Monday, February 27, 2012

The great (meaningless) debate: Luck v. RGIII

The ESPN hype machine is hard at work, trying to stir the pot and yet again create a story that isn't really there.
Okay, when don't they do that, you ask?  The answer is never.  Even in the midst of the NFL season, when there are more intriguing story lines to be broached than there are hours in the day, ESPN focuses on meaningless non-issues in an attempt to create theatrics.  “Gronkowski's ankle - the Gronkle!  Eli Manning said that he's an elite quarterback - is he?  What's wrong with the Dallas Cowboys?  Rex Ryan is yelling about something!”
But February is a particularly slow time for sports.  No offense to basketball or hockey, but football truly runs this country, so when a pig skin drought hits and there's truly nothing to discuss, that's when the mothership starts creating story lines.  This month's battle du jour?  Luck v. Griffin the third.
We love these head to head battles – the Harbowl, Lin vs. LeBron, Brett Favre vs. retirement – it is human nature to crave competition.  Without our need for it, sports wouldn't exist.  But it's when ESPN makes something out of nothing that my gears get ground, and when it comes to Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, there's simply no contest.
Take this excerpt from an article on the ESPN website.  In discussing Peyton Manning's replacement in Indianapolis, they land this journalistic right hook on their readers:
"Presumably, that quarterback's portrait will wind up on the wall of the same venue both are expected to participate in some of Sunday's workouts.
Who will it be?"
Andrew Luck.  That's who it will be.  The Colts have already made it clear that they're going to draft him.    In fact, now that the coin tosses for the teams tied for later draft picks have already been settled, Indianapolis can already start negotiating with Luck on a contract.
So if it's already clear that the number one draft pick will be Luck, why even bother having the conversation?  Why doesn't ESPN break down who the best second overall pick is?  The more intriguing question is whether the St. Louis Rams will draft the best available player in RGIII (a position at which they're already solidified with Sam Bradford), draft for a need and pick Justin Blackmon, or trade the pick all together?  That would be too complicated, because comparing quarterbacks and wide receivers is apples and oranges.
Despite the fact that the future is set, the two quarterbacks stand to be compared.  Griffin's stats – minus 2009 - when he was sidelined for most of the year with a torn ACL - are eye popping.  His career numbers are fantastic, with a 65.4% completion rate, 10,366 yards, 78 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Last year in particular, a season which saw Griffin complete 72.4% of his passes for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, was exceptional.
Andrew Luck has had an equally superlative career: 66.1 completion percentage, 9,430 yards, 82 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.  His 2011 season boasted a 71.3% completion percentage with 3517 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The biggest difference between the two quarterbacks is obviously passing yards – a primary reason why RGIII edged Luck for the Heisman.  But it stands to be mentioned that Stanford ran a pro-style offense predicated heavily on the running game while Baylor ran a spread offense – one that bolsters passing numbers heavily, as Scott Warfe points to in his article "Three and out:  All things over-rated".
As is the norm, the general belief is that Luck's experience in a pro-style offense will help him transfer rather seamlessly into the NFL game, not only by fans and analysts, but by GMs as well.  It's the same reason that option quarterbacks don’t succeed in the NFL (put your hands down, Tebow fans) and spread quarterbacks see drastic drops in production.  System quarterbacks fail, unless of course that "system" resembles that of an NFL team.
So go ahead - poll all the GMs you want.  After all, it doesn't matter what the other 31 teams would do; Jim Irsay has the number one pick and he has already decided on Luck.  McShay and Kiper can argue all they want, but Irsay has his mind made up, no matter how much ESPN wishes he would waffle.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tempering our expectations for Vogelsong

