Monthly Archives: September, 2011

It Seems John Lackey Is An Unconscionable Dick

Guess what, Red Sox fans…Thanks to the window-peekers at TMZ.com, you have a whole new and far better reason for hating pitcher-turned money-sucking-douchehole John Lackey.

Forget about the $15,950,000 salary (which breaks down to $569,642.86 per start or $1,329,166.67 per win). Forget that he led the league in earned runs (114). Forget that he led the league in hit batsmen (19). Those just illustrate he is a lousy pitcher. What illustrates that he is a lousy human being is the fact he has filed to divorce his wife who is in the middle of battling breast cancer.

Lackey filed on August 30, according to court docs in Texas, claiming “the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities.” Krista and John got married in November, 2008.

Sources close to the family tell TMZ … Krista underwent a double mastectomy back in March and underwent chemo as recently as June.

The divorce petition says John and Krista had a pre-nup. It also says Lackey has “separate property” he wants to keep for himself.

Naturally, the timing of this news forced the Red Sox to issue a statement…after all, it’s not like they have anything else to worry about…

The Red Sox just released a statement on Lackey’s behalf — telling us, “John Lackey is dealing with a deeply personal family issue, and it is one the Red Sox do not feel is appropriate for public debate. The Red Sox request that John and Krista’s privacy be respected.”

Here’s the part I don’t get. Doing this in the middle of what would prove to be a titanic collapse doesn’t seem to be the smart move. Don’t you think it would have been better to do this quietly sometime in the off-season when nobody would have cared? Then again, it’s not as if Lackey looks like a big-brain sort of guy.

Ok, Too Soxy For My Shirt, do you see why I always leave those hateful anti-SLackey comments on your blog?

The 10 Worst Baseball Pennant Race Collapses – The Red Sox Weren’t The Worst, Just The Most Fun

Given what happened the other night, there’s a lot of superlatives being bandied about…while the Red Sox and Braves both managed a serious dose of  “epic fail,” neither of them are the worst choke job in pennant race history.  So, before you let anybody tell you the Red Sox pulled off the worst collapse in history, compare it to some of the truly titanic throat-closers of all time.

10) 1987 Toronto Blue Jays

"I've got to make room for Sil Campusano."

The favorite American League sons of the Great White North were 96-59 and had a 3.5-game over the Detroit Tigers with seven games to play. On the second-to-last Sunday of the season,  Toronto had a one-run lead over the Tigers headed into the ninth inning, until Kirk Gibson’s solo shot tied the game. The Tigers went on to win in 13 innings; the Blue Jays didn’t win again that season.  Toronto ended the 1987 season at 96-66, which allowed the Tigers to snatch the AL East with a sweep of the Blue Jays on the final weekend of the season.

9) 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers

It’s hard to paint a team that posted a 26-22 record down stretch with the “collapse” brush, but it’s also hard to say a team that gagged away a 13.5 game lead and lost a playoff didn’t fold.  Trouble is, the New York Giants got crazy hot; they won 37 out of their final 44 games and tied Brooklyn on the final day of the season. The Dodgers lost the three-game playoff, thanks to Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round The World.”

8 ) 2011 Atlanta Braves

This was like the “stealth” collapse; nobody really seemed to understand this was a choke job until the Braves were only leading the Cardinals by three games with five to play.  St. Louis trailed the Braves by 10.5 games in late August, and the lead only shrank to 8.5 games by the first week in September, which is largely why this went unnoticed until the last weekend of the season. The Braves forgot how to hit, posted a record of 9-18 in September, and lost the wild-card on the last day of the season.

7) 2011 Boston Red Sox

The power of the present makes people want to think this tank-job rates higher on the list, especially those wacky Red Sox fans who want to believe they didn’t beat their wives and/or blow their brains out over #7 on the list.  Granted, this is the worst collapse that happened entirely in September, but it genesis lies throughout the season. The Sox stumbled out of the gate, but recovered to lead the AL East for most of the second half. But they fell behind the Yankees early in September, and the free-fall continued. In short, what killed this team in April simply resurfaced in September.

The Sox figured they could always win the wild-card, as they led the Rays by nine games on Labor Day.  However, since the Red Sox only won seven games the rest of the way, Tampa Bay ran them down on the second-to-last day of the season, which led to the dramatic Wednesday night finish, which saw the Sox blow a 3-2 lead with two outs in the ninth against last-place Baltimore, while at the same time the Rays rallied from a 7-0 early pasting to beat the Yankees 8-7 in extra innings to claim the AL Wild Card.

6) 2007 New York Mets

In 2007, the Phillies had not yet emerged as the current uber-squad they are perceived to be today. In fact, they trailed the Mets by seven games on September 12th, but since the Shea crew had Pedro Martinez back on the mound after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff,  the Mets were the favorite in what was considered to be a weak National League field. That was before the Flushing Nine went down the stretch to finish the season one game behind the surging Phillies.

5) 1969 Chicago Cubs

The Amazin’ Mets of 1969 would have never been if it weren’t for this Chicago fold. 1969 was the first season in which there was divisional play, and for the entirety of the season, the Cubs had led the newly-formed NL East.

However, this was before the Cubs swallowed their own tongue. Chicago held a solid 9.5-game lead on August 14th, but within two weeks, the Mets had closed the gap to two games. The Cubs collapse continued as they dropped 14 of their final 20 games, and New York won the division by eight full games.

4) 2009 Detroit Tigers

From May 10th until the final day of the 2009 season – a total of 164 days – the Detroit Tigers enjoyed the driver’s seat in the AL Central.  The problem was they let the Minnesota Twins hang around, so much so the Twins were able to sweep the last three games of the season against the Tigers to force a one-game playoff. The Twins won 6-5 in a classic 12-inning affair, leaving the Tigers as the only team to blow a three-game lead with four to play.

3) 1978 Boston Red Sox

Three words: Bucky F–king Dent. Yes, this is the scenario which forever immortalized in the loathe-zone of Red Sox faithful from Falmouth to Fort Lauderdale a man whose name sounds more like a tooth-care product for beavers.

July 1978 saw the Sox with a 14-game lead over the defending world champion Yankees. But, the Bronx Bombers chipped away at that deficit until it was down to a still-formidable 7.5-game lead with only 32 games to play. However, the Red Sox gagged 14 of 17 games which allowed the Yanks to pull into the left lane and pass Boston.

However, the Sox won their final eight which forced a one-game playoff at Fenway Park.  That’s the last day Bucky Dent’s name was ever uttered in Sox Nation without the extra frigative, as the Yankees’ light-hitting shortstop hit a 7th-inning game winning homer (his 5th of the season) to send the Yankees eventually to their second consecutive World Series title.

2) 1995 California Angels

Just like the ’78 Red Sox, the Angels blew a huge lead, only to make a late rally, only to choke in a one-game playoff. California held a lead of 11.5 games in Mid-August, but went 12-27 in their final 39 games (including winning their last five games) which allowed the Seattle Mariners to force a one-game playoff. However, in that game, Seattle ace Randy Johnson mowed the Angels like they were his back yard to the tune of a 9-1 shellacking.

1) 1964 Philadelphia Phillies

It’s hard for many baseball fans born after 1985 to understand that for nearly a century, the Phillies were even more of a hard-luck franchise than the Cubs. The Phillies were the last original National League team win a pennant when they finally did so after nearly 70 years of existence in 1950. They went 30 more years before they became the last original member of the senior circuit to win a World Series in 1980. That’s why 1964 is such a big deal.

Nobody had a greater streak of futility than the Phillies. From 1919 to 1947, the Phillies finished in last  place a total of 17 times, and next to last seven times. This is why the Phils were the first major league franchise to post 10,000 losses. They spent the 1950’s oscillating between decent and deplorable, but they seemed to turn the corner in the early 1960’s.  1962 and 1963 found the Phillies climbing back to respectability, and throughout the 1964 season, they seemed destined to make it to the World Series. Philadelphia boasted a stocked line-up, featuring stars like rookie third baseman Dick Allen, outfielders Johnny Callison and Cookie Rojas, catcher Gus Triandos, and pitchers Jim Bunning and Chris Short.

