Thursday, May 27, 2010

Super Bowl + Blizzard = Terrible Idea

Quick: Name all the fullbacks, pulling guards and punters who have been named Super Bowl MVP.

Wait a few years, you might get your answer.


Anyone who thinks it's a good idea to play a Super Bowl in a potential blizzard is a complete idiot.
You're either an old school ex-jock meathead or someone who is only interested in the Super Bowl as an event, not as the most important sporting contest of the year.

Old school ex-jock meatheads think, "Now this is football. Football is supposed to be played in treacherous conditions. Football is for tough guys."

The other group, the people who pay more attention to the commercials than the game, think, "It's kind of charming to play in the snow."

The people who think it's acceptable to play a Super Bowl on a field covered in snow don't care about a Chiefs-Jaguars tilt in mid-October. But I do. So does everyone else I know. Football might be the only sport where the mavens make up the majority.

Find me someone who spends a few hundred bucks on DirecTv's Sunday Ticket, competes in a handful of fantasy leagues and gambles on several games a week. Please, find that person (they're everywhere) and ask them: Do you want to see a frustratingly-sloppy, turnover-filled snoozefest, or would you watch rather watch two teams operate at full speed in the most important game of their lives?


This past Super Bowl -- Saints vs. Colts -- was probably the most entertaining match, start to finish, I've ever seen. But it wouldn't have been that way in a sub-zero windstorm. Both the Saints and Colts were both pass-happy finesse teams in '09...are you telling me the game would have been better had it featured a few dozen fullback traps? Are you going to tell me that it would have been better if the Saints won 6-3 in a game that featured eight fumbles, five interceptions and nineteen punts?


Paul Daugherty wrote a column about a snow-covered Super Bowl in today's Cincinnati Enquirer and, among his many maddening words, dropped this doozy:

"Football is elemental and violent and meant to be played in the mud in
Pittsburgh. There is no debating this."

These are the words of someone who cares about a great storyline, not the quality of the product. Trust me. I know Paul Daugherty. I got to know him pretty well after working with him on a nightly basis for six months. Great guy. But his opinion on this one shouldn't count. Regardless of what he claims in his column, he ain't a football fan.


Keep the change, you filthy animals.

-Brad Spieser (

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jay Bruce Is Awesome; Things That Make Me Feel Old

Trivia question: Of all the National League right fielders named Jay Bruce, how many of them are leading their position in walks?

I'll save you the suspense: The answer, boys and girls, is one. One person. His name is Jay Bruce. He plays baseball for the Reds of Cincinnati, Ohio. I root for him.

Jay Bruce -- who's also the subject of my latest poll question -- leads all National League right fielders with 25 walks.

This means (a.) he's maturing, and (b.) Dusty Baker is a goddamn fool for batting Bruce sixth or seventh in the lineup.

Want more good news? I thought you might, and even though it's quite greedy of you, I'll deliver...

Jay Bruce's Line Drive percentage in 2010 -- 25% -- is higher than the following superstars: Albert Pujols (23%), Chase Utley (21%), Ryan Braun (21%), Justin Morneau (24%), Hanley Ramirez (19%), Jason Heyward (15%), Mark Texeira (18%), Andre Ethier (19%), Miguel Cabrera (22%), Kevin Youkilis (18%), Joey Votto (23%), Ryan Zimmerman (23%), Alex Rodriguez (21%), Evan Longoria (22%), Vladimir Guerrero (18%), Ryan Howard (23%), Joshua Holt Hamilton (19%), Ichiro (22%), Adrian Gonzalez (23%).

I just named nineteen of the top twenty-five hitters currently inhabiting our fine planet, and aside from Mark Texeira, every one of them is enjoying either a really good season (like Howard or Ramirez) or a super-awesome, out-of-this-world season (like Morneau or pre-injury Ethier). The only player I randomly checked with a higher LD% was, not surprisingly, Joe Mauer (27%).

What does all of this mean? How the hell should I know? But I'm not a lunatic for being more than a little encouraged with the results of my fact-finding mission.

(Channeling Rod Roddy...)

But wait, there's more.

If you'd like to focus on the defensive side of things, stick this in your pipe and smoke it: Among National League RF Jay Bruce ranks first in total chances, with 111; Jeff Francoeur comes in a close second (106), and third place (a player nobody cares about) has only 87 chances on the year. This simply means that Jay Bruce is getting to more balls than anybody else...and since he only has one error on the season, this also qualifies as encouraging news.

Warrants mentioning: Jay Bruce is leading the entire goddamn world (not just the NL) in something called range factor, a statistic Bill James believes is far more valuable than fielding percentage.