Just three days into spring training and Ryan Vogelsong is suffering from a back strain that occurred while doing squats a few days ago. The injury is supposed to sideline the Giants fifth starter for the next week and a half.  This certainly isn’t the start that Giants fans expected from Vogelsong, especially fresh off of signing a new two year deal.  Given the current construction of the pitching staff – with the wild card being one fifth starter that doesn't need naming – it seems pretty important that he is consistent this year. But that got me to thinking – how much should we really expect from him in 2012?
How Vogelsong Adds Up
Giants fans fall into the tendency of comparing every pitcher to the performances of their ace, Tim Lincecum.  Although this may be a natural tendency, it isn’t all together fair.  Knowing that Timmy is a special talent doesn’t seem to be enough to separate him from the rest of the pack.  Every pitcher on the staff is expected to pitch at an extremely high level when placed next to him, and this may be expecting too much.
Even if Vogelsong’s 2011 season had been mediocre, he would have gotten a pass for two reasons. The first was that he emerged from the obscurity of the Giants' minor league system, a place that the average fan rarely pays any mind to. The second was that he was replacing Sanchez, a man who had sufficiently worn out his welcome thanks to his fragile mind state and his affinity for getting a little more than wild on the bump.
Luckily, his season was a special one, and that pass was never needed.  Now it’s been used up, and he won't enjoy that same leeway. He is coming off of a 13-7 season highlighted by a 2.71 ERA, so the tendency for Giants fans will be to demand more of the same. After all, that is exactly the kind of pitching that we are used to seeing from the Giants.
There are two types of voices chattering about him right now:  the average fan who saw him win last year and are now expecting more of the same, and the pessimist who believes that his 2011 statistics predict a letdown. I’m of the mind that Vogelsong’s 2012 season will fall somewhere in between.  And that should be okay with Giants fans given his role in the rotation and the amount of money the Giants are paying him.
Speaking of money, let's talk contract. The Giants are paying him $3M for his services this season. Based off of this offseason’s transactions, this is an astronomical steal. Take these examples: 

2011 Team/W-L
2011 ERA
New Team
CJ Wilson
Texas Rangers
Anaheim Angels
5 yr 77.5M
2012: 10M, 2.5 SB
Erik Bedard
Boston Red Sox
Pittsburgh Pirates
1 yr 4.5M
Freddy Garcia
New York Yankees
New York Yankees
1 yr 4M
Chris Capuano
New York Mets
Los Angeles Dodgers
2 yrs 10M
2012: 3M
Ryan Vogelsong
San Francisco Giants 13-7

San Francisco Giants (Resigned)
2 yrs 8M
2012: 3M

All Contract Details:

These numbers should speak for themselves.  Of the five free agent signings in the above chart, Vogelsong had the lowest ERA. He is getting paid the same amount as Chris Capuano, who had a losing record for the Mets last year. He is getting paid $9.5M less than Wilson (including the signing bonus), who had 3 more wins, but shares the same number of losses.
Taking into account the season that Vogelsong had last year, some would say that he’s well underpaid. The variable that drives his price down is his career history leading up to 2011. Vogelsong possesses a career ERA of 4.71, which he earned while bouncing from club to club before eventually going international. His history equates to more than a few question marks, which explains why his price tag was dragged down below the rest of the pack.
Evening the playing field
When it comes down to it, Vogelsong is the Giants fifth starter  – nothing more and nothing less.  It’s true that he had a breakout season in 2011, and hopes should be high that he will again impress. Many eyes will fall upon him as he recovers from his back injury and begins to test his arm in Spring Training, but it will do Giants fans well to temper their expectations for the coming season.
Here's something to consider:
Some MLB Fifth Starters:

2011 ERA
2011 W-L Record
Armando Gallaraga
Arizona Diamondbacks
Chris Narveson
Milwaukee Brewers
Mike Leake
Cincinnati Reds
Jason Hammel
Baltimore Orioles
Chris Volstad
Chicago Cubs
Barry Zito
San Francisco Giants
Ryan Vogelsong
San Francisco Giants

