on this one). If you were adopted, drink once for every time your mom audibly wished she could return you to your biological parents.
7. The Idiot Jets Fan Rule: Every year, Radio City is filled with knuckle-dragging Jets fans who have decided that their purpose in life is to make their shit-for-brains opinions known on national TV. As if the country wasn't already aware that this fan base has essentially been scraped from the bottom of the barrel of American Catch-and-Run Ball consumers, the fans at Radio City annually reaffirm our shared recognition that the Jets are the absolute fucking worst. Add in the weird emotional dynamics of the pro- and anti-Tebow camps, and we have a recipe for disaster. Drink once every time Jets fans inexplicably boo another team's pick. (s/o to @davekellywny for the inspiration of this one). Drink twice every time the camera pans to Jets fans and you can count more than two with food stains on their jerseys. Drink three times if a Jets fan is caught on camera taking a drunken nap.
8. The Bengals Rule: Speaking of fucking degenerates, it's well-documented that the Cincinnati Bengals are the league's poster boys for criminal behavior. Luckily for everyone, this draft has more than it's fair share of potential fuck-ups to rival the fuck-ups in orange and black. In their honor, any time the off-the-field criminal behavior of any draft prospect is being discussed, finish your beer, find someone at the bar with cocaine, punch him in the face, steal his coke and tell the kid to make better decisions next time. Dare to say no, children.
9. The Entourage Rule: Scizz suggested "drink once for every member of a draftee's entourage." I'm down with that one, but suggest that it be doubled in the event your own entrourage for the evening is bigger. As my mom always says, go big or go home.
10. The Mel Kiper Rule: Part of me is tempted to just have this rule be to drink every time Kiper is on the screen, since there is simply too much funny shit about that dude. Realizing that will have me drunk by about 7:15 (as if that were really an issue), We'll thus limit it -- Drink 3 every time Kiper mentions a player's "red flags." Drink 1 every time a Kiper prediction is wrong. (s/o to @BonerShorts)
***John Clayton Addendum: Any time Clayton makes an incorrect prediction, drink twice, take off your head and start singing songs from Labyrinth.
This comparison is never not funny to me.
11. The AFC East Power Hour Rule: In honor for the intra-divisional rivalries within the AFC East, as we look ahead to a season where no small amount of Bills fans believe the team to actually have a legitimate shot at taking the division crown, drink once for every minute that an AFC East team is "on the clock." If they haven't yet formally announced the pick by the last thirty seconds, finish your beer.
***Heartbreaker Addendum: If an AFC East team takes a guy who was linked to the Bills as a prospect, drown your sorrows and take a shot of Crown Royal.
12. The Leodis McKelvin Rule: Ahhh, Leodis. Harbinger of failure and dropper of balls. We love you. We hate you. But, mostly, we loathe being reminded of where we picked you. Ugh. Every time you are reminded of Leodis being picked 11th in 2008, whether by an analyst or some dickhead at the bar, finish your beer and smash the bottle/glass/can on your forehead. Don't you feel better? No? Wash, rinse, repeat.
And them's the rules, folks. Follow them, enjoy them, and hit me up on twitter
tonight to update me as to your progress and/or suggest rule changes.
Now it's a party
After a few well deserved weeks off from podcasting together, the Deeg triumphantly return with episode 27 of the CrapTastiCast. We all gathered on a Sunday afternoon to watch playoff hockey and the NBA from the Apologist’s apartment, while drinking an extraordinary amount of bloody mary's. Joining us was past guest (and Aps’ roommate), “The Pink Elephant”, as we chatted about adoption, Raffi Torres, violence in the NHL, the Buffalo Bills' draft needs, and of course, high school yearbook quotes. The Yachtsman (aka Boat Shoes) also attempts to explain how and why he used to be an enormous New York Yankees fan, which leads to a fairly normal conversation about baseball. Shocking, we know.
We almost lost the file, so apologies if there seem to be some sudden cuts. Putting this back together was not easy, but we think it came together nicely.
Musical interludes are from Pearl Jam, Queen, and Rod Stewart this week.
Download from Libsyn right here
or itunes below. Or, as always stream from that sexy little streamer below. Get at it, dog.
Hey there animals, Scizz here. Since none of us at the Deeg A.) know that much about college football, and B.) have the time or patience to do enough research to write a draft preview, we outsourced the task to a much more knowledgeable friend of the Deeg. He is simply known as "The Wire". If you were reading this blog last year, you may remember the Wire's two part in depth wrap-up on the Buffalo Bills draft. (Part one here) (Part two here). The Wire is a dear fiend of mine and, honestly, knows more about college football and the draft than any other person I know. He is basically just a more bad-ass Mel Kiper who shows up once a year for us to handle the draft. So without further ado, check out the Wire's DGWU Sports Buffalo Bills draft preview. The Wire
Considering value, need and availability, the following players are presented as the top 10 most likely selections for the Bills at #10 overall:1. WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (6' 3", 220 Lbs.)
Floyd has prototypical size and strength for the WR position. Statistically, he was one of the top WRs in college football. At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Floyd demonstrated good hands, flexibility and sharp routes in open field drills. Most importantly, he clocked at 4.42 in the 40-yard dash which was better than most scouts anticipated for his size. His combine performance addressed concerns about a perceived lack of explosion, agility and straight line speed and vaulted him into the upper echelon of draft prospects. His Notre Dame Pro Day
provided the exclamation point. Mike Mayock (NFL Network), who attended the workout, commented that Floyd had tremendous breaks in and out of his cuts and explosion off the line of scrimmage comparable to top WR prospect Justin Blackmon. At this point, concerns about his several arrests in college on alcohol-related charges seem like an afterthought. The Bills showed their hand in free agency by aggressively pursuing Robert Meachem who ultimately signed in San Diego. GM Buddy Nix, who scouted a similar player - Vincent Jackson - during his time in San Diego, would clearly like to add a complement to newly re-signed WR Stevie Johnson and a big weapon for newly extended QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. 2. LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (6' 3", 242 Lbs.)
