So you’re saying there’s a chance…NFC East

This will be the first installment of a series I’ll release as a preview for the upcoming NFL season. Training camps have started for a few teams, with the rest starting this week, and as the old saying goes, “hope springs eternal”. Every loyal fan is optimistic that this year their team will be the one to hoist the Lombardi trophy.  Or as I like to call it, everyone has a case of the Lloyd Christmas disorder…

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So what I’ll attempt to do, one division at a time, is point out the reasons for optimism, for concern, and for some poor schmucks I’ll be destroying their dreams long before week 1 kicks off.  We start with the NFC East.

Washington Redskins

Why they should be optimistic: It’s year 2 under Jay Gruden, so maybe just maybe there’s some hope that the offense will be better with a full offseason of building more comfort with his system.  I mean, the additional reps can’t hurt right?  Maybe with the extra reps the offense will finally click and they’ll be able to maximize the talent they have with RGIII, Garcon, D-Jax and Alfred Morris.

Why they should be concerned: Frankly, because this is a quarterback driven league and right now their biggest question mark is at that position. RGIII has shown major regression since his rookie season, and also hasn’t been able to stay healthy.   He didn’t look comfortable in Jay Gruden’s system even before he got injured.  He had the look of a wild bronco that had been tamed – no fight in him, and no play-making ability as he awkwardly sat in the pocket and took hit after hit.  He threw only 4 TDs in 9 games last season…doesn’t take an expert to figure out that’s not going to cut it.

It doesn’t stop at RGIII though.  The defense was awful last season.  No pass rush, no ability to generate turnovers, and they gave up way too many big plays in the passing game.  They tried to address those needs in the offseason, but weren’t successfully able to add any game-changing talent on that side of the ball…so the same concerns linger for another season.

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What are their chances:  Realistically, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that this team wins the division.  There’s talent on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense looks poised for another terrible season.  My official prediction = 4-12; Gruden gets fired, and RGIII will be playing quarterback for another franchise in 2016.

Philadelphia Eagles

Why they should be optimistic: They added the NFL’s leading rusher from last season, in DeMarco Murray, to Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense predicated on getting in as many plays as possible.  So far Chip Kelly has a track record of success, despite them missing the playoffs last season and they’re in a very winnable division.

Why they should be concerned:  Let’s start at the key position for every NFL team, quarterback. Granted Nick Foles didn’t look all that impressive when healthy, he was definitely better than Mark Sanchez…who reminded everyone why he’s known more for the ‘Butt Fumble’ than anything else. Fast forward to 2015 as training camp gets ready to kick off, and now the Eagles are banking on the health of Sam Bradford. A proposition that seems about as smart as betting that Jared from Subway never watched kiddie porn. Was that too far? I never know.

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That’s right Eagles fans, you’re one hit away from this as your starting QB…again

Don’t get me wrong, when healthy Sam Bradford has shown the ability to be an adequate starting QB. But the guy is coming off his 2nd ACL tear (albeit one in each knee) and has never shown the ability to stay healthy throughout an entire season. With the laughable Mark Sanchez once again manning the back-up position, I wouldn’t feel real comfortable as an Eagles fan with that duo at the helm of my franchise. Couple that with the fact that this offseason saw Kelly trade away LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, and let Jeremy Maclin walk in free agency, and all of a sudden that high-octane offense looks a lot more like a Ferrari that you’re trying to make run with parts from a Toyota Corolla.

What are their chances:  I think the Eagles will be competitive in a division that should be at least slightly improved from last year. If Bradford can stay healthy, which is a HUGE if, then they’ll be in the mix coming fighting for a playoff spot. If he goes down, then forget about it. Either way, the Eagles reek to me of a team that had an insane amount of fluky big plays last season (with all the special team and defensive touchdowns) that won’t repeat again. In the end, I think they finish 9-7 best case scenario, and my official projection is a 6-10 finish that gets Chip Kelly on the hot seat heading into next offseason.

Dallas Cowboys

Why they should be optimistic:  They won the division last season.  Tony Romo had one of the best statistical seasons of his career, despite battling injuries for a portion of the year, AND had it not been for that questionable overturning of Dez Bryant’s TD catch vs Green Bay at Lambeau field…the Cowboys would have been the ones traveling to Seattle to face the Seahawks for a spot in the Super Bowl (in a stadium by the way that they had ALREADY won in during the regular season).  Sorry to throw a little salt in that wound Cowboys fans, but the point is…last season was as successful a year as Jerry’s boys have had since the days of Aikman, Irvin and Smith.

They locked Dez up to a long-term deal, and signed Greg Hardy this offseason.  They were recipients of a huge gift when his suspension was reduced to 4 games, so the hope is he regains his form and fills the gaping pass rush hole left behind by DeMarcus Ware last season.

Why they should be concerned:  They lost DeMarco Murray and are faced with a tandem of Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle at running back.  I know they have a great offensive line, but that’s still a massive downgrade.  Plus, Tony Romo is getting up there in age and has dealt with injuries in each of the past few seasons, so there’s always some concern on that front.  The larger concern has to be their defense, which has struggled in recent years – particularly in the secondary where Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr have hugely failed to live up to expectations.  They invested a 1st round pick in Byron Jones (shout out to my Huskies! UCONN!), but there’s still concern.  The defense will need to be much improved for the Boys to make a deep run.

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What are their chances:  They’re probably considered the favorites by most people to win the division.  I could definitely see it, but my gut is calling for a return to the days of 8-8 mediocre football.  I think Romo gets hurt at some point, misses a couple of games, and the defense struggles to keep the team in games.  My official prediction = 8-8 season that results in the firing of Jason Garrett.

New York Giants

Why they should be optimistic: three words…Odell Beckham Junior. I know Beast Mode is already trademarked by Marshawn, but DAMN – this dude is just nuts. I’m a Pats fan and even I get a half-chub talking about this guy (don’t judge me), so if you’re a Giants fan, there’s just no way you’re not jacked up about having him on the field for Big Blue. He put up video game numbers in his rookie season…91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 TDs – in only 12 games. It’s scary to think what he could do in 16.

Plus, Victor Cruz is coming back from an injury, and if he can ever come close to regaining the form that made him one of the most dangerous slot receivers in the league, the G-men would have a devastating 1-2 punch at receiver.   They also signed Shane Vereen this offseason, who gives Eli another receiving threat – this time out of the backfield. Pair him with the combo of Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams on early downs, add in Larry Donnell at tight end (who at least showed flashes of talent last year), sprinkle in some underwhelming Rueben Randle…and you’ve got (at least on paper) potential for one of the best offenses in the NFC.

Why they should be concerned: Well, all that offensive firepower I just talked about, doesn’t really mean much if your offensive line is trash…which theirs was last season. They invested a 1st round pick in Erick Flowers, and he’ll be forced right into actual (probably at the all-important LT position) as Will Beatty went down with a torn pectoral in May and isn’t expected back before November. So can the revamped offensive line protected Eli enough to take advantage of his weapons? That will be a key questions heading into the season.

The defense meanwhile, particularly the D-line, is usually a calling-card for the G-men and it was a big disappointment last season. Jason Pierre-Paul had a pretty quiet season but came on strong late in the year and built some momentum that probably had Giants fans feeling better (and screaming that management should lock him up to a long-term deal). That was until JPP decided to break a rule that every mom tells their 4-year-old…”don’t play with fireworks”. He had one finger amputated and reportedly had serious injuries to other fingers to there is no timetable for his return. There’s just something about the G-men that makes their players commit major bodily harm to themselves…

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Couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring this up again

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There’s also the ever important Eli factor; i.e. which Eli Manning will they get. Will they get the good Eli who threw for 30 TDs against only 14 interceptions last season, or will they get bad Eli from 2013 when he threw a league-leading 27 interceptions with only 18 TDs. I don’t think any quarterback in the history of the NFL has had a more polarizing, Jekyll and Hyde career than Eli Manning. When he’s good, he can carry that team on his back (unfortunately I’ve had to witness it twice as a Pats fan). When he’s bad, he gives Mark Sanchez (back then) and Geno Smith (now) a serious run for worst QB in New York.

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What are their chances: As much as it pains me to say this based on my hatred for G-men, I think they’re going to win the division. I think their defense will be good enough, and their offense will carry them to a 9-7 or 10-6 record – which will be good enough to win the division. Plus, look at their schedule – the NFC east plays the NFC South and AFC East this year…hardly a grueling gauntlet of teams they’ll be facing.  The official prediction = 10-6, 1st place in the NFC East and they lose on the road in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

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The Brady Saga Continues

This article will be a cathartic release. My frustration was only intensified by spending over 6 hours in a car driving back to Boston from Maryland when the Brady news was released. I had to pull over in Connecticut and have my wife drive the rest of the way just so I could start writing this and get it out of my system.  I apologize in advance if my passion for this subject raises concerns that I’m developing Tourette’s syndrome (I’ll try to avoid the spontaneous F-bomb if possible).

What does this decision say about the NFL? 

It again demonstrates that they’re flying by the seat of their pants. They have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Every ruling is made with total disregard for any past precedent because they’re making up the rules as they go along. There’s no consistency across the proceedings, or handling of appeals, and they only care about making money…not the players or the reputation of the league.

Let’s consider that in the weeks leading up to this decision on Brady, the NFL announced that they reduced Greg Hardy’s suspension for domestic violence from 10 games to 4 games. Yes, that’s right – to the same number of games as Brady. So beating your wife is equal to being “generally aware” of a team official breaking rules that weren’t properly documented or enforced in the first place AND for not cooperating with a third-party investigator who was basically out on a witch hunt. Makes sense.

Brady tried to reach a settlement, but was met with “silence”. But simultaneously reports were surfacing that the NFL was close to settling with Le’Veon Bell to reduce his 3 game suspension for marijuana possession and DUI to 2 games. The only offer from the NFL was apparently to cut Brady’s suspension to 2 games as well, but IF and ONLY IF he admitted to his guilt and involvement directly with the deflation of footballs. To which Brady obviously told Goodell and the NFL to F**K OFF.

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Well, why did Brady destroy his phone?

I’ll be the first to admit, that definitely isn’t a good look for Tommy boy. Certainly makes it look like he was hiding something. Maybe he had some tasty pics of Giselle on there that he didn’t want Ted Wells’ perverted eyes to see. Maybe he was just being a normal human being and didn’t want to hand over his personal property to a complete stranger. Either way, I get that the headline creates a large shadow of doubt over his self-proclaimed innocence on this matter. But, with that said, it’s a headline that Brady and the Patriots (along with his attorney) have claimed is just another attempt by the NFL to divert attention from the facts of the situation. Brady’s attorney stated that Tom turned over all information to the commissioner during the appeal process to identify any text messages to the parties involved. So it seems like one of the two sides is full of crap on this topic. I’d assume the truth will come to light in the coming months.

Even if he did physically destroy his phone, that doesn’t mean he’s guilty of anything other than what the NFL has claimed all along…of not cooperating fully with the Wells investigation. The unfortunate part for the NFL though, is that the Wells report actually made no reference whatsoever to any lack of cooperation from Brady. It’s yet another inconsistency and contradiction from an organization that is penalizing Brady for not being transparent, when they’ve been anything but throughout this entire process. Plus any prior cases of a player “failing to cooperate” has resulted in a fine. So how does this failure now translate to a 4-game suspension for Brady?

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What is Roger Goodell thinking?

That’s an impossible question to answer, to be fair, because you’ll never get a straight answer from that guy. All Patriots fans are wondering how he could possibly keep the suspension at 4 games after dragging out this process for so long. Simply put, I think Goodell and the rest of the league’s front office decided that there was no turning back. They’ve looked like complete idiots for the better part of the last year as they botched one sensitive situation after another: Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy. They just reached a point at which they refused to admit that in this case they handled anything incorrectly, so they dug in their heels.

Plus, once the NFLPA announced that Brady would be taking the case to court if he was suspended for even a single game, what incentive did Goodell have to reduce the suspension at all? If they’re going to court either way, then he might as well stick to his guns. That way if the ruling is going to be overturned, it’ll have to come from a Federal Court and then he can point the finger at the court system when the other 31 owners complain about Brady and the Patriots “getting away” with another scandal. He can say, “Hey, I did everything I could. I gave them the harshest penalty in the history of the league and upheld Brady’s suspension. The court overturned me, nothing I can do about it.”

In some ways, Brady has the NFLPA to blame for how things have transpired. The PA jumped the gun and even released their complete defense strategy against the NFL. It gave Goodell’s office plenty of time to sit on this announcement and come up with a strategy that benefited them. Plus, in holding onto this announcement as long as possible it makes it that much more difficult for Brady to get an injunction processed in time for the regular season. In doing so, the NFL was also able to beat Brady to the punch and preemptively filed the lawsuit in the state of New York. A court system that provides no benefit to Brady or the NFLPA, contrary to Minnesota (where the Adrian Peterson appeal was heard) and Massachusetts – both of which would have been at least a slight advantage to Brady.

At the end of the day, Goodell is more two-faced than the Batman character. He doesn’t have the best interest of the “shield” at heart. All he cares about is maintaining his cushy position as commissioner so he can continue to cash an absolutely absurd paycheck (he made over $44M in 2012 and it’s only increased since). To do that, he’s got to play the politics of it and appease the other owners. That’s what he’s doing here more than anything else…protecting himself.  (By the way, Fun Fact:  Goodell’s house is currently under constant police surveillance because he’s been receiving threats since he made the announcement to uphold Brady’s suspension.  I SWEAR I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THOSE THREATS.  I was with you from 5-9pm last night…tell’em).

What now?

Well, within hours it was announced that Brady has authorized the NFL Players Association to file an appeal on his behalf in Federal Court. That was the logical next step that everyone saw coming. Basically, Brady and his attorney will try to get an injunction to have him immediately reinstated while the case works its way through the court process. Essentially, they’re going to try to defer his suspension so that he’s eligible to play this upcoming season and it ultimately gets resolved in the offseason. If the end result is the upholding of his 4-game suspension, then he’d serve it next season. Best case scenario, the suspension gets overturned and Brady never has to miss any regular season game action.

The hope is that they’ll know soon enough, so the team can plan accordingly during training camp and preseason. Either way, you can expect to see a lot of Jimmy Garoppolo this preseason as the team looks to prepare him for the first 4 weeks (in the event that Brady cannot suit up).

Legal analysts on ESPN have said that Brady doesn’t stand a chance in court. I find it extremely hard to believe that Brady would go down this road and continue to drag this process on, if he didn’t have a good case.

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What I wish would happen

I’m honestly torn at the moment. A huge part of me is just sick and tired of hearing about this story. I can’t stand watching baseball right now, so I’ve been dying for training camp to start so I could focus entirely on football. But with every day that this whole debacle drags on, it takes the attention away from what matters…the Patriots defense of their Super Bowl title. That’s frustrating as a fan, so I can only imagine how the players feel.

The other side of the coin though is filled with deep-seeded rage because I want Brady to be fully exonerated. I want his reputation to be salvaged and for Roger Goodell and Ted Wells to be forced into an awkward and painful press conference where they have to admit they botched this whole situation and were dead wrong. I want to hear them apologize to Brady and Patriots nation for dragging them through the mud and trying to taint their 4th Super Bowl victory.

The reality is, that I’d give that pretty slim odds…but I can dream right? I never thought Robert Kraft was going to pull a 180 and attack the league after he took Goodell’s obscene penalty lying down. But he left me pleasantly surprised this afternoon when he FINALLY came to Brady’s defense and ripped the NFL a new asshole. About damn time Robert! It’s not enough to completely redeem yourself to Pats fans…but at least it’s a start. I wish he had shown some cojones when Goodell bitch-slapped him with a $1M penalty and took away a 1st and 4th round draft pick…but I believe Kraft when he says he regrets that decision now. Understatement of the century Robert.

So now it’s time for the real battle. Brady v. Goodell in court; Kraft v. the NFL in the court of public opinion. Pardon my French, but I hope that Brady and Kraft fuck Goodell sideways.

Don't think we'll see anymore exchanges like this between these two
Don’t think we’ll see anymore exchanges like this between these two

The Open: Last Nail in Tiger’s Coffin

This post will be a departure from my normal topics – dare I say, my normal areas of expertise (yeah I’m giving myself some undeserved credentials right now).  Given the finish at The Open this afternoon, I feel that some coverage is well deserved.  So for all you avid golf fans out there (and of course you’re ALL reading my blog), enjoy this rare occasion which is…golf coverage by The Office Sports Guy.  Just as background, I don’t typically cover golf NOT because I’m not a fan.  I love all sports and thoroughly enjoy watching the Majors.  It’s because I am utterly awful at golf, and when I watch the professionals it makes me feel entirely emasculated as they bomb 300+ yard drives down the middle of the fairway.  Meanwhile, I’m knocking it 200 yards off the tee with my hybrid and usually playing my second shot from a cluster of trees somewhere near the adjacent fairway.  But I digress…

The Ugly

Let’s get it out of the way.  If you read my only other golf article, you know my feelings on Tiger Woods.  He’s done.  At the beginning of the week, Tiger addressed the media at St. Andrew’s and said, “I’m not buried and done yet”.  Sorry buddy, but you are.  His career may not be officially over because Tiger will keep trotting out there trying to fix his swing, but let’s be honest…he’ll never compete at the highest level again.  Hell, I don’t know if he’ll ever be in contention on a meaningful Sunday ever again.  Even if you disregard his drought at the Majors (no win since he beat Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines in 2008, on one leg by the way), just use the ‘Eye Test’.  He’s missed the cut in three of his last four major appearances, and it hasn’t been close.  Remember when all Tiger did was win?  He was Ricky Bobby, “if you ain’t first, you’re last”.  Now he’s THIS version of Ricky Bobby:

He’s turned into a car accident, it’s terrible but you just can’t make yourself look away.  Worst part is there are no signs of encouragement in any facet of his game, and the largest obstacle…the field is too deep now.  Which leads me to…

The Good

This afternoon culminated what was an extremely exciting and competitive 5 days of golf (thanks to mother nature).  Despite the difficult weather conditions at time this week, the field took advantage of any opportunity to attack the course and the result was low scores across the board and a leaderboard full of big names and a Sunday afternoon (okay MONDAY) full of drama (I’m still bitter that I was at work while on this went down today).  Anyone who desperately wanted to see Jordan Spieth take home the 3rd leg of the Grand Slam is ultimately disappointed, but he was right in the thick of things all tournament.  Had the results on the last two holes been a bit different, the putt he made on 16 would have been part of the career highlight reel for Spieth.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  But, he played tremendous golf and gave the fans almost everything they could have hoped for (oh and by the way, the guy hasn’t turned 22 yet).

Unlike last year’s Open when Rory McIlroy won going away, this tournament was competitive throughout and full of great storylines.  There was the Jordan Spieth quest (as already discussed), Oosthuizen was looking to defend his turf at ‘The Old Course’ and you had an amateur (Paul Dunne) with a share of the lead entering the final round.  The poor kid looked totally shell-shocked today but who can blame him – he shot +6 and didn’t even finish as the top amateur…now that’s a tough pill to swallow.

Just think about how much you'll get laid when you get back to school...feel better now?
Just think about how much you’ll get laid when you get back to school…feel better now?

You also had Dustin Johnson doing his typical deal…racing out to a lead in a major, only to collapse on the weekend when the pressure is on.  There were old-timers making a run at the claret jug – Sergio Garcia and Padraig Harrington (didn’t even know he still played) both turned back the clocks and were within strokes of the lead on the back nine.  Jason Day once again quietly gave himself an opportunity to win his first major, and once again came up just short – I feel for you bro…your time will come.

And of course the end result after 72 holes…well, 4 more holes as Zach Johnson, Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman forced a 3-way playoff after finishing at -15 (note that both Johnson and Oosthuizen birdied 18 to secure their place).  Johnson was able to pull off the victory and secure his second career major (won the Masters in 2007).

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The Great

The current direction of golf as a sport.  I grew up during the real heyday of Tiger Woods.  When he completely dominated the sport, and frankly put golf on the map across the world.  Before he busted onto the scene golf was an old-man’s sport.  Once Tiger showed up, kids everywhere were picking up golf.  Everyone wanted to be like Tiger – me included (I even had a tiger head cover for my driver).  When Tiger started to decline, and then got hurt, everyone wondered if golf would suffer and lose viewers/fans.  Well, I can definitively say that golf right now is in better standing than it’s ever been.  There is more young talent across the game than ever before.  Who needs Tiger when you’ve got the likes of:  Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose…it goes on and on.  The game is more competitive than ever, and more popular thanks to the injection of youth into the game.  Kids all over the country are rocking the flat brim cap on the course, so golf is definitely trendy again.

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The Awesome

I’ll end on the highest note possible…so did everyone catch the tee shot that Phil Mickelson hit on 17 (the Road Hole)?  After getting himself to -10 for the tournament (only two shots off the lead at the time), Phil proceeded to duck hook his tee shot and land it on a hotel balcony (yes it landed and stayed there)

No, Phil could not ‘play it where it lies’.  I would have loved to see Lefty up on that balcony going for the green; couldn’t help but be reminded of…

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The DeAndre Jordan Saga

You know that game that little girls play (maybe used to play – I have no idea what little kids do these days) where they pull petals off the flower to figure out if their crush really loves them?  Maybe that’s what DeAndre Jordan has been doing this past week.  “I love them, I love them not, I love them, I love them not”.

As a completely unbiased observer of the absurd ending to the DeAndre Jordan free agency saga I think I can provide some objective observations.  So here’s my take:

Chandler’s on to something

Chandler Parsons, who was part of the recruiting team that went to visit DeAndre when he originally “agreed” to join the Mavs, spoke to ESPN yesterday when the news broke and had this to say:

“This is something that I’ve never seen in my career, and I know that it doesn’t happen very often.  When a man gives you his word and an organization his word, especially when that organization put in so much effort and I walked him through this process and was very, very open and willing to work with him, it’s just very unethical and disrespectful.”

He’s got every right to be pissed off, as does everyone in the Mavs organization and that entire fan base.  It’s a cowardly move to back out when you’ve given someone your word.  Not to mention the fact that DeAndre ignored every attempt the Mavs made to contact him on Wednesday when news broke that he was having second thoughts about his decision.  He treated them like they were the crazy chick he met at the club last weekend…”Oh hell no, no way I’m talking to that bitch”.

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This is the real exchange Cuban had with DeAndre

Phone calls, text messages…hell Mark Cuban and Parsons even flew down to Houston to try to meet with DeAndre on Wednesday but couldn’t see him because the Clippers refused to leave his place (smart move on their part by the way).  This whole situation had the feel of an insane hostage situation…if I was the Mavs I would have called Kevin Spacey in to negotiate.  He was able to talk Sam L. Jackson out of killing anyone, so maybe he could have coaxed Doc, CP3 and Blake out of the crib long enough for Cuban to work some magic.  But alas, it wasn’t meant to be and now the Mavs are royally screwed.  At the least the Clippers contingency was having fun on Wednesday night…

What it tells me about DeAndre

This whole debacle tells me that the dude has no freaking idea what the hell he wants.  At the beginning of free agency he said the most important thing was going somewhere he could be “The Guy”.  He wanted to be that franchise centerpiece that a team built around; the focal point of an offense.  Well, maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see how that’s EVER going to happen on a squad where he’s running with Blake and CP3.  Not to mention all the BS that got thrown around about his toxic relationship with Chris Paul.  Funny how that was squashed by a short conversation at his house (all accounts are that the Clippers visit on Wednesday consisted of more video games and card-playing than actual recruiting/hashing out differences).

So now he’s done a complete 180 and decided that staying in L.A. is what he wants.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s the best place for him to be in terms of fit AND in terms of actually competing for a championship.  It just didn’t seem like either of those were top priorities for DeAndre when this process started.  Maybe he smartened up.  Maybe he realized that staying in L.A. meant an extra $8 million over the course of his contract, since teams can pay more to keep their own free agents.

It also tells me that regardless of what he said publicly, he’s not ready to be a franchise guy.  Frankly, he’s NOT that kind of player.  He’s Ben Wallace, but obviously a helluva a lot more athletic.  The dude can’t make a free throw, a jumper…all of his points come on lobs from CP3 or put-backs from offensive rebounds.  He’s an insane athlete, a terrific defender and a ferocious rebounder.  But, and I say BUT, he has no offensive game whatsoever and to me that doesn’t translate to a franchise centerpiece that you build your entire team around.  I mean the Clips had to pull him off the floor at times during their playoff series vs Houston because the “hack-a-DeAndre” was crippling their offense.  Hard to build your team around a guy that can’t be on the floor during crunch time because you’re scared he’ll get fouled.  I think he made the best decision of his life by staying in L.A. where CP3 will get the most out of his freakish talents and he can get his while being the 3rd (or 4th) option to score.  The fact that he’s a max contract guy now just epitomizes what’s wrong with the NBA…but that’s for another post.

Ultimately the gang got back together for another run
Ultimately the gang got back together for another run

So where does everyone go from here?

Well, the Clippers seem poised for another run at one of the top seeds in the West along with Golden State and San Antonio.  If they stay healthy they should be in the mix to make a run at a championship next season. With the core of their squad back, and the addition of Paul Pierce, Doc appears to have all the pieces they need to atone for their epic collapse in the playoffs (which by the way nobody has given them enough heat for – does everyone forget that they were up 3-1 vs Houston AND up double digits in the 2nd half of game 5?  One of the worst choke jobs I’ve ever seen).  Clippers fans can feel good about having this guy in their uniform for at least 3 more seasons…

The Mavs meanwhile have thrown a max contract Wesley Matthews way, which would be more reasonable if he wasn’t coming off an ugly Achilles injury.  Their biggest issues are a lack of all-around depth and playmakers.  Devin Harris is a solid player, but with the PGs in the West he’s not good enough to match up with the likes of Westbrook, Parker, Paul or Curry.  Plus in addition to having DeAndre spurn you like a prom night dumpster baby, you also had Tyson Chandler bolt for Phoenix…meaning you’re left with total garbage at the center position and an aging Nowitzki as your only frontcourt scorer.  Good luck with that.  The names left in free agency, and the trade market for that matter, are just not going to cut it.  Reports are that D-Will wants a trade out of Brooklyn to re-join Dirk, so maybe Cuban can orchestrate that AND another move to keep them competitive.  But with all the firepower in the West they seemed destined to finish on the outside looking in; in which case the 1st rounder the Celtics acquired for Rondo might have actual value now!

How Mark Cuban feels right now
How Mark Cuban feels right now

The Worst Contract in Baseball

The past few days seemed to have inexplicably erased the last 3 miserable months of baseball for many Red Sox fans.  The Sox had won three straight and 9 out of 14…”here they come, they’re making a run now” some people said.  My only responses to that are…stop drinking the bong water, and remember  it’s puff, puff, PASS.

In all seriousness, this team is an utter joke, so let’s pump the brakes on any good vibrations that are being built up right now.  Yes, I’m talking to all you Sox fans who have a little Pedey in your pants because they won a few games in a row.  But this isn’t an article about how OVER the Sox season is…that should be understood by now.  This is about something that this afternoon’s game reminded me of…that the Red Sox made the WORST INVESTMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE THIS YEAR.  Three words:

Rick…Fucking…Porcello

RICK-PORCELLO

What a hot bag of garbage this guy is.  The contract extension that Red Sox management gave him this season will inevitably go down as the worst contract (at least to-date) in the history of this franchise…and that’s saying something (yes I consider it worse than each of these masterpieces:  Carl Crawford @ 7yrs $142M, John Lackey @ 5yrs $82.5M, JD Drew @ 5yrs $70M, Julio Lugo @ 4yrs $36M and Dice-K @ 5yrs $52M).  Let’s get to the details…

The Sox acquired Porcello this offseason from the Tigers for Yoenis Cespedes.  Seemed like a solid move.  Both guys in the last year of their respective contracts and the Red Sox had a plethora of outfielders with a HUGE, gaping hole in their entire pitching staff.  So far we’re good – no major objections.

Then, for a reason that I will NEVER, EVER understand, the Sox decided to sign Porcello to a 4-year contract extension for $82.5M.  That’s right, $20.6M per year, for a guy who at the time had not pitched a single inning in a Red Sox uniform.  The contract was signed before Porcello even made a start this season, which begs the question…WHY NOW??  Why not wait until the guy actually pitches for you and you figure out if he can hack it in this market (one that quite frankly has made much better pitchers than Rick Porcello crumble under the pressure).  Instead, they panicked after losing Lester in the offseason and having nothing to show for it long-term.  So they gave a massive contract extension to a starting pitcher who doesn’t strike anyone out (because he’s a sinker-ball pitcher), had a career win-loss record of 76-63 coming into this season (worse now), and a career ERA coming into 2015 of 4.30 (much worse now).  That’s right, 4.30…if that is now validation for a $20M/Year contract, then every young boy in the world should be picking up a baseball and learning to throw.

I didn't get it either man
I didn’t get it either man

I know what they were hoping for…Porcello is only 26 years old and coming off his best season (also his only season with a sub-4 ERA), so management was hoping to lock him up before his prime.  It makes sense conceptually.  The issue is that securing him for his “prime” doesn’t mean anything when that’s just securing 4 more years of a mediocre (and that’s being REALLY generous) pitcher.  Management must have been hoping for the best case scenario instead of being realistic about who this guy really is, because I would hope that any of their scouts could easily point out that he lacks elite stuff.  He’s not a front-of-the-rotation pitcher…and that’s what you expect when you pay a guy $20+ million per year.

I really wish someone had given Sox management this advice before they signed that deal
I really wish someone had given Sox management this advice before they signed that deal

So how has the return on that $82.5M investment fared so far? Well, he hasn’t won a game since MID MAY, so needless to say it’s been a disappointment. Porcello’s stat line this season is just brutal…

4-9 record with a 6.08 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and only 75 strike outs in 94.2 innings pitched.

He’s also given up a whopping 16 home runs this season…did you see the absurd jacks that Encarnacion and Justin Smoak hit off him today?  Those blasts might not have landed yet.  Fun Fact:  Porcello ranks dead last among American League starting pitchers in ERA (among those that qualify based on innings pitched) and 97th out of 98 pitchers in the entire Major Leagues.  Everyone as excited as I am to watch 4 more years of this trash?

Only solution is to drink heavily while watching this bum…maybe we can make a drinking game out of it!  Every time he gives up a run you finish your beer or mixed drink.  Every time he gives up a homer you take a shot.  That’s a sure-fire way to get really f**ked up, and probably the only way you’re going to convince people to watch his starts.

This is what Sox fans will look like on Porcello's starts
This is what Sox fans will look like on Porcello’s starts for the next 4 years