All Statistical Info:
Because the fifth starter spot is usually one marred by poor play and frequent change, it was particularly difficult to come up with solid information; especially with statistics that cover an entire season’s body of work. Of the fifth starters listed above, Ryan Vogelsong is the only pitcher who boasted an ERA under 3. He also has the best win-loss record of any of the above listed pitchers.  He came in second in total games pitched to Mike Leake by only one game. The average ERA of the pitchers named above is 4.63, which sounds about right for fifth starters in the majors. Vogelsong’s ERA was 1.92 lower than that – not bad for a journeyman, but it is his journeyman history that suggests it won't last.
Another variable that may affect how Vogelsong performs is this recent injury.  How he responds to it will be a key point early in the season.  2011 was his most active year pitching since 2004 in Pittsburgh, where he went 6-13.  His arm needed adequate rest in the offseason, but now he can’t throw for at least another week. How his arm responds to this schedule delay is still undetermined. 
Regardless of how he responds, this is where our expectations should lie for Ryan Vogelsong.  We shouldn’t expect him to have as good a year as he did in 2011, nor should we expect him to have an Andres Torres-like drop off. Rather his results should fall somewhere in the middle.  Bill James of  predicted that Vogelsong will end up 10-12 with a 4.09 ERA, and I tend to agree with that.  This certainy isn’t stellar work by any means, but it would be solid for a fifth starter, because after all, that's what he is.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Can the 49ers land Mike Wallace?

It's clear that the 49ers need to bolster their receiving corps, so when Adam Schefter tweeted that the 49ers would go after a wideout in free agency and use their top draft pick on another, it wasn’t much of a shocker. The difference between the 49ers going to the Super Bowl and going home was probably one good wide receiver. They are standing on the precipice of championship hopes. A good wideout can push them over the edge.  This will be a top priority for Baalke & Co.
Bay Area Sports Guy pointed out that one of Harbaugh's lone whiffs in his NFL debut was when he passed on Doug Baldwin in the draft.
Because of this, I’m starting to doubt Schefter’s theory on what San Francisco will do in the first round. Will Harbaugh let another standout from Stanford, Coby Fleener, get away this year? Many mock drafts have Fleener going in the late first round – some before the 30th pick – and given Harbaugh's affinity for tight ends, it wouldn't surprise me if he used that slot to pick him up.
That would mean the 49ers pass on a wide receiver in the first round, and that’s where the most talented ones will go. Even so, the 49ers don’t need one. Their true need is DEPTH at that position, so they’ll need to look at free agency, and that means that they should go after Mike Wallace.

49ers finances
 If you're a 49ers fan looking for a free agency splash, I have an inkling that this may be the year. This is one of the most talented groups of free agent wide receivers in some time and the 49ers are in the unique position of having the pick of the litter. With Jim Harbaugh coaching the 49ers into contention, I believe San Francisco will soon be a destination for top prospects. Should high profile players want to come, the 49ers have plenty of money to work with.
How much money, you ask? A lot. John Clayton reported that the 49ers have $39.3 million to work with thanks to some thrifty shopping by Trent Baalke in 2011.  That makes them one of the top teams in terms of cap space, but don't forget – they still have some business still to take care of in house.
With somewhere between $8-11 million certain to be committed to Alex Smith, and big bucks going towards Goldson and Carlos Rogers (ideally), at least $20M should be wiped off the board right away. The 49ers will also have to pay Adam Snyder well if they want to keep him.  Their only other option at guard is Chilo Rachal, who is not only a free agent, but awful as well.
The 49ers will probably offer Joshua Morgan a one year deal at a couple million dollars. OLB Ahmad Brooks would leave a big hole if the 49ers don’t re-sign him. Ted Ginn would leave a need at return specialist if the 49ers have to say goodbye to him.  How much Ginn will ask for is yet to be determined, but his services will definitely be a need for the 49ers as well.
Trent Baalke has his work cut out for him. The 49ers need to spend money in several other areas, but I can't imagine that it would put them out of the race for Wallace by any means.

How much will Wallace cost?
 In this article, Niners Nation pointed out that if the Steelers slapped the franchise tag on him, Wallace would cost Pittsburgh 9.4M in 2012 alone.  On the open market the price will get even steeper.
Wallace caught 72 passes for 1193 yards and 8 touchdowns, numbers unseen by any San Francisco wide receiver in a long time. He averaged 16.6 YPR this year and his longest was 95 yards.
Compare that to Michael Crabtree, the 49ers No. 1 wideout: He caught 72 passes for 874 yards, averaging 12.1 YPR with a long of 52. Granted, Crabtree didn't have a standout complementary wide receiver, but with Wallace on the other side of the field, it could open up some serious room for him.
This is all very tantalizing, but big time numbers mean big time bucks, and with so many suitors out for Wallace's services, there's no telling how ugly his price tag could get. My instincts tell me that no matter how much research, number crunching and prayer I engage in, this just isn't a move that the 49ers will make. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the lofty delusions of the 49ers landing a true game breaking wide receiver for 2012 and beyond.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bochy Should Switch Leashes with Belt and Huff