Jay Bruce's HRs are down thus far, but he hit 43 homers over his first 209 games (all before turning 23-years-old), so I'm not even the slightest bit concerned at his early-season power outage. Plus, as mentioned, he's smacking the shit out of the ball this year. Plus, he's a lefty, playing in a ballpark suited for his abilities. If he can continue his trend of plate discipline and high LD%, and mix in his 2008 and 2009 power, the league will take notice of Jay Bruce faster than you can say Anbesol.

What I'm trying to say about Jay Bruce echoes what I said about the man even during his worst slumps: It is not unrealistic to expect Jay Bruce to become one of the game's very best players. And soon.


Closing thought about unrelated baseball matter: Keith Law's mock draft is projecting Delino DeShields Jr. to be taken in the latter half of round one. Again: The son of Delino DeShields is about a month away from becoming a professional baseball player. It seems like only yesterday when the elder DeShields teamed up with Marquis Grisson to form baseball's most exciting young duo (or whatever). I have more than a few gray hairs and my ankles perpetually ache, but this makes me feel like the oldest 29-year-old in the world. In related news, I'll be shooting myself in the brains later this evening. Please wear black to my funeral.

Carry on.

-Brad Spieser (

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I said I'd post something each of the next twenty days, but what's the punishment if I don't?

Some people need a boss. I am one of those people.

I don't want to be writing these words. I wrote yesterday simply to fulfill an obligation, which is why I submitted that bullshit video. It's not that I don't love Onyx's "Slam," it's just that nobody should ever be that self-important. It's crazy to think that anyone would care about my opinion of 17-year-old pop music. Shit, it wasn't even an opinion; it was merely, "I like this song." Who cares? If you read that post, I apologize. I wasted your goddamn time. I have really high standards for this site, and I lose sleep when I don't meet them.

I started writing tonight with the intention of beating up on Dusty Baker for his lineup decisions. I also wanted to touch on LeBron's future. But I'm struggling to understand why anyone would give a shit.

I have no idea why, but confidence is at an all-time low, and I'm endlessly depressed.


I still want to be on the radio. Maybe that's it.

-Brad Spieser (

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Only One Song Makes Me Happy After Losing Money

I just lost a few American dollars on the NBA playoffs; I should have known better than to support them heartless Orlando Magics. Anyway, after cursing Rashard Lewis and throwing my remote control into the couch cushions a few dozen times (at speeds upwards of 8 billion MPH), I've calmed down a little. A little. But I'm still not happy. This makes me happy:

No jokes...this song is fucking great.

-Brad Spieser (

Monday, May 17, 2010

Horse Trainers, Barry Larkin, Devin Mesoraco

1. I can name four horse trainers: Nick Zito, D. Wayne Lucas, Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher.

2. I can name zero NHL head coaches.

3. I have no interest in either.

4. Rangers' shortstop Elvis Andrus has been caught stealing seven times this year. Seven! It's mid May! Of course, Andrus is 3rd in the bigs with 14 stolen bases, so that's all anyone wants to talk about. Which is crap.

I feel like part of what's hurting Barry Larkin's Hall of Fame case is intelligence -- as in, maybe he played with too much intelligence. Take a look at his year-by-year stolen base/caught stealing numbers. Mind blowing. Had Larkin been a more greedy (read: unintelligent and less efficient) baserunner, he easily could have racked up a few hundred more stolen bases, and we all know how much HOF voters love numbers. Larkin retired with 379 SBs...would 600 stolen bases (and top 20 all time) be enough to put my favorite baseball player in the Hall of Fame?

5. It's really really really really really really (I'm going to write this word ten more times, once using the power of italics) really really really really really really really really really really early, and we're only talking about Class A Advanced Carolina League, but Reds' 2007 1st round pick, catcher Devin Mesoraco, is leading the entire farm system (not just his own team) in the following categories: batting average, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Again, it's early. And it's still just High-A ball. BUT...

Mesoraco is only 20-year-years-old, his first-round tag suggests he obviously has plenty of talent and he's not merely playing okay; he's murdering the ball. Plus, he plays a position that is impossibly difficult to develop. I couldn't tell you if he's considered a great prospect, but he's certainly not a bust. And when you consider where he was last year at this time, I think this qualifies as progress.


More on the way tomorrow.

-Brad Spieser (

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Falling Asleep At Wheel, Joe Buck Unfunny, Carlos Boozer, Etc.

I just made up my mind: I'm posting at least one item over the next twenty days. This is now my mission. Note: When I say "twenty days," I'm referring to the days of the week not named Saturday or Sunday (and some Fridays, depending on how busy/tired I am). So the next "twenty days," by my calculation, could take a year-and-a-half, but whatever. At least I'm writing. Which seems to be all you peoples's want out of me.


1. Some things will never stop blowing my mind. Topping that list will always be falling asleep at the wheel. There isn't a soul on Earth immune to this phenomenon and really, I have no idea how it's ever happened once. Think about all the times you've been in the most comfortable environment imaginable (your bed, lights out, 64 degrees), wearing an endlessly comfortable article of clothing ($65 basketball shorts), desperately trying to fall asleep...and yet, despite the fact that you've been awake all day -- and need to be up in five hours -- you can't get to sleep.

By comparison...

You're driving an 80,000-lb. (or whatever cars weigh) piece of steel (or whatever cars are made of)'re sitting no way is your underwear making you more might be tired, but staying awake has never been more important...and then you start drifting off...which of course leads to your brilliant decision to roll the windows down (unless you're a snob with automatic windows, in which case you push a button until the window is down) and crank the music to deafening levels.

None of it works.

You start pinching yourself and calling friends (they of course never answer) and that doesn't work, either. After narrowly avoiding a few dozen wrecks, you make it home alive. But it was the struggle of a lifetime. Your head was bobbing up and down the entire time and you can't recall details from the last half hour.

How in the hell does that happen? I'm positive that question has been asked and answered roughly 40 billion times since the advent of the Internet, but I've never heard one. Please help.

2. While am at it, can someone tell me why the inside of my left ear itches when I gently massage the area to the immediate left of my lips? Or, perhaps even more bizarre...why doesn't the same phenomenon take place when I do the exact same thing on the right side of my face?

Yes, this is a sports website.


3. Okay, while I'm still asking gay questions that are always on my mind: Why is it considered an airball if your shot misses the rim but still hits the net? This isn't just coming from fans in basketball arenas, either. When I played HORSE as a little kid, you'd always pick up a letter for airballs, and a shot that hits just net was considered an airball. What genius came up with that rule, and how in God's name did it stick?

4. Taylor Mays, according to Craig, is the biggest, blackest human around (which, if you frequent this site, is the highest compliment he is capable of giving). He's also Jewish. For some reason I find this interesting. I stumbled across this nugget recently while on one of my random Wikipedia journeys. Here's a complete list of Jews in sports.

5. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Pawn Stars and everything, but the main guy, Rick, laughs at his own jokes far too often. This means he's not funny (and pretty annoying). Funny people don't laugh at their own jokes.

6. Speaking of not funny, I give you Joe Buck and Jim Nantz. Yes, I know you've always thought they were humorless squares, but their respective efforts in recent commercials confirm your beliefs. First, watch Nantz, then Buck (video not found) and see if your response is anything but creeped out. You're either funny or you're not. Jim Nantz and Joe Buck aren't funny; they're just nerds on a commercial trying waaaaaay too hard to seem likable.

7. Charles Barkley is my favorite basketball analyst of all time, and yet I haven't learned much from him over the years -- I'm not so sure he watches much basketball during the regular season. Anyway, he said something Tuesday night on Inside the NBA that is dead wrong: 'The Jazz shouldn't sign Carlos Boozer because they'll be left with the same problem as this year.'

(I paraphrased the last sentence, but I'm accurate with his beliefs.)

Let me run you through what he's saying and why he's wrong...

The Jazz just got swept by the Lakers, mostly because the Jazz are just too short to compete with the massive Lakers. If you sign Carlos Boozer to a long-term contract this offseason, you're basically saying, "Yeah, we'll be good, but we'll never be good enough to beat the Lakers."

Again, that's Charles Barkley's logic. Thing is, I agree with every part of it. But I'd still re-sign Carlos Boozer. In a heartbeat, I would. Because signing Carlos Boozer gives the Jazz the absolute best chance of winning a long as they don't have to play the Lakers of Los Angeles, California.

It's all about matchups. The Saints might not have been good enough to beat the Ravens this past year, but they didn't have to play them in the Super Bowl; they got the Colts, a team they matched up with.

I watched a ton of hoop this year, and I can tell you, undoubtedly, the Jazz were good enough to beat every team in basketball in a seven-game series...except for those behemoths in L.A. Letting Boozer go and signing a few seven-foot stiffs would be a mistake. I say keep Boozer, keep churning out 55-win seasons and hope for the best. Just because the Lakers will never lose to the Jazz doesn't mean they won't lose to another team. and once the Lakers are eliminated, it's on. Trust me, trust me, trust me: Utah has a championship-caliber team on their hands, and their best chance of cutting down the nets (or hoisting the trophy, or whatever) is with Carlos Boozer playing with them, not against them.

It's all about matchups.


End of words. I promise to write more words on Monday.

-Brad Spieser (

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Billiards = Excitement, Desperation Full-Court Heaves, Jay Bruce, Etc.

