Archive for ‘Rant’

March 7, 2011

“The World is Better Now Since the Heat is Losing”

by Jeeves

 

The title of this post is a direct quote from Dwyane Wade after the Heat’s latest “heart-breaking” loss to the Bulls. To me, it perfectly sums up the Heat and their legacy, to date. It’s deliciously self-centered and absurdly over the top.

Before jumping into the psyche of the Miami Heat, let’s take a look at some interesting facts. The Miami Heat’s record currently stands at 43-20 amidst a 4-game losing streak. Not bad, but not great. To put it in perspective, the Heat need to finish the season 19-0 to beat the Cleveland Lebron’s record from last season. It’s really quite incredible. The sum of the parts in Miami (Lebron+Wade+Bosh+the rest) will amount to less than the sum of the parts in Cleveland (Lebron+1/2 a season of Jamison+yeaaah, the rest). That’s all a far cry from their grand aspirations and the lofty predictions (will shatter the Bulls 72-10 record) of the pundits. The Heat are a great team against the dregs and the also-rans of the league. It’s against the upper-tier where they struggle. They are 1-9 against the Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Celtics and Bulls, the 5 teams who appear to be their chief rivals in the quest for a championship. If you take out those 10 games from their schedule, they are scoring 8.5 pts per game more than their opponents. They’re basically blowing everyone else out. (As a point of comparison, the 1995-1996 Bulls had an average margin per game of about 12 points, against all comers).

Under normal circumstances, people would point to the fact that this team is still figuring out how to play with each other. People would note that beyond the Two and a Half Men, their isn’t much of a supporting cast and that it’s only a matter of time before they figure out some successful late game sets. This isn’t a normal situation, though. Instead of tempering expectations due to a litany of reasons, people (myself included) are enjoying the Heat’s struggles with a fiendish glee. You know what? I think we are fully justified in enjoying their misery. When a <del>team</del> trio takes to the stage in such an appalling manner, to celebrate the pure awesomeness of their union, they are not allowed to be offended when there’s a righteous backlash against them. When a troika of individuals proclaim themselves ready to win EIGHT championships, they are not allowed to bemoan their ‘us vs the world’ predicament. When a threesome of egotists start referring to themselves as the Heatles, they are not allowed to seek sympathy through the media. The Heat have sown the seeds of ill-will and hate and have to deal with the consequences. My advice to them: suck it up, and stop whining to the media that no one loves you. If you want the media and basketball fans around the country to stop feasting on your tears, then man up, stop crying and figure out how to win a close game. Until them we’ll all enjoy their tears of unfathomable sadness.

 

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February 24, 2011

Overrated: Rajon Rondo Claim to Best PG in the NBA

by Jeeves

Flowchart courtesy of Shamsports

After a 1 week hiatus, overrated/underrated is back. This week we’re looking at Rajon Rondo

As always, let’s get my biases out front and center. I’m a big Bulls fan, thus I love Derrick Rose.

There’s a definite rift between Rose and Rondo both on the court and amongst their proponents in the media. Even with my adoration of Rose, I’ve never fully understood the fawning over Rondo. It’s quite possible that I’m missing something, but to me he is merely a very good point guard. He doesn’t strike me as “in the conversation” for best point guard in the league.

The flow chart above sums up one of my main complaints about Rondo. I realize a point guard needs to initiate the offense, but it’s detrimental if that’s all the point guard can do. I like my point guard to control the offense while also maintaining the ability to create something on his own. Simply racking up assists isn’t enough for me and racking up assists seems to be Rondo’s greatest claim to fame.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good passer and has great vision, but he has three teammates that are perfect for amassing large assist totals. Pierce, Allen and KG are all great jump shooters and their games conflate to inflate Rondo’s stats. Large parts of the Celtics’ offense is predicated on Allen running off of screens catching the ball and shooting immediately or KG catching the ball at the elbow and firing an 18 footer. They do all the work to get open, and all Rondo has to do is hit the open man for the assist. Much as the D’Antoni offense is known for inflating offensive statistics, I think the (Real) Big Three in Boston have that affect on assist totals.

If inflated assist totals were my only issue with Rondo’s game, I’d put him up there with the best PG’s and I wouldn’t be writing this post, but that’s just my opening salvo. His lack of a reliable jump shot is another huge flaw in his game. Rondo is a great finisher at the rim. He makes 2/3 of his 4.2 shots a game at the rim; that’s really good. If you move him away from there, though, he becomes a sieve on offense. He shoots 34% from less than ten feet (excluding at the rim shots) and 28% from 10-15 feet. His 16-23 foot shooting is a bit better (41%), I assume, because defenses sag off of him. Rondo just has no mid range game at all. The large knock on Rose’s game, coming into the league, was that he didn’t have a jump shot; to this day announcers are still surprised at his ability to knock down a 12 footer. Despite this widely acknowledged flaw, he has never shot worse from <10 to 15 feet as Rondo is currently shooting in his 5th year in the league. Why isn’t Rondo’s lack of a jumper a bigger talking point?

Rondo’s lack of shooting ability means defenses can sag off of him. It means that he doesn’t get rushed with double teams to get the ball out of his hands. Even with this amount of space his usage is a low, 17.96, yet his turnover rate is a sky high 26.63 (Rose for comparison is at 31.75 and 13.3). Rondo has the 6th highest turnover rate in the league. He doesn’t face much defensive pressure, yet he still racks up 4 TO’s a game.

We haven’t even touched upon his free throw shooting yet. It’s kind of incredible; for as reluctant as he is to shoot, he is even more reluctant to step to the free throw line. His FTA per game have cratered 2.0 this season, and of those two, he usually splits the pair (55% from the line). He is in the bottom 20 (of players who get 15+ mpg) in terms of FT% behind such luminaries as Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard. Point guards need to be able to draw fouls. They need to be able to draw big men over while driving in order to free up passing lanes. Rondo, as his game is constructed, is completely missing this facet to his game. I’ll compare him, yet again, to Rose. Derrick saw some heat in the press for avoiding contact and selling out for the layup rather than accepting contact. Seeing all the articles chiding him for this, one would think he struggled to get to the line as well, yet he averages 6.2 free throws a game. He isn’t quite Lebron James in that department, but his 6.2 a game is good for 15th in the league and 2nd overall at the point guard position (behind Deron Williams).

Please don’t read this and think that I don’t see any value in Rondo. I think Rajon Rondo is a very good player. I think he’s a very good point guard and a pretty damn good match for the Boston Celtics. I also just happen to think that he is rather overrated for the amount of production he brings to the table. I think the one facet of his offensive game that is elite is his assists totals, and even those are inflated. And, hell, just for the sake of comparison,

Rondo’s 3rd season: 8.2 assists per game.

Rose’s 3rd season (to date): 8.2 assists per game.

I realize some of you would still choose Rondo as the PG to start your team, but for me, give me a point guard that can shoot. Give me a point guard that shoots free throws, hell, until Chris Paul proves his knee his healthy, just give me Derrick Rose.

February 17, 2011

The Warts on the Lakers’ Three-Peat Bid

by Jeeves

As I’m sure everyone knows, the Lakers lost in Cleveland last night. The Lakers didn’t just lose any ol’ game, they lost to Cleveland. They lost to a team that was 2-38 over its last 40 games. They lost to a team who lost, arguably, their best player in the first 5 minutes of the game. Today, sports fans in Cleveland are a bit giddy, rightfully so, while their counterparts in LA are probably starting to hit the panic button on their Lakers’ bid to deliver Phil Jackson his 4th three-peat.

The fact of the matter is the Lakers are mired in a rough patch. They have lost three straight after getting man handled in Charlotte and Orlando. A fan of the team should be worried about those performances, but not for the obvious reasons. Yes, the Lakers lost three on the road in the middle of the season; I say big freakin’ deal!

Take the circumstances into account. They just ended a 7 games in 12 days road trip. They started the trip with wins at New Orleans, at Memphis and at Boston. Those are three huge wins, with the Hornets and Celtics representing two of the best home teams in the league. Then keep in mind it’s nearly the All-Star Break. I think its quite possible the Lakers lost some focus as the break approached, especially after notching those early three road wins. I mean, the Lakers didn’t even look like they showed up against Orlando. So the fact that they have lost three in a row, looking rather disinterested shouldn’t be shocking news. If they look this disinterested come playoff time, then yes, that’s a huge problem, but don’t overreact to this small stretch in the dog days of the NBA calendar.