                Most Giants fans know the deal when it comes to Bruce Bochy and his veterans. Bochy loves a good veteran – he always has. Because Boch masterminded the Giants 2010 line-up into a World Series championship, there happens to be very few times that I chose to question his leadership.  That batting order, top to bottom, was filled with veterans.  Players like Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff lead the offensive charge down the stretch and into the playoffs.  Edgar Renteria, in his 14th season as a major leaguer, was the man to seal the deal on a title for the Giants. Although Bochy’s loyalty to veterans may have proved to pay off in the past, there is one case this year where I have to call foul on Bochy’s loyalty; that case belongs to Aubrey Huff.
                Huff was magical in 2010 and his numbers reflected it.  Huff batted .290 while hitting 26 homers and driving in 100 more runs.  2011, as we know all too well, was not so spectacular.  In 150 games played, Huff batted at an underwhelming .246 clip, hitting 12 homers (3 of which came in one game) while driving in just 45 runs.  Those mediocre numbers all came while Huff was stealing time from youngster Brandon Belt, who yo-yoed up and down between Fresno and San Francisco over the course of the season.  When Belt was up in SF, he was sharing time with Huff at first base.
Considering that the Giants outfield is already crowded with names like Schierholtz, Pagan and Cabrera, there doesn’t seem to be much room for Belt.  Given Huff’s inability to field the ball out in wide open spaces, it wouldn’t be logical to send him out there either.  We have ourselves a good old fight for first base (awkward!), but knowing Bruce Bochy, it’s pretty clear who’ll win that spot. That leaves Belt as the odd man out – either on the bench or back in the minors – and I’m thinking that it shouldn’t.
In Huff's two years with the Giants, he played in 307 games, hitting .269 with 293 hits, 145 RBIs, 38 homers and 130 walks. In the same two years, Brandon Belt spent one full season in Fresno and followed it up with split time between Fresno, San Jose and San Francisco.  His numbers amounted to 252 games hitting .299 with 272 hits, 166 RBIs, 40 homers and 160 walks.
In other words, in 55 less games, Brandon Belt’s batting average was 30 points higher than Huff.  Huff had 21 more hits, but Belt hit 21 more RBIs, took 30 more walks and hit 2 more home runs than Huff did.
It’s obviously difficult to compare a player who has spent most of his career in the minors with one whose stats get pulled from the majors.  There’s really no statistical way to account for the difficulty of pitching that Belt faced without having to write a thesis. 
On the other hand, the stats I pulled for Aubrey Huff were solely from his career in San Francisco, and thus they were skewed.  One year was one of his best seasons; it was followed by one of his worst. 
The point is that Brandon Belt has shown – at least during his time in the minors – that he is capable of putting up numbers as good if not better than Aubrey Huff.  Furthermore, any holes in Belt’s game can only be repaired by getting more meaningful at bats with the San Francisco Giants in 2012.
The statistics actually show that Belt was harmed by the constant moving he experience in 2011.  In 2010, when Belt spent his entire season in Fresno, he finished with a .352 batting average, knocking in 99 runs and 23 homers.  In 2011, while Belt was bounced back and forth, his production dropped -- .273 average, 54 RBIs, 17 homers.  These numbers were obviously affected by the type of pitching he faced in the majors, but even his statistics in the minor leagues were down in 2011, hitting .320 in Fresno exclusively that year.  That’s a 32 point drop from the season prior.
Should Aubrey Huff struggle out of the gates in 2012, Bochy would be wise to yank that leash quickly in favor of playing Brandon Belt at first base.  Exactly how many games he gives Huff to fail is not my call – I’m just a fan, not a manager.  But the Giants should find a way to jump on the opportunity that Brandon Belt poses while they have the chance.  Good talent like this simply should not be wasting away by sitting on the pine or a plane back to the minors.