1964 seemed to be the Phillies year for the taking. The first indicator that the Phils were the team of destiny came on Father’s Day, when future U.S. Senator and Hall-of-Famer Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game. This was the first National League perfecto since 1880, and even the Shea Stadium faithful found themselves cheering for the visiting hurler given the rarity of the event.

T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month; had he been a Phillies fan, he would have saved that designation for September 1964.  The Phils held a 6.5 game lead over the Cardinals and Reds with 12 games to go that month. Then, thanks to the “managerial genius” of Gene Mauch, Philadelphia lost 10 games in a row and ended up one game behind St. Louis in a tie for second place with Cincinnati.

Other collapses worthy of consideration:

  • 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers: Blew a 4 game lead with 7 left to play
  • 1938 Pittsburgh Pirates: Lost a September 1st lead of 7 games
  • 1993 San Francisco Giants: Dropped a Mid-August lead of 9 games
  • 1983 Atlanta Braves: Gagged away a 6.5 game lead in under 30 games
  • 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers: Blew a 7.5 game in under 25 games
  • 2005 Cleveland Indians: Dropped 6 of their final 7 after taking lead in Wild Card race
Apologies for the history lesson, but it really is the only way to show Red Sox fans that what happened this September and culminated Wednesday isn’t the worst collapse ever…it is just the Red Sox latest entry in the Futility Sweepstakes.

The Dubsism Baseball Post-Season Preview: A Look Back at Yesterday and A Look Ahead To October

I’m just going to come right out and say it…if you didn’t find last night’s baseball drama to be one of the most exciting things you’ve seen since discount warehouse liquor stores, you either don’t like baseball or you have no pulse.

I’m such an old codger that I can remember first-hand the days of Charlie O. Finley, the chain-link outfield fence at Candlestick Park, and Bucky F–king Dent, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that last night was the single-most exciting four hours of baseball I’ve ever personally witnessed.  Being that old geezer, you have to understand this includes Game 6 of the ’75 World Series, Reggie Jackson hitting three homers on three swings against the Dodgers, the ’78 Red Sox-Yankees playoff (hence Bucky F–king Dent), Game 6 of the ’86 World Series, the 1987 World Series (preceded by the August weekend in Milwaukee in which Kirby Puckett supplanted Rod Carew as  my lord and personal savior), Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, and all things Bartman-esque.

But none of those things – not a single damn one of them – involved four games occurring simultaneously which held the structure of the post-season in the balance. The Cards took their game out of the mix early by drubbing the Astros, and it seemed the Yankees had done the same on the grand slam by Mark Teixiera. When Dustin Pedroia put the Red Sox in front of the Orioles with his homer, I don’t think anybody in America saw what was coming in the next few hours.

Except me.

If you are a follow of @Dubsism on Twitter, you saw the prophecy in action.

9:30 P.M. ET

Okay, so I missed on the playoff thing, but after Jon Lester somehow managed to get out of the 6th inning without giving away the ball game despite his complete inability to throw a strike, all you had to do was look into the Sawwwx dugout to see they knew they had just used up their miracle.

Again, the Orioles just won’t go away, and here comes Jonathan “I can blow that save, Terry” Papelbon.  But just moments before Papelbon has his soon-to-be-infamous meltdown, Dan Johnson has his moment in Tampa.

That’s right, the hero of the moment is a guy who was hitting south of .130 and hadn’t had a major league hit since April. Toss in the fact that he looked completely overmatched on pitches prior to that home run, and one couldn’t help but be reminded of Bernie Carbo.

Next comes the Papelbon catastrophe (raise your hand if you didn’t see it coming…by now it was painfully apparent). This left the only hope for the Sawwwx in a Rays extra-inning loss.

Then it happened.

12:00 A.M. ET

Evan Longoria stroked the Red Sox into the off-season, all while propelling us into what promises to be an incredible post-season. But it also will push us into a discussion about just what happened.

While the Braves collapse is just as embarrassing as that of Boston’s, it simply is more fun to rub some salt in the collective wounds of the Sawwwx nation. See, as an Angels fan, I’ve hated the Red Sox ever since the Dave Henderson homer in the ’86 ALCS.

You should understand that for the rest of us, those of us not fans of the Yankees or Red Yankees, those of us whose teams have spent a decade playing the Washington Generals to east-of-the-Hudson, bloated-payroll Globetrotters…when either team fails, it is the same sort of soul-filling pablum that makes people watch soap operas. We all love to watch the rich and famous stumble.

And after all that, here we are; another October full of post-season baseball. Let’s be honest, most of the crap I said about these teams six months ago was wrong, so why not go for month number seven proving I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Indeed, how many of those things turned out true? Remember when I said the Yankees and the Red Sox were mirror images of each other, and it would be a race between the two to see which collapsed first? Well, the Red Sox waited until September before they folded faster than Superman on laundry day, allowing themselves to get run down by a Rays team that could be this years answer to the San Francisco Giants.

But enough of looking back…let’s look ahead to the post-season. Here are your eight participants and their odds of coming home with a title.

1) Philadelphia Phillies – (Pre-season Rank #1, 102-60, NL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 2.5-1

This team is all about the pitching staff, with just enough offense to make it work. It worked to the tune of 100+ wins, and this is the proverbial “team to beat” until somebody does just that. The biggest concern is that in the National League, the team to finish with the best record hasn’t won the World Series since the 1986 Mets, and since the Phillies obviously won’t have the luxury of facing the Red Sawwwx…

2) New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank #4, 97-65, AL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1

The Yankees are the photo-negative of the Phillies; they sport a monstrous line-up and a pitching staff made up of CC Sa-fat-tia and a lot of “not much else.”

Now, it’s time for some equal-opportunity hating: Are you now, or have you ever been a Yankees fan? Are you under the age of 45? Have you ever said “The Yankees sucked when I was a kid, so I’m not of one these new Yankee fans that came along when we started winning again”? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are pretentious douche-nozzle and you would be doing the world a favor if you stuck a shotgun in your mouth.

There’s soooooooooo many reasons to hate the Yankees. First, there’s the aforementioned loyalty-less assloafs who think just because the Yankees sucked in the 80′s means they aren’t some dickhead who needs to be on the winning side.  But least there is one less reason to hate them, since that piece of deep-fried monkey nuts known as George Steinbrenner is dead. At least he has a burn-in-hell worthy legacy, like sodomizing New York City out of a billion dollars to build a replica of a 90-year old mausoleum of decency, then filling it with insufferable dickweeds who are now actually proud of their Ruthian douche-baggery.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but you have no idea how much it pissed me off that after Steinbrenner assumed room temperature that I kept being told “You didn’t have to like him, but you had to respect him.”  Eat me. The same people who said this are the same people responsible for the impending death of America.  George Steinbrenner was a criminal who deserves the same respect a dog pays to a fire hydrant.

3) Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank #18, 91-71, AL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5.5-1

This is clearly a reactionary pick. Last year I picked the Giants as the least likely team to win, and I’m not making that mistake again. This team plays just like last years champions. They get big hits when they need them, and they get enough pitching to make those hits stand up. Not to mention, if you believe in momentum AT ALL, you can’t bet against this club.

4) Milwaukee Brewers (Pre-season Rank #12, 96-66, NL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 7-1

This is the first appearance the Brew Crew has made in the post-season  since Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982. The Brewers finished with a 57-24 record at home, which was both best in the major leagues and a franchise record.  Since they will host the Diamondbacks in the first round, that should bode well for the boys from Beer City.

5) Arizona Diamondbacks (Pre-Season Rank #11, 94-67, NL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 8-1

Don’t look now, but this is a franchise that wins with pitching. They won the 2001 World Series with Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, and Arizona moundsmen have earned five Cy Young Awards in 13 seasons.  This year, the D-backs sport right-handers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, as well as left-hander Joe Saunders who have all racked up 200 innings.

