30 May 2008

Happy birthday! Also: bad weed

Today marks the one-year anniversary of 90% Mental's founding! Hooray!

In other (far less significant) news, Reggie Bush and his attorney are refusing to answer questions posed by the plaintiff in a lawsuit.

The plaintiff, Lloyd Lake, is claiming that he paid Bush about $300,000 while Bush played for USC, and that Lake paid the money anticipating that he would be Bush's agent. Bush hired somebody else, so Lake is suing to get his money back.

Isn't that kind of like suing somebody because you bought bad marijuana from them? It just seems completely ridiculous to me that Lake is suing Bush in order to get back money that Bush couldn't under NCAA guidelines have accepted.

29 May 2008

The Matthew Stafford dilemma

Looking forward to next year's NFL draft (yes, there are people already trying to make that projection) and, more immediately, to the upcoming NCAA football season, University of Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford is one of the most prominent names in any discussion.

Those people who like Stafford point to his enormous talent: he was one of the most hyped quarterbacks coming out of high school in several years; he has prototypical NFL size, at 6'3", 230 lb.; and he has one of the strongest and most accurate arms in all of college football.

Those who aren't so quick to embrace the Bulldog QB point to statistics and perceptions: in two years at Georgia, he's thrown only 29 touchdowns to 23 interceptions; he's completed only 54% of his passes; he has a tendency to rush passes and to throw off of his back foot, negating his tremendous arm strength.

Stafford's supporters have called him the next Peyton Manning; his detractors, unsurprisingly, have called him the next Ryan Leaf.

I call him the next Jay Cutler.

In terms of their collegiate careers, Stafford and Cutler are strikingly similar; both (through two years) completed under 60% of their passes, and both (again, through two years) have shown flashes of incredible talent that hasn't quite been realized yet.

Cutler was the 11th overall pick when he entered the draft; he's been an average-to-above-average quarterback since he became a starter.

Is the next Jay Cutler worth the first overall pick in the draft and the 60+ million dollar contract that will go along with it? Whichever NFL GM is piloting the league's worst team will make that decision eleven months from now.

26 May 2008

Terrell Owens: Not dancing with the stars

Terrell Owens says that he was asked to compete on Dancing With the Stars, the highly-rated ABC reality show that features celebrities, athletes, and other people of marginal public interest ballroom dancing.

One commentator noted that, given Owens' well-known shyness, he would doubtless have encountered significant difficulties in attempting to perform.

Seriously-ish, though... Owens on DWTS wouldn't have been an ideal fit - I'm thinking American Gladiators or Celebrity Boxing would be more fitting for his stature and physical presence. Owens is absurdly muscular - he makes Jason Taylor look normal - and would have run into troubles maneuvering a (presumably much) smaller partner around a dancefloor.

24 May 2008

Ginobli?

SportsIllustrated.com's Arash Markazi claims to be a sportswriter. He claims to know a lot about basketball. But,even excusing the worse-than-amateurish formatting issues in the beginning of his article, he apparently doesn't know how to spell the name of one of the NBA's most prolific scorers.

In one paragraph in his Spurs-Lakers Game 2 summary, he spells Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili's name "Ginobli" three consecutive times. Let me say that again: three consecutive times.

If Markazi had committed the error once, it would be understandable. Twice would be worrisome. But three times? Really?

Screenshot of "Ginobli" paragraph:


Screenshot of formatting issues:

Spurs OKish

Yes, that was a pun in the title. And yes, I'm aware that the Lakers are not the Hornets or the Sonics. But on to business.

With the Spurs down 0-2 to the Lakers, the vultures are out in full force. SportsIllustrated.com's Chris Mannix, for example, says that "the prognosis for survival is grim." Mannix also notes that teams that have lost the first two games in best-of-seven series have a gaudy 14-208 series record.

But the Spurs are going to be okay. I make my argument using the same statistics that Mannix used to argue that San Antonio was in deep, deep trouble.

In game 2, the Lakers shot 54.9 percent, while the Spurs shot only 34 percent. That won't happen again - the Spurs are a much better defensive team than 54.9 percent would indicate. Anticipate a drop in the Lakers' percentage, and a rise in the Spurs'.

