Saturday, May 30, 2009

The All-Popular Team

You may have heard the controversy recently surrounding Manny Ramirez potentially being voted to the All-Star team by the fans despite not having played a lot due to his suspension.

I think this exposes an inherent flaw in the way the MLB and the NBA determine their All-Star starters.

It's hard to reconcile that being an All-Star is prestigious, yet the starters are picked by fans, who will not always pick the best player. Typically they will pick the most popular.

This invariably creates situations where you're faced with players awarded a prestigious honor who have earned it more from being notable than from playing well.

Notable undeserving vote-ins:
2009 - Allen Iverson
2007 - Shaq (I'm not 100% sure about this, but I recall Shaq not really having that great of a year)
2003 - Vince Carter

2008 - Kosuke Fukudome
2007 - Ken Griffey Jr.

I know there are more, but I can't seem to remember.

The instituted remedy is that the manager or coach who is coaching the team is able to pick the rest of the players on the All-Star roster using his discretion, and thus those players who have played well are awarded the honor of being an All-Star.

This works to a degree, but the bottom line is that every spot taken by an undeserving player is one less for a player who does deserve it.

I suggest one of two fixes:

1. Fans and players combine to vote for All-Stars
The fan vote will account for 2/3 of the weight in determining the starters, and a player vote will account for the other 1/3 of the weight. You may have your occasional player who votes only for himself and those around him, but I think those players will be far outnumbered by players voting honestly.

For example, no baseball player would vote for Manny to be an All-Star this year, so even if he is voted in by the fans, he will not be able to survive the player vote factor. (Unless the player vote is absurdly widely spread out amongst outfielders)

This way, you still preserve the aspect of "being voted in by the fans" and yet are able to get the best players in there.

2. All-Star Electoral College
This is a lot more complicated. Bear with me.

There is voting at stadiums, as usual. These votes are separated and represents that team's fans' vote. So all of the votes cast at AT&T Park are bunched under "Giants Fans Votes" and all of the votes cast at Citi Field are bunched under "Mets Fans Votes"

There is also online voting, as usual. You can trace the location of a voter by IP address, so you can split up the online votes into geographic regions, with each team getting a certain geographic region. So if I lived in Milwaukee or in close proximity, my vote would be bunched under "Brewers Fans Votes"

Those online voters from regions without a team nearby or with divided loyalty (N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Alaska, New Mexico, etc) get bunched under "other US". Those outside of the US get bunched under "international"

*For areas with two teams in close proximity, LA Dodgers & Anaheim Angels, Oakland A's & SF Giants, NY Mets & Yankees, you would split up that area in a way that makes sense, given the common allegiances.*

So at this point you have a vote for each team (online + stadium), a vote for "other US" (online) and a vote for "international" (online)

Then you run it just like the electoral college. Whoever gets the most votes of the 32 "states" gets to start in their respective position.

Even if 1 million people voted for Manny in the greater Los Angeles area, it wouldn't matter because there wouldn't be enough votes across the rest of America to make a difference, since the opinions of the Dodger fans would only account for 1/32nd of the overall vote.

This concept would also keep a guy like Kosuke Fukudome, who was undoubtedly fueled by the Japanese vote exclusively, out of the picture as well, as the international vote would only account for 1/32nd of the overall vote.

I really hope I've explained the process clearly enough because I think it would really work.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blue Chips

It seems like every year you hear of a story of recruiting violations by an NCAA school. Today it was about John Calipari and the Memphis Tigers and the legitimacy of Derrick Rose's being at the school. Apparently someone took the SATs for him. Whatever. Last month it was O.J. Mayo at USC allegedly receiving money from a handler who allegedly received the money from Tim Floyd. Whatever. Everyone knows violations happen, its just a matter of if you get caught or not.

For a school it's a no-brainer.
(A) Don't mess with the rules, but don't get the star recruits. Your program could be good, but you don't have your star(s) to propel you into greatness. In the end, you don't make money. Or
(B) You bend the rules a bit, try to get away with as much as you can. If you play it smart you don't get busted for five, six years. You get your star players and try to win a championship. You win, the school gets paid, the athletes go pro and get paid, winners all around. If you get busted, fire the head coach, assistants, director of recruiting and start over. Worst case scenario, you're no worse off than if you had picked (A).

That's what it's all about. It's a business of using youngsters to make money. Bottom line: win because winning makes money.

And then every time this happens in college basketball you have your critics who say the rule of making high school players wait at least a year before they can enter the draft is failing. Apparently this rule is causing players who would have turned pro after high school to just pick whichever school can get them the most perks.

Critics say that students who plan to go to the NBA after their first year have no incentive to study, so they work hard for one semester and then after their eligibility for the second semester is ensured, they stop going to class.