With all those innings-eaters at the top of the rotation, the D-Backs always more often than not have a fresh bullpen, which means manager Kirk Gibson often can get desirable individual late-game matchups. This also means Arizona tends not to get far behind in ball games, which is part of the reason for the team’s big-league-high 48 comeback victories.

Oh, and as a life-long Dodger-hater, I’m obliged to bring up the quintessential Kirk Gibson post-season moment…I may need a bucket…

6) St. Louis Cardinals (Pre-Season Rank #16, 90-72, NL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 9-1

Only the Yankees have won more World Series titles than the Cardinals, and both have won in the last five years. This means the Cardinals are a team with plenty of post-season experience.

They also have that momentum factor I mentioned with the Rays. The Cardinals got hot in September after being 10 1/2 games behind the Braves on Aug. 25.   This means they won 23 of their last 32 games.

7) Texas Rangers (Pre-Season Rank #13, 95-66, AL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 12-1

Texas hit .320 in September, the highest batting average after September 1st, which is the best since this statistic has been kept beginning in 1946. We all know this team can hit, and even though the Ranger pitching staff has the fifth best ERA in the American League, I’m not sure a Cliff Lee-less rotation scares anybody.

8 ) Detroit Tigers (Pre-Season Rank #14, 91-71, AL Central Champs- Odds of Winning World Series: 14-1

Like the Brewers, the Tigers are another team showing up in October after a long absence. The last time the Motor City Kitties graced October with their was 1987. Of all the great moments in my own personal baseball history I listed earlier, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Game 4 of the ALCS, when Tiger third baseman Darrell Evans became the goat to end all goats.

As far as this year’s Tigers are concerned, you can’t argue that Justin Verlander is the most dominating pitcher in the league, and Miguel Cabrera is the most potent offensive weapon, but the Tigers have some thump in the lineup beyond that. They have a supporting cast to go along with Verlander. The trouble is I simply don’t think they can beat the Yankees.

Parity: Why Every Team in the NFL Is Now Flawed

The National Football League for years has been making itself deliberately mediocre. There was a philosophy born under Commissioner Paul Tagliabue known as “Parity;” the primary components of which was there should be no dynasties. Rather, teams should be able to quickly build themselves into contention through free-agency and the draft.

Last season, the graphic below was posted on Reddit by user danchan22. It clearly illustrates the circular progression of Parity as shown with head-to-head wins.

It looks confusing at first, but it is actually quite simple. Start at the top with at the logo of the Atlanta Falcons. Reading clockwise, the chart tells you the Falcons beat the Buccaneers 27-21. Continuing clockwise, the Buccaneers defeated the Browns 17-14. Continue around the circle until it leads you back to the Steelers beating the Falcons 15-9.

What is being graphically demonstrated here is that while the era of the dynasty has not disappeared (the 49ers from 1981 to 1996 and the Patriots from 2001-2008 for example), the era of the “complete team” is clearly dead.

The aforementioned 49ers may very well be the last “complete team” the NFL has seen. Championships team all used to have the full package. Look at the Steelers teams of the 70’s…first-rate ownership, management, and coaching, hall-of-famers at quarterback, wide receiver, running back, offensive line, and scattered throughout a defense which would cause your liver bleed just by saying its name. The Walsh-Seifert 49ers can say the same, despite the fact their defense tended to be overshadowed by the star power on offense.

There isn’t one team in this league today that you will say this about in 30 years.  Look at last years Super Bowl contestants –  The Packers’ running game disappeared with Ahman Green, and the Steelers offensive line couldn’t block a hat.  Go through all 32 NFL squads, and tell me which one doesn’t sport a major flaw…

  • Arizona Cardinals - no defense, unproven quarterback, weak offensive line, and one the worst owners in all of sports
  • Atlanta Falcons - talent-wise, this might be the closest thing to a “complete” team out there, but this team has a crushing lack of leadership and will never win until that is addressed
  • Baltimore Ravens - nearly as close to “complete” as the Falcons, but old and oft-injured at too many key positions
  • Buffalo Bills - have simply too many C-list players across the board
  • Carolina Panthers - an inept defense and a rookie quarterback who is going to lead the league in interceptions
  • Chicago Bears - what may very well be the worst offensive line in the league
  • Cincinnati Bengals - the classic example of what happens when you have bad ownership and management that can’t recognize talent
  • Cleveland Browns – weak in the secondary and linebacking corps, quarterback and coaching staff are unknowns
  • Dallas Cowboys – offensive line sucks, rookie coach, inconsistent defense, and the drama that always surrounds Jerry Jones
  • Denver Broncos – a fan base that thinks Tim Tebow is a starting quarterback in the NFL,  the complete absence of talent on the offense with far too few exceptions, and a similar problem on defense
  • Detroit Lions – still cleaning up the legacy of Matt Millen, which as deep of a hole that is, this team could be as close to “complete” sooner than people think, provided their idiot owner stays “hands-off”
  • Green Bay Packers – a vastly over-rated defense and a nearly absent running game
  • Houston Texans – get rid of Gary Kubiak and add a dominating offensive lineman
  • Indianapolis Colts – start with accepting the Peyton Manning era is over – burn the wreckage to the ground and start over
  • Jacksonville Jaguars – build a dominant running game around Maurice Jones-Drew and hope for the best – losing Jack Del Rio also wouldn’t be a bad idea
  • Kansas City Chiefs – this team has far too much talent to be this bad – that usually spells a coaching issue
  • Miami Dolphins – what happens when you have a decade of instability in the front office – find a leader who will commit to moving the franchise in a specific direction and stick to it
  • Minnesota Vikings – change absolutely everything except Adrian Peterson – start with ending the parade of washed-up quarterbacks
  • New England Patriots – complete absence of a defense
  • New Orleans Saints – defensive secondary needs help and the offensive line can’t support a running game
  • New York Giants – an offensive line that looks like a retirement home and a defense that looked pretty good in 2008 – too bad this is 2011
  • New York Jets – its time for Mark Sanchez to prove he’s a big time quarterback, which may be tough behind a C+ at-best offensive line
  • Oakland Raiders – Two words: Al Davis
  • Philadelphia Eagles – terrible offensive line and a tiny quarterback who gets hurt a lot
  • Pittsburgh Steelers – an offensive line nearly as bad as the Bears
  • San Diego Chargers – show this coaching staff a picture of Vince Lombardi, and they will say “Who’s that?”
  • San Francisco 49’ers – Buffalo by the Bay…just not enough talent, but that’s only for now…
  • Seattle Seahawks – write this down and remember it…Pete Carroll will never win in the NFL
  • St. Louis Rams – the 49’ers of the Midwest…just not enough talent, but that may not change under the current ownership
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – anybody who would own Manchester United can’t be good for an American sport
  • Tennessee Titans – Bud Adams never gets credit for what a crazy old man he is largely because he is overshadowed by Al Davis and Jerry Jones
  • Washington Redskins – Dan Snyder and the Shanahans give Washington as much chance of victory as Herman Goerhing did for the Luftwaffe

What it all comes down to is now being a “great” team is not about being complete.  A “bad” team simply has more weakness than it can manage, a “good” team has manageable weaknesses, and a “great” team has manageable weaknesses which are overshadowed by its strengths.

Screw “parity.” I’d rather have a handful of truly great, truly complete teams to either love or hate rather than 28 fair-to-middlin’ squads and four crappy ones.

When Sports Writers Get Too Clever: Obviously, It Doesn’t Take A Superhero To Beat Tom Brady

Clark Kent isn’t the only journalist who can become a superhero.  Clark Judge at CBS Sports.com has the ability to drop his snap-brim hat, horn-rim glasses, and gray flannel suit faster than this speeding blog to become his cape-wearing alter-ego Captain Obvious.  I’m sure Judge isn’t the only guy to write a column this week about how he has the formula to beat the NFL’s winningest current quarterback, but his is the one I saw first, and therefore the one who drew the reaction.

In all honesty, it’s not that it is a bad article; it’s actually quite correct. But if there were an award for Great Achievements in “Duh,” this piece is your hands down winner.  Lets’ walk through another Dubsism-style breakdown to illustrate…

Once upon a time it seemed the only two people who could stop Tom Brady were the Jets’ Rex Ryan and Brady himself. Now, along come the Buffalo Bills, forcing the reigning MVP into as many interceptions (4) in one game as he had all of last season, and, suddenly, solving Brady doesn’t seem like nuclear physics. Careful. It’s still a problem, and I’ll tell you why: Because he’s the best damned quarterback in the game.

He regularly dissects opponents, producing more yards in three starts this season (1,327) than anyone in NFL history and more touchdown passes (11) than anyone today. What Buffalo did was about as rare as summer in January, yet somehow, some way, the Bills did it.

My question is: How does anyone else? Just because Buffalo pulled the improbable doesn’t mean the next opponent will. In fact, it almost assures it won’t. The last time Brady lost consecutive regular-season games was December, 2009, winning all but four of 23 regular-season starts since.

So how do you beat the guy? Better yet, how do you defend him? I asked coaches who played him, studied him and had limited success against him, and here are their suggestions:

There you have it…the complete set-up, as can only be done by a sports writer who thinks he’s discovered cold fusion. After having read that set-up, tell me which of the  following points don’t drop exactly in the middle of the “sun will rise tomorrow morning” bucket.

1) Control the clock

Most teams that have success against New England do it with patience, balancing an effective running game with the pass. Look at last year’s regular-season win by the New York Jets. They held the ball for 32:32 and had two drives of 10 or more plays, one of eight and three more of seven.

Now fast-forward to last Sunday, and you have the Bills putting together two drives of 10 snaps each, one of eight and two more of seven. Follow the bread crumbs, people. The longer you have the ball, the less it belongs to Brady.

“Take as much time off the clock as you can when you have the ball,” said one coach.

That means extending the play clock to the last few seconds. One coach told me he instructs his offense to be deliberate in and out of the huddle, taking each snap down to the last seconds, thereby keeping his offense on the field — and Brady off it — as long as he possible.

The idea, basically, is to defend Brady while you’re on offense, if you can follow that logic. Yes, you’re pushing for the end zone, but you’re winding down the clock in the process. Drives should be so time-consuming that they minimize the damage Brady can inflict when he has his chance.

Uh, Clark, I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but most teams that are successful PERIOD control the clock.  The simple truth is that defense only scores when the offense screws up, so if a team has an offense that doesn’t give the ball away and controls the ball for the majority of the game, that team increases its odds of victory.

2) Run, Run, Run

The Jets beat New England twice last year and had the league’s fourth-rated running game. Cleveland was the only other club to defeat the Patriots, and while it ranked 20th in rushing the Browns were numero uno vs. the Pats – producing 230 yards on 44 carries, both highs for New England opponents.

If you’re going to sustain drives it figures that you must be able to run effectively, and the Jets did. In their September victory, they mixed the run with the pass, with backs carrying on 32 of 65 plays.

The Browns followed that blueprint, only they took it to an extreme — with 44 of their 63 snaps (69.5 percent) running plays as three of four second-half drives went for 60 or more yards each.

Buffalo deviated from the plan, probably because it had to: You don’t dig out of a 21-0 hole by running Fred Jackson up the gut. Nevertheless, the Bills mixed the run with the pass, extended drives and did what I didn’t think possible — catch Brady from behind, and I mean way, way behind.

Nevertheless, I recall speaking to a coach in mid-week about Buffalo’s chances and was surprised when he didn’t rule out the upset.

“They can run the ball,” he said, “which is very important, and they get in some formations that are challenging. Look, I’m not sold on New England’s defense. With the switch to the 4-3 they’re playing much more ‘man’ [coverage] than ever, and with Buffalo able to run the ball and able to get in some formations that are challenging I think we’re going to see whether New England can adjust to it, how well the communication is with that young secondary and how well can they solve the problems with this defense.”

I guess we just did.

Forget that Judge manages to contradict himself within two paragraphs, rather focus again on the obvious. Running the football is exactly how you achieve point number one. Again simply look at a garden-variety NFL game.  If a team runs a majority of pass plays, they are committing themselves to a strategy in which at least 40% of the plays run will result in a stoppage of the clock due to incomplete passes, penalties, and instant replay reviews. Honestly, for most teams this number is more like 50%, and a team that throws a lot of incomplete passes is generally going to a) give the ball the opposing offense more often and b) gives the opposing offense more time on the clock.

3) Take Brady out of his pre-snap reads

Now we switch to defense, and here’s the Golden Rule: Always, always, always keep Brady guessing.

Coaches tell me he and the Colts’ Peyton Manning are the best at pre-snap reads and that once they figure out where you’re lined up, they devour you. So don’t let them. Attack them before they attack you. Adjust your defensive fronts. Shift your linebackers. Move your defensive backs. Backward, forward, to the side, I don’t care. Just don’t let him get a fix on what’s next.

Prior to snaps, Brady keys pass protections by identifying where certain linebackers are, then communicating that to his teammates. But if you move your linebackers, he can’t -– and that presents a challenge. New England’s offensive line and receivers determine where they go next based on Brady’s pre-snap calls. Confuse him and you could confuse them.

I remember that happening one game where the Patriots were forced to go to a scramble protection, much like on punts where you pick up the first rushers that break through, and they did it effectively. But the point was: They were forced to deal with the attack, instead of launching one of their own first.

Granted, Brady will catch shifting defenses with quick snaps, but so what? You’ve taken him out of his comfort zone.

“The most important thing,” said one assistant, “is not giving him pre-snap information. If he knows what [defense] you’re in, he’s going to go to the right place, and it doesn’t matter if that place is a 2-yard completion or a 4-yard completion or going somewhere his favorite receiver is not. He’s going to go where the answer is.

“Nevertheless, I see teams lining up like statues each week, and he picks them apart. So it has to be a concerted effort by everyone to disguise what they’re doing. Sometimes, there’s not a commitment to it. It’s like teams have this idea that all we need to do is move around. So they do it for the early part of the play clock, then Tom lifts his leg once … as if he’s going to take a snap.

“But he doesn’t, and everybody gets to where they need to be, and that’s when he strikes. He gathers information and waits for you to show your hand. Then he moves forward. He just keeps going and going, and so what if he catches you in a quick count or moving or not being in the right spot. That’s OK. If you get hurt doing that, it’s much better than what you’ll get hurt by if you don’t.”

Paging Captain Obvious…You have a call at Point #3. The pre-snap read is to the quarterback what advance intelligence is to the general. If military history has taught us anything, it is that knowing what the enemy is about to do is better than not knowing. I bet Judge kicks ass at Madden.

4)  Don’t fall behind

Miami and San Diego are the rules. Buffalo is the exception. The Dolphins and Chargers fell behind, then watched Brady dissect them with second-half strikes. In one game he threw for over 500 yards; in the other, over 400.

But against Buffalo he struggled after New England jumped to a 21-point advantage, and don’t ask me what happened. Yeah, I know, Brady suffered four interceptions, but Buffalo never quit or never deviated from its plan. That’s not easy, especially when you need 21 points — which is why I recommend that no one follow the Bills’ script.

What occurred last week is rare, and, OK, so we saw it in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. Trust me, it happens to New England about as often as it rains in Texas.

“What happens if you fall behind,” said a defensive coordinator, “is that teams typically abandon the running game, end up not using as much clock and give Brady more opportunities to get the ball. If you get behind in your attempt to get back, you abandon the play-clock component, which just gives him more chances to run up the score.”

In the win at Buffalo, the Patriots lost despite Wes Welker catching a career-best 16 passes for a franchise-record 217 yards. Minimizing the damage he can inflict is necessary, too, with one coordinator suggesting press coverage on first and second downs to prevent bubble screens and double coverage on third.

The problem is that Brady is so smart he’ll find someone else, like tight ends Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski or wide receiver Deion Branch — which is all the more reason to try to keep him guessing.

“Say what you want about dealing with Welker,” said one coach, “but if you push the coverage over there, it’s going to be [Danny] Woodhead or Branch or Gronkowski or Hernandez that Brady looks at it. He just says, ‘Here’s the matchup I want, here’s the matchup they’re giving me and this is the best situation we’ve got.’ Then he feeds that guy the ball.”

I know what you  are thinking…you’ve read this far and you are asking yourself, how can this not be the most obvious thing Judge says? It largely because once again, Judge trips over his own cape. He asserts having a lead is important, yet points out two cases where it didn’t matter. This is important to remember later.

5) Stick to the plan

Buffalo last weekend did what it couldn’t in its 15 previous games vs. New England, yet Brady still wound up with four touchdown passes and nearly 400 yards. Nevertheless, he lost, and that’s all that matters.

Brady routinely shreds opponents, and he routinely takes them out of game plans. The key is never to deviate from what you think will work offensively or defensively until or unless that plan proves deficient.

I remember a coach a couple of years ago telling me how his pre-game plan was to mix up defenses at halftime, no matter how effective they were, to keep Brady off-balance when he saw them in the third and fourth quarters.

“They were dealing with us,” he said, “instead of us dealing with them.”

When the Jets beat New England in the 2010 playoffs they surprised Brady by mixing coverages, often dropping eight, bringing pass rushes from unexpected places and forcing him to choose among receivers who weren’t open.

Essentially, they did what New England didn’t expect, and the plan worked. Brady was frazzled, with one AFC assistant saying that if you broke down the video you would see why: The Jets blanketed his receivers.

“They didn’t show what they were in,” he said, “and often it looked as if they would bring six or seven when they’d drop eight. Then it looked as if they would drop eight when they would pressure him. Guys were moving around, making it difficult for Brady to see what they were doing.

“Offensively, they ran the ball and chewed up the clock, and that’s the right concept. They ate up the clock offensively, and they disguised everything defensively.”

And they won.

Yes, Buffalo did what Miami and San Diego couldn’t do; emerge victoriously from a contest with Patriots. As much as Judge would like us all to believe that this five-point plan is the key that unlocks the Brady-Belichick dynasty, he underplays the facts that a) Buffalo didn’t follow this script and b) Point Number 1 should be “Make Brady Throw Four Interceptions.” Granted, he mentions those things, but what he never once admits is this plan isn’t necessarily for beating the Patriots, it’s for beating ANYBODY.

To a good football fan, that much should be obvious.

The Minnesota Twins: The Post-Mortem

When you are the fan of a 100-loss team, you expect your team to make changes; after all, you just lost 100 games. This is a feat which has only been dubiously achieved by 28 teams in the last 30 years, the Houston Astros becoming the latest to do so. If the Twins don’t win both of their remaining games, they will become #29.

Having said that, if you are a fan of a 100-loss team, the last thing you want to see is a headline like this, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Twins owner Jim Pohlad: ‘We’re not a knee-jerk organization’

Yeah, that’s just what I want to see; the owner of a 100-loss club talking about limiting the discussion on making changes. This is precisely why this article was pointed out to me by Dick Marple, the Chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board.  I know what I saw in the article had me wrapping duct tape around my head to keep my skull from exploding.  I shudder to think what Mr. Marple’s reaction could have been.

It's a good thing the Irish aren't prone to violence.

This is exactly why we cannot waste anymore time before we dissect this article as the esteemed Mr. Marple may be on his way up a bell tower as we speak.

After one of the worst seasons in Twins history, club owner Jim Pohlad knows change is needed.

“I am really all about trying to get better,” he said Monday.

But his idea of change doesn’t appear to include changes at the top.

Pohlad, speaking from his Minneapolis business office — with Target Field in clear view through the window –said the key men running the Twins will remain in place. That means manager Ron Gardenhire, who has led the team since 2002, and General Manager Bill Smith will be back for another season. If there are changes to his coaching staff, it’s up to Gardenhire to make those decisions.

“We are not a knee-jerk organization,” Pohald said.

Remember this…Pohlad says he knows changes are needed, but he then couches that by limiting what those changes might be. In other words, this is the old Nixonian “non-denial denial.” This theme is crucial to understand the load of bovine scatology about to be laid out here.

In a lengthy interview with the Star Tribune on Monday, Pohlad discussed the season, Joe Mauer, injuries, payroll and attendance and how the Twins will go about improving on a season he called “sickening.”

Here are highlights of the interview:

Entering the season the popularity of the Twins had never been higher. Now we’re looking at the possibility of being the second team ever to lose 100 games with a nine-figure payroll ($115 million). How do you plan on holding people accountable for some of the things that have happened this season?

Well, I mean first of all, let’s talk about what’s happened. I mean, in my view, the two main things that have happened have been a ton of injuries — the perfect storm of injuries — and there have been players that we counted on that, when they’ve played, they’ve played not up to the levels that they played in 2010, for sure. So in my view that’s the synopsis of the season.

This is the classic beginning of a non-denial denial. When faced with an inexcusable situation, create a cover story that is both plausible, true,  and yet incomplete enough for the addition of extra falsehoods later. After all, the Bible says the truth shall set you free, but it was Spiro Agnew who said a good lie will keep you out of jail in the first place.

When the team loses as many games as the Twins have this year, and the manager expresses concern about fundamentals and young players being prepared, don’t you feel that you have to change something? Something has to be adjusted here?

I think, yes, we need to change, but we need to have the players healthy, and we need to have our core group of players playing to their capabilities, that’s for sure. Now beyond that, how do you cope with the perfect storm of injuries and players not performing? You have to bring up players from the minor leagues, obviously. When they did come up, it did appear that fundamentally there were some issues. We have not gone into great detail at this point — the season is not even over yet –about the underlying causes of those issues. But it certainly would appear that there are issues.

I love how Pohlad sticks to the “perfect storm” concept; as if everything that happened to the Twins was some sort of  “Act of God” which could neither be predicted nor prevented. Of course, this completely ignores such facts as the complete inc0mpetency of Nishioka, and the over-dependence on guys named Hughesy and Plouffey.

So you feel like there will be some things you need to address during the offseason?

Oh clearly … we need to address how can we keep the players healthy. We need to address how can we encourage the players during the offseason to get to a point where they’re going to play up to their capabilities. Then we need to address the issues that are maybe down in the farm system.

How can “we” keep the players healthy? First of all, it took “we” six weeks to find out what the hell was wrong with Joe Mauer, and even then “we” didn’t know what to do about it.  Then there’s the not-so-subtle shifting of blame to the players.  Guess what? It ain’t the fault of the Hughesies of the world that you thought they were All-Stars in the making, and it’s not their fault you simply increased your expectations of the kids when it was clear your “big-money” guys were going to be non-factors.  In other words, the farm system is not the problem, and the young players are not the problem.

I think you’ve used the injury list 27 times this year and some of these injuries have been rather unique. But it sounds like you’re concerned a little bit from the medical staff or the training staff, that things may need to be adjusted there?

A I’m not saying that the medical staff or the training staff has done anything wrong. I’m just saying let’s look at the injuries and see how they can be prevented in the future.

Idiot Management 101 – Once you’ve identified a problem that you are using as your scapegoat, always say Idiot Management things like “We’re going to look at ways of preventing that.” How the hell do you prevent injuries? Wrap all the players in bubble-wrap? Play only with Nerf balls?

All right, how do you feel about the job Ron Gardenhire has done this year? What do you think about how the coaching staff has performed?

I think they had very difficult conditions. It’s got to be frustrating, on any given day you don’t know who’s going to be ready to play and who is not going to be ready to play. In order to try to adjust to that, it’s been very demanding. We’re very pleased with the job that Ron has done.