In game 2, Manu Ginobili shot 0-4 from 3-point range, while the Spurs as a team shot an underwhelming 26 percent. That shouldn't happen again - Ginobili's 3-point percentage is continually improving, while the Spurs have several gunners in Bowen, Horry, and (lately) Tim Duncan who should improve the team's percentage in the upcoming games.

In game 2, the Spurs shot 50 percent from the free throw line. That won't happen again - the Spurs are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the league. They know how to hit free throws - they just didn't in game 2.

Are the Spurs in trouble? Yes, they are - they're down 2-0 to a very good Lakers team that very well could be their equal even under the best of circumstances. But let's not forget that the first two games of the series haven't exactly been the best of circumstances for the Spurs.

I'm not saying that the Spurs are going to come back and win the series... I'm just saying that we need to give them a bit more time, a bit more rest, a bit more trust before we give the time of death.

20 May 2008

Dude.

Matt Ryan signed a $72 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons today.

Dude.

Jake Long, the first overall pick, signed for $14.25 million less than Ryan, the third pick, did. Of course, Ryan's supposed to be the franchise's marquee player, its face in the community, for the forseeable future.

Dude.

Have the Falcons thought that maybe, just maybe, their face in the community is about to be turf-burned after it's driven repeatedly into the ground by hundreds of pounds of defensive linemen?

Dude.

Have the Falcons considered whether it's really a good idea to give millions of dollars to a rookie who threw more interceptions than any other quarterback drafted in 2008?

Dude.

Just sayin'

18 May 2008

UF Football: Two Questions

Last year, the Gators finished 9-4 on the strength of an offense that put up more than 40 points per game - third-best in the country - despite having no legitimate running back. Their prolific offensive output was necessitated, however, by a porous defense that gave up the 98th-most passing yards in Division I.

With 2008's spring practices completed, some of the questions that were nipping at the Gators' collective heels have been answered; some will not be answered until the season is well underway.

Question Answered: Running Back
It's not as though the Gators couldn't run the ball last year - it was just better when they didn't. Tebow was by far their most effective runner, and every time he plunged headfirst into the line, he risked an injury that would completely derail the team's offense.

This year, the Gators have two talented options at the RB position. Chris Rainey is a tiny little fella, but the Lakeland High School product is as fast as anybody in the NCAA. Emmanuel Moody, who sat out last year after transferring from Southern California, is a bit more of a conventional running back, but hasn't picked up the system as fast as Meyer wished.

With the spring practices finished, my guess is that Rainey and Moody will each see about 12-15 carries per game, and will combine to give the Gators solid contributions alongside Tebow in the backfield.

Question Remaining: Defensive Back
The cornerbacks and safeties last year were, at best, mediocre. This year, they're (mostly) back. So why should Gators fans hope that they'll be any better?

Basically, because the UF defensive backs aren't freshmen anymore - they've had a year to get used to the speed and the athleticism of the NCAA game.

That's the reasoning behind the hope, anyways - I don't know if I necessarily agree. We'll see what happens as the team moves towards the season.

14 May 2008

"Three Common Misperceptions" - my take

Michael Lombardi's article on SportsIllustrated.cnn.com today addresed what he called "three common misperceptions" in today's NFL. I had a very big issue with the way in which he addressed the first of his "misperceptions."

The first misperception: You Must Establish The Run

First off, in the wake of the Indianapolis Colts' high-flying antics over the last several seasons, and even before that, the offensive displays put on by the so-called "Greatest Show on Turf," I wouldn't say that this misperception is exactly prevalent anymore.

Second, though, and more importantly, Lombardi throws a bunch of statistics into his article in order to back up his claim. But the statistics - given that he doesn't show where he's getting his data - may very well be misleading.

Lombardi says, for example, that five of last year's playoff teams were 26th or lower in first-half rushing attempts. Where, exactly, were the other seven? We don't know, but given that none of those other seven playoff teams (according to NFL.com) ranked lower than 12th in the league in total rushing, while the five teams that he cited averaged 17th (with none placing in the top 12), we can make some assumptions.

Earlier in the column, in his first use of the "first-half rushing attempts" statistic - one which I attempted, but failed, to find via Google - Lombardi noted that the Minnesota Vikings ran the ball the most in the first half of any team, and that the Oakland Raiders ran the ball the second-most in the first half. He failed to note, however, that there were good reasons those teams ran the ball so much, and that they failed: their offenses were completely unbalanced.