What people should be worried about isn’t necessarily the fact the Lakers lost, but rather the way in which they lost. These last few games haven’t exactly revealed (as I think we’ve known it all along) but rather highlighted some of the flaws of this team. Let’s take a look at them in the context of the last three games.

I think the biggest issue regarding this current team and the one thing that could serve as a death blow come playoff time is that the Lakers are too willing to let Kobe jump shoot them out of games. It’s possible the team will take on a different mindset in the playoffs and this becomes moot, but right now if Kobe’s jump shot isn’t falling the Lakers are in trouble. Over the last three games, he’s shot 8-24, 8-20, 8-18; that all adds up to about 38%. It’s one thing if Kobe goes 6-24, as he did in the finals, while also taking 15 trips to the free throw line. The Lakers can survive those games. It’s games where he goes 8-24 without a single free throw attempt that hurts the team. In fact, over the last three games, Kobe has attempted 4 free throws, that’s it! Here’s the dirty little secret about Kobe. He’s not that good of a shooter; he’s shot only 45.5% over his career. (For a point of comparison, MJ, excluding his Wizards years, shot 50.5%). Kobe needs to get to the line to maximize his efficiency. His FTA per game have reached its lowest point since his 4th year in the league. It’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.

PG play is another weak area for the Lakers. Ramon Sessions, filling in for Mo Williams, had himself a night. He put up 32 points on just 16 shots; he went to the line 14 times. Unfortunately for LA, Derek Fisher has gotten old. He just can’t stay in front of point guards like he used to. When playing teams like Oklahoma City, they’ll have to rely on Phil to create an appropriate scheme to mask this flaw.

Los Angeles also struggles with extreme athleticism. OKC gave the Lakers a surprising run for their money in the playoffs due, in no small part, to their athleticism. Against the Bobcats, the other night, Gerald Wallace had his way with the Lakers. In the game before that, Dwight Howard, when he wasn’t turning the ball over, took complete control of the game. Again, this isn’t something the Lakers can miraculously fix. They can’t get younger and faster over night, but they can allow Phil to implement some defensive wrinkles to help.

Finally, the Lakers need to learn to rely on Pau Gasol more. He should be one of the focal points of the offense, especially when Kobe’s jump shots aren’t falling, but that’s just not the case. When you look at the Lakers’ team leaderboard of shots per 36 minutes (only looking at those with significant playing time), you have Kobe (big surprise) at number 1 with 20.7 attempts, Shannon Brown at 15.2 attempts, Pau at 13.2, Odom at 11.8, Bynum at 11.4, Barnes at 9.9 and Artest at 9.8. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Kobe is trying to shoulder too much of a load. Let’s look at it this way, Kobe takes nearly 21 shots per 36 minutes and makes 46%; Pau takes 13.2 shots per 36 minutes and makes 53%. It seems to me that the Lakers would benefit from the 53% guy shooting a bit more and the 46% guy shooting a little less. Over the last three games, Pau was only at 11.5 shots per 36 minutes while Kobe took 21.0 shots per 36. I’m not saying that is the only reason the Lakers lost, but their shot distribution is out of whack.

What needs to be taken out of this run isn’t that its time for panic mode in Los Angeles. This run needs to be seen for what it is. The Lakers let their effort wane a little, which allowed the team’s inherent flaws to be exposed. It’s up to Phil Jackson and the team’s leaders to try and mask those flaws in time for the playoffs.

February 11, 2011

Why Don’t Fans Want More Games?

by npiller88

Roger doesn't know either

NFL owners like their cash, and Roger Goodell tends to like what the owners like. That’s probably why he continues to endorse this disgraceful policy of locking season ticket holders into packages including full-cost preseason tickets that nobody wants (and are difficult to sell for 20 dollars on scalping sites, according to some fans).

The proposal to eliminate some of the 4 preseason games (which are inconsequential, insignificant, and expensive), and add two regular season games is nothing but a cash grab by the owners, because they know about fan dissatisfaction with preseason football, and would like to maintain or drive up revenues while still addressing the fans’ grievance. Their “solution” is to keep prices high and still lock season ticket holders into about 10 games, but appease them by making a couple meaningless games meaningful. As the new Collective Bargaining Agreement gets debated to death, the essential question will be, do fans (and more important, season ticket holders) want two more regular season games?

