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Bernie nailed it.

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On further review, Kosar’s commentary last Thursday was the best you’ll hear this year.

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In one of my first posts here, I shared that I’m not a Bernie fan.

… Love my Browns fans but Kosar is your Herpes flare-up.  Your bad sweater.  Your eighth Jim Beam.  Really sometimes makes it hard to co-exist.

But one thing I have said and will always say about Bernie:  he was as good at reading defenses and playcalling as any QB ever.  He truly knows the game.  He probably offers more from an offensive perspective than any commentator I’ve ever heard.  His pre-occupation with telling us the defense’s scheme after each play is probably a turn-off for some.  I love it.  The fact that he’s not doing network play-by-play or coaching has everything to do with non-football idiosyncrasies; nothing to do with the fact of his football knowledge.

In other words, his form is too unpleasant for our PC world to overcome the fact of his substance.  Sportscasting requires cold truths be couched diplomatically or better yet not said out loud but alluded to.  And certainly without a Yompton accent.  What I’m saying is:  when was the last time a national announcer spoke truthfully in a critical way?  Or more simply, an announcer who says pretty much what you’re thinking?

Sadly and ironically, Peter King has decided to pick this as his rare moment to speak critically — although with seemingly no review of Bernie’s actual broadcast — and has decided the Browns/WKYC must fire* Bernie.

It is sad and absurd and a fact of the world we’re living in.

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Setting it up.

Bernie called the Thursday night Browns/Rams game and since the Browns were at home, their announcers were shown nationally via NFL.com’s Pre-season Live package.  So if you’re a Rams fan not watching on St. Louis local team, you were hearing Jim Donovan and Bernie Kosar call the game.

In the course of the fourth quarter Bernie took shots at the Rams’ third string QB, Kellen Clemens and their receiving corps.

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PK’s twitter version of “have you stopped beating your wife?”
And no, he wasn’t drinking, we can tell by now.

Jeff Fisher reacted strongly to the criticism of his players by a Cleveland personality broadcasting on a Cleveland local station.  That’s fine, coach has players’ backs.  Fine.

[It has now been reported by Tony Grossi that Fisher asked reporters to ask him about Kosar.  In other words, this was a set-up by Fisher.  (Go to 2:50 mark here.)  This allows his WRs to hear criticism and simultaneously establishes Fisher as a coach who has his players’ back.  Bernie is collateral damage here.  And that’s leaving out Fisher’s needless comment about Bernie’s past ‘issues.’]

But now Peter King has decided to pile on and wants Bernie fired.  See tweets, right.

You are a horse’s ass, Peter King.

Today we’re going to review Bernie’s work on its substance.  Let’s see if by criticizing Bernie’s “judgement,” King is actually uncomfortable with Bernie’s lack of obfuscation.  Oh sorry, see what I just did there almost by reflex?  I prettied up a statement when I meant to say simply:  King can’t handle truth if it’s not wrapped in package without soft edges lest someone poke an eye out.

For the rest of us, it’s refreshing to have a commenter who is not a slave to maintenance of future access for either new sports websites (King) or film-room one-on-ones (Gruden).

Not needing to kiss everyone’s ass leads to interesting commentary.

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What Bernie said… about Sam Bradford.

Missed in the kerfuffle is Kosar’s honest praise of Sam Bradford.  Sam Bradford looks good, Bernie says he looks good.  Sam Bradford’s line looks bad, Bernie says his line looks bad.  Sam Bradford’s receivers drop passes, Bernie says his receivers aren’t good.  This isn’t hard.  Here’s a transcript of the second quarter where Bernie talks Bradford.

2Q/14:14  Bradford dropped pass by Pettis.

Just rushing three, horrible job by the offensive line, and beautiful throw by Sam Bradford under pressure.  He’s at the crossroads of career and needs to take the next step to get where his athleticism says he should be.

2Q/14:09 Bradford dropped pass by Austin.

Again nice job by Bradford standing in against pressure.  It wasn’t overthrown, Austin has to make that catch in the NFL.  I can see why Sam’s been struggling watching how bad these receivers are.  Those are two outstanding throws those last two.

