Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bourn To Run

I can’t believe I have to keep doing this (and maybe I don’t since most, if not all readers of this blog are on board) but it seems the dumb faction of Mets fans (Yankees fans in the wrong colors) are agitating for the Mets to sign Michael Bourn.
Bourn turned down $13m this year to stay with the Braves, so he’ll probably hope to get even more than that per year for a deal of 3 or 4 years.
Bourn is 30 and not even a particularly good player. He is below average offensively. His OPS+ for the last two years was 85 and 99 (100 is league average). He has zero power, and his on-base isn’t even good. He’s never been above .355 which is basically the minimum you could accept from a leadoff hitter.
If the Mets were so desperate for a leadoff hitter they should have kept Jose Reyes. He was a much better offensive player, at a more important position, though not as stellar defensively. His contract was for more years and slightly more money than what Bourn would probably get, but it would carry them to the same age 34 season. The Mets got only a 2nd round pick for Reyes (more on this in a moment). They made the right decision allowing Reyes to leave, now it's time to follow through on that plan.
I understand Bourn's WAR over the past 4 years (4.9, 4.7, 4.1 & 6.4) has been fantastic. Those numbers have been boosted by exceptional fielding and base-running numbers, which I acknowledge are important. But they can be very fickle, fluctuating wildly, and a move to a new park could incite a change in his defensive metrics. Though you would expect a speedy center fielder to be even better in a big park like CitiField.

Even if you could guarantee Bourn would add 5 wins to the Mets, and they could get 5 wins from other improvements (highly doubtful), that would still make the Mets an 84-win team, good enough for 3rd in the stacked NL East, at best. That's the complicating factor when analyzing the cost and value of wins on the open market. Wins that help a team improve from 70-something wins to the low-80s are of very little additional value. It's those wins that boost a team from the low and mid-80s into the playoffs that bring in additional millions.
Now remember another extenuating circumstance, the Mets would have to surrender their first round pick, the 11th overall in the draft as compensation for signing Bourn. This is a little tricky because the CBA states that for players in Bourn's class who were tendered by their teams the signing team would have to give up its highest pick as compensation, but the top 10 picks are protected. Technically, the Mets pick was 10th overall, but a pick was added because the Pirates didn't sign their pick, bumping the Mets down to #11, thus making it eligible to be forfeited for signing a player such as Bourn. The Mets have petitioned the league to get their pick protected because of this technicality, a challenge they are almost guaranteed to lose. But even if they do win, it would still be unwise.
Forget all the specifics, and look only at the broader picture: we have been here before, tried this strategy and it didn't work, it saddled the team with bad salaries and crippled us for years. Signing expensive free agents, especially ones who are barely above-average players (like Jason Bay) as they start to enter the age where their skills will decline, is a losing proposition. Yes, there's a strong chance the #11 draft pick will never play a single day in the major leagues, but as we have seen the teams that have built through the draft have built through the drafted have strong cores ready to contend for years. Teams that sign big-ticket free agents often end up struggling to get out from under those contracts for years, something I hoped the Mets were starting to get passed.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Send it in Jerome

Today was the 25th anniversary of one of my favorite plays ever, and favorite calls. Jerome Lane of Pittsburgh breaks the backboard with a dunk and Bill Raftery exclaims "Send it in Jerome!"
I was sure I had written previously about this play, but it was kind of buried in an NCAA Tournament thoughts, a couple months after the 23rd anniversary.

This play is so special to me that I wanted to name the child now known as Julian, Jerome. I don't even think I told Mrs. Poop why at first, but once she completely shut me down I think I showed her the clip. Didn't change her mind though.

But I don't think she knows I slipped this past her.

Thanks to JLeary for inspiring me to go back and check exactly what I had previously written about this blessed event.

Cory Booker Saves Freezing Dog With His Bare Hands

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has reached mythical status with his various good deeds including helping save a neighbor from a fire.
He even had help from our beloved BC, burnishing his reputation on Twitter:

Now we can add a new incident to the Mayor’s heroic duties. A WABC reporter in Newark found a dog that had been left outside. She tweeted about the incident and eventually Mayor Booker came by and put the dog in a cop car, and asked the cop to turn up the heat.
The dog’s owners say they were away from the house and Cha Cha somehow got loose. Good thing Mayor Booker was there to save the dog’s life. Just a typical Thursday for the next Senator from New Jersey, when Bob Menendez resigns due to having sex with underage Dominican hookers.

She Knew I Was Going to Write This

As I have mentioned to many of you, the best perk of my new job is free dinner every night. A menu is sent at about 2. The final order is placed at 3:30 and dinner arrives at 5:30. Every day I send Mrs. Poop the menu and if it's something good she says "I hate you" and sometimes offers suggestions. Normally I e-mail her right away with my choices, but one day I was busy and hadn't even had a chance to look at the menu.

A few minutes before 3 she e-mailed:

"What are you getting?"

I responded "I haven’t looked yet, very busy I was hoping you would tell me."

But when I realized it was already past the deadline I looked at the menu and quickly fired off my order:

"Chops special burger French fries"

And then Mrs. Poop replied:

"There's a yummy looking mushroom burger with turkey bacon and provolone. Chops special burger i think it's called. Doesn't come with anything. Can order a side of fries for $3. No desserts for you unless you like baklava. You were supposed to have your order in 10 minutes ago!!"

And that is why we are soulmates.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Won't See Her in the D-League

Amazing shot by Syracuse's Brittney Sykes, a half-court buzzer-beating heave to give the Orange a 60-57 win over St. John's.

Under the tutelage of Quentin Hillsman and the supervision of Dr. Darryl Gross the Orange women's basketball team has made great strides. Not to national power status (the #1-ranked freshman, Breanna Stewart, is from Cicero, NY and chose UConn over Syracuse), but certainly a strong team capable of making the NCAA tournament. So far, they are 16-2 with the losses coming to UConn (no surprise) and Temple (why can't we beat those fuckers?). The Big East is down this year, and there isn't another game with UConn so heading into the tournament with 5 or 6 losses it at least a possibility. If they can do that, a high seed and possibly a deep run could be in order.

But they'd have to win the national title in order for Mrs. Poop to get on board with Elashier Hall's hairstyle.

Or Carmen Tyson-Thomas for that matter.

Dominating the D-League

If you follow the NBA Developmental League (D-League), and I know you do, you may notice the preponderance and success of several former Syracuse Orange players.
Demitris Nichols was named D-League Player of the Week for the week ending January 20th. Nichols scored 26, 25 and 26 points (25.7 per game), shot incredibly well (63%) including 8 of 10 3-pointers. For the season he's putting up a respectable 17.6 points with 5.3 rebounds.
Fab Melo had his own D-League spurt right around Christmas. First he put up 16 points, 15 rebounds and 14 blocks (in one game) against the Erie BayHawks, then followed that up with 32 points, 9 rebounds and 9 blocks in the very next game. He has cooled off since then, but his averages of 11.6, 7.1 and especially 3.8 blocks are very respectable.

And then there is Arinze Onuaku who by one ranking was judged the #1 prospect in the D-League. He is averaging 14 points and 11.5 rebounds, but in only 24 minutes. A per-48-minute average of 23 rebounds is exceptional and could earn him a call-up when he gets healthy.
Rick Jackson is averaging 9.7 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Austin Toros.
Paul Harris is averaging 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Andy Rautins is hitting 40% of his 3s, and averaging 12.5 points per game.
Kris Joseph spent the year bouncing between the Celtics and its D-League team (where he teamed with Melo and averaged 17.7 points) before getting waived by Boston due to a contract technicality.
Obviously alumni are happy for all of these guys, and hopeful they have long and successful NBA careers.
But what does it say about the program and the coaching that so many guys are in the D-League seeking more "development?" You could make the argument they aren't getting enough instruction if NBA teams don't see them as ready for the league when they graduate or leave the program.
But I would disagree with that, here's why: Syracuse is in the midst of one of it's greatest runs in program history. Over the past 4 years the Orange are 119-25 for an .826 winning percentage (and they're 18-1 so far this year). Some of that is due to a very weak non-conference schedule, but they're still dominating the Big East, one of the strongest conferences in the country.
It seems to me that Jim Boeheim, despite catching lightning in a bottle with one of the best one-and-done players in college history, has eschewed those high-profile players, maybe not by choice, and accepted a second-tier recruit he knew would stay 3 or 4 years in the program. Those players have helped SU to some great regular seasons recently (disappointing tournament results however) because they stay 3 or 4 years in the program, growing, learning and maturing.
But they just may not be good enough to make the NBA.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Harbaugh Mantra

We're going to hear a lot about the Harbaughs in the next 10 days or so, and eventually it may get tiresome, but here's a story I love.
Jack Harbaugh, the patriarch of this coaching coterie, used to ask his kids "who's got it better than us?" and the only correct response was "Noooooooo-body."
I love that, a positive uplifting message. The origin supposedly comes from Jack's own youth when he used to play with his friends all day and all night, and they used to repeat that refrain.
But now it has become a rallying cry for both teams.

And even a slogan for merchandise and t-shirts.

Song of the Week

"Ice" - Kelly Rowland featuring Lil Wayne
I always thought Kelly Rowland should be a bigger star than Beyonce, if only she looked as good. And married the right guy.
She is a better singer, doesn't overdo it, and her songs are better.
This sexy, female empowerment anthem is better than anything solo-Beyonce has ever done, IMHO.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What Do You Give Me For? Bill Russell and Morgan Freeman

George Stephanopoulos made a major fuckup during the inauguration coverage. The camera panned to an older black man with a white beard. Stephanopoulos said "that's Morgan Freeman, I think" but it was Bill Russell. Live TV is tough, and this certainly doesn't make him a racist, but does it make him bad at this game?