The answer thus far, is No. If you take a look at today’s ESPN “SportsNation” Poll, over 100,000 respondents (likely big sports fans) voted on whether or not to add two regular season games to the NFL schedule. In keeping with the results of other recent polls, like the recent Associated Press poll, fans have thus far shown disapproval for the expanded regular season, with 76 % of fans not in favor. Is this because the average fan sees the proposal as an excuse to justify high prices? Some have pointed to the issue of player safety, given that regular season football is more contentious and violent, but I doubt fan concern really has much to do with player injuries. If it did, why the sudden outrage over a problem that has manifested itself in scary ways for many years (see copious concussions, decrepit, old NFL veterans and the recent crackdown on illegal hits)?

It’s all puzzling, because the average NFL fan is not a season ticket holder. If the real concern is having to pay full price for preseason games, why the opposition to an expanded regular season schedule? It would incrementally increase the prices of regular season season ticket packages, but wouldn’t the average fan prefer more regular season games and fewer preseason games? And to the point of injuries, if that is really a fan concern, its not as if the preseason is some parade of pro-bowl style soft ball. Injuries happen in the preseason all the time–remember the sudden, meteoric rise of former grocery store stockboy and Arena League Quarterback Kurt Warner with the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams? Made possible by the preseason-sustained season-ending injury of former Rams starting QB Trent Green.

I was honestly shocked to see the SportsNation poll today. Maybe fans truly want the option to buy reduced-price season ticket packages with lower cost preseason games. But why wouldn’t they be on board with the expanded schedule? Not everyone can afford season tickets, and the responsible ones among us who can (and who aren’t shelling out 50% of their salary on season tickets) are likely to be able to afford a slight increase in price per game on account of changing two lame preseason games into exciting regular season ones. Notwithstanding the obvious greed of the NFL owners, what’s wrong with more games? Or at least, what’s SO wrong with it that less than 25% of fans, who LOVE football (by far the nation’s most popular sport), are in favor of the expanded schedule?

A purist might say: “The beauty of the NFL is that every game matters.” But would adding two games really make anyone less excited about week 1? In this football-crazed nation where last weekend’s Super Bowl was the most watched television event of all time? No and NO.

February 9, 2011

Mark Buehrle in Search of Media Filter

by Jeeves

I think we all heard it as a kid, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it all.” Unfortunately, for his sake, Mark Buehrle decided not to heed the advice of mother’s and father’s all over the country when he was quoted as saying,

“Even if you are not a dog lover, how can you sit there and make two dogs fight and one is going to die?” said (Buehrle). “How could you do that if you are somewhat sane?

“(Vick) had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt. Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”

Those quotes were from an interview he gave on MLB.com about the charity work he’s done with stray dogs. (The quotes have since been scrubbed from the article). Buehrle famously paid for the vet bills for a dog that was found with an arrow piercing its side; he’s a good man and he clearly loves dogs. The sad thing is that from here on out, anytime anyone thinks of Mark Buehrle and dogs, they’ll think of this quote and not all the good he does.

I love Mark Buehrle, in a sports  and platonic context. He’s a good pitcher, he works quickly, he is nice, he is forthright, he does charity work, he’s loyal to the team, he used to do this during rain delays:

he pitched a perfect game and a no hitter, he was really cool to my friend when he threw out the first pitch at a Sox game, I could go on and on. And no matter how highly I think of him, he is in the wrong here. It’s one thing to privately wish harm on another person. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a bit seedy, but in the grand scheme of things, thinking that inside your head isn’t so bad. I’m sure thousands of people thought the same thing about Michael Vick over the past year. However (or as Steven A. Smith would say, HOWEVA), you just cannot, under any circumstances air out those feelings through the media. It’s just not the way our society works. There was no way for those words to be interpreted, other than negatively (with regards to Buehrle). Those are the type of comments that you need to filter out, especially when you’re on the record.

Michael Vick made a mistake, and he’s paid his debt to society. Mark Buehrle made a much, much smaller mistake and he’ll now have to pay his debt in the form of being analyzed and ripped on by the media, bloggers, pundits and really anybody else who has an opinion. Here’s hoping things blow over quickly, because when it comes down to it, Buehrle is a good man. He’s an animal lover who went a little overboard in some personal statements. Let’s keep in perspective and keep the real barbs handy in case he decides to go Jeff Gillooly on Vick.