Kuechly clocked in at 4.58 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. This was significant for a projected ILB prospect who now proved he could hold his own in pass coverage against increasingly athletic TEs and move from a 2-down LB prospect to a potential 3-down LB. Kuechly also registered an impressive 38" vertical jump and 123" broad jump which further demonstrated his surprising athleticism. Kuechly did not run at the Boston College Pro Day, but showed acceleration and burst in positional drills to prove that he is not limited to only zone drops in pass coverage. Kuechly's strengths, however, remain his tackling and instincts. He averaged eight solo tackles per game at Boston College and finished with 532 total tackles in only three seasons. While he will not blitz often in the NFL, he should be a steady, sideline-to-sideline tackler a la Zach Thomas. The biggest question regarding the Bills' potential interest in Kuechly is whether they project he has the size, strength, and block-shedding ability to play on the strong side of their 4-3 base. Nix stated that second-year man Kelvin Sheppard is slotted for MLB and Nick Barnett at WSLB, so an upgrade over veteran Kirk Morrison is warranted. Kuechly would provide an upgrade over Sheppard on passing downs in the middle, but that is not enough to justify investment of their top overall selection. A projection to the strong side is key.
3. OT Riley Reiff, Iowa (6' 6", 313 Lbs.)
Reiff has played DE, TE, and OG in his football career. He looks the part of an athletic NFL LT with good footwork, lateral agility, and natural knee-bend. He proved durable at Iowa in starting every game in his college career after replacing Bryan Bulaga. While he uses his hands well and can anchor against bull rushes, he will be susceptible to fast NFL pass rushers such as hybrid 3-4 OLBs. The biggest knock on Reiff is a 33 1/4" arm length measurement which is below average for NFL LTs and a concern for some scouts who now project him as RT or even OG. It should be noted that Joe Thomas measured shorter arms than Reiff, so it is not a deal breaker. This pick depends on whether Nix disqualifies Reiff as a LT based on the arm length issue. If not, he is a very likely replacement for recently departed Demetress Bell. In his post-season press conference, Nix described current LT Chris Hairston as "serviceable" and with potential to develop into an everyday starter, so the desire to solidify the left side of the offensive line is evident. 4. CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina (6' 0", 193 Lbs.)
As South Carolina's Mr. Football, Gilmore transitioned from high school QB at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill, SC, to three-year starter at CB for the Gamecocks. He is a late rising CB prospect, pegged as a high effort team leader and student of the game with good awareness, natural ball skills, and an aggressive demeanor. At the Scouting Combine, Gilmore posted a 4.40 in the 40 yard dash and a solid 10' 3 in the broad jump which led Sports Illustrated to label him one of their Scouting Combine winners. He may be one of the most underrated prospects in the draft but is quietly moving into the #2 CB spot behind high profile Morris Claiborne. Statistically, he was superior to Alabama prospect Dre Kirkpatrick. Gilmore showed well on film against Julio Jones and A.J. Green and has all the physical attributes of a starting cover corner in the NFL. He may be most effective in zone coverage schemes but has the abilities to develop into a man-to-man cover corner with further experience and coaching. For the Bills, 2011 second round pick Aaron Williams looks to be a lock as one starting CB, but with Terrence McGee fading with age and injuries (and a contract recently restructured to that of a nickel corner), Drayton Florence struggling for long stretches last season, and Leodis McKelvin subject to the "bust" label, Nix will need to add an impact cover man at some point in the draft. While Gilmore may not have tremendous upside, he would be a safe, prudent selection with quality intangibles.5. OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia (6' 5", 345 Lbs.)
Glenn had 50 starts at Georgia, tying a team record, including 32 at OG and 18 at LT. He played LT his senior season and also in Senior Bowl workouts. At the Senior Bowl, he showed quick feet, agility and body control for a prospect his size, and his stock began to rise as a potential LT in the NFL. He has ideal mass for a power rush blocker and a wide body and good base to seal off pass rushers. If he is able to gain leverage, he has the size and strength to flat-out erase defenders. Evidenced by a poor 23.5-inch vertical jump at the Scouting Combine, his overall explosion and athleticism is still in question and some scouts feel he's naturally suited to play on the interior in the NFL. While his versatility should be a strength, it is also a detriment as he is being projected anywhere from the Bills at #10 overall to mid-2nd round depending on where scouts place him along the line. Glenn visited the Bills in late March which should be no surprise as Nix is very fond of and familiar with Southeastern players. The issue is whether Nix feels Glenn's potential as a LT is worth a top 10 pick.6. OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford (6' 5, 312 Lbs.)
Martin is a true left tackle prospect, but his stock has fallen due to concerns about his strength. The most damning piece of evidence may be film from last season's USC game wherein he was dominated by Nick Perry
. These sentiments are echoed by ESPN's Mel Kiper who has dropped Martin from #13 overall to #21 overall over the course of his four mock drafts. Martin does possess all the requisite measurables for the position, including 34" arm length, as well as high character and intelligence. Having protected Andrew Luck's blind side for the past three years, he may have stationed the most critical position in all of college football. His experience in a pro-style offense should benefit his transition to the NFL, and with professional coaching to develop the technical aspects of his game, he could develop into an impact starter.
7. CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (6' 1", 186 Lbs.)
Kirkpatrick is a confident, somewhat arrogant, athletic, tenacious CB prospect from the reigning national champions. He only had three INTs during his three-year college career, but this is attributable to his physicality against the man at the expense of ball hawking prowess. Kirkpatrick is physical off the line of scrimmage and denies WRs a clean release and separation with his strength and aggressiveness. He hustles in run support which may be a detriment in the NFL if he leaves the sidelines open. NFL coaches will have to rein in his tendency to over-pursue. Those same coaches could be tempted to transition him to safety due to his length and slim frame. At the Scouting Combine, scouts observed stiffness in his movements and some questions arose regarding his preparation for the event. He posted a 4.51 40-yard dash, which was above average, and sat on that number for his Pro Day. A possession of marijuana charge filed against Kirkpatrick after he declared for the draft was subsequently dropped. While his stock has dipped slightly, Kirkpatrick remains a big game, tough, reliable, battle-tested CB prospect. 8. OG David DeCastro, Stanford (6' 5", 316 Lbs.)