I.e., the Rams are punting due to two dropped passes on perfect throws under pressure.  Peter King translation:  “Were you drinking?”  Frankly, I hope Bernie sues King.  The intent to injure is there as is the record.  If King hasn’t libeled Kosar, the word has no meaning.

2Q/12:51 Bradford long completion to Givens.

There’s gonna be a lot of grumpy defensive coaches here.  That’s just base cover 3.  There should be a weak safety in the middle of the field there.  Beautiful throw by Sam Bradford, that’s awesome.

2Q/10:59 Bradford TD pass to Givens.

Sam had the guy open in the flat for the easy touchdown.  He purposely throws this high to get it over the linebackers.  This is perfect accuracy.  I love watching him throw the ball.  That was a fantastic series.

If Bernie’s a punch-drunk fool when talking about Kellen Clemens, then his statements about Bradford must also be dismissed, no?  Yes?  PK?  Starwood-Frequent-Traveller?  Comment?

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The Clemens stuff. (more…)

Clearing the Decks, bitchy edition.

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Minor gripe session this morning.

I try hard not to be “that blogger.”  Bitch, bitch, bitch.  “You know what grinds my gears?”  All that stuff.  I did What’s Great about Cleveland and Adopt a Brownie.  Pointed out the good side of Dan Gilbert.  Hell, I’ve even got a “What if SUNY-Stony Brook got serious about football” piece in my drafts.

I try to bring more than bitch.  For example, you won’t see me saying:

  • It’s Pronounced “Lajaway” is a horrible name for a blog; just feels unfriendly.  I deliberately avoid the site because it’s already presumed to talk down to me before I’ve even clicked on it.
  • Cleveland-focused SBNation sites are absurd with their ‘no-use-of-the-subject-line-in-the-forum’ rules and the self-policing of the silly rule is consistently petty and unfriendly and actually dickish to any hapless newbie who makes that blunder.  “IT MAKES IT HARD TO READ!  ALSO: NO GIFS!!!!”  Geez, lighten up Francis.  Go check out EDSBS, they seem to be doing alright.  Not for nothing, some (all?) of us scan before reading.  Your Asik post has 700+ comments… sure would be nice if I could scan subject lines instead of [not] reading 700 comments.

Disclaimer now out of the way, I’ve got three bitchy items to bring up.

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“The Official Energy Partner of the Cleveland Browns.”

FirstEnergy Stadium is now the home of the Browns.  The signage went up last week.  It’s a “meh” item until you stop and think about it.

My understanding on stadium naming rights is that it’s basically a high-profile billboard and, like any advertising, intended to help companies gain share or increase sales.

So why does a regulated monopoly need to advertise?  Here’s what FE says:

By joining two Ohio traditions, this partnership and regional branding opportunity makes good business sense,” said FirstEnergy’s Alexander. “FirstEnergy and its predecessor utilities have been serving the energy needs of customers throughout northern Ohio for more than a century, while the Browns’ rich legacy in the same regional footprint dates back to 1946. It is clear the team is headed in the right direction and we look forward to being part of the new energy in FirstEnergy Stadium.

But how does this “regional branding” improve your captive customers’ service or make that service more cost-effective?

If this is a ‘giving back to the community’ thing, is giving $100,000,000 to a billionaire the best idea you could come up with?

Don’t ask questions Kanick.  The Browns now have an official energy partner.  Here’s what Joe Banner says:

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If you’re in a shaded area, you’re a First Energy customer.
I.e., not cell phone service; you don’t choose.

Having a stadium naming rights deal in place was extremely important for us as we look toward the future, and it was just as imperative to accomplish this with a strong, regional company such as FirstEnergy,” said Banner. “We are excited about what this long-term partnership means, allowing both the Browns and FirstEnergy to derive many benefits from this association. This deal is a great example of why we feel very good about the direction our organization is headed, and we believe it can serve as a catalyst for many other positive developments moving forward.

[Ugh.  What utter gobbledygook.]