Mrs. Poop is a Douche

We have two credit cards, a Discover we use most often and another we use in places where Discover is not accepted. We almost never use that backup card. So Mrs. Poop was shocked to see an $18 charge on the backup card at McDonald's from a town about 20 miles away. She was sure this was not her. We very seldom eat McDonald's, and neither of us could remember the last time we did. And if we did ever eat there we would certainly pay cash. And if we were going to use a credit card, we'd use Discover. So she had me call up and protest the claim. A few days after I did that she remembered one time she did go to Mickey D's, when she had no cash and they wouldn't accept Discover. Our claim was denied anyway so we have to pay our rightful debt. But Mrs. Poop is still a douche.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The NFL is Poop - Conference Championships

This is going to be the big story this week. Two brothers facing each other in the Super Bowl. It really is remarkable. As amazing as if it were Eli vs. Peyton. I have no idea who the Harbaughs are going to root for, must be an incredibly weird feeling knowing one of your children is going to have the ultimate triumph, but it has to come at the expense of the other who will feel the ultimate disappointment.

Ray's Last Dance
I attributed no weight to the emotional lift Ray Lewis would give his team by coming back from injury and announcing he would retire after the season. I still don't buy into it, but they certainly are playing great right now, though more so on offense than defense. Regardless of how or why it's happening (Lewis might say God is great and allows no weapon raised against hm to prosper) but it will certainly be fun to watch him one more time.

Blueprint for Brady
As great as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are, individually and certainly together, one of the greatest coach/QB duos in NFL history. But in the past 8 years they have lost 7 playoff games (vs. 8 wins) and missed the playoffs in 2008 when Brady had his knee shredded in the opening game of the season. Here are the Patriots point totals in those 7 losses: 13, 34, 14, 14, 21, 17, 13. Now I don't claim to be an expert in defenses but clearly there's a blueprint developing for how to beat the Patriots, pressure Brady, hit him, and force a few turnovers (and get a little lucky).

Bernard Pollard, Patriot Killer
I wrote this last year in this very column about Ravens safety Bernard Pollard:
"If there is one name that strikes fear in the hearts of the New England Patriots it is Bernard Pollard. Pollard, then on the Kanas City Chiefs, is the guy whose hit tore Tom Brady’s ACL on the first play of the 2008 season. A year later while playing for the Texans, Pollard dragged down Wes Welker, injuring his knee. Now on the Baltimore Ravens, Pollard tackled Rob Gronkowski and rolled over his ankle. Gronk was able to return, though he didn’t catch any passes after the injury, and he is expected to play in the Super Bowl. But maybe the biggest atrocity committed by Pollard is his famous locker room dance from Hard Knocks."
Pollard now adding one more incident to his lore, forcing Stevan Ridley to fumble near midfield in the third quarter. At that point the Patriots were trailing 21-13, and driving. That fumble gave the Ravens the ball in good field position and they scored a touchdown to take the decisive 28-13 lead.

Falcons Choked
No other way to describe, the Atlanta Falcons choked, for the second week in a row. In their two playoff games they scored 44 points in the first half, and 10 in the second half (while allowing 42 second half points). It's hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong in these games, but they lost their aggressiveness on both sides of the ball, and it cost them.

Worth It
I dealt with this a lot when the Redskins traded for Robert Griffin III but in light of the great performance of Julio Jones (11 catches, 182 yards) it might be worth repeating: you can't judge a trade by the value of what you gave up, only by the value of what you got. The Falcons got the game-breaking receiver they needed, so the trade was certainly worth it.

Bill Belichick is a Lowlife
You'd think being a professional coach with years of experience would teach someone how to lose with class, grace and dignity. Didn't happen for Bill Belichick. He refused to make himself available for an interview with CBS after the game, sending Devin McCourty in his stead. And when he did appear for the league mandated press conference he said "we gave up too many points and we didn't score enough points." What a complete classless, petulant primadonna.

Kaepernicking is Here To Stay
We knew Colin Kaepernick wasn't going to be able to recreate his rushing performance but he showed himself to be a versatile quarterback who can beat teams with his arm and his legs. He throws hard, and he's accurate and as long as he can stay away from getting too aggressive and throwing into coverage, I think he will be a good quarterback for a long time to come.

If the Super Bowl Were Played Today
San Francisco 49ers 21 Baltimore Ravens 16

I think the 49ers defense is better and I really love the way Kaepernick is playing. Obviously Flacco has been on fire recently too, but I just have the feeling this is the 9ers year.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekly Picks

Too little too late but it was nice to have a perfect week.

NEW ENGLAND -8 baltimore
This sometimes happens after upsets, a mismatch in the next round. I do not see the Patriots losing this game so I would have a hard time picking Baltimore to cover.

san francisco -3 1/2 ATLANTA

I think this spread is out of line because of what Kaepernick did last week. He is not going to be able to do that again. I am very worried about this pick but I thought the 9ers would make the Super Bowl before the playoffs and I have seen nothing that would make me change my mind.
Note: Spread edited with permission of Papa Poop.

Last Week: 4-0 (5 point)
Season: 42-51 (33 points)
Best Bets: 1-0 (5-14)
Home Favorites: 2-0 (15-22)
Home Underdogs: 0-0 (6-4)
Road Favorites: 0-0 (11-15)
Road Underdogs: 2-0 (10-10)