DeCastro is one of the top OG prospects in recent years with popular comparisons to Steve Hutchinson and more recently, Maurkice Pouncey. He is almost flawless technically and can block in any power or zone scheme. DeCastro gave up only one sack
in college - "The Sack" - to Brian Price of UCLA as a redshirt freshman in 2009. (Ed. Note: I had to look this up because I figured it had to be a typo. Nope.
). He is agile, mean, and powerful, posting 34 reps of 225 lbs. at the Scouting Combine. Son of a South African rugby star, DeCastro is a perfectionist at his craft and, pound for pound, one of the best players in the draft. Offensive guard is not an explicit need for the Bills, but if they go this direction, it provides them the flexibility to kick Andy Levitre out to LT from his guard spot, or to provide an immediate upgrade over Kraig Urbik at right guard. ESPN's Todd McShay has labeled DeCastro "a special talent" and suggested that any team may be hard pressed to pass on him no matter what their immediate needs may be. If it were not for the generally low value of OGs, DeCastro would be a top 10 lock.9. OT Mike Adams, Ohio St. (6' 7", 323 Lbs.)
Adams was one of five players suspended at Ohio St. last season due to NCAA rule violation of receiving improper benefits. He had shoulder and foot injuries in 2008, a knee injury in 2009, and was initially suspended by Ohio St. for two games in 2009 for violating team rules. In a separate incident in 2009, he was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia although the charges were eventually dropped. All this being said, Adams has exceptional height, length, quickness and agility for a LT prospect in the NFL. He had a strong showing at Senior Bowl practices which vaulted him into first round conversation. While he struggled in the weight room at the Scouting Combine, with only 19 reps at 225 lbs., he recovered with a better Pro Day, posting 21 reps on bench press, and reportedly enamoring the Steeler's front office with his entire workout. Looking at 2010 game film, Adams handled Houston's J.J Watt but struggled against Washington's Ryan Kerrigan. Overall, Adams is technically raw, generally inconsistent, but with big potential as an eventual starting LT in the NFL. In fact, Mike Mayock has him rated as the third best OT prospect behind Matt Kalil and Reiff, but one has to assume that is based on long-term upside not immediate reward. 10. OT Matt Kalil, USC (6' 6", 307 Lbs.)
This is a wildcard pick. Adam Shefter recently tweeted that the Vikings are not as high on Matt Kalil as most prognosticators assume. Couple this with recent comments by Minnesota GM Rick Spielman that the Vikings will consider potential trade options, and the trade-down rumors are beginning to float. If the Bills are set on upgrading LT and are not satisfied with flawed prospects Reiff, Glenn, or Martin, it seems they may have the option to move up to #3. It would take their 2013 first round draft pick to do so of course, but acquiring their best offensive line prospect since Will Wolford may be worth it. Kalil has all the physical attributes to go with a nasty temperament and has been considered by some as the most complete OT prospect since Tony Boselli. To add further intrigue, Kalil's father was drafted by the Bills and played in the USFL. His mother was Miss California, so there's that too.And that's it from The Wire. If you're in the New York City area for Draft Day and don't have tickets to Radio City, be sure to check out the NYC Buffalo Bills Backers Draft Party at McFaddens on 42nd St. and 2nd Ave. At least a couple members of the Deeg will be there, so you're guaranteed to see at least one or two guys audibly cursing Ralph Wilson, whether it's necessarily relevant or not.
The Defenseman“I think we have good players. There has to be a decision about what kind of game we’re going to play. Yeah we had our shortcomings. I think that there’s enough talent in that group of guys to be on a winning hockey club, but we didn’t get the job done and that takes some soul searching. I don’t want to waste seasons.”
“Goaltender reflects team, team reflects goaltender. You guys are writing for the fans who like to talk about hockey, and it’s always a chicken or the egg, you know whatever. It’s always about goaltending at such a high level, and a goaltender steals a game and the goaltender is the difference. Yeah, I understand that whole part of it. I also see the importance of being a complete team.”
“You have to prove you’re a good team over the course of a season. I don’t think we ever qualified and I don’t think we ever stepped up to that level we talked about.” - Ryan Miller
To listen to Ryan Miller’s end of the year press availability is to listen to the great question in Buffalo sports in the last fifteen years. How can someone so intelligent and compelling make you want to have Joe Pesci place your head in a vise? (NFSW due to Joe Pesci.)
Listening to Miller on the CBA, you can hear the articulation necessary from the players perspective to prevent getting raked over the coals again by the National Hockey League. Then you hear him talk about how the team may not have been up to the expectations of being a contender, all the while during the season claiming the team needed no change to succeed. It’s like, who are you man?
I happen to be a big fan of Ryan Miller. I believe in his competitiveness on a team that sorely lacks such emotions. Often, when things get dicey near the net, Miller is one of the first to jam a glove into someone’s craw. On the ice, his demeanor is at a minimum of a dyspeptic nature. I am also a fan of Thomas Vanek, but if Vanek were half as angry as Miller he would make the all-star team perennially and be a fixture on Coach’s Corner.
Miller’s intelligence when speaking about league-wide issues such as player safety and the labor relations between the league and its players is what that league needs more of. In a situation where you have the official dispenser of justice in the NHL giving a blank check to players to ignore rules during the playoff tournament, Miller and players like him have the ability to come to consensus and provide guidance to the league on how to avoid this crap down the road and turn the NHL from a garage league into a respected professional sport. With important players in the prime of their careers being sidelined or retired due to concussions, Miller speaks on these events wisely and with prudence (provided he isn’t the one getting hit.)