Terms weren’t disclosed, but reportedly FE will pay about $6 million a year for 17 years.  Call me crazy, but public monopolies with $6M x 17 = $102M cash on hand should be plowing that into the physical plant or rebating their customers or cutting their rates.

If you’re stroking a check to FE from Pennsylvania or New Jersey… are you not even more in the WTF boat?

The Official Energy Partner of the Browns.

Cripes.

Update:  here are some comments from the ABJ readers who observe many of the same problems with this arrangement.  (Thanks Titus!)

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The Mayor of Akron since 1987.

Mr. Mayor.

If you missed it, Don Plusquellic showed up on the Baskin-Phelps Show Wednesday to address a perceived slight from Andy Baskin.  The Mayor had made demonstrably wrong, borderline stupid, obviously uninformed comments on Dan Gilbert’s lack of spending causing LeBron to leave:

I wish Dan Gilbert would have spent some of his money and gone out and bought a couple of all-stars and then said to LeBron, ‘Hey, I’m giving you a team that you can win a championship here.’ Instead, everybody waited, held their cards close to the vest and said, ‘OK, LeBron please sign.

Baskin responded with a very strong piece that rebutted Plusquellic’s misinformation point by point.  Seriously, good work by Baskin up until he closed with a cheap shot:

The Mayor of Akron needs to be worrying about jobs and economic growth in his Summit County city.

I set out to write a piece defending Plusquellic.  After all, being mayor and making stupid sports talk are not mutually exclusive.  As dumb as Plusquellic’s comments were, he’s not the only one getting the Lebron-Cavs era wrong.

But after listening to the radio interview, I was moved to write a j’accuse screed directly toward the people of Akron.

You elected this guy your mayor seven times? (more…)

Et tu, Pluto? //updated alt title: Why Pluto is a pro.

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Click for cle-dot-com article.

The Plain Dealer has hit rock bottom.  When normally reliable Terry Pluto makes a mistake that no blogger would make, it should be a wake up call.

Investigation of downgrade does not equal downgrade.

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Above is a screen cap of the cle-dot-com webpage of Pluto’s Sunday article.  It states a downgrade occurred at PFJ.

That’s major news.

I wondered how I’d missed it.  I knew there was nothing in the WSJ piece revealing a new downgrade of PFJ debt; but the sentence is written as though a downgrade occurred in addition to the WSJ article.  (Use of the word “and” is important.)  So I checked Moodys (who have announced an investigation) and S&P (who have not).   (more…)

#bringbacknaoko

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With David Krejci.
If you like the Bruins, do yourself a favor and walk through Naoko’s twitter pics. (Click.)

Every newbie watching the Bruins on NESN since 2008 has shared the same ‘wait whut?’ moment:  when did NESN start participating in MIT Job Fairs?  Who’s this Bruins locker room reporter speaking in a tone like she’s in the tower at Augusta and conducting interviews as though she knows the game?  Why are the players smiling and unguarded when she talks to them, do they know and like her or something?  And there doesn’t seem to have been the slightest attention paid as to whether or not my fourteen year old nephew is downloading her.  Something is amiss.

Yeah, no, that was Naoko Funayama.  NESN fired her last week, wanted to go in a “different direction.”  And since Funayama was already doing informed, smart interviews with players who liked and respected her… we’re not sure what that ‘different direction’ is but we’re pretty sure boobage will factor.

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Named a top-25 Hockey Pundit. Also on list, Bob McKenzie, Kevin Weekes, Ray Ferraro, Pierre LeBrun… you get the idea. A lot men from CBC and TSN on the list.
(Seemed out-matched against Tuuka Rask at tennis, though.)

Liked/loved/respected by all.  This is who you hire and try to keep.  This is not who you fire.

Meanwhile, people are pissed.  And one more.

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Hey NESN:  nobody likes organizations who are pricks to their employees.  

And also, nobody likes prickish orgs who are also simultaneously stupid and transparently greedy.  And finally, when your organization isn’t a real ‘self-built’ business but a pre-funded manifestation of the local teams’ fans’ affection… in that uniquely gifted instance… the first bullet on your mission statement should read:  “Don’t be pricks.”