I personally happen to like the one year waiting rule because no 17- or 18-year-old can have the maturity to know what they're passing up in college. I'd like to think that it gives them options in case they decide maybe a couple of years to work toward a degree and refine their skills isn't such a bad thing after all.

And who cares if athletes who don't plan to graduate don't go to class? It's their choice. Plenty of students stop going to class and stop caring. They're called drop-outs and there's always drop-outs in any level of education.

One thing I have to acknowledge, though, is that players who made the jump from high school to pro are, provided that they got drafted, doing pretty well for themselves.

2005: Martell Webster, Andrew Bynum, Gerald Green, CJ Miles, Monta Ellis, Louis Williams, Andray Blatche, Amir Johnson
2004: Dwight Howard, Shaun Livingston, Robert Swift, Sebastian Telfair, Josh Smith, JR Smith, Dorrell Wright
2003: LeBron, Travis Outlaw, Kendrick Perkins, James Lang
2002: Amare
2001: Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry
2000: Darius Miles, DeShawn Stevenson
1999: Jonathan Bender, Leon Smith
1998: Al Harrington, Rashard Lewis
1997: TMac
1996: Kobe, Jermaine ONeal

Of the last 10 years leading up to the rule, two trends were emerging: more teams picked players straight from high school, and there were fewer disasters.

There were 32 players picked in this time span. Only three players: James Lang, Jonathan Bender, and Leon Smith are not currently in the league - disasters. That's a 90.6% success rate. That destroys the success rate of international players drafted into the NBA. By A LOT.

Sure some of the higher picks ended up underachieving (Kwame Brown, Sebastian Telfair), but that's the team's problem. Some of these players aren't superstars (Andray Blatche, Dorrell Wright), but if you play basketball for a living and you have a job on any NBA team, you're doing well for yourself.

One new emergence that I think and hope will change everything is players leaving the US to play in Europe. By now you've heard of Brandon Jennings, who went to Europe instead of college and is expected to be a first round draft pick this upcoming draft. I think it's a brilliant move and probably does more for the development of a player basketball-wise to play professionally in Europe and make some money, than to play in college.

And most of all, it somewhat addresses the "well what if a player gets a career ending injury and doesnt get the opportunity to make money from basketball" argument.

I really hope Europe becomes a strong option for players who either don't get a lot of playing time in the NBA or are waiting out their one year after high school before getting drafted. It'll be exciting to see what happens if Europe develops to the point that decent players would consider opting for Europe over the NBA.

It might lead to talent dilution, but I don't think so. There's a surplus of good basketball players in the world. I think the presence of a competitor to the NBA will be good.

The NBA will be like WWF and Europe will be like WCW. Those were the good old days, but don't get me started on that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MLB Interleague Play

I wanted to do a post about MLB interleague play for a couple of days, but have had some amazing NBA playoff games to write about instead.

I enjoy interleague play. I like seeing matchups you don't see every day and I'm a sucker for nicknames like "Windy City Series" and "Beltway Series" and "I-70 Series" and of course the "Freeway Series"

The only thing I can't stand about interleague play is that it creates an environment for unfairness.

Interleague play is unfair because NL teams, for one, don't all play the same number of interleague games as each other. Some play 12, some play 15, some play 18. This is because the NL has 2 more teams than the AL. From this, strength of schedule discrepancies arise, and in a sport with only one wild card spot for the playoffs, every game counts.

Another thing that drives me crazy is that the NL has the pitcher batting and the AL as the DH. I don't care one way or another, but there's no reason to have the difference. If I had to pick I would have the NL switch to allowing the DH, but I won't go into that today.

The NBA doesn't have differences in strength of schedule. Each team plays 52 conference games (4 against every other team) and 30 non conference games (2 against every other team). Fair and elegant. Very nice Dave Stern.

The NFL has obvious disparity from team to team in strength of schedule, but when you have 32 teams and 17 weeks to play the games, a disparity is unavoidable unless you expand the schedule to 31 weeks. To help remedy this, there are two wild card spots for each conference for the playoffs. I don't hold it against you Roger Goodell, just stop this whole NFL games in Europe shenanigans.

The MLB has no excuse for a disparity in strength of schedule. There are 182 games in the season and they only have one wild card spot for each league. Either expand the playoffs or create a more even regular season.

My Proposal:
Move the Houston Astros to the AL West. Why does the NL Central have 6 teams and the AL West 4? This makes no sense to begin with. Make the divisions even in number.
Each NL team plays two 2-game series with each AL team (15 teams, 60 games)
Each NL team plays two 3-game series with each non-divison NL team (10 teams, 60 games)
Each NL team plays two 4-game series with each team in its division (4 teams, 32 games)
Vice-versa for AL teams.
That's 152 games. The MLB season is too long anyway, shorten it while you're at it.
Add two more teams to each league playoff and reward the best two teams with byes.

This combines the approaches of the NBA and the NFL and I think would make for a structure and schedule that makes much more sense. This creates 4 more playoff series, which equates to between 16 and 28 playoff games, which would more than make up for the lost revenue of the 10 games lost per team (150 games lost overall).

Would Bud Selig go for this? I don't see why not. He seems like a reasonable guy for the most part. Shortening the season would be the hardest sell.

I should find out his email address and let him know of my idea, but I'm sure he's heard a million ideas like mine before.

*edit* for some reason when I was writing the post I thought the MLB season was 182 games, probably thinking of the 82-game NBA season. anyway, the appropriate changes have been made.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


A really gritty win by the Lakers tonight, but they were very fortunate that the Nuggets weren't able to hit their 3s to put the Lakers away.

How about Trevor Ariza??? THE COBRA!!! In case you forgot, the Lakers obtained Ariza from the Magic in exchange for Brian Cook and Mo Evans. Cook is now with the Rockets and Evans with the Hawks. Both of his steals in games 1 and 3 were terrible inbounds passes, but the reason he gets the steals is because he is able to force the issue versus the guy he's guarding.

The missing production from Fisher, Vujacic and Farmar is coming from Ariza. Without him the Lakers would be hearing, "Somebody gonna get a hurt reeeal bad."

Chris Andersen had a pretty sweet game, though in a losing effort. I'm happy for the guy and hope he gets more playing time and does well. Nobody deserves to be remembered as "the guy who missed like 30 dunk attempts in the slam dunk contest and got kicked out for two years from the league for failing a drug test." Hopefully he'll one day be able to shake that. Maybe he already has because most casual fans probably don't know his past.

Does anyone remember what the old Birdman looked like? Before the tattoos and the gelled mohawk? When he used to actually make a bird motion with his hands like Napoleon Dynamite and the Happy Hands Club? I miss that guy.

If I there was ever a game in this close series that is set up to be a blowout, it's game 4. The Lakers got their road win, the Nuggets have something to prove, and both sides can claim victories (the Lakers a moral victory of getting one of two in Denver; the Nuggets an actual victory) even if the Nuggets win a lopsided game 4. Chauncey has to show up eventually. Game 4 might be the night.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where Glu vs Bron Happens

These NBA playoffs have been something else. I honestly hope both series go 7 games and the final goes 7 games so these playoffs can go on as long as possible.

First of all, how about Hedo Turkoglu??? He hits a game tying 3 and a go ahead drive to the lane, which if it didn't go in, would have been one of the most poorly conceived last possessions in NBA history.

Obviously if you're Turkoglu you have to play LeBron closer than you played him, but it was still a ridiculous shot. Even if the Cavs had lost this game, I still think they would have pushed it to game 6, but now you've got to think that they'll at least split in Orlando and get home court back again. And you've got to expect that Mo Williams is going to explode in a game eventually. He's too good to be held down much longer.

If the Lakers can take 1 of 2 in Denver, all is well and enough should be won psychologically for the Lakers that they will be in a good position to win game 5, regardless of what happens in the game that they lose in Denver. The Lakers WILL lose at least one in Denver.

Finally, check out this guy on the Cleveland bench. I'm honestly not sure who he is, but from checking the roster, I think he is rookie Darnell Jackson from the NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks....

...and I think he's from the future.

1. Here's Darnell when LeBron puts up the shot. He cooly puts his arm up.

2. Here's Darnell as the shot goes in. He snaps his wrist in a "count the basket and the foul" motion. He is cool as can be and if you'll notice his left hand is in his pocket.

3. Mayhem surrounds Darnell, but he is still cool and composed, and his hand is still in his pocket.

4. You'll notice that people have now run past Darnell to embrace LeBron.

5. Finally here is Darnell as he watches LeBron mobbed by his teammates, and his hand is STILL IN HIS POCKET!!!!!!!!!!. What does he have in there, a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket?!?!?!

It's like he knew this was gonna happen. It's like he's from....the FUTURE!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I wanted to do a steroids post because this is a sports blog and every sports blog has at least one obligatory steroids post. However, steroids drive me crazy and I have an opinion on it that I would expect to be quite unpopular, especially with people who hate steroids.

I read this story in the newest issue of ESPN the Magazine, which I would encourage you to get but all of the stories you can read in the magazine show up online anyway, so there's no point. Unless you want ESPN Insider. Anyway, this story says EVERYTHING I want to say regarding steroids.

So this may seem like a cop out for a post, but it's a good article.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Some players are known as much for their celebrations as their actual skill in the sport that they play.