There are also negatives to Miller’s game. He has a tendency to give up weak goals at inopportune times. You don’t get the handle “Mr. Softee” without cause, and besides it being a really good derogatory nickname, he earned it. He also tends to go down too early in his stance when facing a shooter, allowing better ones to put the puck high glove side (regardless of the fact that an NHL goalie glove is the size of a sail off a yankee clipper.) His career numbers are, well, average.
The team has operated on a philosophy since the departure of Daniel Briere and Chris Drury of victory through goaltending. They could not or would not replace the scoring that left the team in their absence, or wrongly believed the team as constructed at the time could do so. Since that time, the team has had one spectacular year, one mediocre year, and three bad ones.
So as we sit here pulling our pork at teams that look way better than ours, let us ponder this enigmatic man (either after or during the pork-pulling. Your choice.) Where are we with this guy? He has played seven seasons as a Buffalo Sabre, so we should kinda know right?
Here are his rankings in each of his years as a starter in the NHL for shots against, games played, wins, save percentage, and goals against average. Minimum 1000 shots against for my convenience because it’s a nice round number. In order, it shows his statistic, the leaders in parenthesis, and Miller’s ranking in that stat. These are regular season numbers.
Miller is pretty consistent. If I had to guess right now, I’d say next year he’d have a GAA of 2.54 with a save percentage of .917. He’d get between 35 and 40 wins. He would be near, but not in, the top ten in these statistical categories.
And on average he’s playing between sixty to seventy games a year. At the end of this season there was a minor kerfuffle between internet jerkoffs (an expansive club of which we are all a member) over whether Miller should have been played every game on the way out, or if there should be a healthy rotation between Miller and Jhonas Enroth.
Games Played Versus Performance
I can’t see a correlation between games played and goals against. In fact the sample size we have shows really it doesn’t matter how many games he plays, his GAA will remain pretty close. The outlier is his Vezina year.
If he were terrible the more he played, the line would go from the top right to the bottom left. Instead you get a scatter around 2.60. Looks pretty consistent to me.
Fine I’ll do one for save percentage too.
If there was a correlation that the more games Miller played, the worse he got, the dots would appear to travel from the top left to the bottom right. Instead, you have a big scatter shot near .915.
So it looks like games it doesn’t matter with Miller. You know what you will get with the guy.
Standard Deviation In Save Percentage
Okay asshole, what about consistency game to game? How likely is it that Ryan Miller will stroke out and have a game where he ruins his team i.e. Mr. Softee style? Well that’s why the Good Lord invented mathematics. Standard deviation basically measures how varied things are between a set of data points, which in this case is save percentage. How many saves is a dude making game to game? This year Miller’s save percentage was .916. If you take every game he played and computed the standard deviation for him, it comes out to .070 percent. This means that any game he plays has a 68% chance of being either one standard deviation above or below his average percentage. On any given night, Miller might have a .980 save percentage or a .860 save percentage. That’s a wide fucking margin, kids. It’s also pretty much everyone elses.
By comparison, Henrik Lundqvist’s SD this year was .040. Mike Smith’s of Phoenix is .070. (D.E.C.I.M.A.L.S.) Seems like within a season, each player jumps around by their own tendencies. Some guys are more prone to explode in a ball of flame (Smith, Miller, Everyone) in a random game than others (Lundqvist). Tossed in, Ondrej Pavalec of the Jets, who although has a GAA at almost 3 and a save percentage below .910, still has a standard deviation of .070. There are few players who can hit that consistency within a year, let alone from year to year. Reliability in a goaltender is all relative, yo.
This is going somewhere.So Where Does This Leave Us?
The Sabres have two goaltenders. One had to play, the other didn’t. Why?
Well, what is Enroth’s SD? He has one of, you guessed it, .070. All of this math and all of these statistics tell you that Ryan Miller is average to above average, and that Enroth is more than capable of playing a good game for you, and often. With having a similar GAA and save percentage as Miller, and being just as likely to poop the bed as Miller, all fear of playing him should melt away.
Except it doesn’t.
And this is my problem: Do the Sabres know this? We seem to be in a perpetual holding pattern, waiting for Ryan Miller to repeat his performance in the 09-10 season. The Sabres certainly seem to expect these kind of results based upon how they both speak and act. By the end of the year, it seemed like the Sabres could not afford to take Miller out of a single game, as if he was the sole reason their comeback had begun.
It was partly true. Since February 19th, when the Sabre took off like a V-2 destined for London, until March 30, when the wheels came off against Pittsburgh, Miller had a .937 save percentage with a 1.77 GAA. Those are dumb numbers. In that stretch the Sabres as a team scored just over three goals a game. In all the games that came before that, the Sabres averaged 2.36 goals a game.
What’s all this crap mean? It means the team needs to score fucking goals to win. Only six teams in the East have missed the playoffs with a positive goal differential since the lockout, and thats common sense, right? IT’S ALL COMMON SENSE. Get. Players. Who. Score.
None of these stats (and why they don’t matter) take into account the psychology of sports and the role confidence plays in the action. The Sabres need to play Miller because they believe in Miller as their goaltender. It is preached from high up in the organization and from the bench that Miller is “our guy” and needs to be ridden to the end. You say it enough times, and pretty soon you believe it, even though it isn’t true.
You can make a case that this came back to bite the Sabres in the ass at the end of the year, with Miller putting up bad games against Pittsburgh and Toronto twice. As the pressure mounted, and the games became must win, there was little chance Enroth would see the ice. The team had to play Miller because they couldn’t unlock from the single goalie philosophy. And when Miller gave up the ghost in those games, the confidence must have taken a hit. They NEEDED Miller to win the game for them. They relied on him.