February 8, 2011

A Collection of Skulduggery: A Kevin Garnett Retrospective

by Jeeves

Over the weekend, Kevin Garnett did what Kevin Garnett does best, something dirty and tiresome. Perhaps it’s the advent of Youtube or perhaps it’s the rules allowing for less and less contact, but KG just continually rubs me the wrong way now. I used to get angry and up and arms when KG pulled some nonsense, but now, I just shrug and sigh. His actions, though, this weekend (click after the jump) did send me down a Kevin Garnett cheap-shot rabbit hole, so I thought I’d share that journey with you!

read more »

February 3, 2011

Overrated: Amare Stoudemire’s MVP Chances

by Jeeves

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look at something that’s underrated or overrated

Bottom line, Amare Stoudemire is not going to be the MVP.

Before I get into things, I want to say that I think Amare is a pretty darn good player. He has surpassed my expectations and proven false the idea that 50% (exaggeration alert) of his production was due to Steve Nash. With that out of the way, I think it is farcical that he is being touted as an MVP candidate. Let me lay it out in different words; the idea that Amare is the MVP of the National Basketball Association is ABSURD!

There are a number of ways to attack his MVP case, and well, I guess I’ll start with his production. The case for Amare as MVP, I suppose, begins with his scoring average; it is, after all, his flashiest stat. As of today, he is averaging 26.2 points per game, which is good for 2nd in the league behind Kevin Durant. I’ll admit, 2nd on the leaderboard is fairly high, but is it necessarily indicative of MVP play?If you look at Amare’s number throughout his career, this is by no means his best statistical season. I will point you to 2004-2005 when Amare averaged 26.0 ppg on 16.7 shots per game with a 56% shooting percentage and 8.9 rebound per game; compare that to this year, where Amare is averaging 26.2 points per game on 19.5 shots per game with a 50% shooting percentage and 8.8 rebounds per game. Is this year really that much more impressive that 04-05? I would argue that it is significantly less impressive. Amare is taking nearly 2 extra shots a game (with an extra turnover per game thrown in) to average a whopping .2 ppg more. If everyone is so enamored with Amare as MVP this year why wasn’t there more momentum behind him then? He finished a distant 9th in the voting that year; he was a mere after thought. Yes, Steve Nash won the MVP that year, but it seems that Stoudemire didn’t even dent the national consciousness.

This begs the question, if Amare’s season to date is no better than a number of his previous seasons, what has changed to make 2 out of 6 SI writers choose him as their half season MVP’s and 5 of 6 put him amongst their top 5? It seems the only difference is that Steve and Farouq, taxi drivers in NYC, are talking up his game this year. In a handful of pieces defending Amare as an MVP candidate, I’ve read people list, “He’s revitalized basketball in the city of New York!” as a reason. The absurdity of that notion is off the charts. I agree that the whole of New York is talking about Amare, but tell me, pleeease, tell me, when the hell did name recognition in New York City become a legitimate MVP attribute? I think it’s cool and neat that the Knicks are semi-relevant again after being run into the ground by Isaiah and James Dolan, but have we really sunk to level that general word of mouth in NYC is a legitimate barometer of MVP relevancy? Is that what we’re at? I apologize for all the rhetorical questions, but I just can’t wrap my head around it. I don’t know why Amare doing what he’s done for a formerly moribund Knicks team is any different than if he did it for say, the Pistons or better yet what he did do for Phoenix.

Stats aside, the historical precedent is working strongly against Amare. If you want the voters to vote for you, you need your team to win at least 50 games. 50+ wins and an MVP go nearly hand in hand. Only 7 people have won an MVP with less than 50 wins for their team (excluding Karl Malone in the lock-out year). Those players are Moses Malone (twice), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Petit, Bill Russell, and Bob Cousy. That’s it. To put it another way, unless your last name is Malone, no one in 35 years has won an MVP without their team winning 50 games. As I type this, the Knicks are 25-23 which puts them on pace for a much improved 42 wins. Even if, in your heart of hearts, you think Amare deserves the MVP because the guy who drove you home from LaGuardia talked about him non-stop, the Knicks’ record and Amare’s inability to elevate them to a better winning percentage basically precludes him from consideration. I recommend focusing your attention instead upon the likes of  Dwight, Dirk, Derrick, or LeBron.


February 2, 2011

Heat Excuses Flow Like Milk and Honey in the Holy Land

by npiller88

As the season wears on, the Miami Heat have given fans of mediocre NBA squads a reason to look forward to the playoffs, if only to root against the new evil empire (think David Stern is happy about that? Yep). But leave it to the Heat to temper the expectations of their, ahem, fans? (wouldn’t want to seem overconfident. After all its not like the organization ever put up a banner that said “Yes We Did” after acquiring the two most outstanding free agents in the 2010 class and parading the “Big Three” around a stage with smoke machines and a light show)

Lebron had this to say in comparing the playoff chops of the Heat to those of more seasoned teams like the Boston Celtics:

“We’re way behind those guys,” Lebron James said following the Heat’s practice on Wednesday. “Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.”

It’s as if Lebron wants spectators to hear, “yes we know we are awesome, but we can’t guarantee a championship.” In fact, the heat seem to be displaying pretty solid chemistry so far this year, at least as its reflected in scoring differential (+7.8 points per game, highest in the NBA). And now that it appears Lebron’s bad tweet karma has worn off (the team is 4-1 in the last four games), there doesn’t seem to be a real cause for concern in Miami. Of course, knowing Lebron’s Hindu Guru reputation (thanks, Jeeves), we’ll have to keep our eye on his next few tweets to see if there’s any indication of a sudden dip in performance.

But this strategy of “managing expectations” really gets at the heart of the struggle the Heat will always face. Right at the moment that the franchise decided to go all out with a carnival of arrogance (“Yes We Did,” “Karma’s a Bitch,” etc.), or even earlier, at the moment the team signed James and Bosh, expectations were sky high, and for good reason. I remember saying at the time that anything less than a championship would be seen as a failure by most fans (many of whom will be rooting for MUCH less than a championship for this team). It’s too late to prepare the fans and haters for potential failure, because the Heat invited those high expectations from the beginning. I’m not one of these guys who claims Lebron jeopardized his legacy by joining the super team, but it is true that such high expectations (something he faced to a far lesser extent in Cleveland), are likely to lead to an emotional letdown of some sort.

There is simply no way the heat can justify the hype (and silence the haters) without a championship. But Lebron seems to be trying to find a way to do just that. His quote reads sort of like: “Just so you know, if we lose to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, it won’t be because we’re not as good as they are, just because they’ve played together more.” Maybe he should have saved this for the Eastern Conference Finals. Let the letdown (or uplift, for most fans) commence.

February 1, 2011

A Historic Performance by a Bears’ QB

by Jeeves

Lost in all the hoopla and hubbub and questioning of manhood concerning Jay Cutler was a rather curious decision by the Bears’ coaching staff. After Cutler limped off the field and before Caleb Hanie made his surprisingly strong playoff debut, Todd Collins was put into the game. This represented quite the moment in history. The second Collins put his feet on the field, he officially became the worst quarterback in the history of football to play in the playoffs. Coming from a bitter Bears’ fan, I realize this may sound like hyperbole, but I assure you, by certain measures, it is not.

Thanks to the wonderful play index feature at pro-football-reference.com, I was able to do a quick search which led me to the unprecedented nature of Collins’ appearance. After looking up his stats for the season: 27 pass attempts, 10 completions, 0 TD, 5 INT, and a stunning 5.9 passer rating, I was able to come up with an interesting search. I wanted to find out, first and foremost, has any quarterback compiled a worse regular season. So using 27 pass attempts as a minimum, I searched for any QB’s with a worse passer rating (I realize passer rating is a flawed statistic, but it’s decent for a quick and dirty comparison like this). I only found two superior (inferior?) seasons of suckitude since 1977:

Joe Reed – GS 1, G 3, 13/40 150 yds, 0 TD 4 INT, Rating 5.2

Randy Hedberg – GS 4, G 7, 25/90 244 yds, 0 TD 10 INT, Rating 0.0

Hedberg’s season is really a testament to putridity. Look at that line again, 0 TD, 10 INT. I don’t know if the zero rating is more impressive or the fact that he started 4 games. Hedberg was actually 1st on the depth chart to begin the 1977 season, so it’s not as though he arose to the position via injury, though I will discount it some due to the fact that his performance was for the second year Tampa Buccaneers. I think the 0.0 QB rating takes the cake. I’ll frame it this way, if you were to throw nothing but incomplete passes, the lowest rating possible is a 36.