But no.  It turns out the execs at NESN are too smart to be constrained like that.  Smart like WEEI was before they had competition.  Smart like if NESN execs were reviewing this post they’d tell me to change that last sentence to ‘wicked smaht’ you know, because Boston types like to be provincial, and also shouldn’t I have a cheerleader poll in the sidebar cos page hits?

Sadly, the firing of not-hot/flirty-enough Funayama is no surprise.  A quick look at the Red Sox side of the house is instructive. (more…)

La Canfora’s hatchet job on Heckert.

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Bros.

Jason La Canfora, first with the Lombardi-to-Cleveland rumor, is out with a grotesquely biased assessment of the talent pool Tom Heckert bequeathed to his boy.  It reads like Mike Lombardi submitted an article to CBS which Jason La Canfora posted under his name.  Worse, Lombardi wrote it such that it reads petty and small and brimming with axe-grinding.  It’s also just factually wrong.

Here’s the key takeaway:

Just be sure to delineate what is the result of the men now calling the shots there, and how much they are paying for the misdeeds of those who came before them.

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The problem with polymaths is that they either tweet or retweet stuff like this.

Grotesquely biased?  Pre-emptive bar-lowering?  Lazy, sloppy, corrupt?

Yes, yes, yes.

Here’s the translation:  listen you reactionary Browns fans, be indefinitely patient and less inquisitive about the new guys’ activities.  You should applaud the coaching hires and FA pickups on defense.  You should blame the other guys if the offense sucks.  (But if the offense happens to be good, you should credit the new coaches.)

Sorry Jason, that’s too big an ask.  There’s too much to question with the new guys.  The old regime’s misdeeds don’t seem especially heinous.

Even Grossi can see through what JLC’s piece is:

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I’d link to his tweet but.. you know.. #blockedbygrossi

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There’s so much to work with that I’m loading the whole piece and rebutting it paragraph by paragraph.  La Canfora’s text is in grey; my takes are in black. (more…)

Brad Marshmont and great sports talk radio.

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No less than three “Brad Marchand’s Nose” twitter accounts. Because, of course.

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Don’t want to jinx anything but.. the Bruins are looking really strong after last night’s shutout.  The local radio had some stats about how the team who wins a 3OT game almost always wins the next game and are 5-2 winning the series.  That hasn’t happened with the Blackhawks.  What has happened is the “Ken Dryden effect.”  Throw enough shots on goal that are saved and it gets in your head and you start trying to be too fine picking corners.  I think Rask has gotten to the Blackhawks; I know he got to the Pens.

Anyhoozles… if you’re watching any hockey playoffs and you’re not a hockey guy.. you’re noticing pesky Brad Marchand.  His line (centered by Patrice Bergeron with Jaromir Jagr on the other wing) is the #2 Bruins line but my favorite.  (I’m a big Bergeron fan.)  Marchand is getting his points but mainly, Marchand is doing his usual bugging-you-by-out-working-you deal.  If you’re just noticing Marchand, you’re a tad late to the party.  At least one noteworthy casual hockey fan knows Marchand:

We’d pick a nit with the President about co-opting Pat Verbeek’s nickname but Verbeek doesn’t mind so we won’t.

Brad Marchand went into the season playing on the fourth line, but the Little Ball of Hate shrugged off the rookie jitters and—” Barack Obama wheels to locate him, “What’s up with that nickname, man?—scored five goals in the last five games of the final series … to lead the Bruins to the championships.”

But speaking of Marchand’s rookie year, let’s do go back to 2011.  It created one of the great sports radio moments in my memory and set the bar for ‘good sports radio talk’ that hasn’t been matched.

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Quick Boston radio history.

Felger and Mazz do the drive time show for 98.5 The Sports Hub (get it? Hub?  Boston is the “Hub of the Universe?”).  Mike Felger covered the Pats for the Boston Herald; Massarotti was the Sox beat guy for the Herald first then the Globe. (more…)

On Gee.

Maybe he was using air-quotes?

