Saturday, August 20, 2016

Football Outsiders Posts A Negative Value In Editing

Here's what you see on page 179 of their latest annual book, in the Philadelphia Eagles section.

I Didn't Know Eli Played For The Eagles
This is becoming something of a tradition for the organization, as they also whiffed entirely on the Phillies' bullpen in their annual this year.

But remember, Philly Fan is angry for no reason!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Top 10 Eagles Preseason Week 2 Takeaways

Wear Your Helmet More, Meat
10) The defense picked off Steelers QB2 Landry Jones four times in the first half and pitched a shutout, which would be really impressive if it weren't for the presence of Landry Jones in that sentence

9) Nelson Agholor went high and made a nice catch to convert a third down, so he's totally not a bust now

8) Much of the first team offense time was spent collecting penalties and generally sucking the joy out of life

7) On the final play of the third quarter, Marcus Smith II sacked the QB, so he's totally not a bust now

6) In the proud tradition of Rasheed Bailey and Freddie Martino, Paul Turner looked like a guy who could stick at WR, but won't

5) Unlike last week, there were moments when Chase Daniel looked like he belonged in the NFL, so, um, yay wildly overpriced small game manager QB

4) Dorial Green-Beckham dressed and played, but didn't look like he had any clue about how to play football, so he was as advertised

3) For the second straight week, the team won comfortably in a game that only one team seemed to care about

2) Winning 17-0 with a +3 turnover ratio and a whole minute more of possession tells you just how much Smoke And Mirrors was involved

1) Caleb Sturgis, and we swear we are not making this up, missed the game due to getting a concussion from a pre-game punt that went awry, and yeah, it's totally fine to cut a guy if he can't duck a pre-game punt, or just keep his helmet on

The Eagles Get Their Very Own (Green-) Beckham In A Litmus Test

Even taller against prone DBs
In one of those deals that serve more as an indicator for how you feel about your team's brain trust than the merits of the trade, the Eagles sent reserve lineman Dennis Kelly to the Titans for second-year WR Dorial Green-Beckham.

Titan Fan (he exists, right? Nashville has to have the Internet by now, since Boost Mobile exists, and wifi hotspots can get to the trailer park) is certain that DG-B, a 6'-6", 225 pounder who ran the 40 last year in 4.49, is going to turn around his frustrating freshman behavior and become the next WR1 to haunt their dreams. He was their best WR last year with 549 yards, which would have been WR2 for the Eagles, and yeah, WR2 for the Eagles last year was really horrible. (Riley Cooper! Still unemployed, shockingly, and Google News has all of four mentions of his name in the last six months. Seriously, Riley, show up at a Trump rally or something. Show us some hustle.)

And boy, it would be nice to finally be the team that picks up Disgruntled WR1 on the cheap, rather than passing him off. Titan Fan's pessimism is warranted, because their franchise got the #1 pick last year, and you don't do that unless, well, everything has failed to spectacular levels. Especially when you play in the charity ward that is the AFC South, losing that many games takes work, and while Fake Game #1 made their prospects look good with rampant running, they really aren't likely to win more than six games this year. And, um, I can tell you from personal experience and viewing, along with the fact that he's 26, a fifth round blah pick, and hasn't ever been a starter for a line that's better than a disaster, that Dennis Kelly is like a gas station condom. Better than nothing, but still a profoundly painful and disappointing experience.

Eagle Fan (we exist! and can't stop whining about it, for reasons) is certain that DG-B is part of a troubling trend of Thugs that Clueless Howie Roseman is bringing in because Nero Kelly hated Thugs. Also, that his presence means that prior dice rolls Reuben Randle and TJ Graham suck (they do), holdovers Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff are busts (they are), and that so long as the opposition remembers to cover Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz, this passing attack is going to fail in 2016 (it will). Also, that while no one wanted to see Kelly on the field, they really didn't want to see Matt Tobin, spell the names of rookies Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, or do anything more than curl into the fetal position until starter Lane Johnson's second PED suspension magically goes away. Oh, and aging LT Jason Peters has to stay perfectly healthy and be all better again, after last year's Fred Sanford act. Honestly, this year is going to suck. And all of the QBs are going to die. Some already have!

