Saturday, August 31, 2013

My contributions to ESPN Boston's "Celtics Summer Forecast" (Part 2)

Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston has just finished publishing a two week long series of columns making a number of predictions for the upcoming Celtics season. He asked several writers from various websites to contribute their thoughts as well.  Here is the content of mine that he used in week one, and below is my stuff from week two (with links to each article):

Who will be the team's MVP?
"This is a no brainer. If you're among those who believe the Celtics will battle for a playoff spot (and I am), you know there's absolutely no way this can happen if Rondo isn't the MVP."

What are your expectations for Jeff Green?
"I think Green will lead the team in scoring, probably averaging 17-18 points per game. It will be interesting to see if he takes over the Paul Pierce last-shot role. With Rondo as the veteran leader and primary ball-handler/distributor, I expect the C's to have a fairly balanced offense overall, and that may actually keep Green from really busting out the way some people might expect."

What are your expectations for Avery Bradley?
"Celtics fans have yet to see a full season of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo together in the backcourt. Last year Bradley's game suffered dramatically when he was forced to takeover ball-handling duties when Rondo went down. Rondo's presence on the floor alone also makes Bradley better -- a lot better. When both of them are healthy I expect to see many more of those great back cuts and wide open layups we were treated to back in late 2012 when Bradley first stole Ray Allen's job."

Which game on the schedule are you most looking forward to?
"Jan. 26 vs. Nets: I've been a season ticket holder since Game 1 of the new Big Three era, and the second that Pierce and Garnett were traded all I could think about was how emotional it will be to be in the building on the night they come back. Honestly, the game itself won't even matter that much, just the starting lineup announcements and the tribute videos on the big screen. I get goosebumps now just thinking about it."

What will be the most intriguing training camp story line?
"What if Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace can actually play? Everybody assumes they are just contracts the Celtics took on in order to acquire all those first-round draft picks from Brooklyn (and that's probably true). But Wallace was a very good NBA player not that long ago, and Humphries can, without a doubt, be a solid big man/rebounder when he works hard. If the two of them act and perform like they want to be here it will take just about everyone by surprise."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Final Tebometer of the preseason (and maybe forever?)

Having a windup like a baseball pitcher definitely doesn't help.
A quick look at Tim Tebow's stats from last night (or reading this morning's headlines) might suggest that he gave a somewhat encouraging performance: 6-11, 91 yards, 2 TD passes, 1 interception.  But, if you actually saw him play, you know differently.  His first touchdown (which went for 52 of the 91 yards) was actually a 15 yard pass over the middle that was late, and much too high; the kind of throw that gets receivers killed.  But because Quentin Sims had to stop and jump backwards to get it (traditionally WR's like to catch the ball in stride, and somewhere in the area of their hands) the defender missed the tackle, and Sims sprinted 37 yards to the end zone.

Tebow's second TD was as garbage as a garbage time score can get. Trailing by a point with 10 seconds left, the Giants went for it on 4th and 8 from their own 17 yard line.  The QB was sacked for an 8 yard loss, giving the Pats the ball on the doorstep of the end zone with 6 seconds remaining.  Tebow's ensuing score came on what normally would be a kneel down play, in the closing seconds of the final preseason exhibition contest.  I defy you to draw up a less meaningful situation in an NFL game.

And don't forget about the interception, on which Tebow's deep ball was so badly underthrown that the cornerback even had to slow down and wait for it to come to him.

Here are his final preseason numbers: 11-30 (37%) for 145 yards, 2 TD's, 2 INT's, and 7 sacks.  As a quarterback he has no business being on an NFL roster.  Unless they have other plans for Tebow, New England should cut him, and the rest of the league would be wise to never give him another opportunity to throw the football again.

Click here for the complete history of the "Tebometer."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

If a dessert doesn't have chocolate it's not as good. Period.

Sometimes I don't understand people and desserts.  If you want to eat something healthier that's only kind of a dessert, fine.  I get that.  But don't try to convince me that whatever it is you're eating is as good as a real dessert.  If you look at the above picture and can even question for a second which one is better, you probably should be banned from all dessert related conversations going forward.  I understand the need for inferior non-chocolate based desserts, and I realize that they do have a place in society.  But never under any circumstances should they be construed of as having equal value.  Even the best chocolate-free desserts (cheesecake for example?) can always be improved by adding chocolate.