I've recorded so many sporting events on VHS tape that my collection is fifty years beyond embarrassing. Forget about my understandable 500-1000 hours or so of Nick Van Exel footage and focus on the endless stream of 8-hour Maxell's with labels such as "Brian Reith's 4th Start" and "A-Rod's Texas Rangers Debut." If you were to raid my old bedroom at Mommy and Daddy's, your opinion of me would immediately change. It's that bad. So, as you might assume, I have an opinion or twelve of ESPN Classic.

ESPN Classic was the greatest idea for a television channel in the history of greatest ideas for television channels. And yet, they run Classic Billiards (and often Classic Bowling) nearly every day. If you're a heterosexual male, you probably already knew this. Anyway, let me go ahead and assume that Classic Billiards isn't drawing M*A*S*H-finale ratings. Fine, I get it: ESPN Classic wasn't a ratings smash when ESPN was pumping money into its misguided project, so they can't shell out big cash to run forgotten but outstanding Sweet 16 games and Monday Night Football contests. But if you're just going to waste an hour of programming with programs that originally aired on ESPN and cost (I'm guessing) $0.00, why do it with recycled 9 Ball tournaments?

I have an idea: Why not run Classic SportsCenter?

And no, I don't mean those retrospective shows about the Bay Area earthquake, Magic Johnson's HIV announcement or Michael Jordan's retirement; that stuff has been recycled far too many times. What I'd like to see is a random SportsCenter from October 2, 1994 (or whatever). I want to see how sports were covered back then. I want to see Stuart Scott when he was entertaining and Linda Cohn when she was pretty (wait, bad examples).

Actually, now that I've given this an extra second of thought, I don't care about the evolution of sports coverage. Well, I do, but that's not why I want to watch random, sixteen-year-old SportsCenters. I suppose I just want to be nostalgic. SportsCenter was a really big deal to me when I was a little boy way back in the 1980's and 90's. I feel like watching those suckers would be akin to rifling through my collection of 1987 Topps baseball cards (assuming my mother hadn't thrown them out.)

But anyway, that's a good idea. I have good ideas. I like sports!

2. Scenario time: You play basketball for a the's the playoffs...1.9 seconds remain in 1st quarter...your team is down two (or up twenty, it doesn't really matter) receive an inbound pass a good 85 feet from the hoop...what do you do?

A. Hold the ball until the horn sounds.

B. Dribble the ball twice, take an exaggerated extra step, give the impression that you'd like to help the team win, wait 'til the horn sounds and fire up a 65-footer.

C. Take maybe one dribble toward the hoop and heave a Hail Mary that has maybe a 1 percent chance of going in.

Not to sound like Bob Knight on his worst day, but I absolutely would not tolerate Options A and B if I were coaching a basketball team. Options A and B are so bloody selfish, and yet so common, that I still have trouble believing that this trend is apparently here to stay.

In case you're wondering why players don't attempt these end-of-quarter miracles, it comes down to field goal percentage. Attempt an almost-certain-to-miss shot and your FG% will drop (although these are often the same bozos who carelessly chuck three-pointer after three-pointer despite years of overwhelming evidence stating that they're lousy shooters. Cough, cough, Ron Artest). Plus, would this ever happen in the 4th quarter of a game you trail by two points? Of course not.

(Note: This trend has actually trickled down into rec leagues, where they keep score but not individual statistics. There is nothing funnier than seeing a 27-year-old drug dealer, who is playing in a wife beater, hold onto the ball seventy feet from the basket during the final few seconds of the the half. He doesn't know why he's not trying to score, but the players on TV do it, so it must be the thing to do.)

This isn't really a big problem, and it probably doesn't affect many outcomes (since everybody does it), but it is a problem...or at least one of my ten biggest pet peeves. And an innovative coach should step in and challenge his team to do something about it.

A few years ago Tony LaRussa started batting his pitcher eighth because he believed -- over the course of a 162-game season -- his team would score four or five more runs. Four of five more runs...over the course of an entire season! Yes, you read that correctly. At the time I reacll a lot of people calling the move pointless (and a slap in the face to the usual No. 8 hitter), and a lot of people chalking it up to typical LaRussa arrogance. Regardless, I don't remember anyone claiming LaRussa wasn't doing absolutely everything in his power to win absolutely every game he managed.


That's all for now, boy and girls. I wanted to write about the myriad of articles popping up recently regarding Jay Bruce's perceived struggles, and how bad luck was attributable. I wanted to write that nobody but this guy (me) had the courage to write that article a year ago (last June again and this April), back when the media was killing him...and how everybody seemed to piggy-back me after Bruce's batting average jumped up twenty or thirty points last month. Whatever.

Think I'm overreacting?

Listen, this crappy website barely gets any traffic. Sure, I have my loyal fanbase, but it's a blip on the radar. But go ahead and Google "jay bruce struggling" piece from last June comes up second on the search results page.

I'm not accusing anyone of stealing, but it's good to know I'm planting seeds.

-Brad Spieser (