Realistically, there's always the possibility that this will be the kind of deal that hurts both teams, given how neither org has covered itself in smartness over the past half-decade. Titan Management spent the preseason burying DG-B's value with complaints about his conditioning and work ethic, while the Eagles are trying to get you to believe that their puppies are ready for prime time, no matter what your eyes told you during their turnstile time against the Bucs in Fake Week One. From my perspective, it's a defensible gamble because (a) Kelly's nothing that you should struggle to replace or remember, and (b) DG-B has a chance to be a game-changer if the light turns on in his head, and sometimes guys do that after a trade. Also, it's not as if this move is costing the team draft picks or salary cap space, and the chance of finding another Kelly in free agency or after some other team's cut time is a hell of a lot better than finding another guy who has inspired Calvin Johnson comparisons.

But that's the magic of this deal. If you want to rip either team for making it, you can, and if you want to praise them, have at it. Here, let me give it a shot. The Titans have better options at WR and laid down the law for their other possible miscreants, and aren't going to have another Kenny Britt experience. Great move! Either way, you get to sound like a True Fan, and you also get to think about something other than how your team will go 6-10 this year in a dumpster division.

From my perspective, DG-B makes his Eagle debut in tomorrow night's game against the Steelers, and I'm going to call the trade a win for the simple fact that now I have a minor excuse to watch it. If he makes three catches in the first quarter and does anything with them, Eagle Fan will bumrush DG-B into their fantasy league rankings, Titan Fan will drink some more sterno and say something vile, and the sun will rise in the East. Also, both teams will still win six games this year. NFL Fever! Catch It!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Curt Schilling Proves, Again, That Pitchers Are The Biggest Idiots

Throws Right, Thinks Little
In my time as a sports journo, I got to interview a wide number of folks with a wide number of jobs. The athletes in sports that didn't get a lot of coverage, like lacrosse and swimming, really didn't have much of an idea of what to do with a question, and would hem and haw, get quiet, or just recite a cliche or two; it was hard to get them to open up. The players who were in positions where talking was constant -- skill positions in football, basketball players, and the very best interview in sports, the hockey goon -- knew what you were looking for, and would fill up your notebook with speed. They were worth their weight in gold, and you'd go to them as often as you would the coach, honestly.

And bar none, the worst interview subject in the world? The starting pitcher in baseball. There's no rooting in the press box, but I always rooted against the game being decided by these guys, because no matter how good the game was, the post-game talk session with these gifted imbeciles was always the worst. At the high school level, you'd wonder how they got out of middle school. At the college level, how they got in. At the pro level, how they got to the park on a daily basis without chasing fire trucks. (It was, to be fair, a pre-GPS age. And if it was a Rube Waddell homage, props. But it never was.)

But the sub-set, the worst of the worst? The starting pitcher with just enough intellect to know that he was smarter than many other pitchers, especially if he was any good at the job. It was like having a kindergarten class at a boys school all get baseball bats, then give the biggest bully in the second grade a knife; utterly insufferable and impossible to shut the hell up. You'd have a season filled with the petty tyrannies, imposed philosophies, imagined conspiracies and utter self-centeredness of someone with too much power and, well, no consequences or control. And God help you if he didn't win, or a teammate or coach let him down. Being a sports reporter is fun, but it can stop being fun very quickly.

Which leads us to the curious case of Curt Schilling.

Who, let's not put too fine a point on this, was lucky to escape fraud charges in the failure of his game company, and who blew one of the easiest jobs in the world at ESPN, despite repeat warnings to stop using his social media feed like your asshat uncle...

And feels that this qualifies him for a turn in the United States Senate, followed by a run for the Presidency.

No, seriously.

You see, Big Schill's got that Ayn Randian problem -- the one where you are personally offended at the idea that society might need some semblance of selflessness, teamwork, nuance, or the ability to learn from books read after you were a teenager. And he's personally offended by Elizabeth Warren, the progressive senator, bankruptcy expert, decorated law school professor and person who has actually won an election, and feels that he can just defeat her by announcing a willingness to do so. (Oh, and that the Republican Party in Massachusetts would just fall over itself and nominate him, because Bloody Sock, and what the hell, it's not as if Scott Brown is stopping anyone.)