On the rare occasion when I order dessert in a restaurant, the first thing I do is eliminate all the ones that don't feature chocolate.  If you're treating yourself to something special, it's crazy to entertain the idea of an inferior product for no good reason.  Casey McCall of Sports Night sums up my philosophy perfectly:

For more great "Sports Night" clips, click here and here.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Checking in on the 4 longest playoff droughts in MLB history

This is the last time we saw the Pirates in the postseason...

In 2012 the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise brought to an end a 30 year postseason absence, the longest playoff drought for any team in the history of Major League Baseball.  Unfortunately for them it looks like they'll be starting a new streak this season, which makes the absurd decision to sit Stephen Strasburg late last year appear even more ridiculous.

The 2nd longest stretch of it's kind is the current 27 year run of the Kansas City Royals.  The Royals won the 1985 World Series in part due to a couple blown calls in Game 6, and have been paying for it karmically ever since.  This year they hung around in the Wild Card race much later than anyone expected, but it appears KC's woes will continue.

The 4th longest drought all-time belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays (19 seasons), who haven't returned to the playoffs since back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993.  Picked by many this preseason to win the AL East, the Jays are currently buried in last place, and have no chance at ending their skid.

...when Barry Bonds still looked like this.
Which brings me to the 3rd longest span between postseason appearances in baseball history, belonging to the Pittsburgh Pirates of the past 20 years.  In 1992, Pittsburgh led Atlanta 2-0 heading into the bottom of the 9th inning of NLCS Game 7.  With two outs pinch hitter Francisco Cabrera singled in Dave Justice and Sid Bream (pictured above), and the Braves won 3-2.  That off-season Barry Bonds left for San Francisco to up his steroid intake, and the Pirates have been insignificant ever since.  Until now.  With an 8.5 game cushion and just 30 left to play, Pittsburgh's era of futility finally seems destined to come to a close.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You'd be surprised which two Red Sox players have almost identical stat lines

Take a look at these numbers:

One of these two just received a huge contract extension and is thought of as a cornerstone of the franchise for years to come.  The other is an impending free agent expected to be overpriced and likely not re-signed.

If you haven't figured out already, "Player A" is Dustin Pedroia, and "Player B" is Jacoby Ellsbury.  Two years ago I wrote a similar blog when Boston's pair of 2011 MVP candidates, Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez, had virtually indiscernible numbers.  And while neither Pedroia nor Ellsbury has any chance at MVP this year, they rank 6th and 7th in the American League in total hits, and are both near the top of the league in runs scored, doubles, and batting average (Jacoby also leads MLB with 47 steals).

Hey Red Sox, re-sign Ellsbury.  He's worth it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Song of the Millennium" Part 2, revealing the Awesome (not very old) Song of the Week

If you have yet to read Part One, I highly recommend doing that first.  And now without further ado, here are my selections:

From a Final Four made up of two hip-hop songs and two of the poppy-est pop songs imaginable, OutKast's "Hey Ya" emerged victorious in an incredibly hard fought championship showdown.  If it weren't for the extreme youth and inexperience of Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe," the supremely talented 2012 smash likely could have taken home the title.

Go to yesterday's post to see the full size original bracket.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Discussing Grantland's "Song of the Millennium" tournament (Part 1) recently posted an ongoing article/poll/NCAA tournament style bracket called "Battle for the Best Song of the Millennium."  I've just gone through it and made my picks.  I want to be clear that they aren't predictions for which songs actually will win, but rather my own personal choices.  A couple notes before I break down the bracket: One, I'm not going to get into all the songs deserving of bids that got snubbed, because there are hundreds of them and that would take forever.  Similarly I won't mention any gripes about the seeding.  I also didn't bother to make selections in matchups I had no interest in, under the premise that those winners would immediately be knocked out anyway.  Tomorrow I will reveal my champion with a special edition of "Awesome (not very old) Song of the Week," but for now I have some analysis (click here to see the full size bracket):

The top half of the 2008-2010 regional is absolutely loaded, featuring four monster squads in Miley Cyrus, MGMT, Lady Gaga, and Katie Perry (and that's with me leaving out top seeded Adele, who's bandwagon I've never jumped on).  I couldn't handle eliminating "Kids" or "Party in the USA" in round one, so I moved Miley up a spot in the bracket.  Along those lines I also was unable to accept Gaga's "Bad Romance" qualifying for the field of 64 over "Poker Face," so I combined the two.  Because of this "Teenage Dream" suffered a very hard to swallow second round defeat, despite being a top 10 talent overall.  The same can be said for the Killers "Mr. Brightside," deserving of a much better fate than a round two loss at the hands of the buzz saw that is Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."

Check back tomorrow for Part Two.

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