Both the Raiders and the Vikings had excellent running backs - Justin Fargas in Oakland and Adrian Peterson in Minnesota - but quarterback play and wide receiver play that could most generously be termed inconsistent. They ran because they had no other choice, and they were unsuccessful (albeit only marginally unsuccessful in the case of the Vikings, who very nearly did make the playoffs) because their opponents knew that they had no other choice.

It's all very well and good to establish the run - but the point of establishing the run is to open up the field for the passing game. If you don't have a passing game - and the Vikings and Raiders, again according to NFL.com, had the 28th and 31st-most passing yards in the league, with the 29th and 32nd-most passing attempts - then establishing the run won't help you very much over the course of the game.

Lombardi is a good columnist, don't get me wrong. He's eloquent, and he definitely knows football. In this case, though, he lets his zeal to make a point get in the way of good intellectual sense, and the result is a significantly weaker article than would have otherwise been possible.

11 May 2008

Back-to-back

A rarity for y'all today: three errors in two consecutive bullet points.

SportsIllustrated.cnn.com's Jon Heyman is kind enough to provide us with this comedic fodder, committing these mortal sins on the second page of his Daily Scoop article.

In the first, Royals pitcher John Bale broke his hand after becoming upset that "his should injury wasn't coming around as quickly as hoped" and punching a wall.
In the second, "White Sox lefthander Mark Buehrle used Juan Uribe's bat to crush a space heater in a fit if anger, marking the first time Uribe (.191) has bat made such good contact in awhile."
I'm left speechless by the utter lack of proofreading in the article. The honorable Mr. Heyman is a professional, right?

Have a great evening, everyone. Screenshot follows.

07 May 2008

Awkward Turtle

Today, I haven't got a grammar error for y'all - it's been finals week, and I haven't been looking around SportsIllustrated or ESPN very much.

What I do have is one of the more awkward passages I've ever read in a major sports magazine.
From Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, in an article published in the magazine on December 18, 2000 and linked to from SportsIllustrated.cnn.com today:

---

THE PRELUDE

Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. were alone, showering in the visiting clubhouse of Yankee Stadium. It was May 7, 1999, and New York was pummeling Seattle 10-1 in the ninth inning. Rodriguez, who was on the disabled list with a torn meniscus in his left knee, and Griffey, who had been removed from the game by manager Lou Piniella, were getting a jump on their teammates for postgame showers. Both were already thinking about their impending free agency after the 2000 season. "Do you want to stay here and put up with more of this?" Rodriguez said of what would be a 79-83 season. "I can't stand the losing."

"I don't know," Griffey said. "It might not be that bad. You saw the young pitching we have in spring training. It could get better here."

---

Awkward. Suppressed homoeroticism? Two handsome, muscular athletes... in the shower... getting a jump on their teammates... Not so much suppressed homoeroticism as the buildup to a cheap porno.

Not that I've ever seen a cheap porno. Or any porno.

Awkward.


03 May 2008

A modest 23 rebounds per game

From ESPN.com writer Ian Whittell's article on European NBA prospects, and specifically the portion dealing with Maccabi Tel Aviv's Omri Casspi:

"[...] his playing time increased after Zvi Sherf took over coaching duties in January and his 4.6 points and 23 rebounds a game were of higher quality than the basic numbers suggest."

If a player is averaging 23 rebounds a game, then I'd say the basic numbers are of pretty high quality! (Note: Casspi is, unsurprisingly, actually averaging 2.3 rebounds a game)

Screenshot:

02 May 2008

With the third pick of the third round...

The Miami Dolphins select, as seen on NFL.com, a muddled grammatical mess.

The official analysis of the 66th overall pick:

"The Dolphins continue to address the line of scrimmage. Using their second choice on the defensive line, Langford is a player that has good size at 6-foot-6. Bill Parcells is more a traditional 3-4 defense and Langford fits that defensive scheme."

Two relevant notes:

- The second "sentence" is, in fact, a fragment.

- Bill Parcells is not a traditional 3-4 defense. If he were, there would be eleven Bill Parcells clones of various sizes and speeds running around the football fields of the NFL. Bill Parcells tends to implement a traditional 3-4 defense, and thus to avoid awkward metaphysical questions.

Screenshot: