Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lance Stephenson, According To Brad

I'd like you to watch two videos of a black teenager. Go.

Lance Stephenson is a good basketball player. Lance Stephenson is New York's all-time leading scorer. Lance Stephenson is now a Bearcat.

No, seriously, Lance Stephenson is now a Bearcat.

Exclamation point!

March 4, 2006. That's the last time I was this excited about UC basketball. UC just defeated West Virginia (thanks to Devan Downey's 16/10/5) to get to .500 in the Big East, and cement their place in the NCAA tournament (or so I thought).

Starting with the selection committee's screw job roughly one week later, the words "positive" and "UC basketball" haven't been used in many of the same sentences.

It's been mostly negative for three-and-a-half years. Even when something good was happening, like a modest winning streak, I'd always point out the marginally talented players on the team and the superior talent on the other bench. I knew the other shoe was going to fall. I wasn't stupid. When they won, it was with smoke and mirrors. When they lost, it's because they were supposed to. Even last February, when the Bearcats were in contention for an at-large birth, I didn't talk myself into anything silly. When they lost to (winless in the Big East) Depaul in the conference tourney, I thought, "Yeah, that seems about right. Average teams lose to bad teams every once in a while."

Cincinnati was an average team in 08-09, whether you realize it or not. The problem (other than "their players weren't good enough")? Scoring. They had nobody -- NOBODY -- who could get an easy bucket.

But now they have Stephenson, not to mention point guard Cashmere Wright coming back from injury, and I can't help but think that UC is back on the map.

So, anyway, upon hearing news of the Stephenson signing, I decided to devour his highlight videos on YouTube (an Internet website).

Was I impressed with the man on my 17-inch screen? I suppose it would be fair to say that I fist pumped several thousand times like the white man I'll always be.


Before moving forward, allow me to say this: I'm convinced Lance Stephenson will never play a single second for the Bearcats. Whether it be his sexual assault case or the NCAA deciding he's no longer an amateur, something will go wrong. Again, I'm convinced. 100 percent. This would be status quo for the Mick Cronin era.

But I love to get my heart broken, so I'm going to operate under the assumption that Lance Stephenson will be eligible to play basketball contests in Clifton next winter.



UC is going to be good next season. No, seriously.

Lance Stephenson is the most skilled wing player in my life as a Bearcat fan. That's a fairly obvious statement, I realize, but it feels pretty great to make an obvious statement like that.

Lance Stephenson, the second he walks on the floor, will be UC's best offensive player. His slashing, herky-jerky game and ball-handling skills are NBA worthy right now. Scouts say he's an inconsistent shooter (who isn't at that age?) but his stroke is nice. After eyeballing his tapes, I would say his game compares a little to sturdily built chaps like Carmelo Anthony, Quentin Richardson and Caron Butler at similar ages. All three are taller -- and all three were brilliant offensive rebounders in college, especially off their own miss -- but none were blessed with elite athleticism.

Oh, Stephenson is plenty athletic, and he might be the third best athlete on the team (behind Darnell Wilks and Cashmere Wright), but he's not going to blow you away with his leaping ability. That was me warning you.

Regardless, the dude can play. He's a prolific scorer from the wing, and I can't remember the last time UC had a guy like that.

Examining the more talented wings of the past twenty years...

DerMarr Johnson was too stiff to blow by people, and too weak to finish with authority; Ruben Patterson couldn't shoot or dribble; Damon Flint possessed a great overall skill-set, but he lacked range, and was less athletic than Stephenson; James White barely used his (overrated) athleticism to his advantage, was painfully weak physically and he couldn't jump off two feet. He also had lousy balance; he was constantly knocked to the floor. Add it all up and he never EVER finished after contact.

Now, aside from Flint, all three of those gentlemen earned NBA dollars (including Patterson, who made a lot, and White, who has a chance to stick around), while Stephenson hasn't played a second above high school. But, if we're talking potential, well, it ain't close. Stephenson has a complete offensive game.

In fact, let me put on my amateur scouting cap and break down Stephenson's strengths/weaknesses, based solely on two five-minute videos.

(And by the way, I don't know what to tell you if you think the following scouting report ranks as the most self important thing I've ever written. I can't help it. I have such strong opinions of Stephenson's ability that I have no choice but to express them in this space. And if you think I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, that's not my problem. I'm at peace with my Lord)

STRENGTHS (and there are many)

Stephenson's a natural scorer. He can score in a variety of ways. He has 3-point range, an in-between game off the bounce and the ability to go all the way to the basket off the dribble. Sometimes he makes it look easy.


Vision. Okay, he doesn't pass much, but his pinpoint passes out of double teams and to cutters reveal his excellent vision. Some guys are willing to pass, but they stink at it. I've watched Deonta Vaughn for three years and I can't recall a single beautiful pass to a slashing teammate. And his alley oops are never timed correctly. Vision is something you either have or you don't. Stephenson has it, Vaughn doesn't. The 08-09 Bearcats only had one decent passer -- Rashad Bishop -- and now, with the additions of Stephenson and Cashmere Wright, they have three.


Body. He has the body of an NBA shooting guard. Very strong. Best of all, he's learned how to use it. He's already learned how to create space with subtle bumps and as long as he's always attacking the hoop he'll get to the free throw line quite a bit; guys who are both physically strong and strong with the ball make a living at the foul line.


Outside shooting. Stephenson has NBA range and a quick release. No hitches at all. Solid lift. The poor video quality doesn't reveal if he does something odd with his release, like shooting with too much of his left hand on the ball, or with little rotation, but I highly doubt it. His follow-through indicates he's got a near-textbook jumper.


Looks just as comfortable shooting off the bounce as he does off the catch. This is a good thing, as shooting off the catch is much easier than off the dribble. And some guys never learn to shoot off the dribble. Bruce Bowen led the NBA in three-point percentage in 2003 and I'd bet you six-thousand American dollars that he didn't connect on a single three that season after taking even one dribble. He's a catch-and-shoot guy, and nothing else.



I don't see many weaknesses in his game, but here's some nitpicking:

Shoots too much; over-dribbles a little; favors his right hand too often around the hole; not a great leaper.

The leaping thing would bother me more if he weren't so strong, or didn't already have an idea of how to be crafty around the basket. Being a well-rounded scorer is far more important than being able to jump over people.

Everything else is fixable. But he'd be wise to fix them if he wants the NBA to call his name in a year.


Ball-hogging and over-dribbling are simply a product of Stephenson routinely facing inferior opponents. If you know you can get off a decent shot by simply dribbling around for a few extra seconds -- because you've been doing this since you were eight -- well, it's understandable. But it won't fly (at least not all the time) at the next level. Mick Cronin will have to nip this is the bud immediately. Thankfully, I don't need to remind him of this.


Finishing with his left. Guys who finish impressively with their off hand will always have a soft spot in my heart. They're also tougher to defend. Jason Maxiell and Eric Hicks shot a million free throws as Bearcats, but I'm struggling to remember a single instance when they were completing an and-one. Common scenario: They'd set up shop on the right block, turn middle, directly into the chest of the defender and release with the right hand (or attempt a dunk). Whistle blows. Two free throws. They never used their right hand as a shield while finishing with their left. It was maddening. Hicks and Maxiell were plenty strong enough to finish after contact, but they never were able to when the defender decided to molest their dominant hand.

Anyway, I watched Stephenson finish a few times with his left, but not nearly as many times as were presented. Too often, instead of a simple lefty layup, he found his way into more congested areas just so he could release with his right. This could be nothing, but I still feel it's worth mentioning.


As for the other stuff, scouting reports say he stands around too much...I wouldn't know. I hope it's not true; that can be a problem.

And I have no clue what he brings to the table defensively (forgive me, the highlight videos don't exactly emphasize his defensive fundamentals). But defense doesn't matter. Okay, of course defense matters, just not in this case. Stephenson was brought here to score them buckets, and barring an embarrassing misjudgement on my behalf, that's precisely what he'll do next season at an alarming rate.

I like sports.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Craig's Hero Has Negative Sideburns

The gentleman Craig claims is responsible for making him a man is now a walking embarrassment. This human's name is Brian Blanton, and he sports negative sideburns. Craig is struggling to deal with this. In fact, he's calling it the worst thing that's ever happened to him. He's more serious than you could ever believe.

When Craig asked about the worst thing that could happen to me, my answer involved Barry Larkin and Nick Van Exel performing oral sex on each other while my dad, um, watched.

Boys and girls, a new podcast..."Craig's Hero Has Negative Sideburns."

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Monday, June 29, 2009

NKOTB, Willy Taveras, Lance Stephenson, Etc.

1. I really like what The Sporting News has done the past few years, but last week's issue had Orlando Pace on the cover, holding a Bears helmet (apparently he plays for them). I'm just trying to figure out how this will help sell a single copy.

2. Micah Owings didn't come to the plate once during the Reds' six-game road trip in AL parks. In a word, that's fucking stupid. Can't you stick John Gomes in left field to get your best hitters in the lineup? Owings is one of their nine best hitters, plain and simple. And isn't that the idea of the DH position -- to put your nine best hitters in the lineup?

3. A gentleman by the name of Tim Marchman, while writing for Sports Illustrated's Internet website, SI.com, came up with a list of MLB's best and worst 2009 free agents. Not surprisingly, Willy Taveras was considered the worst. Sweet! And the Reds have him next year for $3 million! Walt Jocketty needs to be held accountable for the awful contracts he handed Mike Lincoln and Willy Taveras. With Lincoln, I've said everything I need to say. With Taveras, owever, I've held off. Until now.

Do you realize Taveras entered 2009 with 80 extra base hits in over 2,000 at-bats? 80! That's it. Throw in only 116 walks over that same period and you're looking at a player who proved time and again to be a pretty lousy offensive player. As for the defensive side of things, I can't speak to his reputation as a center fielder entering 2009. But I can't imagine he was anything special, because he's been awful this year, routinely screwing up routine plays and often failing to track down the most trackable of balls.

Two years, $6 million. That's what Walt Jocketty offered Willy Taveras in the offseason. Translation: 600 at-bats in 2010. Horny? I thought so.

4. I was paid to see the New Kids on the Block show Saturday night, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing (except I kind of could). You'd have thought -- based on the maniacal behavior of every 32-year-old white woman at the show -- that it was 1964, and The Beatles were sweeping through America for the first time.

Women are bat shit crazy.

5. You know me well enough by now to know I'm 100 percent on board with Lance Stephenson coming to play ball at UC. I don't care about his past -- good or bad -- I really don't. To the best of my knowledge he hasn't raped my sister, and that's good enough for me. I just want him to run high and jump fast and contribute to victories. When and if this happens -- and if he's eligible to play, which I assume he won't be -- I'll devote more of my time to this subject.

Stay tuned.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tyler Hansbrough, Lottery Pick = Lousy Draft

Per Wikipedia: The NBA draft is an annual North American event in which the National Basketball Association's (NBA) thirty teams (29 in the United States and one in Toronto, Canada) can select players who wish to join the league.

Ok, cool.

Last night, players were chosen.

The experts are telling me it's the worst draft since 2000 -- and as much as I'd love to disagree with them, I can't. This draft was embarrassingly low on talent.

Blake Griffin, I love; Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozen and Brandon Jennings were good picks because they at least have All Star ability; Jeff Teague will be a scoring point at the next level if he can develop a consistent jumper. And that's about it.

This draft was awful. Tyler Hansbrough, Darren Collison and Wayne Ellington all went in the first round. To me, that sounds like the start of a good joke. DeJuan Blair went in the second round and nobody could believe how far he "slipped." What seemed to be misremembered is that Blair is a 6'6 rebounder, with no post moves...HE'S SUPPOSED TO GO IN THE SECOND ROUND! That's why the second round was invented, to draft guys like Blair.

Oh yeah, Hasheem Thabeet went No. 2 overall. Number Two! You might remember Thabeet as a gigantic, semi-uncoordinated foreigner who has horrible balance and no offensive game to speak of. And he's kind of soft. He's annoying, too, but that shouldn't be held against him (although I absolutely hold it against him). Is he an effective enough defender to have a spot on an NBA roster? Yes. But I think we can agree that the No. 2 overall pick should be able to score, right? Right?

Even Stephen Curry, who I'd follow into hell, shouldn't be going anywhere near the lottery. But he did. Seventh overall. I still can't believe it.

James Harden didn't give a crap during Arizona State's two tourney games in March, so how am I supposed to believe he'll give maximum effort for an 82-game season? Plus, he's slow.

Austin Daye makes Boris Diaw look like the toughest mother fucker around. Soft. Skinny. Not all that athletic. Decent shooter. And please, let's stop with the Tayshaun Prince comparisons. I'm begging you.

As for pretty much everyone else in the draft -- save for James Johnson, Eric Maynor and a few others -- I can't believe they heard their name as early as they did...or that they were drafted at all.


Back to the 2000 draft. Yes, it was pathetic. But a few gems were uncovered, as well -- none bigger than Michael Redd at pick No. 43.

And why am I telling you this? Because this draft will have its gems, too. It might come from the list of names I just pooped on, or it might be some dude from overseas with a difficult name to pronounce.

But I think it's going to be DaJuan Summers, combo forward from Georgetown. He's got an NBA body (6'9, 245 lbs.), NBA athleticism (words in parentheses) and a pretty stroke from long range. I don't know a thing about the effort he put forward at G'Town -- and if he's a punk like that, he won't last -- but he has All Star ability and I love the idea of him stretching defenses at the four position.

I also love the fact that both Summers and Daye were drafted by Detroit. Trust me, the available minutes will go to Summers.


A few other draft thoughts...

In a draft so short on talent why did Josh Heytvelt, Jerel McNeal and AJ Abrams go undrafted? Neither are great, but all offer a specific skill that all teams crave.

With Heytvelt's, yeah, he's a knucklehead. And he never really tried hard. But he's 6'11. And he's not a stiff. And he can shoot. Seems to me like he could be a nice pick-and-pop player.

McNeal can guard the perimeter and knock down corner threes. I'd rather have him over Collison or Ellington.

And AJ Abrams...God, do I love watching him. He's really small (listed at 5'11), but he can shoot from distance better than anyone in this draft besides Steph Curry. And his release is so quick that his shot never gets blocked. I think he can stick in the league in an Eddie House role.

End of words.

(By the way, I posted a new podcast about Craig getting kicked out of a softball league for arguing with an umpire. If you're keeping score at home, he's now been kicked out of two fantasy leagues, a basketball league and now a softball league. And it's never is fault.)

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We're All Fairweather Fans

I passionately follow four sports teams: Bengals; Reds; UC basketball; Ohio State football.

This has always been the case. Since kindergarten. Those four. That will never change. I love them equally.

Except I don't.

At the moment Ohio State football is the team I love most, with the others clawing for the coveted No. 2 spot in my heart.

The reason: Ohio State's been winning with greater frequency than the other three, and winning delivers happiness. Simple as that.

This makes me a fairweather fan, which is perfectly normal. In fact, it might be the only normal thing I do.


Nobody has crazier fans than the Yankees, right? Wrong. To me, 1991 wasn't that long ago, and in '91 the Yankees only outdrew three teams in the entire American League. Three teams! The Yankees! The following year was the exact same.

Yankees win-loss totals in '91 and '92: 71-91; 76-86.

They stunk.

But in '93, they didn't, finishing 88-74 overall and seeing a dramatic rise in attendance numbers. The Yankees went from consecutive years at 11th overall (behind teams like Kansas City, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Texas) up to 5th overall.

I've never written, "Coincidence? I think not." mostly because I enjoy French kissing women, but now would be a fitting occasion.

I know it seems like Yankee Nation (or whatever) is comprised of the most loyal dudes around, but it's simply untrue. They've been No. 1 in attendance every year since '03, and haven't finished lower than third since '97. And I know I don't have to remind you they've been baseball's best team over the same stretch.

I'd love to pile on Yankee fans for showing up only when their team is decent -- really, I would -- but that would make me unoriginal. The reality is that the Yankees have a similar amount of fans now as they did seventeen years ago. But they weren't as loud then, and they didn't feel like paying money to see a lousy product, and they certainly didn't travel to see them play in rival cities. And so on. And so on.

And again, that's fine. We're all like that. Disagree? Take a look around and try to spot a Bengals flag or jersey, or a work truck painted orange and black. Three and four years ago they were everywhere. Now? Not so much. Cincinnati is still loaded with Bengals fans, they just don't have the time or energy to devote to a pathetic product.

Win first, then we'll get "Who Dey" tattooed on our forehead.


The best example of this locally took place the first few months of the millennium: Kenyon Martin was the nation's best player on the nation's best team, and the Reds added a 30-year-old Ken Griffey, Jr. to a 96-win team. At the same time Akili Smith just completed his first season as the Bengals' starting QB (and it was already a disaster), while John Cooper was asleep at the wheel in Columbus.

You mean to tell me I was supposed to follow the Bengals and Buckeyes as intensely as I followed the Bearcats and Reds? That's crazy talk.

I was still a fan. I still watched every game. But I wasn't nervous an hour before kickoff, and I didn't push my nephew down the steps if they lost. I loved the '00 Bengals and Buckeyes, just not as much as Kenyon Martin's Bearcats or Sean Casey's Reds.


This all started a few weeks ago when I was told that it was 86 days 'til Ohio State's opener against Navy. Upon hearing this news I nearly fainted. 86 days. That's not far off. But it got me thinking...the Bengals start their season at exactly the same time, so why am I obsessing over Ohio State, while I'm merely waiting around for the Bengals' opener (opponent unknown)? Three years ago they were equals, and now one is being lapped.

I've never seen Sophie's Choice (and never will, although I'm sure it's great), but from what I understand Sophie has to decide to keep one of her two children, while the other would be taken from her forever (and, I think, killed).

But Sophie's choice probably wasn't so difficult.

One of them probably finished their homework right after school, while the other probably just spilled Mountain Berry Punch Kool-Aid on the living room carpet.

In other words: Brad = Meryl Streep; Bengals = dead baby.

Sophie was a fairweather parent.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This Kid Never Played Sports

Either this video is real, and this kid is going to be picked on for the next hundred years...or it's fake, in which case the maniacal young boy on my computer screen joins Michael Richards as the finest physical comedian alive.

Regardless, this shit be funny -- and I stole it directly from Maurice Egger.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Artie Lange, Baseball Stats, This Website, Etc.

1. Question: How many people have offered, in one capacity or another, to help me with this website?

Answer: Approximately 6,005.

I'm constantly (read: once a week, maybe) receiving emails from mammals (often friends) who love my site but think it needs an aesthetic overhaul. And they always know a guy who can help me. It's their brother or cousin or neighbor, and they work for a web design firm (or something) and they could easily fix the amateurish look and feel of TwinKilling.com.

For whatever reason, I always take the bait. I always assume -- despite being let down dozens of times before -- that this email is the one that will change my fortunes. I generally don't believe in people (call me a cynic), but when I receive emails from readers who offer help, I'm like a young Micky Dolenz.

For the record:

a. Two different gentlemen have more or less guaranteed me money.

b. One guy told me his company wanted to make my website his pet project.

c. Several have told me they (or someone they know) could easily change the look of the site for little or no cost.

d. Other words.

There's a lesson here: Never trust anyone. Ever. Yes, I am bitter.

But there's also this: Despite my bitterness I'm still willing to accept your help. Anyone's help. This site looks like crap, but the content is solid. Please help. Please. This is an official beg. I have no idea what I'm doing here. But I can write a little bit. And the podcasts are funny. You see, I have ability. Please help me make this site look somewhat decent. Again, I beg you. I'm offering oral sex.

Brad Spieser desperately needs your help.


2. Jay Bruce has a decent shot at 40 HRs this year. He has an outside shot at 80 walks. His current OBP is a pathetic .305. Bizarre.

Translation: Jay Bruce sucks. I knew it.

3. Nick Anderson's career will always be remembered for four missed free throws to blow Game One of the '95 finals -- and his ensuing struggles. Do you realize his mind was so screwed up in the years that followed that his charity-stripe woes sunk all the way to 40 percent for the '97 season? He was a starting NBA shooting guard putting up numbers Bo Outlaw and Dale Davis would find amusing.

Final word: Anderson made $36 million in his career. Let's not feel too sorry for him.

4. I read this in a recent Bill Simmons column: Since the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol they haven't once endured a three-game losing streak.

Final word: I have nothing to add to this, other than maybe Chris Mihm is worse than we thought.

5. Colly Boy, my fireman friend, texted me the other day with the following piece of information regarding the Reds television broadcast team: "Every firehouse I have ever been to hates George Grande, Jim Day and Jeff Piecoro."

Final word: What about Chris Welsh? Just because he's not as bad as Grande doesn't mean he's not a lousy broadcaster. He is. Welsh is simply the most handsome man in the leper colony.

6. Larry Brown played in only twelve NFL games after being named MVP of the '95 Super Bowl.

Translation: Al Davis has a keen eye for talent.

7. Toby Harrah, a four-time All Star from the 70's and 80's (although fairly obscure historically) is responsible for two of the strangest things to have ever happened on a baseball field: (1.) He played every inning of a double-header at shortstop and not a single ball was hit to him, and (2.) He and a teammate (someone who probably has a name) once hit back-to-back inside-the-park HRs.

Final word: Take that, Fernando Tatis.

(Note: I came across the Toby Harrah stuff from a link Rob Neyer posted on his page, but I can't seem to locate it.)

8. Joe Niekro came to the plate nearly 1,200 times in his career and hit only one home run. His one glorious moment was off a Hall of Famer...his brother, Phil. And it tied the game in the 7th inning.

(Note: I also swiped the Niekro stat from Neyer)

9. I'm not up on the latest "Shaq to the Cavs" rumors, but I know one thing: If it goes through, stay out of my way. I swear, if LeBron James wastes his entire young prime without playing on a single up-tempo team I will strangle everyone who comes in my path, except for old ladies (they get pushed down the steps). But seriously, LeBron James would have averaged 40-44 ppg on the 05-07 Suns, which means there's no reason he shouldn't be averaging 36-38 ppg now. He's the best athlete the league has ever seen, not to mention the best finisher after contact in the game. The fact that he's dealing with constant double and triple teams in a slow-it-down half court offense is preposterous.

10. Artie Lange caused a lot of controversy with his excessively foul mouth on HBO's Joe Buck Live. The foul mouth wasn't the problem; after all it was HBO. The problem was that Artie Lange wasn't funny, and Joe Buck wasn't (or isn't) skilled enough to turn Lange's disastrous appearance into a positive.

A couple of things here: First, Artie Lange -- on drugs or off -- is one of the funniest men on Earth. He really is. But only when he's on the Howard Stern Show. His chemistry with Stern and Robin Quivers is unparalleled in the radio game. But his stand-up stinks, and so do his acting performances. Does that mean he's not funny? Of course not. But he's not funny in every arena.

Something similar happens with Jay Mohr and Adam Carolla.

Listen to Mohr host the Jim Rome Show just once and you'll think he's the next Howard Stern. Without fail, Jay Mohr delivers an A+ performance every time. But his TV shows and movies are unwatchable -- as are his individual performances in each one.

And if you can get Adam Carolla in a complimentary role on anything -- radio or TV, but preferably radio -- and allow him the time to spit out his long-winded (and brilliant) opinions and observations of absolutely everything, well, nobody does it better. Nobody. But put him in the capatain's chair, and he's a flop.

Lange, Mohr and Carolla are supremely talented, with sharp comedic minds, but their styles aren't full proof.

Lange bombed on Joe Buck Live, and that's the real reason it made headlines.

11. I miss Jules Asner.

12. I've heard media folk suggest that Bryce Harper's decision to get a GED (in order to enter next year's draft a year early) would've been a bigger story if he played basketball instead of baseball.

To that, I agree. But for different reasons.

I think the aforementioned media folk were suggesting that it'd be some sort of outrage, one driven by (a.) race and (b.) a mockery of the educational system. And there might be some truth in that, but it's misguided.

The real reason Bryce Harper's story isn't getting the same amount of publicity had he played basketball is simple: Nobody cares about college baseball in this country, and everyone cares about college hoops.

It's completely unfair of David Stern to prevent people from being drafted out of high school, but I'm all for it. It makes both the pro and college game better, and we find out in a hurry which guys were ready straight out of high school, and which guys probably never will be.

Plus, Harper won't have to sit on the end of the Nationals' bench next year, somehow making them worse; he'll be in Single A riding a bus from one hillbilly town to another. The Nationals can monitor his progress without hurting their big-league product. In the NBA, you're forced to give up a roster spot when you spend a high first round pick on a physically and emotionally immature youngster.

13. At what point is it fair to draw parallels between Homer Bailey and Brandon Larson? Both were first rounders who embarrassed AAA opponents, and both struggled mightily against the big boys.

14. I regard Kenny Mayne as a comedic genius, and yet I've never seen a single webisode of Mayne Street. Sentences.

End of words. I'm still waiting for the right opportunity to write about about Nurse Jackie. But it's coming. Believe it.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Friend Argues With Mean Old Lady

Craig argues with 70-year-old TJ Maxx employee.

Said employee is a female.



-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do All Seven-Year-Olds Act The Way I Did?

Seven-year-olds do weird shit when they're alone. I mean, I did weird shit (and still do), so I imagine just about every other seven-year-old in the history of the planet is (or was) the same way. The difference is that seven-year-olds turn eight and nine and twenty and twenty-eight, and never tell anyone about the weird shit they used to do when they were children.

But some twenty-eight-year-olds have websites that feature podcasts.

And on said podcasts I occasionally tell embarrassing stories that often took place in my childhood.

And he we are.

Ordinarily in this space when I'm asking you to listen to a new podcast I give a brief description, but I'm choosing against that today. I'd prefer you just give four-and-a-half minutes of your precious time and listen to "Forgive Me...I Was Seven-Years-Old." Thank you.

And after you listen I'd like you to email me if you did something similar when you were a child; Craig didn't. I'm not necessarily looking for something bizarre that happened to you, I'd really just like to find out if this is the kind of shit normal children do when they're alone.


Tomorrow. More than likely another podcast. Also, thoughts on Nurse Jackie, Artie Lange's appearance on Joe Buck Live and Bryce Harper's decision to drop out of high school.

Horny? I thought so.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Did The Reds Screw Up Another Draft? Probably

In December the Reds signed reliever Mike Lincoln to a two-year contract worth $4 million plus incentives. I thought this was a ridiculous idea then (although I don't think I mentioned it until I posted my season preview), and it's looking like an unrepairable disaster now.

My reasons for disliking the Lincoln deal went deeper than he was below average in 2008. Words...

Before the 2008 season the Reds signed average-at-best journeyman Josh Fogg to a one-year, $1 million contract. I hated everything about it. The Reds were a long way from winning the 85-88 games necessary to be labeled a contender, and Josh Fogg wasn't the guy who was going to put the Reds over the hump. He wasn't particularly young, he had no upside and he was only here for one season. And even a highly unlikely career year (something like 14-8, 4.20 ERA) wouldn't vault the Reds into contention.

If I knew that, I'm guessing then-Reds GM Wayne Krivsky did, as well -- so why did they flat-out waste one million American dollars on Josh Fogg? You gots me...