The Delicate Art of Becoming a Warriors Fan

Perhaps the fact that I was never any good at basketball as a kid is the driving force behind my long-lived disinterest in basketball.  I tried to learn to play – I really did.  Being uniquely ambidextrous (write with my left hand, throw balls with my right) has made it so that, to this day, I still haven't figured out which hand to shoot a basketball with.  Not that I excelled at many sports in my childhood, but basketball was definitely my weakest.
Or maybe it's just that I don't have enough love inside of me to spread it around four different teams.  I expend so much energy rabidly rooting for the 49ers, Giants and Sharks that there just isn't much left for Dubs.
I've been to a good handful of Warriors games and I watch them on TV pretty often, but there's just not that same fire – I’m more of a casual observer with a rooting interest than I am an avid fan.
The tendency to "root," however, is still inside of me, so I've caught myself pulling for the Warriors a lot more lately.  A new fanhood for the Warriors may actually be coming on inside of me.  The disappointment involved in losing is still much less than what most Warriors fans feel, but a degree of it exists nonetheless.  The other side of this phenomenon, as it turns out, is that I fall into silly thought patterns involving the Warriors that most veteran Golden State fans are probably able to avoid easily.
The Warriors had a lead, albeit a tenuous one, over the Trailblazers with about two minutes to go last evening.  Riding a three game winning streak and being just moments away from a fourth, the Warriors seemed to have a legitimate chance of changing my typically skeptical mind state. At that moment I let flights of fancy take hold -- 4 wins in a row would be legitimately streaking, right?  It wouldn't hit national news stands the way the New York Knicks have been lately, but maybe this team was finally getting up a head of steam.  Perhaps the Warriors could catch fire and make that push for .500 – Maybe even more!
I had to settle myself down.  Two minutes is an eternity in basketball and I've seen the Warriors choke on slim leads like this many times.  I had to save judgment until the score went final just in case they should fall on their faces.  I walked away the television to do a few things and by the time I returned, the Warriors had lost by two.  My momentarily lofty opinion on Golden State came crashing back earth – a few precious points was the difference (in my mind, at least) between going on a legitimate run and just playing more of the same, middle-of-the-road basketball.
I should have known better than to get all fired up.  Remember when the Warriors went on a tear to start the season last year?  Remember when this season started, and the Warriors few wins were against the cream of the crop in the NBA?  But then remember how last season ended.  Remember what the Warriors record is right now.
More often than not, bad breaks and close calls are the reasons behind the notches in the Warriors’ loss column.  "If only" seems to be the most commonly used phrase in a Warriors fan's arsenal; they should have it locked and loaded at a moment’s notice for post game discussions.  That is the fragile nature of being a Golden State Warriors fan.  One missed shot, one poor decision by Mark Jackson, the absence of one big man – these are the singular factors that decide the Warriors fate.  Last night’s loss should prove to be the difference between packing some swagger in their suitcases for a long road trip or hopping on an airplane prepared for a roadie marred in frustration.
The Warriors’ history has boxed me out from truly embracing this team. They are buoyed in no man's land – not good enough to be the 8th seed, not bad enough to land a top draft pick – and thus I am terrified to give them my heart.  I know that even when they lose they're still exciting.  Their brand of basketball and especially their ability to heat up in the late stages of games gives Warriors fans a reason to get excited.  But poor coaching, untimely cold streaks and mind-boggling mistakes make them incapable of finishing most of the time.  This is enough to keep the fire alive with many people here in the Bay Area, but while I stand on the outside looking in, it’s clear: I’m not quite ready to give myself to that kind of disappointment yet.
But this is all part of my education, my inauguration into what will eventually become Warriors fandom.  In the meantime, I have to train myself to expect near misses every time they hit the court, or else this relationship with Warriors basketball will never succeed.  I have to be prepared to lose, or perhaps more appropriately, ALMOST WIN.  That seems to be the only way to stay sane.
But then I bet you could have told me that, because if you're seasoned Golden State fan, you understand better than most the definition of the word "almost."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Only Fear of Alex Smith - Losing Him

Note:  This is the second half of a two part piece linked with Bay Area Sports Guy.  To read Part One of this piece, click here.