So you definitely are bringing him back next year. What about the coaching staff?

That’s not my decision. That’s Gardy’s. … We’re going to sit down at the end of the season with Gardy and Billy [Smith, general manager] and everybody and they’re all going to talk through all this. But it’s not happening now because the season is not over.

That was back-to-back punts, but the best one is that it is Gardenhire’s decision to come back. You’re the owner, you have the ultimate authority. Don’t be such a pussy by saying it isn’t your decision; as the owner you can make any decision yours. George Steinbrenner is vomiting in his grave hearing an owner de-ball himself like that.

How do you feel about the job Bill Smith has done as general manager?

He also has had a very tough situation, but we’re going to sit with him and we’re going to ask him what he can do to make the organization better next year.

Do you plan on bringing him back next year as GM, then?

Yes. … He’s been involved with this organization for a long time. Do we throw out the last, what’s the number, 15 years and forget all that over one season? I mean it’s been, really, an unusual season. … Our organization isn’t a knee-jerk- reaction organization.

OK, fine, but let’s look at the Bill Smith era as a whole, shall we? Since assuming the role of general manager in 2007, he got lucky by dumping the future money-bomb known as Johan Santana, but he got nothing for him – Carlos Gómez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, and Philip Humber.  He also traded pitcher Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris (now both gone).

Yet, these moves returned the Twins to the playoffs in 2009. This marked the team’s fifth playoff appearance of the decade. It also marked the fourth consecutive time the team failed to advance beyond the first round.

Billy has been quoted as saying that he’s more of an administrator than a talent evaluator. I’m curious to know why you think Billy is the right man to turn things around? What’s Billy’s title?

General manager, so he’s in charge of managing the baseball operation. I mean those are his words, like you said. I don’t remember reading that, but if those are his words that’s really his job, to manage the baseball department. We don’t look to Billy solely — I don’t know if any organization does, maybe they do at some place — we don’t look solely at him as the premier judge of talent. He has a whole bunch of people that he gets input from on the judgment of talent.

The general manager is not a talent evaluator.  Now the Nishioka signing makes sense.

Your season-ticket base, I believe, is around 25,000. Are you bracing for that number to decrease next year?

No, I mean we’ve said all along that as Target Field matures — you can look at every single other new ballpark and there is a period of honeymoon — and sometimes after that honeymoon period, be that three, five years, whatever that number is, there is a leveling off. But we believe that we can keep the Target Field experience at the top and be a winning team. And those two elements, together, should guarantee that we’ll have strong ticket sales. If it’s in single-game tickets or season tickets, I mean in the end it’s all counted as your attendance in total.

That may very well be, but who was the last team with a new ballpark to lose 100 games? See, Minnesota fans are “fair weather” fans, and if the team sucks, they will spend the summer at their lake cabins.

I did some rough addition, I’m a journalist not a mathematician here, but between [pending free agents] Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Matt Capps and the trades of Delmon Young and Jim Thome, you have about $40-$42 million coming off of your payroll after this season. How much flexibility will that give you as far as being able to improve this roster for next year?

Well if what you just said, if that’s true, that gives us tons of flexibility. That money is not just going to go back into our pockets. We want to win. We care about winning and we’re going to try to win. In a lot of cases payroll dollars tend to reflect that.

In other words, that money is going right back into their pockets. Get ready for the days of Scott Stahoviak, Pedro Munoz, and Rich Becker.

In recent years you guys have not been known to make the big-time, flashy, free-agent singing. I think Thome was an impact signing based on his résumé, but you haven’t signed that top-notch, free-agent type of player. With so much money coming off the books, will you look to the free-agent market to sign a impact player this offseason? Do you think we need just one player?

No, I do not. [general laughter] No, we’re going to have to look at that, but it’s probably not just that. It all depends upon the health of the people going forward. But my guess is we’re probably going to have to do more than one impact player. We’re going to have to bring in more than one.

But you foresee going after that?

In my view, and I’m sure Bill [Smith] would echo this, they’re going to have to look at the free-agent market or trades. Surely that can’t be ruled out.

Pohlad and Smith have no idea why this team tanked, so asking them how to fix it is like asking the captain of the Titanic how to avoid ice.

Will you be able to bring back Cuddyer and Kubel next year?

I don’t know. We want to win. That’s the goal. We’re going to bring back or sign players that are going to help us win.

You could almost make a drinking game out of this.  Everytime Pohlad says “we want to win,” take a pull.

What is wrong with Joe Mauer?

Joe Mauer told me the day we signed his contract down in Florida that he would always give me his best. That’s what he told me then and I believed him then and I believe it now. As far as what’s wrong with him, he had a bad year health-wise, injury-wise, just like everybody else did.

Are you worried that Mauer has something wrong with him that hasn’t been detected yet?

No, I’m not worried about that.

How much more have you expected out of him? You’ve invested a lot of money to lock him up and he, whether it’s fair or not, is the face of this franchise.

I agree with that, and he is the face of the franchise and he’s signed for the next seven years. He will be the face of the franchise going forward.

Ahhh, we finally get to the whole Mauer problem, the $23 million singles hitter. Well, maybe that’s not fair…he did slug almost four homers in 300 at-bats.  Of course, there’s something wrong with him, and nobody knows what it is, and if nobody figures it out, Twins’ fans need to get ready for seven more years of high-dollar non-performance.

I know you’re still scouting Japan, I know Terry Ryan was recently in Japan. Does Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s disappointing season make you more cautious of signing players from that country? Or will you continue to look to Japanese players as a possible option?

We’re going to look to any country that has players that we believe can help us win.

I think last season you put in a bid on Hasashi Iwakuma, who was a starting pitcher in Japan, and of course you weren’t awarded the bid. I think he’s a true free agent this offseason. Is that someone who could still be on your radar for this offseason?

I think probably everybody is on our radar.

Seriously, I think Pohlad really wanted to answer that one a bit more truthfully; something more like “Are you f–king kidding me? I’ll take players from Mars if they can help this sorry-ass team.”

I know the continuity in this organization has been one of the strengths, being able to hire and promote from within and keep certain things in place. But how can you just wash this whole season off because of injuries and not think, ‘We may have to change some things here?’

I never said anything like that. … I never said we don’t have to change things. Please don’t get that impression. … We want to know how things are going to be better next year. Like you said, if there’s no convincing argument or here’s the plan and the plan isn’t all convincing, then we’re going to react. We’re going to say, ‘Go back and do it again or something.’ I don’t even know. I don’t really anticipate that that’s going to be the case.

NON-DENIAL DENIAL ALERT!!! NON-DENIAL DENIAL ALERT!!! Anytime, and I mean anytime you hear a manager/leader/politician say “I never said that” and “Don’t get the wrong impression” within two sentences of each other, you are in the bowels of a non-denial denial. The problem is not that you got the wrong impression, you committed the cardinal sin of getting EXACTLY the correct impression. Don’t be surprised if there’s a house-cl;eaning coming, and one that will be completely unsuccessful; culture comes from the head down, and nobody gives that theory more “head” than this owner.

Just for the sake of being clear for the readers, do you foresee where your payroll may land next year? There’s been some whispers about it’s going to have to come down from $115 million.

I mean it’s going to come down naturally, because it exceeded where we wanted it. But it was an unusual year contract-wise. But it’s not going to be slashed. It’s going to be right up there. But I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be.

I don’t want to say that sounds like a lie, but…go back to the question where Pohlad doesn’t even know the result of not re-signing the free-agents. He dodged then, and he dodged now. There’s a very real possibility that the Twins are worried they’ve over-extended, the bet on a contending team to fill the new ballpark is looking like a gutshot straight draw, and Pohlad might very well be considering a decade-long fold.

What We Learned From This Past Weekend in Football 9/25/11

With yet another weekend of football in the books, there are several more  important lessons we should have learned both in the college ranks and in the NFL.

1) You “instant replay solves everything” people can all bite me…again.

The Toledo Rockets got robbed by not just the officials, but also by the instant replay officials. The Rockets hit a last-second field goal at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, a score which only tied the game when it should have been the game-winner.   Just a few minutes earlier, Syracuse was credited with a successful extra point try that actually missed. And in a moment which proves my argument against instant replay, even after officials reviewed the play, the wrong call was upheld.  Here’s the video which shows the ball passing in front of the uprights.

2) Apparently, Sam’s Club sells testicles. 

Two weeks in a row, Tony Romo has shown an industrial-sized set of balls he’s never shown before. First there was that comeback win in San Francisco with a cracked rib and a punctured lung, then there’s the performance he turned in on Monday night, leading the Cowboys to another victory in spite of themselves. The Plowboys offense couldn’t even snap the ball effectively, and even when they did, the receivers couldn’t run the right routes, and even when they pulled off those two minor miracles, they still couldn’t catch the damn ball. With the sole exception of Dez Bryant’s catch on that 3rd-and-21 play, the Cowboys offense played without organization and focus, which is why they stumbled into 375 Romo-led yards of total offense and a win considering they never once found the end zone.

3) The stock on quarterbacks rises and falls more often than Robert Downey, Jr’s career.

Romo’s transformation from a week 1 “gutless bum” into a week 3 “super-hero” is only the most current example of this phenomenon.  Don’t forget about Joe Flacco, who has managed come full-circle in just four years. First, he was a rookie wunderkind because “he” won first two playoff games . Then he became dogmeat because “he couldn’t beat the Steelers.” There’s even a “Joe Flacco Sucks” group on Facebook. Here’s some of their recent handy-work:

Joe Flacco is wack yo! He is just your average Joe. Ozzie please fire flacco. This season 2011-2012 will be a hard season for us because he was a horrible QB, a wack as O-line, a wack as offensive coordinator and our head coach is a bum. Joe flacco’s stats says it all, he’s just average at best. He throws for 30 and catches 5. He throws for 20 and causes 10 interceptions.

It makes you wonder where those clever retorts are now,  since Flacco hammered the Rams on Sunday, completing 27-of-48 passes for a career-high 389 yards and three touchdowns in Baltimore’s 37-7 demolition of St. Louis. “He” also laid waste to the Steelers in week 1.  Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler, and Mark Sanchez all are on various places on this same roller-coaster.

4) Tom Brady is fallible.

Take the logic of the “Flacco sucks” crowd and imagine what they would be saying about Brady today if he didn’t have those three Super Bowl rings.  Brady has thrown for 1,327 yards in three games; the most yards passing in any three-game stretch in league history. But remember, this crowd believes in the “What have you done for me lately?” theory, and lately Brady tossed four picks and blew a 21-point lead at Buffalo. Not to mention, just how long has it been since the Patriots claimed the Lombardi trophy?

5) The NFL really needs to decide what it wants to be. 

Michael Vick’s commentary about officiating raises a legitmate point which nobody will discuss because his commentary lends itself too easily to a conversation about the protection of “traditional pocket passers” versus that of the “athletic quarterbacks.” We all know for what those terms are used as “code,” which is exactly where this discussion gets derailed.

The real point is that Vick has a point about his particular situation.  Like it or not, he is treated differently because his mobility gets him out of situations that a “pocket passer” does not. Does that mean he gets hit more often?  Probably, but that’s  not for any other reason than does Ben Roethlisberger. Both of them escape situations and extend plays in ways not possible for Tom Brady.

Let’s face it, anybody can go back and look through game footage to find examples of quarterbacks getting hit illegally and not drawing a penalty. Conversely, you can see many examples of quarterbacks that seem to get barely tapped and the flag comes out.

The problem isn’t about what type of quarterback gets what sort of call, the problem is the NFL in it’s half-assed approach to “protect” players has made a series of rules which are nearly impossible for officials to call at game speed. the root cause of all this is rather simple; the NFL needs to decide if its product is a league of 275-pound leviathans slamming into each other at full speed or if it’s going to be a league of doilies and tea-cakes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should not care about the well-being of the players, but the NFL is going about it in exactly the wrong manner. The way to do this is not to lay it on the players by changing the way the game gets played and expecting players to change the way they play overnight considering they have played and practiced a certain way for decades.  The way to do this is not to enact a bunch of rules the officials can’t’ accurately enforce. The way to do it is to get all the involved parties together to have a honest discussion about the future of the game; the time to do it is now since the NFL and the NFLPA just secured a decade with no labor distractions.

6) Robert Irsay and Bill Polian must cry themselves to sleep every night.

Did you ever have one of those nightmares so bad you couldn’t even wake yourself up? That’s how this whole Peyton Manning situation must feel to the owner and general manager of the Colts.

First, there’s the neck surgeries. Then there’s the fact they didn’t want to be the guy who told Colts Nation that the Manning era might be over, hence the enormous contract they signed Fetushead to after his second neck surgery. Then there was the panic attack when they realized the second surgery didn’t work and they were staring the reality of Curtis Painter, Starting Quarterback dead in the face.  Then there’s the $10 million insurance policy known as Kerry Collins. And now that Collins was concussed by the Steelers defense, the Colts are trying out Dan Orlovsky and Brodie Croyle as back-ups to Curtis “Jeff Spicoli” Painter.

Stay tuned, Colts fans…the death spiral is only in week four.

7) Parity is a Parody

Does anybody think this league is better because it has 27 mediocre teams and 5 rancid ones? Seriously, look at the breakdown according to record after three weeks compared to their preseason power ranking:

* – Playoff team last season

3-0 Record (3 teams): Green Bay* (2), Detroit (18), Buffalo (28)

2-1  Record (15 teams): New England* (1), Pittsburgh* (4), New York Jets* (5), New Orleans* (6),  San Diego (7), Baltimore* (9), New York Giants (10), Houston (11),  Tampa Bay (12), Dallas (13), Tennessee (17),  Oakland (21), Cleveland (22),  San Francisco (27), Washington (31 )

1-2 Record (9 teams): Philadelphia*(3), Atlanta *(8), Chicago *(14), Arizona (20),  Jacksonville (24),  Seattle* (25), Denver (29),  Cincinnati (30),  Carolina (32)

0-3 Record (5 teams): Miami (15),  St. Louis (16), Indianapolis* (19),  Kansas City* (23),  Minnesota (26)

The fact that half the playoff teams from last year are in the losing record category and that there are teams like Detroit, Buffalo, Oakland, San Francisco, and Washington clearly exceeding expectations means the NFL once again has achieved is goal of parity, or in other words making almost every team equally lousy.

8 ) The NFL has competition

Until further notice, the SEC will be treated by Dubsism as a professional football league.

Dan Pastorini: “F–k Drew Brees”

Remember when you were a kid and there was that one old guy in the neighborhood who was bitter toward the whole world? The guy who cut up any Nerf footballs that landed in his yard, and consequently got a lot of flaming bags of dog crap left on his doorstep?

Well, it isn’t hard to picture former NFL quarterback Dan Pastorini as that guy. According to an article published by CBS News, Pastorini is upset with the NFL owners, the NFL Player’s Association, and specifically Drew Brees.

Dan Pastorini is mad. He’s mad at the NFL owners. He’s mad at the NFL Players Association. And he’s mad at Drew Brees.

“F–k Drew Brees,” Pastorini said.

Until this point, I had never heard anybody say a disparaging word about Drew Brees, but it seems Pastorini is pissed off because he feels he and his former NFL colleague who retired before 1993 somehow have been left behind by the new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL.

Why is Drew Brees a target of Pastorini’ s ire? The two main reasons are that he believes the new CBA short-changes the retired players and that Drew Brees embodies that because of some thing he said a few years ago.

Pastorini looks at the new CBA deal and figures out how much more money he’ll receive as a player who retired before 1993. He remembers how much he made when he was playing quarterback for the Oilers, Rams, Raiders and Eagles from 1971-82. Then, he thinks about the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners — and the labor fight for which he couldn’t participate — and his blood boils.

He gets mad, really mad, and he lets loose on a rant in which he places blame on both sides who he believes simply doesn’t care about the men who helped build the NFL into what it is today.

In short, he thinks he deserves more of the money made by other people. To understand that, let’s look at the money Pastorini made. Granted, the salaries of NFL Players have risen dramatically in the last few decades, but athletes have made disproportionately higher wages than the average worker for quite some time. By his own account, Pastorini made $25,000 in his rookie year of 1971; that year the average American worker made $6,497.08. By his third season, his salary had risen to $35,000, while the average American was bringing in $7,580.16.

So, while Pastorini never made star money, he never deserved star money. Frankly, with the exception of about three seasons, he was mediocre-to-lousy. Career-wise, he has 62 more interceptions than touchdown passes.  Regardless, he made enough money in his playing career that he shouldn’t have had money problems later in life. To top it off, he was awarded a $450,000 contract settlement from the Raiders in 1986. In other words, Pastorini made pretty good money for the day, and he clearly made enough to set himself up for the rest of his life.  That’s why Brees’ comments hacked him off.

“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said then. “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’ In that case, that’s not our fault as players.”

There couldn’t be a better personification of Brees’ comments than Pastorini.   Break it down line-by line, and it’s clear Pastorini fits this mold:

“…Guys out there that have made bad business decisions…” Pastorini has filed for bankruptcy twice.

“…They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place…” Not only is Pastorini divorced, but he also got clipped for $1.5 million dollars in a personal injury settlement for his involvement in a boat-racing accident that killed two people.

I can see where Pastorini would take those comments personally, but Brees’ isn’t the one who was driving the boat, so to speak. What this really is all about is Pastorini is just another one of those people who thinks it is somebody else’s responsibility to pay for his decisions.

“I’m going to get an extra $1,000 a month. Big f—–g deal,” the 62-year-old Pastorini told CBSSports.com recently. “I think it’s a travesty the way they treat the older players. I’m part of that group. They’re throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won’t have to worry about us pre-93er’s. It’s sad, but it’s their M.O. They want to wait for us to die…They’ve been screwing us from day one. My pension was $1,100 a month, then $1,200, then $1,400, and now it’ll be $1,750. No medical, no disability — $1,700 doesn’t even pay for my rent.”

First of all, your rent is your problem, Dan. If you can’t swing $1,700 in rent, don’t live in a $1,700 place.  Second of all, if you’re not happy with the money, don’t take it. But most importantly, take your problem to someone who can do something about it.

You don’t have to like what Brees said (after all, the truth hurts) but you have to understand that Brees actually fought for the retirees to get more money.

And though Brees’ statement continues to backfire on him and the union, those close to Brees says he was one of the retired players’ biggest advocates in trying to give back to the players who came before him — and to get everybody to understand the importance of doing so. Witness a radio interview he gave last April to XX 1090 in San Diego.

“I know that I’m fighting for so many people here, for former players in the form of improving their pensions and disability benefits to take care of those guys that built this game for us and future players too,” he said. “To be honest with you, this is one of those things that when a settlement is reached, that settlement is something that I’m probably never going to benefit from. It’s guys before me, it’s guys that are going to come after me. So for me, there’s so many guys that made sacrifices before us to make this game better.”

So, now there’s a $620 million “Legacy Fund” that didn’t exist before the new CBA. This money is for the players who retired before 1993 and exists to increase pensions. There’s another $300 million on the table for health benefits that didn’t exist before the new CBA.

But, it seems that isn’t good enough for Pastorini. It begs the question what would be good enough for him, and I would bet he doesn’t even know the answer to that; you can’t easily quantify “more.”

Forget about Drew Brees. F–k you, Dan Pastorini.

Great Moments in Minnesota Twins History: The Day Hating Joe Mauer Entered The Afterlife

A few years ago, I would have never imagined this moment was possible; Joe Mauer was a god in catcher’s gear in Minnesota. But, when you sign a contract worth roughly the gross national product of Portugal, then bat under .250 with absolutely no power, the tables are going to turn.

But now we’ve entered a whole new realm. Thanks to the good people over at SportsPickle, we’ve learned that hating Mauer continues even after you’ve shaken off this mortal catcher’s coil. That’s the official confirmation that the love affair between Twins fans and the former hometown hero is now officially over.

My first clue the relationship was over came when the Chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board, the esteemed Dick Marple, would only refer to Mauer as “the $23 million singles hitter.” Frankly, I may owe some money to the other member of that board as I may have bet the curse on Mauer’s house would come from Mr. Marple’s deathbed.  My bad bets notwithstanding, I can just imagine the curse a culture that contains the ascerbic Marple disdain and hatred from the grave would cast…

Stan Van Gundy Is Done Pussy-Footing Around With College Athletics

A lot of people know Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy is not shy when it comes to offering his opinions. Since the NBA Lockout is robbing us of chances to hear from Mr. Van Gundy, we were fortunate enough to find this nugget of his wisdom, especially on a subject near and dear to the staff here at Dubsism.  It seems that Van Gundy believes in revamping the business end of college athletics.

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy addressedthe Yahoo! Sports investigation into extra benefits University of Miami athletes allegedly received from booster Nevin Shapiro. Van Gundy blames the problems that plague college sports on the NCAA clinging to its untenable vision of amateurism and argues that the best solution would be trashing the rulebook altogether.

“Let the schools decide whom they enroll and how — no entrance or eligibility requirements, how much the boosters want to pay them and whether or not they go to class,” he told the Herald. “There are two rules. You play only four seasons, and the upper age limit is 25. No other rules. Players who are paid must declare their income and pay taxes on it. If they don’t and get caught, then they have to deal with the IRS and instead of giving back the Heisman they risk going to jail.

“This drops the myth about amateurism and education. It allows players to get paid but puts it out in the open. Now people can stop hiding behind their idealism about the purity of college athletics and let you know what the school and alumni truly value. NCAA enforcement is the drug war. We’ve lost. Let’s find a different, more realistic approach.”

It certainly is a radical approach, and I’m not sure I can support it, but his point is not without merit inasmuch as it strips all the pretense off of this situation, which in and of itself is a step in the right direction.  For the most part, his approach is since the NCAA has shown no ability to prevent boosters, agents, and anyone else with an interest from spreading cash around like so much creamy peanut butter, why not just allow it?

For me, the biggest problem I have with this plan is it smacks just a bit too much of they “legalize drugs” argument; you can’t stop it, so you might as well permit it. That seems like a bit of a cop-out, and there’s a definite element of “passing the buck,” but he does have the correct basic idea: it is time to quit pretending college athletics isn’t a big-time business.

The major implication in Van Gundy’s approach is there’s no harm in a “free market system” in which top players can accept money from boosters in return for signing with a particular school and then hire an agent and earn endorsements once they enroll if their performance warrants it.

That system is vastly more feasible than any pay-to-play proposal suggesting that cash-strapped universities should pay players an annual salary. Critics  surely will argue Van Gundy’s proposal would create an uneven playing field by rewarding wealthy schools with the financial means to pay top recruits, but CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish accurately points out the landscape might not look much different than it does now.

Van Gundy’s scathing criticism of the NCAA includes this bleak picture of college sports as a farm system “set up for everybody but the kids while pretending to be about the kids.”

“The schools don’t want to be blatantly in the situation of being professional sports even though they already are professional sports,” Van Gundy said. “They just want to disguise it, so they hide behind education. But, really, all you want is enough of your athletes to graduate so it looks like that’s what you care about.”

It’s not pretty, but its has a double-fisted amount of truth in it. If nothing else, it is high time to drop the charade that college athletics is not a major revenue-generating business. I’m not sure Van Gundy’s approach is the right one, because I’m not convinced an absence of regulation other than federal law is the answer, but at least his idea moves this problem in the right direction.

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