And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking $1 million is nothing to a professional baseball team. To that...I say...you're crazy.

Sure, Reds owner Bob Castellini will make himself plenty of dough this season, but he's still working on a budget. And until asses start planting themselves in seats with greater regularity at GABP $1 million will continue to be a lot of money.

Which explains why the Reds just spent another draft with signability being more important than overall talent.

With the eighth overall pick the Reds selected Arizona State righty Mike Leake. He put up phenomenal numbers in a highly competitive conference, and yet he's better known for his control. His control! Not exactly what you want to hear about the guy you need to become a front-of-the-rotation starter in the near future. Sure, he was thought of as a consensus first round pick, and he might end up being a solid pitcher (or better), but he wasn't the top pitching prospect available. Far from it. That designation belonged to left-handed high schooler Tyler Matzek, who the Rockies plucked eleventh overall.

The Reds never pick guys like Matzek. Ever. They can't afford it. Often times they're Scott Boras clients with outrageous salary demands. And often times they fall to the Yankees or Red Sox, teams who (a.) pick at the end of the first round and (b.) have virtually no monetary restrictions.

It would be easy to call this sort of thing unfair, and, okay, it kind of is. But that doesn't mean the Reds (and other financially-limited franchises) can't get creative to level the playing field.

Let's revisit Opening Day, 2008.

The Reds were paying Fogg $1 million, Juan Castro something similar and Ryan Freel in the $3.5 million range (I think). And now that I think of it, David Ross was due well over $2 million. Individually, not a ton of money. But collectively, that's a small fortune to be paying players who -- even if they all approached their career-best seasons -- wouldn't make a dent in the Reds' fate (good or bad). They were role-playing journeymen, and only the richest of teams can afford to overpay for humans of this ilk.

Now rewind a little bit more to the the 2007 MLB draft.

With the 15th overall pick the Reds chose HS catcher Devin Mesoraco. He was far from a sure thing and playing the most impossible position to project. To this point in his professional career he's struck out 129 times and belted only two home runs. He's only fourteen months younger than Jay Bruce, stuck in Single A Sarasota and it'd be a small miracle if he ever plays one game at GABP. More than likely, Devin Mesoraco was a wasted first round draft pick. But at least he was signable!

At the same time the Reds were reaching for a signable high school catcher a dynamic high school pitcher kept getting ignored by teams who were afraid of Scott Boras. Behind David Price, he was the No. 2 pitching prospect in the draft, and considered to be a future ace. His name is Rick Porcello, he pitches for the Detroit Tigers and he's currently having his way with American League hitters.

He's 20-years-old, and the Reds coulda had him for the price of inconsequential nothings like David Ross, Juan Castro, Ryan Freel and Josh Fogg.

And right now he'd be sandwiched between Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez to form the best collection of young pitching talent in the history of the organization.

And to think, the Tigers, who grabbed Porcello 27th overall, only had to give him four years and $7.2 million ($3.5 guaranteed) with two one-year options (bringing the total of the contract to just over $11 million). In other words, chump change for a 20-year-old ace.

So, would you rather have Rick Porcello as a cornerstone of your rotation...or would you rather have Devin Mesoraco (toiling away in the low minor leagues) and one season (or less) of Ryan Freel, Juan Castro, Josh Fogg and David Ross?

(And Corey Patterson! I forgot about Corey Patterson! Somehow. He made over $3 million in '08 -- my argument continues to gain strength.)

See what I mean? Do you see how careless the Reds are when it comes to spending money, even though it seems like their hands are tied?

Yes, I know, it's frustrating.

Which is why I hate the idea of drafting a limited-upside pitcher like Mike Leake over Tyler Matzek, the endlessly talented high schooler.

Which is why the Reds shouldn't throw money at mammals like Mike Lincoln (especially when they're coming off a shaky season). Lincoln's 2008 statistics can be replicated by any number of arms in AAA Louisville...for league minimum. And even if I'm off base by suggesting that, I'd still rather have a minimum-wage disaster in my bullpen if it meant the Reds were going to spend more money on draft picks and international players.

Gimme Porcello over Mesoraco.

Gimme Matzek over Leake.

And stop spending money on underwhelming 34-year-olds.


Talent trumps chemistry in every sport, especially baseball. I'm pretty sure everyone knows this. But talent costs money, and the Reds are wasting theirs.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kelly? Jessie? Lisa? Think Again

6:52 A.M. Can't sleep. Angry with the universe, and rightfully so. After all, I can't sleep. This is one of the seven reasons you're allowed to be angry with the universe (email me if you'd like the full list). But anyway, instead of tossing and turning (an expression I've never actually used), I decided to do something with my day. I was going to be productive!

And productive I was.

You can say all the horrible shit you want about America, but let's face it: It's more than a little comforting to know that Saved By The Bell will be showing on TBS between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 A.M. for the rest of eternity.

So, yeah, it was annoying to be awake before noon, but I was going to kick my day off with four episodes of Zack pranking Mr. Belding. Or four episodes of Zack convincing Screech to do something he shouldn't. Or four episodes of Mark-Paul Gosselaar pretending to be attracted to the creature who played Tori. Or four episodes of whatever. You get my point. It didn't match sleeping 'til noon, but it's probably the closest alternative that doesn't include the words "unprotected" and "intercourse."

Oh yeah, I consumed baked goods for this occasion. Baked goods were most definitely consumed.

Being that I was wide awake, I decided to have myself a little party. I paused my television before the 7:00 episode started and drove four minutes up the street to Dunkin' Donuts, where I hand selected two blueberry muffins, a banana muffin and a chocolate chip muffin (i.e., the gayest order imaginable). The woman absorbing my demands was shockingly Caucasian, and she coughed in her hand as she placed my treats in the rectangular orange and white box. White people are so rude.