I could count on both hands (and then some) the instances when I wished Alex Smith would go away. At the end of the 2010 season I was certain we’d never again see him play in a 49ers uniform. Regardless of who became the face of the 49ers’ regime change, Smith would not be a part of the equation. Six years of awful quarterbacking spoke for itself – Smith just didn’t have “it.”
I was wrong, and in fact I was forced to eat every single one of my words this season. Truth be told I enjoyed every one of them. Smith was the feel-good story of the NFL season here in the Bay Area, manning the 49ers to a single-season turnaround of historic proportions. All the while, Alex did it while defying every doubter’s voice. We kept waiting for mistakes that never came. We kept expecting a fall from grace that never happened. We said Smith couldn’t be clutch, and yet he was.
I was warned about using the word “clutch” in sports writing, but there’s not a better time to use it than now. I used to subscribe to the idea that Alex Smith simply lacked the self confidence to carry the team on his back – to win a football game when the challenge fell squarely on his shoulders. Smith’s five regular season 4th quarter comebacks put my theory on the mat; his TWO game winning drives against the Saints provided the knockout punch. Smith didn’t just hand the ball to Frank Gore; several times this season Alex Smith won games with his arm. It seems that a coach was finally able to instill in Smith some traits that before I believed were completely uncoachable – those being inherent self confidence and, yes, the ability to be “clutch,” the word Harbaugh used in his postgame speech to describe Smith after winning in Detroit.
Assuming that Greg Roman will be back with his same playbook, Smith should move into territory that has yet to be broached – A second full season with a REAL offensive coordinator. Next year will be our chance to see if Alex can grow even further upon the success that he enjoyed this year – success that had the 49ers one slippery football away from a Super Bowl berth.
In many ways I have become attached to Smith. Cockiness and swagger be damned – who doesn’t like a good underdog? It’s a persona so infectious that the entire 49ers team adopted it from their “aw-shucks” former No. 1 overall pick. There’s no point in abandoning it now, right before we find out what Smith is truly made of. Only time will tell how this Harbaugh-Smith love affair ends up, but in the meantime I’m ecstatic that Warfe was simply playing games with my mind. I couldn’t be happier with the knowledge that for now, Harbaugh is comfortable letting Alex Smith be both the caddy and the driver of the San Francisco 49ers.

Scandal in Texas - Meet the TCU Stoned Frogs

In following with an NCAA-wide attempt to make Jim Tressel look good, dark days have fallen upon Texas Christian University's campus today.  Police swept through TCU this morning, arresting 17 students who are suspected to be involved in a major drug ring.  Of the 17 students, 4 of them are players on the TCU Horned Frogs, the school’s Division-I football team.  Included in the suspects are star linebacker Tanner Brock, defensive tackle DJ Yendrey, cornerback Devin Johnson and offensive lineman Ty Horn.
These developments came on the heels of TCU's recent move to the Big 12 Conference, placing the school on a much larger stage in collegiate athletics.  The developments also follow a report from Sports Illustrated, released in the 2011 off season, that named TCU as the only school in the top 25 to possess no players with a criminal record, according to this ABC News report.
The foundation, it seems, has only begun to crumble for the Horned Frogs.  The ring is said to have been involved in selling everything from marijuana to cocaine and prescription drugs including Xanax and OxyContin.  Arrest affidavits document meetings between players and undercover narcotics officers where hand-to-hand drug sales occurred.  The officers recorded conversations during the meetings that chronicle both illegal transactions and players discussing failed team drug tests.
One conversation, according to this AP report , had Tanner Brock admitting to failing one of these tests.  Brock said that the team “caught (them) slipping,” and said that he failed the drug test “for sure.”  He wasn’t concerned about punishment, however, because there “would be about 60 people screwed.”  This is certainly not a good look for the supposedly squeaky-clean TCU athletics program.
These developments are an unfortunate turn for TCU's head coach, Gary Patterson.  Patterson told the media this morning that "There are days people want to be a head football coach, but today is not one of those days... As I heard the news this morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad."
He should be.  Patterson has gone from being considered one of the top coaches in Division-I football to most likely losing his position.  In an era that has seen prominent football programs like Ohio State University and Penn State fall from grace in the wake of scandals, a program on the rise like TCU is in major trouble.
Things have only begun to unravel at Texas Christian University as this story emerges into the national spotlight.  The fact that four athletes are being directly linked to selling illicit narcotics may be just scratching the surface.  As time goes on this scandal can only get worse - both for TCU and for collegiate athletics as a whole. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More Sharks Business on Bay Area Sports Guy