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In an example of the lack of critical thinking within an educational community which one would hope should encourage it, Gordon Gee has been forced out of Ohio State after it was reported that he was “ripping” Catholics.

I took the time to explore the context of Gee’s remarks and transcribed more than what you’ll find in the AP or SI stories.

There is nothing for anyone to be upset about.

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In a December meeting with the OSU Athletic Council Gee provided the back-story of how Rutgers and Maryland joined the Big Ten.  Interesting stuff actually.  Here’s Gordon Gee talking specifically about approaching Maryland (start at ~2:30):

We also have talked for sometime about Maryland and Rutgers.  But what happened after the meeting was to approach Maryland.

Some of that was precipitated very candidly by the fact that Notre Dame had moved off to the ACC.

I want to make it very clear, we have never invited Notre Dame to join the Big Ten and the reason is the fact that they — first of all they’re not very good partners.  I’ll just say that.  I negotiated with them during my first term.

[Begin reported excerpt.]  [SI’s descriptors included.] ****

“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week,” Gee said to laughter at the Dec. 5 meeting attended by Athletic Director Gene Smith and several other athletic department members, along with professors and students.

OMG and he’s a Mormon too??

“You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that,” said Gee, a Mormon.

**** [End reported excerpt.]  [SI needs you to know Gee is Mormon.]

Father Joyce was one of the people who ran the university for many many years .. saying that .. Notre Dame wanted to have its cake and eat it too and the ACC was feeling very vulnerable and they added Notre Dame as a non-football school something we (Big Ten) would never do.  You’re either in or you’re out.

Then he circles back to talk about how Maryland and Rutgers fit in the Big Ten.

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Does truth,,, matter?

Let’s look at what Gee really said.  No, not the clearly tongue-in-cheek crack that Gee dropped for the specific and receptive audience he was speaking to.  What Gee said concerning Notre Dame, after having negotiated with them:  “… they’re not very good partners.  I’ll just say that.”

Now that’s kinda provocative.  Is it true?  Is Notre Dame a good partner?  Let’s take a look at their current partnership as a non-football member of the ACC.  Does Notre Dame want to have their cake and eat it too?  HELL YES.

In a related story, Tom Hammond thinks ND is a bad partner too.

ND just extended their football television contract through 2025 at $15,000,000/year.  Do their partners in the ACC share in this?  No.  Does Notre Dame share in the ACC Basketball franchise built upon Duke and UNC?  Yes.

This is not a good partnership.  ND wants and gets its cake and eats it.  Gee is 100% correct in his assessment is he not?

If your takeaway from Gee’s words is that he an anti-Catholic Mormon bigot, you’re not even trying to listen.

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Gee as Ohio State President.

Not that it matters when we’re safe-guarding correct speech and thinking, but Gee was a very good president.

Ramzy gets it right here:

You won’t hear much these days about is Ohio State’s dramatic and holistic improvement well beyond donations, solvency, research grants and caliber of incoming students – though Time recently named him the best college president in America.  “Hurr hopefully Jim Tressel won’t fire him” is so much easier to categorize him.

Hurr indeed.

I’m not going to research the metrics Ramzy lays out above.  I will tell you that both my parents are OSU alumni and when it was time for me to look at schools, OSU was not on the list.  “Just a huge impersonal factory college” was my perception.  Two years ago I drove my son out for a visit and would’ve been most pleased if he’d enrolled as an out-of-state student.  Without citing admissions selectivity metrics, I can tell you my perception from out of state is that OSU’s reputation is tip-top.  The recent OSU alums I’m acquainted with have more pride in their alma mater than other alums from other schools.  Not an exaggeration:  I know of no other sets of alumni with the pride of community the Ohio Staters share.

While there are surely many drivers for that improvement it’s hard not to credit Gee for much of it. (more…)

ESPN incites NCAA mob.

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Here is possibly the worst article presented as a news item since Gutenberg.  But as of 4:00 PM yesterday, it rated as an ESPN headline.  As of this morning it had over 2300 comments.