Can Ryan Miller be a key player in the locker room without making him into the most important player on the team? Perhaps, and by all indications the team looks to improve on the forward ranks. The trade for Hodgson and his replacement of Gaustad, along with Tyler Ennis being placed at center indicates as much. Hockey Rhetoric
hit this best when looking over the impact of injuries on the Sabres this year and the team’s reliance on puck moving defensemen to generate offense. The Sabres now have those defensemen on the roster, when healthy. However, at forward resides the flake department. We will discuss this at the next opportunity.
For now, Miller should be good enough to win with. Others certainly have with a goalie of his ilk, but the team should not be so married to the concept of his playing as a requirement for success. Stop building the psychology for a situation that does not exist. Ryan Miller is like a bunch of other guys in the league, but a bunch of other teams in the league keep winning. If Ryan Miller is better than I am giving him credit for, it only goes further to prove how badly the team has handled the past five years.
Turns out it’s more Darcy, Lindy, and us as fans that make me want Joe Pesci to place my head in a vise. The Defenseman is on Twitter @TheDefenseman. Give a follow and we’ll talk some tits.
Well maybe not "fix". I can't make this team a winner. Nobody can. Michael Jordan
, the greatest player in the history of the NBA, has driven this franchise into the ground, to the point that I believe this past season's University of Kentucky team could beat them on any given night. The Charlotte Bobcats are beyond lost as a winning franchise, but that doesn't mean they can't be entertaining and sell tickets. Let me explain my plan.
First, nobody in Charlotte "needs" good basketball from the NBA. As the Yachtsman pointed out to me this week, when you have the Tar Heels and Duke down the road in Chapel Hill and Durham, who is actually going to care about watching the NBA?? The Mecca of college basketball is at your finger tips, so unless you have Kobe, Lebron, or CP3 to watch, you are not going to get much better. With that in mind, other than bringing in the biggest names possible, who I should add, have NO interest in playing for your squad, what can you possibly do to put out on an entertaining show for fans and sell those luxury boxes and primo seats? Well, I am here to save the day. I have put together a master plan to "fix" the Charlotte Bobcats. A plan that will put fans in the seat, keep the team on SportsCenter highlights, and give this garbage squad the buzz it needs. A plan that can be summed up in two simple words.
Yup. That's my plan. This team currently ranks 24th in payroll in the NBA and NOBODY cares about them. What if I tell you that I can shed the payroll down to make it 30th, but still guarantee more tickets and merchandise sales? Why would you not take this chance? Imagine a team full of the CRAZIEST players the NBA has seen in the last ten years and imagine them all playing together every night. Traveling together, staying in random hotels together, PARTYING TOGETHER? This a train wreck that needs to happen. Let's do this, MJ.
You need to dump the dead weight of Tyrus Thomas, D.J. Augustin, and DeSagana Diop and bring in players that the public would actually want to see. Sure, Augustin has shown "potential" and Diop has some real defensive skills, but your average American has no clue who these guys are. So first things first, you dump everyone on the roster in any way you can. Now I understand this won't be easy or most likely even possible, but enter my dream world with me.
Fat Diaw and Eduardo Najera's contracts come off the books this year, so that much is easy. Then, you have Augistin, Diop, Reggie Williams, and Matt Carroll all with expiring contracts next year that you can probably move for picks and cash to teams desperate to free up cap room for the following year's free agency. Plus, Diop and Augustin can both still be available to a number of contenders as pure bench players. D.J. White also also has an expiring contract, but has more upside than all other players mentioned so far combined, so he might even able to fetch you something more. But that's being hopeful, so either cut him loose or grab a 2nd round pick from the Bulls and be happy about it. Next, you have the longer contracts of younger stars with actual potential. B.J. Mullins and Gerald Henderson both have upside and don't get paid too much. They can be moved, OR cutting them won't cost the team that much. Make it happen.
Then you have Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, two young up and comers who you could argue have the ability to be major players in the NBA. C'mon now. Yes they have talent, but you really think either one of these guys will be heading an all-star teams in 5 years? Fuck that. Deal them now while they still have potential. Kemba Walker sold exactly nine seats for this franchise this season, and they were all visiting from Connecticut. That leaves you with the awful contracts of Tyrus Thomas and Corey Maggette. I'll get to local Duke boy Maggette in a minute, but until then, what do we do with Thomas and his disastrous contract? This part I don't know about. So, I'm going with a hitman. Pay a few thousand dollars, get Tyrus bumped off. Easy Peazy. I'm assuming the contract would come off the books then, but that is probably terribly wrong and I could google it right now to find out what really happens but research is for losers. This is my dream scenario god dammit!
Corey Maggette stays. I know he hasn't done anything too crazy yet, but watch him play a game this season. He looks like he is one "Why did you leave Duke early?" joke away from snapping and choking out a stripper in public. I have faith in him. Plus, with all the craziness I'm going to put around him, he is bound to turn. Plus-Plus, his contract is unmovable, and I feel bad having a former Dukey bumped off. I'm awful.
Save us, Gilbert. You are our only hope.
Now after that long-winded approach to stripping the roster, we can rebuild this team. The first player you go after next season is simple. Gilbert Arenas. He brings guns into the locker room
. He owns a grotto in his backyard that has sharks
. Sharks that died because his ex-wife purposely killed by feeding them pennies
. None of this is made up. You need him to anchor this team. You get can get him and his craziness for the league minimum at 1.3 million. A steal. Adding onto that, this team needs to hire the best possible psychiatrist who does hypnotherapy in the world. He/She will then convince Gilbert that he is Michael Jordan reincarnated. They give him #23, put Arenas-Jordan on the back (Tell me you wouldn't want to own that jersey), even let him legally change his name, just as long as this crazy guy thinks he is MJ. This is brilliant and you know it. Imagine him making all reporters and coaches address him as Michael and forcing Warner Brothers to make a sequel to Space Jam. PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN, WORLD!