These other two gentlemen didn’t make an appearance in the playoffs, which explains in part why they saw the field as much as they did. Collins, number 3 on that list, did see the field in the playoffs, making him the worst player to ever play QB in the playoffs, quite the dubious honor.

As poorly as this reflects on Todd Collins, I think it actually reflects more poorly on the man who put him onto the field, Lovie Smith. Is there any justification for him being higher on the depth chart than Caleb Hanie? Even if Caleb stunk up the joint when he came in at the end of the 3rd, it still wouldn’t justify Lovie basically punting on the 3rd quarter by putting in Collins. Lovie has compiled a pretty decent record in Chicago, there’s no denying that, but it does beg the question, how much better would the Bears be if he wasn’t constantly asleep behind the wheel?

January 28, 2011

Underrated: NHL All-Star Game

by Jeeves

I am a hockey fan; I admit it. Unfortunately, I’m not as big of a hockey fan as I was in the mid-90’s, back in the days with the likes of Chelios, Amonte, Roenick, and Belfour. Part of the reason for that is due to Bill Wirtz trying to kill hockey in Chicago, part of it is due to less leisure time than I had as an elementary school kid, and a large part of that is due to general mismanagement by Gary Bettman. I think one of the few things the NHL and Bettman have gotten right in the intervening years is the NHL All-Star Game. I’m going on the record and saying it’s fairly underrated.

Before we get into it, here’s a brief history of the NHL All-Star Game:

1947-1967: The Stanley Cup champion from the previous season played against All-Stars from the other teams preceding the start of the season, except for the 5th and 6th All-Star games where it was a team of all-stars from the Canadian based teams vs a team of all-stars from the American based teams.

1967: The All-Star Game moved to mid-season

1968: The All-Star Game became an East vs West affair, with the teams not chosen after the end of the preceding system, but at the mid-way point.

1975: Due to realignment into 4 divisions, the All-Star Game now pitted the Wales Conference against the Campbell conference.

1985: Fan balloting was started to determine the starters.

1990: The NHL skills competition was introduced.

1998: North American stars vs World Stars

2003: The game reverted back to East vs West

2011: Two players serving as captains will choose their teams from a pool of all-stars

That brings us to the present and the point of my article. I find this new wrinkle absolutely fascinating. There are so many storylines that will play into and come out of the “draft.” Bunches of questions will be answered, like which Sedin brother will be chosen first? Will the latter chosen brother rise up and play better to prove the captains wrong? Do players think as highly of Jonathan Toews, as I do? Will the captains skew towards players from their own countries? The questions go on and on and on. To be honest I may be actually more interested in the picking than the actual game. There’s also the fact that the picking will allow the public to see the actual pecking order within the NHL. Yes, there are ways to judge players and rank them, but this serves as a, sort of, straight from the horse’s mouth ranking scheme.

While this whole concept is, to be honest, a little weird, it has definitely achieved its purpose; it has increased interest in the game. Perhaps it is just me, but as I grow older, I have become less and less interested in All-Star Games. The appeal and shine have slowly come off of the games and they seem like empty exhibitions. The NHL had the stones to mix things up and inject some life into the proceedings. They have created a novel twist into something that had become increasingly rote, and for this I commend them. Brendan Shanahan deserves major credit for working on the idea and standing behind it.

I’ll also add that the NHL has the best non-ASG event. I completely and thoroughly enjoy the skills competition. The different competitions are so basic that there’s actual bragging rights that come with it. Who wouldn’t enjoy finding out who the faster player in the NBA or NFL is? Well, the NHL tells us this each year (save for Olympic years). Want to know who can hit the hardest shot? Well, the NHL sets up speed guns for that very purpose. It’s pure awesomeness; it would be akin to having MLB pitchers try and throw the fastest pitch. These are the types of questions that fans argue about over beers and think about while writing blog posts. The NHL provides a forum to answer these questions and put the arguments to rest for a year. No other sport offers that same forum (now that the NFL stopped). Yes there are events like the home run derby and the dunk contest, but it doesn’t break things down to their fundamentals the way the NHL SuperSkills competition does.

The actual game itself may end up being just as exciting as past iterations, but that’s not the point. The point is the NHL is providing novel entertainment. They are throwing in tweaks that are far more exciting than in other sports, yet how many of you honestly knew that the ASG is this weekend? Bottom line: the NHL All-Star game is totally unheralded and completely underrated.