I can’t believe I’m going to try to get to the bottom of what they’re trying to report because — really — I know this is troll bait.  But I’ll dig in because:

  1. It introduces an NCAA conversation I’ve wanted to have, and;
  2. It’s just so bad.

Here’s the text of the article:

A member of a women’s golf team at a West Coast Conference school has been sanctioned by the NCAA for washing her car on campus, according to University of Portland basketball coach Eric Reveno.

Reveno tweeted about the violation Wednesday after he learned of it during conference meetings, culminating his message with the hashtag #stopinsanity.

“Just heard about two NCAA violations in WCC. 1) athlete using Univ. water to wash car, 2) coach text recruit ‘who is this?'” Reveno wrote.

The WCC school in question self-reported the extra benefits violation to the NCAA, Yahoo Sports! reported. Yahoo also reported the NCAA asked the golfer to pay the school $20, which they said was the value of the water and hose.

I’m no Scripps J-School alumnus and even I can see some problems here.  What is the golfer’s name?  Which WCC school does she play for?  How did event come to be found a violation in need of sanction?  Was there an NCAA g-man staking out a car wash?  For $20 was there the interior vacuumed?  Did she tip the towel guys?  Where’s the link to the Yahoo Sports* story?  Has Yahoo! changed the placement of their trademarked exclamation point?  Where’s the link to the Reveno tweet?  Is #stopinsanity a thing?

And the main question ESPN:  when a basketball coach uses a #stopinsanity hashtag to tweet about a different school’s self-reporting of a golfer for a trivial NCAA violation… aren’t you being manipulated for a specifically anti-NCAA agenda?

Or is it your anti-NCAA agenda?

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Also: 18-45 in past two years.

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Meet Eric Reveno.

Meet Eric Reveno, self-promoting college basketball coach.  When your twitter home page doubles as a resume you’ve crossed some sort of line and wandered beyond ‘savvy use of social media.’  Hey bro, that online seminar you attended about improving your brand?  They really were talking about sprucing up your LinkedIn profile.

[UPDATE:  I am informed by friends closer to the University of Portland program that Reveno is a decent guy.

Reveno is good guy.  Like “so good that he’s going to get swallowed by his profession and eventually fired because he can’t compete with snake-oil salemen like Calipari” good.  He’s an entertaining interview if you watch their games because he’s such an engineer (I think one of his degrees is in engineering, if I’m not mistaken) that he actually tries to answer those sideline reporter questions sincerely, and ends up answering before he fully forms his response.  It’s tremendous to watch.

But he’s also definitely the opposite of self-promoting coach or one who would use those circumstances to promote his program.  He seems like a guy who is actually wildly uncomfortable with all the non-coaching aspects of being a coach, so if he comes across as self-promoting, it’s just as likely because he’s awkward.

So I stand corrected there.  Will leave original snarky post intact for consistency’s sake.]

In seven years at Portland he’s 96-126.  No NCAA Tourney appearances.  His teams have finished like this in conference:

  • 2007:  7th /of 8
  • 2008:  7th;
  • 2009: 3rd;
  • 2010:  3rd;
  • 2011:  5th;
  • 2012:  8th;
  • 2013:  7th.

So the guy is probably feeling some pressure.

This isn’t too hard to figure out:  would you rather spout meaningless hashtags to an eager mob or talk about that 18-45 win-lose record over the last two years.

Thus we find this bizarrely random, remarkably info-less tweet about someone else’s player at someone else’s school in someone else’s sport:

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Huh?

(more…)

The No Bitching About Refs Diet.

Simultaneous catches not review-able? No biggie.

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It’s been ten days since I made this pledge:

I’m going to try to go a month without bitching about umps/refs. And no passive-aggressive ‘I’m not saying anything’ tweets where you know exactly what I’m not saying. Gonna go all in on this.

me, 5/19

This experiment is going so well, I must recommend it to all.  It’s been a breeze and a joy.

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Liberation and peace.

I’m approaching the games I watch now with the full expectation that there will be bad and missed calls.  It’s a fundamental truth but yet so roundly unaccepted.  Once this mindset is adopted, every aspect of the game-watching is improved.  I can only describe it as liberating.