Now, I get that Mr. Trump's rise to prominence makes everyone think a career in politics is just a Twitter account away. And that Schill has probably never met anyone -- well, anyone not involved in his game company failure or ESPN -- who has ever told him to just go pound sand, or that life in the Senate or Oval Office might not be an arena filled with people applauding his every move, and paying to wear a replica of his shirt.

But far be it for me to tell an aging jock what to do, let alone someone with such an urge to inflict his persona on a public that truly hasn't asked for any more Schill in their life.

I will, however, as someone with first-hand experience with the good Professor (served as her secretary in the early '90s at Penn Law!), give the lunkhead one piece of advice...

You might want to see how Trump's attempts to bully her into silence have gone.

As, you know, scouting.

Because when it comes to high heat, as in actual brainpower?

She's got a lot more on the fastball than you, Meat...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

FTT Off-Topic: The Not Golden Age

Or Not, And Don't Break Our Hearts
Not sports, sorry there hasn't been much sports lately, but baseball is the only real sport right now, and I'm an A's fan, so there's no sports right now. (The Olympics desperately need to end, because they are utterly indefensible in their abject corruption. Honestly, IOC, die in a dumpster fire. That never goes out.)

I'm older than most of you people, and was on the Internet back when being on the Internet was, well, painful. 300 baud, monochrome monitors, big expensive monthly phone bills for anything but local boards. Back in those days, guys outnumbered girls by at least a 100 to 1 ratio, most people online were idiots, but the ones that weren't were good people. I wound up getting a gig at an Internet start-up in 1985 as a 16-year-old, and with the occasional hiccups, have worked online ever since.

At the time when I started online, there were nearly a half dozen truly great newspaper comic strips. Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, The Far Side, Dilbert, Bloom County... every Sunday morning was a fight in my house for the funnies. We all knew it was a golden age of cartooning, but when it was going on, it was just, well, the Sunday paper. Gimme.

It's impossible to tell when you are in an age, or when it's just the new normal. In the 1920s, baseball writers kept waiting for offense to go away, probably when Babe Ruth retired; the 1930s took that level of offense and nearly doubled it. You'd have made a good chunk of money betting on how 3-point shots would just keep going up for the past two decades in pro hoop. Passing yardage in the NFL. Costs of advertising in the Super Bowl. Boom markets don't always turn into bust markets, especially when the boom makes everyone a good chunk of change.

Which brings me to the curious case of "The Nightly Show", which was canceled today, and is playing out the string for the rest of this week. And man alive, has Comedy Central turned the 11pm hour, something that they just owned with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, into a much cheaper and much less effective hour of experimentation. Trevor Noah got the chair for Stewart instead of John Oliver, Samantha Bee, or someone else that, um, might have cost money. (Sorry to be rude, but the truth is frequently rude.) And Wilmore, I believe, was just set for failure, since his lead-in wasn't nearly as strong anymore, and a portion of the Colbert audience followed their man to his new toothless existence at CBS.

Oliver and Bee are, of course, doing just about the best hour on television right now, between the long-form civics lesson that HBO sponsors, and Bee's take-no-prisoners feministic assault on TBS. Wilmore's show wasn't perfect, but it had real moments of quality (I'm a fan of Mike Yard, and Grace Parra's parody of mindless entertainment reporters is also completely great.)

But it lost 30% of Colbert's audience, which is probably never coming back. I'm sure that they'll replace it with the latest product of their assembly line of attractive smug young person playing an insufferable jackass (see Tosh, Devine, and depressingly often, Schumer)... or some other half hour of animated tripe that isn't South Park, and South Park hasn't been good in forever, either.

Yeah, I'm old, and trying very hard not to say that everything is going to hell in a hand basket, because hand baskets really need to stop being the only hellish transport system. Plenty of things are great now, actually. The chance that you will die in a war keeps going down. Medical technology keeps getting better. Netflix and Hulu and all of the other streaming services are better than anything we could have imagined back in the VCR/VHS days.

But satire on television that redefines the news into the actual media we deserve, rather than the one we suffer through, with all of its false equivalency and bull spit narratives?

That peaked a couple of years ago, when Stewart and Colbert gave us four hours a week of essential stuff. Instead of now, when it's just the single hour of Bee and Oliver.

Who, as good as they are, take more vacations, and aren't nearly as likely to create the next Bee and Oliver...

Ads In This Size Rule