The main obstacle is, of course, that Michael Jordan isn't actually dead and actually owns the team Arenas would be playing for. But, this is Agent Zero we are talking about. As Agent 23, only awful things can happen, and that equals ticket sales and ratings.
Next, you bring in Metta World Peace aka Ron Artest and have your psychiatrist take Ron-Ron OFF his meds. No more Mr. World Peace, you want his name to be "Instant Chaos" and his number will just be a question mark. This is the guy that asked his teammates after the "Malice in the Palace" if they would get in any trouble! They pummeled fans IN THE STANDS and he still thought they might not get in trouble. Pure genius crazy! Plus, he'll only cost you 7 million a year. Read the Apologist's past post on Ron-Ron for more great stuff.
With an un-medicated Artest (I mean Chaos) and mentally screwed with Arenas (I mean Jordan) you have the basis for the most entertaining team in the history of basketball. But wait! There is so much more!
So who's next? You have Arenas-Jordan as your starting point guard, Artest/World Peace/Chaos as your small forward, and Maggette as your sixth man to preserve future craziness, so let's fill out the rest of the starting five.Shooting guard:
EASY. Stephen Jackson. He was Artest's right hand man in the "Malice at the Palace", has been hit with gun charges, and is constantly being traded due to his volatile nature. I cannot think of a better fit. He still calls his decision to attack fans at Aubrun Hills justified and self-defense. Yes, bring him aboard.Power Forward:
AKA 47 himself, Andrei Kirilenko. The Russian born athlete put together some solid years in the NBA, and probably could still have pulled a solid contract this year as a bench player for a contender, but for my new Bobcats, he starts. He has been known for a flagrant foul or two, has a swinger relationship with his wife in which they give each other "free pass" cards to bang other people, there were rumors linking him to the Russian Mafia, and he got THIS tattoo.
Holy fuck, sign this lunatic up! I bet you can get him next year for 3 million and offer him unlimited tattoos and cheerleaders.Center:
Who else? You offer up a veteran exception of 3,000,000 and you bring back Shaq. I enjoy his banter with Ernie, Kenny, and Sir Charles as much as the next guy, but playing with these other four madmen makes him a key cog in this ludicrous machine of basketball and violence. I think he should be allowed to wear his old Kazaam outfit too. (Ed Note from Barrister: This makes two straight Deeg posts with Kazaam! references. We are great at this.
Now that we have our bat-shit crazy starting five, we can move on to filling the bench with lunatics, washed-up vets, and a couple of wild cards.The Guards:
As mentioned earlier, I already added Corey Maggette, who can play both the 1 and 2 spots. Next, I have no choice but to add Delonte West. The ultimate insane bench player, West is most famous for having sexual relations with Lebron James' mother, while they played on the Cleveland Cavaliers TOGETHER! You can't make this shit up. I love the NBA. West has also been arrested on gun charges
after he cut off a police car in his... wait for it... three-wheel Can-Am Spyder
. He had two handguns, a bowie knife, and a shotgun in a guitar case strapped to his back. A true road warrior like this needs to be going through as much airline security as possible while playing for these Bobcats. He also is admittedly bi-polar, has run out of money... twice, and just this past week he did this:
For $1.3 million a year, that alone is worth the price.
Next up is Antoine Walker. I know he is technically a forward, and with his shear girth you can count him as a center, but I already have enough forwards on this squad and he use to play a lot at the 2 spot in his first few seasons. If you aren’t familiar with Walker’s NBA comeback story, check out Chris Ballard’s amazing piece for SI
about it. As you can imagine, the out-of-shape 35 year old failed in his comeback playing for Idaho of the NBDL, so why not give him the one year league minimum to help his financial situation. He’s already sold one NBA championship ring and has been robbed at gunpoint
, so let’s give this pudgy guy a break.The Forwards:
I’ll make this short and sweet. First, we have “the Birdman” himself, Chris Anderson. He will be the only guy on this bench besides Maggette making over the league minimum, but with a savage Mohawk, a plethora of neck tattoos, and past drug problem, he’s worth it. Oh yeah, that drug problem? Rumored to be cocaine, which of course, isn’t your typical sports drug suspension. He was thrown out of the league for TWO YEARS for that
. That's incredible stuff, right there. I say it’s time to get him in touch with Tim Connolly and get him back off the wagon.
Then I have two guys who aren’t quite crazy, but they intrigue me. First you have Jerry Stackhouse, who is in fact, 63 years old and still playing in the NBA. Did you know he was still playing? I didn’t until a random Knicks game this year. He’ll bring the possibility of old man hilarity. Then we have his current teammate on the Atlanta Hawks, Tracy McGrady. Tracy has been trying hard for the last few seasons to find a playoff team to pick him up for another run at a title as a bench player, but those dreams are starting to fade. Bring him on as the house dad and watch the comedy ensue. He’ll be the straight man to a bunch of crazies. Book it.Center:
Finally, you have to bring in the former fattest man in basketball, Eddy Curry. Curry is amazingly, still playing in the NBA for the Miami Heat. But, before this new comeback (in which he actually rarely plays), Curry was given a huge contract by former Knicks GM, coach, and all around fuck-up Isaiah Thomas, and then proceeded to show up to camp every year tremendously overweight and playing like shit. You have to love those guaranteed contracts. Anyway, Curry isn’t all that stable, having been arrested several times
(once for tagging teenagers), and has had a slew of financial issues that included his home being foreclosed on. He’ll fit in nicely.
So with all that, the roster and contracts will look like this:
PG Gilbert Arenas-Jordan 1,300,000
SG Stephen Jackson 10,000,000
SF Metta World Peace/Ron Artest/Instant Chaos 7,200,000
PF Andrei Kirilenko 3,000,000
C Shaquille O’Neal 3,000,000
G Corey Maggette 10,924,138
G Delonte West 1,300,000
G Antoine Walker 1,300,000
F Jerry Stackhouse 1,300,000
F Tracy McGrady 1,300,000
F Chris Anderson 4,500,000
C Eddy Curry 1,300,000
Try to tell me you wouldn't tune in to watch this team explode. Instant ratings.