Disease-ridden treats in hand, my decent little morning was set.

I breezed through the 7:00 and 7:30 episodes -- both of which I'd seen a couple hundred times -- before the 8:00 episode, "1-900-CRUSHED," drastically altered the course of my day.

Less than two minutes into the opening scene Kelly's little sister, Nicki, makes her lone series appearance. She was wearing a baseball cap, yet somehow it was flattering. And when she appeared sans cap in her next scene, my heart melted. I always thought the black chick (who is sometimes known as Lark Voorhies) was the hottest thing in Saved By The Bell history, and now she's just a silver medalist.

Congratulations, Kelly's little sister!

There's only one problem: The person I'm in love with is 14-years-old. I checked. Her name is Laura Mooney. She was born in 1976, and the SBTB episode on my television screen was filmed in 1990. Mathematics!

But is this really a problem? I was ten in 1990. Ten! She was way out of my league then. Hell, I didn't even have a league in 1990. I was ten. I didn't know what girls were. I was too busy stealing bottle rockets from my brother and shooting them at the dog across the street.

Anyway, what's the rule on this sort of thing? Am I allowed to watch a television program from my childhood and find underage girls attractive? I say YES, if only because I'm guilty in this situation -- and because Laura Mooney is now 33-years-old.

Somebody needs to come up with a few rules before I go insane (and/or Chris Hansen knocks on my door). I know you probably think I should come up with the rules, but my judgement is too clouded. I'm afraid my rules would be predictable:

1. Brad can look at whoever he wants.
2. Brad is never guilty.
3. Brad doesn't have to delete the episode in question from his DVR.
4. Etc.

Seriously, though, I need you to determine if I'm a dirty old man, because I'm more than a little conflicted. But before deciding if I'm the ultimate creep or not, I implore you to watch a chunk of the "1-900-CRUSHED" episode that's kept me awake for hours. Perhaps you will, as the kids say, feel me. Our friend Laura Mooney visits us at the 2:20 mark:

Feel me?

-Brad Spieser (

Monday, June 8, 2009

Stephen Curry's Surprising Putback

Stephen Curry --all 6'3 of him -- might be the most underwhelming athlete in the 2009 NBA draft, and yet he does this effortlessly:

Professional basketball players in America are the best athletes on Earth. Period. They have no competition. And yet I'm routinely faced with knuckleheads who disagree with that assertion.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

At Least He Wasn't Given An Unwarranted Multi-Year Contract!

Sometimes it's called elbow tendinitis.

Sometimes it's called shoulder stiffness.

Sometimes it's called mononucleosis.

I don't think it's ever been called AIDS, but the ends would justify the means.

So, Brad, what is it?

Relax, buddy, my explanation is coming.

It, in this case, is the injury/illness/syndrome Reds GM Walt Jocketty needs to assign Mike Lincoln, right before sending his bones to the disabled list.

Cubs 6, Redlegs 3.

I can't take this crap anymore.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Jay Bruce's Struggling BABIP: Part Deux

Last night, first three at-bats...

1st inning: Smoked a line drive to deep right field, where it found the glove of a running Ryan Ludwick on the warning track.

3rd inning: Innocent two-hopper to second.

5th inning: Opposite-field smash that was hauled in at the left field wall.

As much as it seems like his first and third ABs are making my point about BABIP (and it does), his second at-bat does just the same. Did Bruce make solid contact on his 3rd-inning ground out? No, it was harmless. But he did make contact, and every once in a while those balls find holes (we call them "seeing-eye singles"). But Bruce hasn't found holes this year. And his soft liners haven't dropped in front of outfielders.

Perhaps to put Jay Bruce's poor luck in perspective we should take a look at Chris Dickerson: Last season he hit a luckiest-of-the-lucky .410 on balls put in play. This season he remains lucky at .318. Does anyone think Dickerson is in Bruce's stratosphere as a hitter? Of course not. Dickerson has very little power. And it's not like he's capable of magically placing the ball between infielders and in front of outfielders. He's simply been lucky.

Bruce is far from the perfect player, but with league-average luck you'd probably overlook his strikeout totals.

Two years from now you will be embarrassed you ever doubted Jay Bruce.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why All The Panic Surrounding Jay Bruce?

I knew it. I freaking knew it. Jay Bruce isn't struggling anywhere near as much as you idiots said he was. Before proving the doubters wrong, take a look at the moronic things I've heard over the last month or so:

1. Bruce should be dropped in the lineup.

2. Bruce should be platooning in right.

3. Bruce should be sent back to AAA Louisville.

4. Bruce laughs his way through Hurricane Katrina documentaries.

Okay, I made up the last one. Anyway, suggestions 2 and 3 are obviously stupid, and only No. 1 makes a bit of sense (when he's facing lefties, of course -- but I still wouldn't drop him)

Now the whole "I knew it" part.

Know anything about BABIP? It stands for batting average on balls in play. I'll try not to make your head spin with every nugget that goes into this valuable statistic (mostly because I don't understand every nugget), but here's the white meat: It helps determine how lucky or unlucky a hitter is by eliminating home run and strikeout totals (and I think rewarding sac flies) by only measuring (hello) balls put in play. Simply: Did it result in a hit or an out when Player X put the ball in play?

League norm is right around .300.

Jay Bruce's 2009 BABIP sits at .221, good for third lowest in the league. In other words, he's remarkably unlucky.