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Replay. Not as easy as you think it is. (Hey Comic Sans.)

Take a baseball game for an example.  MLB is creeping toward an average of 300 pitches per game.  I found a datum saying that ~130 of those pitches are swung at.  So.. of course the home plate umpire will not get 170 calls right.  There’s no good in expecting different.

When you make your peace with this,,, all is light.

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Miami Heat games provide excellent opportunities to put the theory lifestyle to the test.

First, it spares you from needing to learn the myriad rules for where replay can be used in the NBA.  Click the link at right, you’ll be surprised.

Second, only calls made can be reviewed, not non-calls.  Thus the obviously missed 24 second call against the Pacers leading to directly to a 12-2 Heat run was not reviewable in spite of the imperative to get it right.  But when you know going in that the rules are imperfect, you’re better prepared for such problems.

All of those background problems evaporate when on No Bitching Diet. (more…)

WWHE #4: The Bully Pulpit.

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Trust-buster? Bust this. –Elaine Benes.

The Bully Pulpit is a position sufficiently conspicuous to provide an opportunity to speak out and be listened to.

When coined by Theodore Roosevelt, he was using ‘bully’ as a descriptor synonymous with good, superb, wonderful.  As in:  the White House provides a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda.

As the term bully took its now more common form – harasser of the weak – so too has the Bully Pulpit become less a platform and more a bludgeon.

In the world of sports there is no bigger platform with as many bludgeon-wielding blow-hards than ESPN.  With their bully pulpit, ESPN can drive the discussion and drive it however it suits them.

Propagandists have demonstrated over and over that logic and truth are less important in the mass shaping of thought than repetition and a need to belong.  That’s how newspeak words like ‘regressive’ get used without irony even by Orwell readers.  That’s how regional acceptance of ‘can’t have too many pass rushers’ occurs.  And that’s how ‘more replay is good because getting it right is most important’ becomes prevailing thinking among sports fandom.

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Item:  Not everyone buys into more replay for baseball.

There are plenty of people out there who share my disdain for replay.  For today, let’s narrow the aperture and look at replay in baseball specifically.  Here are some views not heard amidst the din of the stampede toward more replay.

Ex-player Doug Glanville cautions:

Tulo gets it.

We can force systems to get better, and sometime worse. We can overrule, overturn, overthink, and even overreact and delete that last post. But let’s be careful because we may not want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes when we try to make perfection.  Maybe a missed call will be a thing of the past. Maybe that is a good thing. But I get the feeling we may actually miss a missed call, no matter what we say in 140 characters or less.

Current player Troy Tulowitzki:

I have mixed emotions about it.  I think baseball has been known for so long by the respect for the umpires and the calls they make. Right or wrong, you just go about your business and play.

Mark Kiszla from the Denver Post nails it in his piece from Thursday:

More replay in baseball? To determine whether a ball raked down the right-field line is foul or a double? Really? … This just in: Life’s not fair. Why should baseball be any different?
It’s only a game, not to mention a game that already takes three hours to play way too often.

Wisdom and depth from sports types.  Whoa.

But if you consume sports from the same places I do, those opinions are not what you generally hear.  Because one guy with a microphone can get on a kick and dominate the discussion… if the microphone he holds has ESPN on it.

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Jayson Stark’s raison d’être:  Get more replay into MLB, ASAP!

Wants more replay and shorter games.  Ohhh-kayyy…

Stark’s pieces earlier this week prompted this WWHE.  Here’s the first, Eight ways to improve umpiring:

1. More replay.

Well, there’s good news. More replay is coming. A lot more replay. Like next year. It might not all kick in at once. But at some point, it’s possible nearly every type of call except Ball one … Strike one will be reviewable. And that will solve everything.  All right. No it won’t. But it’s a start. As Angel Hernandez proved last week, even with replay, some calls will still get hopelessly messed up. But not nearly as many. And Angel will be happy to hear that an important byproduct of expanded replay will be better technology.

And this, MLB must get replay right: (more…)