That’ll also put the payroll at around $47 million for the season, with tons of revenue coming in from people who want to watch this train wreck happen on a weekly basis. What do you have to lose, MJ? I say fuck it. Make it happen. Of course, acquiring some of these players may be difficult because their current teams may not actually want to trade or release them, but this isn't an exact science for a guy like me who just wants to see the most ridiculous group of players ever put together on one team.
Oh! I almost forgot the draft. No problem. Florida point guard Erving Walker was arrested this past year for stealing a taco and fleeing from police
and Rhode Island forward Jonathan Holton was arrested for taping himself having sex with co-eds
unbeknownst to them, and then posting them on online sex sites. The future is now Charlotte!
Follow me on twitter and let me know what a waste of time this was @TheScizz
This may or may not be a colossal waste of time. Except I'm drinking a giant Sierra Nevada and everything about tonight rules as a consequence. Here we go.
7:37 - I'm starting late because I needed to eat. Typical. The Mets are down one in the bottom of the second. Daniel Murphy made it on base in the first but I can't recall how. In the bottom of the first, Jason Bay gifted the Braves with a big error, leading to guy on second with no outs and an eventual unearned run on subsequent sac flies. After absolutely thieving that HR last night, though, I'm declaring it a wash. Upside is there is plenty of ballgame left for him to make up for it.
I just banked on Jason Bay making good baseball plays. This is how bizarre this Mets team is making me.
(continue with this adventure in stupidity after the jump...)
Hey y'all, Barrister here. We've got a new writer here at the Deeg and our hope is that the kid sticks around for a while because, well, he makes us all look a lot better by association. No joke. We'll work on getting him a Bio up and maybe letting him introduce himself a little formally at some point in the next week or two, but for now there are big dragons to slay and the dude brought his longsword. So, without further ado, I give you...
Ozzie Guillen, manager for the Miami Marlins, was suspended for five games by the club for comments made in praise of Fidel Castro’s ability to remain in power for as long as he did in Cuba. I think this is kinda bullshit. I’ll try to walk through it.
Sticking up for Castro in the city of Miami is a dicey proposition at best. The large Cuban community there takes Castro personally - mostly because he is the reason those folks are in the United States at all. Many of them are either first generation Cubans themselves or can talk to a Cuban who has intimate experience with Castro’s regime at dinner on any given night.
If you need a refresher on who Castro is, stop reading this and head out into the internet to find out. Also look up stuff on the Bill of Rights, political speech, federal rights versus the rights of private employers, and basic civics. I’ll wait.
Good! We can begin.
First off it should be stated that the Marlins are without a doubt within their legal right to punish Guillen. Also it goes without saying that sticking up for Castro is, um, dumb. Anyone who maintains political power through the barrel of a gun rather than through the ballot box is worthy of no praise. When you hear the stories of those who are exiled from their home, and the real pain Guillen caused them… well that pain isn’t being faked or made up.
I think where I start to get uncomfortable is when we as a society decide that people should be punished for political speech that is, and I don’t think anyone would argue this, completely allowed by the laws of the United States. The First Amendment, after all, is first for a reason. The ongoing protection of our individual political powers and liberties come from it. Without our ability to exercise our political rights through speaking, we cannot protect the others. It’s a big deal.
I’m not comfortable with the concept that a man like John Rigas has the power to determine what I can and cannot believe as a citizen of this democracy. I know plenty of people in middle and upper management. These are the fuckers we want dictating what is and isn’t acceptable political speech? What’s their motivation? It’s going to be protecting their bottom line. What I can and cannot say should not be determined by its impact on the fiscal year of Globe Corp. Our liberties were not meant to be protected by those whose interests reside not in the well-being of our nation but in the immediate wellbeing of their own pocket books, and that is exactly the world we have constructed for ourselves. Guillen was not punished because he was a threat to the security of the nation (he isn’t), or because he may discriminate against those under his charge due to his political beliefs (he did not and there is no indication he would), or that he used an ethnic slur against a group of citizens or an individual (admiring Castro’s ill-gotten longevity is not that). He expressed a stupendously dumb but nonetheless protected political opinion.
So what have people been saying about this that makes me nervous?
What he said was dumb and inflammatory.
Yep, but you are pretty much still allowed to say it. No one is making a case that he should be arrested for what he said. There is no chance he’s going to jail. I actually think that’s a pretty good standard for us to go by when evaluating whether speech should be allowed. It’s pretty free and open, you know, like liberty.
Also, this isn’t like screaming fire in a theater. These words will not directly lead to the imminent threat of harm to those within earshot.
He’s a public figure! He must be held responsible! Look what happened to Rush Limbaugh!
Limbaugh is paid exclusively to express political opinions, and was boycotted by those who disagreed with his comments. More to the point, calling a woman a slut is probably not protected political speech, even if the woman testified before Congress. (Ed. Note - On this point, people should be aware of the general rules concerning when a person is “fair game” for public criticism bordering on slander. Sandra Fluke is a private figure involved in a matter of public concern. To the extent she is fair game at all, it is only to the extent that she has purposefully interjected herself into the conversation, and only then with respect to matters that are fairly considered part of such conversation. I don’t think it takes a genius to realize that her testimony about serious medical issues did not open the door for Rush to call her a slut. But that’s just me. Carry on. – B.)
Guillen, on the other hand, is a baseball manager and was not speaking about anything relating to the on-field operations of the Marlins and violated no laws. Guillen and the Marlins may be boycotted by citizens who disagree with Guillen, and his suspension was a direct result of that threat to their financial future. But, then again, he was commenting on a famous, politically relevant world leader and he didn’t call anyone a slut.
You can’t say these things in Miami, man.