When I discovered that this morning, I immediately called my brothers and friends and threw the numbers in their face. I also screamed, "I KNEW IT!"

Their rebuttals had a lot of "Yeah, buts." Yeah, but he struggles mightily against lefties...Yeah, but his strikeout totals are still way too high.

Yeah, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about what percentage of the balls he puts in play turn into hits, and which turn into outs.

A few weeks back Jay Bruce went through an 0-15 spell that caused panic on local radio. But it was all nonsense. I watched a five at-bat sequence during that very same "slump" that included three fly-outs -- not to the warning track -- but to the wall. I mean, five feet in each case gives him 17 HRs before the end of May! That's Eric Davis in 1987 territory! Exclamation point!

Still not sold on the BABIP statistic?

How about Lance Berkman's 2002 season: The man they call Fat Elvis hit 42 HRs and drove in a league-high 128 runs; his BABIP was .302. He also threw up a .302 in '05 and a .300 in '07. For one of the consistently excellent hitters of the generation you'd expect more than league average in this category, right? Right? Wrong. BABIP doesn't discriminate.

Oh, I have more...

Manny Ramirez, 1998, right in the thick of his prime: 45 HRs, 145 RBI and...wait for it...a .296 BABIP. His batting average in '98 was only .294, but he wasn't slumping; he merely was semi-unlucky when he wasn't hitting home runs.

Alex Rodriguez's 2002 was off the charts, and yet he was slightly unlucky: 57 HRs, 142 RBI, .290 BABIP.

Albert Pujols has spent plenty of time on the unlucky side, as well: .292 BABIP in '06 (same year he hit 49 HRs and 137 RBI) and .298 in '04. And 2004's a good case study for Reds fans. That same season Adam Dunn had a .321 BABIP, and it contributed greatly to his .266 batting average, the highest of his career. The funny thing about Dunn's 2004 is that he struck out 195 times (also a career high). Which means his astronomical strikeout totals were offset (and then some) by his lucky season at the plate. I remember thinking after Dunn's 2004 that maybe he turned the corner. In reality, he was just lucky. That's why his BABIP was 23 points higher than Pujols, the National League's best player.

You get the idea. Nobody is bulletproof.

(A few things to clear up: I realize I called it unlucky for A-Rod, Pujols, etc., to hit around .300 on balls put in play, even though I called it league norm a few sentences prior. It is league norm, and even the best players aren't immune to having a sub-.300 BABIP. But the best players will generally hit well over the .300 mark. The reason is simple: The best players consistently strike the ball harder than average and below average players, and well-struck balls are more difficult to catch)


I'm not sure why some of you are on Bruce's case, but hopefully the BABIP statistic will help. Just think of it like this: If Bruce's BABIP were somewhere around .280 (still below league average, but significantly better) his batting average would likely be in the .265 range and his RBI total would be closer to 40 than 30. Translation: This city would look like it was sponsored by Jay Bruce jerseys.

Besides, the naysayers are worried about the wrong stats with Bruce. Forget his struggles with lefties and his frustrating strikeout totals. Hell, stupid as it may seem, forget about everything we just learned about his unlucky BABIP, and focus on his power.

When Shaquille O'Neal was on the come-up, his detractors often said, "All he does is dunk." And I always argued, "Why not?" It's the most high-percentage shot in basketball; if you can dunk, why settle for a fade-away jumper?

Something similar is happening with Bruce and frustrated Reds fans.

They consistently bring up what he can't do (or hasn't done), and fail to recognize his otherworldly home run numbers. And home runs, as we all know, are far more important than singles or doubles.

Jay Bruce is 22-years-old. He's hit 35 HRs in less than 162 career games. He won't turn 23 until the first week of the 2010 season. So, figuring conservatively, he'll have around 60 HRs on the back of his Donruss before his next birthday.

Would you like me to put things in context? I thought so.

Lance Berkman didn't hit his 60th long ball 'til he was 26, and he's got a realistic shot at 450 for his career.

2006 MVP Ryan Howard averaged over 50 HRs the last three seasons; just like Berkman, his 60th HR didn't come until he was 26.

I could go on and on, but I'll leave you with this...

Current Reds wonderboy Joey Votto will turn 26 before the end of the season; he has 36 career HRs, one more than Bruce despite playing in 57 more games. This isn't to take anything away from Votto, who I'm sure is capable of walking across the Ohio River, but it does speak to how far ahead of the field Jay Bruce is.

Hitting 35 homers before playing 162 games is impressive. Doing it at the age of 22 is the height of impressiveness.

I know it doesn't seem like it, but Jay Bruce has exceeded expectations thus far. Barring injury, this guy's a superstar.

Don't think so? I'm taking bets.

Any takers?

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hi, Hello And Welcome: Part 1 (Still A Shithead)

Brilliant. That's the word George Grande just used to describe Mike Lincoln's 2008 season. I didn't get the memo, but brilliant, apparently, is synonymous with decidedly average.

Decidedly average. That's precisely what Mike Lincoln -- and his 101 ERA+ -- was last season.

Multi-year contract. That's what Walt Jocketty signed Lincoln to after his decidedly average 2008 campaign.

Key situation. That's where I never want to see Mike Lincoln making an appearance. Ever.


Self-inflicted gunshot wound between my eyeballs. That's what I'm considering after Edinson Volquez exited Monday's American baseball contest with numbness in the pinky and ring fingers of his right hand. This is undoubtedly related to the back spasms that sent him to the disabled list a few weeks ago.


Dinosaur. I want to be eaten by a dinosaur.

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)

Did You Say Scombridae?

Yeah, homeschooling is a great idea!

-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)