Let’s face it – Bay Area Sports Guy goes nuts blogging Warriors, Giants and 49ers on a daily basis.  In an attempt to get you up to the minutes news on the biggest names in the Bay Area, some things get passed over…
But not to worry!  I’m bringing your Sharks fix to BASG, and I’ll be doing it as often as physically possible.  So if you’re looking for Sharks news here, may I redirect you to the Bay Area Sports Guy page?
That’s where you’ll find me talking everything Sharks, including my latest bit on the Sharks beating the Caps 5-3, as well as some other amazing sports writers covering all of your Bay Area needs.  Thanks for reading!


Don't Be Silly - You Won't See Moss in San Francisco

Straight cash homey!  The man who popularized this brilliant catch phrase, Randy Moss, is reportedly considering his triumphant return to the football field.
Joel Segal, Moss's agent, told the Boston Herald about Randy's revelation.
"Randy and I have discussed [the options]," Segal said. "He still has his fire and he's looking forward to playing football.  He's excited."
Good for him.  Perhaps the 34 year old wide out does indeed have something left in the tank; something he could utilize to help a team bolster their offense.  But is that team the San Francisco 49ers? My answer - indefinitely, hell no.
Moss was certainly a prolific playmaker in his day.  His career stats speak for themselves: 954 catches, 14,858 yards, 153 touchdowns.  But if you take a closer look, Moss's performance on second tier football teams - or more specifically with second tier quarterbacks - leaves much to be desired.  In two years with the Oakland Raiders Moss had 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns - numbers that were skewed by a more successful first year when his motivation was higher.  His second year in Oakland - 2006 - marked a significant drop in his production, correlating to the fact that the team was going nowhere fast.
More startling perhaps was the drop in production for 2010, the last year of Moss’s career.  He played for three (yes, THREE) teams in the 2010 season - the Patriots, the Vikings and the Titans.  The entire season amounted to 27 catches for 393 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Moss's greatest motivation to produce was probably in New England, but there had to be a reason that they didn't want him or they wouldn’t have handed him the pink slip.
Now the veteran wide receiver, after an entire year away from football, is making noise about wanting to return in true TO'esque fashion.  He has dropped bait in hopes that teams will give him a nibble, but if his fate is anything like Owens’, no one will bite.
Let's dispel the Moss to the 49ers talk now.  San Francisco doesn't like to take chances on problem children.  They took a risk with Braylon Edwards and it didn't end well.  For one reason or another, receivers with checkered pasts and attitude problems simply do not succeed in the Bay Area and Braylon was the most recent evidence of that.  Throw into the mix that Alex Smith would be the man playing catch with Moss and you have a recipe for one extremely disgruntled wide receiver.
Even if Moss did still have something in the tank - which I suspect he doesn't - this is not a move that Trent Baalke will make.  Baalke's formula for signing talent is a low risk one, and Randy Moss comes draped in red flags.  Baalke probably won't even field a phone call from Moss's agent.  Case closed.
What the future holds for Randy Moss is something we can only speculate, but San Francisco is definitely not a fate that Moss will realize, regardless of whether or not he wants to be here.  Most NFL GM's won't be willing to take the risk either. Yet and still, Moss wants to play and I suspect that he'll try.
My guess is that Moss's career future will be similar to Terrell Owens.  That is, the Allen Wranglers are calling:  I hear they're looking for a little more depth at the wide out spot.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ruthless Sports on Bay Area Sports Guy

Bay Area Sports Guy has given me the opportunity to paint his blog teal!  I ran with it, and will hopefully be coming with some more Sharks Hockey heat for his site in the future.  Here’s a link to my first guest post on BASG, “The Bar is Set Ridiculously High for San Jose”:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jeremy Lin is the New Tim Tebow, And That's Just Fine With Me

