Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Packers Should Sign Steven Jackson

Earlier this week, the Patriots restructured Tom Brady's deal in order to free up cap space this season and next. This move was lauded because Tom Brady was supposedly being selfless (Deadspin and Steve have debunked that), and more importantly for my purposes, because it gave the Patriots the ability to pick up the one player through free agency that they've seemingly lacked the last few seasons. The Patriots consistently make and lose in the playoffs. They lose, in my opinion, because teams have been able to exploit a glaring weakness caused by the lack of one specific player (in previous years it was a shutdown corner post-Asante Samuel and these past two years it has been a receiver capable of stretching the field, clearing valuable space for their bread and butter underneath routes). Tom Brady is 36 now and it is pretty obvious that the Patriots are going to make all possible efforts to ensure that they don't fall one player short of a 4th Super Bowl. Instead of filling their holes with castoffs like Aqib Talib or over-the-hill former stars like Brandon Lloyd and Chad Ochocinco, the word is that they will go after a top-flight player like Mike Wallace.

This brings me to the Packers, my favorite team, and an organization that has landed two of the greatest defensive free agents ever (Reverend Reggie White and Heisman Trophy winner/badass Charles Woodson). The past two seasons, and basically since Ryan Grant went down with an ankle injury in week 1 of the 2010 season, they've hindered Aaron Rodgers's ability to succeed because they don't have a running back that defenses respect. During the Packers' Super Bowl run, James Starks gave the Packers a good enough running game that teams had to respect play action and the Packers were able to get into manageable second down situations. However, in the past two seasons, the Packers have trotted out all kinds of shit behind the league's best quarterback and hoped that they could win a championship despite this weakness. It obviously didn't work. To me, a league-average running game is the Packers' biggest need. That's why they should sign Steven Jackson.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Team Construction and the Baseball Bubble

Watching the lunatic deals given out this off-season, I've begun to think that baseball player salaries are in something of a bubble. Across the board, sports are thriving financially because they are DVR-Kryptonite and essentially the last televised commodity, and baseball in particular is giving the money from the TV deals back to the help. Normally, baseball salaries increase at about 5% per year, but this winter has shown teams banking on an influx of TV revenue and willing to pay a premium for guys like Joe Blanton (2 years/$15 million) and 37-year-old regression candidate Torii Hunter (2/$26M). Crazy overpays for non-star star players aren't rare - Barry Zito and Jayson Werth being two prime recent examples - but the lesser important players are getting a larger slice of the pie now, too.
Team Construction.
Overpay contracts to stars (or "stars") make sense because other teams would likely match them, so strictly speaking the players are worth that much, but these mid-tier and low-tier contracts make no sense. There's a reason we use the construction "wins above replacement." Joe Blanton is being paid to produce about 1.5 WAR each of the next two years, which is eminently replaceable (2 WAR is average for a major leaguer playing a full season). If a team could almost certainly find a guy in the minor leagues able to put up those numbers for literally 1/20th the price, why pay Blanton that money?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy Patriots, Screwed Players

Tom Brady is taking less money (kind of). Patriots were able to free up millions in cap room while almost doubling Brady's guaranteed money. Brady is guaranteed $15 million as a 40-year-old under his new contract extension. This isn't all Brady's altruism, but it is a sign that he trusts the Patriots organization to surround him with the right pieces with their new cap cushion. It's a deal that's 50% Brady wanting the Patriots to win with him, and 50% Brady trading money now for money later.

Monday, February 25, 2013

TW42Minutes: Running Diary of The Oscars

The Oscars are a great celebration of movies with an affinity for movies about movies. They are smug, pretentious, uncomfortably unfunny, and a great way to spend four hours once a year. The three of us have continued our tradition of keeping a running diary of the Oscars.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prince Fielder in Worst Shape of His Life, “Ready to Dominate”

Lakeland, FL - Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder reported to Spring Training “in the worst shape of [his] life” and in his words, “ready to dominate.” A visibly sweating Fielder held a press conference where he estimated that he’d gained 30 pounds over the offseason, adding that he was motivated by historically great fat baseball players. “The goal was always [Babe] Ruthian which may be unattainable,” said Fielder, chomping on a t-bone steak that he had kept tender in his alternate first baseman's mitt, “but at least I want to beat Mo Vaughn’s fat [expletive]. That’s what kept me eating day in and day out. That, and a love of ribs.” Asked about the precipitous drop in muscle mass that accompanied the weight gain, Fielder said, “I stopped brushing my teeth with steroids." But he joked, "This added weight is going to push me to new heights. And pant sizes.” At press, Fielder was spotted pleading with teammate Miguel Cabrera to share at least one of his six Egg McMuffins.

* One of my weirder goals in life is to write for The Onion, which is basically my favorite thing. Sometimes, I don't have substantive things to write, but I do have jokes. This was one of those times.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What's the Real Top 10 Wide Receivers List?

Randy Moss's quote before the Super Bowl, in which he claimed that he was the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, got a lot of people talking. Obviously, that's more or less what Moss wanted, and the fact that Moss thinks that is fine with me. Athletes can and perhaps should be overly confident. But that's a discussion for a different post.

Our friend Gregg Easterbrook, noted anti-Semite and haughty dipshit, wrote in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column after the Super Bowl that Randy Moss would not even be in his top 10 list of all-time great wide receivers. This prompted a reader of THIS blog to send in a question to our weekly letters segment asking where Moss actually ranks among every NFL wide receiver ever. I gave a cursory half-answer, but it got me thinking: where does Moss actually rank? And more importantly, how does one evaluate greatness in the NFL?

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Spurs Will Win the West

The Spurs are 44-12, four games ahead of the Thunder for best record in the NBA, and fundamentally do not get enough respect. The Spurs in the Pop/Duncan/Parker era have been two things: really good at winning basketball games and really bad at generating narratives. They are basically the exact opposite of the Knicks. Last night, they destroyed the up-and-coming Clippers by 26 points in the Staples Center. However, no matter what happens in the regular season, the Spurs will be dismissed by casual NBA fans for being boring and by die-hard NBA fans for not being able to do it in the playoffs. Here's the rub: the Spurs are the best team in the Western Conference and are going to make the finals.

The Whole 42 Letters

Everyone get ready because the blog is taking the fuck off. You are all in at the ground floor and should be proud of your exquisite taste. We're going to be writing at least one post a day plus the weekly mailbag from here on out. Enjoy your letters this week.

Is the overall waning interest in All Star games more a reflection on the fans or the players? 

I'd go with Option C here and say the leagues are at fault. They simply haven't created an interesting format that excites fans and incentivizes players to try hard. The MLB All-Star game is probably my favorite All-Star game because there are at least some stakes in the game (although the pitching changes and efforts to play everyone sucks a lot). The NBA All-Star game should probably be on the same night as the Dunk Contest and the 3-point contest. I'd additionally let different pairs of teammates play 2 v. 2 against each other the Saturday before (1 v. 1 is the ideal but there's too much public humiliation that comes from it--aka there's a reason tennis players and golfers are so weird) in a tournament. I'd rather watch Durant/Westbrook v. James/Wade than just about anything in the world. Also, you make the slam dunk contest the same day as the game and all of a sudden the superstars aren't wearing "fashionable" clothes and geeking out for 2 hours; they're in game clothes and getting competitive. 

The fans are ready for an All-Star game to be awesome and the players are some of the most competitive people in the world. The league just needs to get people on board with an entertaining format.

Note: none of this applies to the Pro Bowl. That is, and will always be, fucking awful.

Is law school hard?

I plead the 5th.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout "Dwight's Back"

The Lakers' saga this season has many key actors, from Kobe Bryant sublimating his ego to actually play winning basketball (it's killing him, by the way) to an injured and aging Steve Nash, from a high-profile coach cementing his mediocre legacy to Pau Gasol seemingly marooned in his own personal Beckett play waiting for some form of Godot that lets him play with his back to the basket, but all of that is somewhat ancillary to their playoff chances. There is one two-word phrase whose specific emphasis carries almost the entire weight of the Lakers' season. Thus far we've spent countless hours talking about the state of "Dwight's back," somewhat of a mystery because he so frequently oscillates between dominant and impotent, but many have been waiting endlessly to declare that "Dwight's back," that the beast of a few years ago is ready to reclaim his title as the best center in the world. Last night, against the Boston Celtics, it was firmly the latter usage.

Dwight's back or Dwight's back? Which do you mean?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jerry Buss Didn't Lose Any Battles

Longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away  this past Monday at the age of 80. Though I do not like the Lakers one teensie bit, I have no ill feelings toward the late Dr. Buss, and I think he was a great owner. He was perhaps the best owner in NBA history. During his tenure, his team was way more successful than any other team. But that's all beside the point. The point is that I'm sick and tired of people saying that, when someone dies of cancer, that person "lost a battle" with cancer. Come on.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Dumbest Thing You'll Read All Day

Note: Kissing Suzy Kolber, one of the best sports blogs on the Internets, posted a link to this piece (as you probably know since you probably clicked from the KSK in the first place). Thanks for reading the article, and please check out the rest of the blog. columnist Ashley Fox is someone you've most likely never heard of. She's the kind of writer deep in the bowels of the ESPN website who describes herself on Twitter as someone who is missing her dog. Her 10,000 Twitter followers sort of make it clear that she isn't a popular writer, but she sure knows how to toe the company line.

Today, Fox wrote an article defending Roger Goodell for earning over $29 million last season. If you've ever wondered why we continuously bash the Worldwide Leader, here is a perfect example of their just awfulness. ESPN and the NFL have a nine-figure deal, so it isn't hard to see why they'd want to promote the NFL as much as possible. However, the veil on this article is like Mary-Kate Olsen thin (or some more recent celebrity).

Friday, February 15, 2013

42 of 'em

A lot of good letters sent in this week. I guess all the cool fans of the blog wait till it's ol' Brown Bear's turn to answer their letters to send 'em on in. Wise. My nickname is Brown Bear.


What if it came out that biden's wife didn't die in a car accident but he set the whole thing up. What the hell would happen?

Yeah, what if, I guess. No but seriously, it would obviously be the ginormousest story. It would be Manti Te'o except with actual, like, consequences.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vince Carter: Hall of Famer?

This title is meant to surprise you and, you know, make you want to read the rest of this post, but in reality it is a real possibility. Tonight, Vince Carter passed Larry Bird on the career points scored list and is #29 all-time. That's right, of all the players who have ever played in the NBA, Vince Carter has scored more points than all but 28. Carter isn't even done. He's actually had a solid season for Dallas (posting an above-average PER despite being 36 years old) and with his size and 3-point range, he figures to hang around at least a couple more years.

Vince Carter will certainly go down as one of the best -- if not the best -- dunkers of all time, but he was never a dominant player in the league. He made eight consecutive All-Star games between 2000-2007 (thanks in large part to his dunking prowess), but he only made one 2nd team All-NBA and one 3rd team All-NBA. Basically, Vince Carter in his prime resembled a Joe Johnson or a Danny Granger-- a second-tier star capable of getting you into the playoffs but no further (insert snarky joke by a non-Knicks fan about Melo here). However, as interesting as Vince's career has been, it raises an even better question in my mind: how do we measure the contributions of this current aging generation of late 90s draft picks historically?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stop Trying to Make The NBA MVP Race Dramatic, Sportswriters

This is a public service announcement (sans guitar) to all writers covering the NBA: stop trying to make this year's MVP race dramatic.