The First Amendment isn’t enforced by zip code, you asshole. Everybody gets to play everywhere by the same rules. It’s kinda how democracy works. In fact it’s crucial to a functioning democracy. The employer has the right to protect their business.
This is true. Guillen’s comments would have the business of the Miami Marlins. Free speech has consequences right? You can say things, but people also have the right to react to them. I freely admit that this is the most compelling argument for punishing Guillen to me. It is where the intersection of those speaking and those listening meet. And, after all, businesses can hire and fire who they like, within reason.
There is a greater concern for me laying within that idea, though, as I’m curious about just what is within reason
. For Guillen, there is no real danger of being unable to support his family or receive any social services should he lose his job over these comments. But this is not an isolated incident, as folks are losing their jobs every day over things they say on social media or in other public forums. In this country, your ability to attain medical care for yourself or for your family is directly related to your employment status. Employers thus have enormous leverage to discourage how people comport themselves in public. The average American would be in dire circumstances indeed should they lose their job, so it is within their best interest to shut the fuck up and not risk it.
So now we have a situation where those who can truly lose nothing for expressing their own political thoughts are those who are anonymous (Hey! That’s me!) or those who are rich enough to not care. The average Joe, with average political thoughts, would rather just avoid the possibility of trouble with their boss. The message is clear: Don’t bring politics into the workplace as an employee, nevermind that employers are attempting to get into your private stuff outside of it
Even in a world of Twitter and social media, folks are bailing because it’s just too dangerous to their employment to be taking part. It’s common sense not to dog your employer on the Twits
. However, what if that employee was just talking about what’s going on in Syria, or in Mali for example? Should the employee be disciplined just because his employer disagrees? Guillen is a public figure, sure, but not for his political views. He’s famous for managing a baseball team. What he says about Cuba should not matter. They only matter because people became angry and that’s, frankly, a pretty weak reason to restrict speech. His right to political speech is just as protected as mine, and he shouldn’t have to pay for expressing it with his job.
In the end, what will suspending Guillen do? It will probably make him shut up. Good, right? Perhaps not.
When you incentivize not participating in the political process (and - yes – exercising one’s right to free speech by expressing controversial views is absolutely part of it), you are rewarding people for not taking part in acts required for a democracy to function properly. It is almost as if we, through these free market actions, we are telling people not to participate if it comes at the risk of losing profit. You want people to be in this race, folks. When average people think that it suits them better to sit it out rather than speak up, then you start to get the abnormal people speaking up – either those who are above societal reproach for their acts (i.e. rich) or those who are so motivated by and fanatical in their views that they are compelled to act. Those folks usually reside at the extremes. But hey, free speech has its consequences, right?
And I know it’s a dicey proposition. What if he was talking about Hitler?
Everybody always brings up Hitler as the big standard for what not to say. No love for Pol Pot? Go Hitler or go home, right?
Well the Hitler business kinda happened already
. Again, dumb but protected speech. ESPN decided they didn’t need Hank Williams, Jr. because he made them look creepy.
He’s an idiot. But, he should not have been fired for that. He’s allowed to say it, even though it is extraordinarily uncomfortable. The reason I say this is because you cannot allow private employers to determine where that line is. This is why we have fucking courts. Because when you allow private firms leeway in determining political speech, even lessons in civics can get you axed.
Maybe we aren’t quite sure how this works here in a free-thinking America. We talk things out. We HAVE to talk things out. If we don’t talk we start shooting. Restricting free expression, whether by the public or private power, is the first step on the road to democratic oblivion. I’m not saying Guillen’s suspension will be the downfall of America, but do it to enough people over enough time, and eventually people stop paying attention to the political process long enough for someone to steal the fucking thing
. But doesn’t the employer have the right to hire and fire who they want?
YES! I’m not saying this is easy, or that the employer doesn’t have the legal right to do exactly what the Marlins did. Again, however, the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the employer is not always clear cut. At least it shouldn’t be. I’m not even sure that I’m right on any of this, but I’m nervous about it, and I’d like Guillen’s case to not be so cut and dry. Your choices should not have to be A) be a citizen and be unemployable, or B) shut your mouth and provide for a family. We should give a bigger shit about what we all are allowed to say.
Hang out with me on Twitter and we can hug this out. @TheDefenseman
There's little else in my sports life that is more exciting than Cup football. At least until the Sabres break it through the first round of the playoffs and the Bills are playing in late January again. Until then, this more than suffices.
This morning, in the midst of a terrible Liverpool league season that may very well see them finish in the bottom half of the table, the Reds gave me and the rest of the fan base another miracle. Staring down the barrel of a 0-1 deficit following the boneheaded gaffe of Jaime Carragher, and with 3rd string keeper Brad Jones in net, I can't say I had much hope. Sure, the team showed some fight earlier this week with a comeback win with that same backup keeper and a late header, but surely this would be different. Surely the team wouldn't be able to make it back to another Cup final in a season riddled with so much dysfunction, both on and off the pitch.
But then, in the midst of all of this griping and considering going back to bed with my beloved lady on an early Saturday morning... a gift.
The Barrister & The Scizz
Oh look, another podcast! Well, since it has become more and more difficult as of late to get the band together in the same recording space for CrapTastiCasts, and due to the success (???) of our other spin-off podcasts the Legal Limit, and Apostles of Bob
, Barrister and I decided to get together and form our own brand. What did we come up with? Sadness. Lots of Sadness. Infinite sadness if you will, won't you?
With the Sabres season over, whiny TBNers crying about worthless press conferences, and the Mets playing shitty baseball again, there is just so much to be absolutely sad about. Thus, we bring you the new DGWU Sports podcast creation, Infinite Sadness. We curse and make inappropriate jokes, so as always, NSFPOLAW (Not safe for playing out loud at work).
I think we're on to something here, so take a listen and enjoy. All music this week is from the Smashing Pumpkins.
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