Some are one and done demonstrations:
Chad Ocho Cinco - Riverdance, Hall of Fame Jacket, Cheerleader proposal, "Don't fine me" sign
Terrell Owens - Pom poms, Sharpie signing of football

Some are repeats:
Shawne Merriman - Lights out
LaDanian Tomlinson - One hand behind the head, the other flips the ball
Luca Toni - Ear Crank
Antoine Walker - Seizure walk
Dikembe Mutombo - Finger wag

In either case, I love celebrations. I remember a couple of years ago Brian Urlacher said about Shawne Merriman, "The thing is, if you're going to do it, do it all the time," Urlacher said. "Do it when you make a bad play too. You'll never see me doing any stupid [stuff] like that after a play. The only thing I'll do is get a little happy with my teammates."


Why would he do it when he makes a bad play? It's a celebration. By that logic, shouldn't the stadium rain confetti and shoot fireworks even if the team loses? Shouldn't you give chest bumps when you make a bad play? Shouldn't you give the coach a Gatorade bath when you lose?

If I was a professional athlete, you'd better believe I would have an awesome celebration dance/ritual.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kobe vs LeBron

The other day Jerry West said LeBron has surpassed Kobe and everyone else in the league, but he would still prefer Kobe in a clutch situation.

I don't know that anyone, Kobe fans included, can dispute this fact. LeBron is a FREAK.

But this discussion, coupled with the release of Kobe: Doin' Work made me think about something else.


When Kobe got caught up in the Colorado scandal, I remember he lost his Nutella sponsorship and I think that's right when his Adidas contract was up and he had just signed with Nike. I don't remember what happened with Sprite, but he hasn't done an ad for them in a long time. Since the Colorado scandal, I really can't think of any Kobe sponsor other than Nike.

LeBron, on the other hand has Nike, Powerade, State Farm, Vitamin Water, just off the top of my head.

Speaking of Nike, you may or may not have seen the Kobe Ankle Insurance ads. You may or may not have noticed but Nike has launched these Kobe and LeBron puppet ads that I love, and hope to see more of. These marketing approaches speak volumes about Kobe. In the former, he is a serious insurance salesman. In the latter he is a puppet. You know the last time Nike used a puppet to push an athlete?

Yes. Lil' Penny. You know why? Nike determined that Penny Hardaway did not have the charisma necessary to lead a campaign, so they hired Chris Rock to voice the puppet Lil' Penny.

Even a guy like Chris Paul, who plays for a small market team and isn't at this point nearly the player Kobe is, has Right Guard and Jordan as sponsors - more than Kobe. Dwight Howard has Adidas, McDonalds and T-Mobile - more than Kobe. Why does Kobe only have one sponsor? Maybe you have, but I haven't pondered this question before, and I got my answer as I watched the first half of Kobe: Doin' Work.

I only watched half of Kobe: Doin' Work because I could only listen to so much of Kobe saying, "Man this game is so fun. I love playing against *insert competitor* because he plays hard, and it's fun. Heh Heh. Sometimes me and Phil will say the same thing, it's amazing. Heh Heh." while watching a Lakers game set to soothing jazz melodies.

Kobe has no charisma...and he's kinda boring...and it kinda seems like he takes everything too seriously. Kobe is the guy at work who comes in early and stays late, and asks questions during meetings. Kobe is the guy at work who makes suggestions and takes initiative, but also makes his coworkers say, "Yeah, he's a good worker, but you ever take a break? I'm glad I only work with this guy. If I hung out with him, he'd drive me crazy"

Something tells me LeBron: Doin' Work would feature a lot more laughter, more scenes of him clowning around with his teammates, and more half court and behind the backboard shots.

But you know what? Something tells me Jordan: Doin' Work would be THE EXACT SAME MOVIE as Kobe: Doin' Work. Personality-wise Kobe is more Jordan than any other person in the entire world. So why is it that Jordan has Hanes, Nike, Gatorade, Ball Park Franks (back in the day), Coca Cola? Jordan is just as boring in all of his commercials as we would expect Kobe to be. Hanes needs Charlie Sheen and Cuba Gooding Jr. just to get Michael through a commercial these days. Jordan gets deals because he is synonymous with success. It has nothing to do with his personality because quite frankly he's not that likeable.

Where am I going with all of this? To be honest I'm not quite sure. I think what I'm trying to say is that being the best in the NBA (right now, this generation, ever) certainly isn't a very important factor when it comes to marketability.

edit: 12:56am
I neglected to dismiss the Colorado scandal as a reason for Kobe's lack of sponsors. I honestly don't believe this to be the reason he doesn't have many sponsors because nobody really remembers it anymore. Maybe I'm just biased but that isn't in the top 10 things that come to mind when I think about Kobe. I think we live in a society where something like Kobe's Colorado scandal alone wouldn't keep someone from being sponsored.


This is my attempt at a good sports blog. It will cover a wide range of things, but all regarding sports. I will do my best to keep it fresh, amusing, and as interesting as possible. Hope you will enjoy it.