Linsanity!  It's the craze that's sweeping the nation, or at least that little three state nation that ESPN believes exists.  He did it again last night, putting up a career high 38 points going head to head against Kobe Bryant as the Knicks toppled the Lakers 92-85.  This fourth notch of success will on Lin's belt will ensure that national media's wall to wall coverage will continue in Tebow-esque fashion, and that's just fine by me.
Usually I'm the first guy to gripe about stuff like this.  I can't stand when ESPN fixates on a player - they did it with Tebow and it drove me up the wall.  I was the guy trying to talk my “Tebowliever” friends off of the ledge whenever they made reference to the guy's heroics.  I’d argue with them in public until I made a fool of myself - and then I’d argue some more.
But Lin's exposure, however superfluous it may be, doesn't seem to bother me. It defies reason, and yet I'll try to explain it now.
Firstly, Lin is not a bleeding deacon like Tebow.  Not many people know this, but Lin is a devout Christian.  He told 95.7 The Game's “The Rise Guys” about the inspiration that he draws from Tebow, a fellow Christian.  This was the first mention that I had heard of Lin’s religious devotions.  Albeit only 4 games into Linsanity, there has been little mention of his religion beyond that interview.  After Lin's breakout games, when he faces the cameras, he doesn't make Jesus the sole proprietor of his success. 
Religion is a polarizing part of a man's character - it is controversial and uncomfortable, and when spoken about, it takes the spotlight away from all else.  Jeremy Lin will remain easy to root for so long as he doesn't tout on about his faith from a soap box.
The next reason for my tolerance of Lin is pretty simple - novelty.  Jeremy Lin's success is a new born baby in the sports world.  To call him an all-star right now would be fifteen different kinds of hyperbole - he's had four good games.  It's been exciting and fun to see the local kid shine under the bright New York lights, but perhaps only be because he's a new face on the scene.
We have been dealing with Tim Tebow for far too long now.  He was highly touted coming out of high school and he was a living legend at the University of Florida.  He was bashed for being taken so high in the draft by the Broncos, and yet he got more face time sitting on the bench in Denver than Alex Smith got starting for San Francisco.  Once Tebow actually accrued some playing time? Game over.
Lin's crazy coverage hasn't even been going on for a week, so perhaps my assessment is premature.  Check back with me in a month - if Lin is still lighting it up and they're still talking about him on PTI, my guess is that I'll be sick of him.
My third and most important reason is that where Tebow is a bad quarterback, Lin is a good guard.  Yes, I said it - Tebow is a bad quarterback.  Tim Tebow’s success was completely logic-defying; it amounted to 55 minutes of slop followed by 5 minutes of clutch surgicality (if they can make up the word “tebowing,” I can make up a word like “surgicality”).  Just as beat writers were putting the finishing touches on their newest piece, “The Fall on Tebow,” he would force them to completely change their angle.  I had fierce debates with my friends – “Would you rather have awful Tebow-ball and win or beautiful Cam Newton-ball and lose?”  I always went for the more polished quarterback, even if it meant losing games.  Although the jury may still be out nationally on whether Tebow can be a consistent starter in the NFL, I am convinced – 2 for 6 for 56 yards and one touchdown is not worthy of a starting roster spot.
Lin, on the other hand, is consistent with his abilities.  He doesn’t go 2-for-15 from the floor with one game winning shot – he hits his mark early and he doesn’t stop.  Over here in the Bay Area, we knew about Lin’s explosive abilities; we saw flashes of it last year.  But we certainly didn’t expect that he could play like this.  Nevertheless, Jeremy Lin is leaving no doubt about his skills – there are few holes in his game, whereas with Tebow there are many.  Lin is being crowned the new flavor and that’s fine, because he’s got the tape to prove that he deserves it.
                Keep reading, my friends, because I have a low tolerance for being beaten over the head by ESPN.  I’m sure it won’t be long before I post another blog titled “Okay, I’m sick of Jeremy Lin now.”  But for the moment, he truly is providing a fun story:  A story of actual on court success.  But most importantly, he’s providing us a story that is free of Jesus, illogic, and errant passes.