In truth, there's only one candidate for the award, and he's won three of the last four and resides in Miami. Kevin Durant is having an absurdly efficient offensive season - shooting 51.6/42.7/90.4 with a high usage rate - and his team has a better record in a better conference than LeBron's Heat, but this award should belong to James. LeBron's recent 49/65 shooting has only served to highlight that he's become (at worst) the second most efficient shooter in the game. LeBron's shooting 56.2/42.1/73.8 with a similar usage rate to Durant, and LeBron averages more rebounds and assists, along with elite defense. Their effective shooting percentages tell the story pretty clearly; Durant is 2nd in the league at 65.4%, LeBron is 5th at 63.2% and no other main scoring option is in the top 10.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Big Umbrella Needs to Go

Here's a thing: umbrellas are the worst. The Founding Fathers are turning in their graves watching this great nation of ours become a cesspool of umbrellas, rain boots, and puddle fearers. Our society can no longer face a light drizzle without spending a week discussing its impending arrival.  Big Umbrella is behind this all and someone needs to stop them. Oh no! There is a light drizzle! I guess I'll whip out my 6-foot-wide Hello Kitty umbrella and block the entire sidewalk!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February is the Goddamn worst

Oh great, here's a month that gives you nothing but middle season NBA shit, pre-Madness college basketball, and the latest on the Michael Bourn sweepstakes. Every single year we go through this same charade and nothing ever changes. This is like that Bill Murray movie where nothing ever changes (Garfield). How is it that in June we get the World Cup, NBA Finals, baseball, and the French Open? Who the hell decided not to split things up in a way that doesn't make me sit at home freezing? Oh good, I'll flip to ESPN and watch Northwestern and Iowa play "basketball."

Thank god this is the shortest month of the year because it is the worst. Nothing good has ever happened in February. Oh goody, instead of watching great sports I can watch the Skills Challenge and celebrate Valentine's Day.

Here's a simple idea: move the Australian Open to February, move a golf major to February, and let the NBA pick the contestants for the dunk contest (brought to you by Sprite [obey your thirst]). This might not solve all our problems but it will do something to make February suck a little less. Good news is, the days are short and it is really cold.

Fuck you sports and fuck you February.

Petterson out.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Whole 42 Letters: BLIZZICANELWAVE

Before we get started, I'd like to take a brief moment to talk about this tweet sent out by the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant. 

Kobe fascinates me more than any other basketball player because he's both so driven and so desperate to tell us how driven he is (this was one of the first things I ever wrote on this here blog). Steve has relayed to me an anecdote from Shaq's autobiography that when the Lakers would freestyle together, Kobe would always come in with something he had already memorized but claim it was "off the dome." So perfect. So Kobe.

So let's break down how many things are crazy about this tweet, sent out after one of the many re-starts in this schadenfreude-filled Lakers season. 
1. Are we supposed to believe that Kobe knows how to play the Moonlight Sonata on the piano? I guess if any player does, it would be Kobe but this does defy logic a bit. I'm a Kobe Twitter Truther. We need a Moonlight Zapruder film.
2. HOW COLD IS IT IN KOBE's HOUSE? Why is he wearing 11 scarves? 
3. Shouldn't he maybe be playing "Heart and Soul" as a duet with Pau Gasol? How fucking selfish are you, Kobe?
4. Why no sheet music? Does Kobe want us to believe that not only do hehave time to learn piano (DESPITE DOIN' WORK ALL DAY ERRYDAY) but that he has memorized this pretty difficult piece of music. Fur Elise, this ain't. 
5. Kobe went to Germany to get his knees fixed. Beethoven was German. SO WAS HITLER. Hmmmmmmmm.
Anyway, I don't know if you guys have heard, but it's a FUCKING SNOWPOCALYPSE. Right outside my window. I've been cooped up inside all day and I've had a healthy amount of whiskey. LET'S DO THIS!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl

Playoff Picks

Sean: 7-3
Jon: 6-4
Steve: 2-8

Niners v. Ravens (-4)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why are the Williams sisters so light-skinned in this commercial?


This isn't my imagination, right? The top image is from a current Apple iPhone commercial, and the bottom one is from this past July when the Williams sisters won their fifth Wimbledon doubles championship. Why are they bleached out in this commercial?

Looks like Apple, even with its history of technological innovation, still uses a very old-fashioned way of determining which black folks can appear in their commercials:

Who knows? Maybe there's an app for that.

This whole racism thing just won't go away with these two! Boy oh boy.