Harold Reynolds, Still Drinking The Jeter Kool-Aid

Just a quick hit for you courtesy of Harold Reynolds, as interviewed by the New York Post.

Q: Is Derek Jeter as bad defensively as some would make him sound?

Yes. Absolutely. Harold?

It’s a bit of an overreaction.

No,  no it’s not.

Jeter has a career UZR/150 of -5.1 — meaning he costs his team more than five full runs a year, on average, versus a replacement-level shortstop. He’s also had some tragically bad seasons, like ’07, when he was -17.9. NEGATIVE SEVENTEEN POINT NINE.

He did win a Gold Glove.

Actually, he won five of them, and at best, you can say that he deserved one — in ’09, when he put up a surprisingly good — and totally out of line with his career numbers — 6.4 UZR. Even that was only fifth-best that season, but I’ll give him that Gold Glove because the guys who were significantly ahead of him all either changed leagues or committed a lot of errors.

Here are his UZRs in the other seasons he won Gold Gloves: -0.7, -14.9, -7.3, -4.7. But he’s Derek Jeter!  A True Yankee! A World Champion!

Fact: Gold Gloves are awards that are voted on by people and are often more of a contest of name recognition and error count than anything else. Aside from guys who are really known for their gloves, like Omar Vizquel, you almost universally have to be a good hitter to win a Gold Glove. Riddle me that.

He’s going to catch every ball hit to him.

Wow, he’s going to catch every ball that’s hit right to him? A Gold Glove isn’t enough! Is there some sort of Platinum Glove we can give guys who can successfully make routine plays?

What about balls hit to his left? His right? Popped up behind him? Don’t count? Alright.

The conventional wisdom on Jeter is that he doesn’t make a lot of errors, which means he’s a good defensive shortstop. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reason that Jeter doesn’t make a lot of errors is that he doesn’t get to a lot of balls that other guys would get to, so he doesn’t get as many chances to make difficult plays, which more commonly lead to errors. This also means that more balls hit in Jeter’s general direction go for hits.

When you get older, you are going to lose range, but you learn how to position yourself and that’s what I think those people are missing that don’t go into the range factor.

Actually, that does go into “the range factor.” I don’t know, Harold, if you’re talking about the actual statistic called range factor or defensive metrics in a broader sense, but let’s just make this clear once and for all: You are wrong.

Defensive statistics don’t measure how far to the left or right a player is capable of moving to make a play; they assign an expected area of the field to each fielder that an average player at his position is expected to cover and see how many of those balls he actually gets to. (Range factor itself is as simple as putouts + assists / games.)  If Jeter’ “knows how to position himself” and gets to balls because he anticipates that they’ll be hit closer to second or third or whatever, that would show up in fielding statistics. But it doesn’t! Why? Because Harold Reynolds is full of shit.

Also, can we stop fucking pretending that positioning is some sort of veteran skill? By and large, it falls to the manager and coaches to study opposing hitters’ tendencies and tell players where to play. I’d wager a pretty penny that Captain Intangible doesn’t come up with his positioning from at-bat to at-bat on his own.

Derek Jeter’s defense sucks. He is a well-below-average shortstop and has been so for nearly his entire career. Can we stop sucking his dick at some point?


Sometimes, When Mark Schlereth Bangs On His Keyboard, Words Come Out

Mark Schlereth is a true gem of a man because even when he makes (sort of) a good point, he still sounds like a total idiot. Who else would have a sidebar on his site asking you to “Joins Mark’s V.I.P. Sky Box Newsletter List”?

His latest thesis, if you want to be generous and call it that, appears to be about how it snowed before the Super Bowl, so they should get a new CBA done. Or something. It’s called North Texas: A Reason to Get a Deal Done.

With content like this, how could I not joins?

I know that picking on the Super Bowl host site of “North Texas” is going after low-hanging fruit, but it’s early in the morning and I’m tired. Besides, I’m not above lying in my lounge chair and plucking the bottom banana.

Or your goatee. I bet you spend at least an hour a day meticulously plucking that motherfucker, and it still looks like someone ate a pile of newspapers and then vomited it onto your chin.

I believe in the concept of full discloser

Me… too?

so for those of you who think that all I do is peddle Stinkin’ Good Green Chile (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Yes. That link is actually in there. Mark Schlereth is mad about the site of the Super Bowl — but he also makes a damn fine line of Mark Schlereth-brand products!

it’s important to note that I am–first and foremost–

A canned-chili salesman?

a former football player.

Oh, right.

My love for the NFL is therefore biased in that direction.

I… what… but… direction… love… bias… huh?

That said, let’s talk about what went wrong in North Texas and the only reason that this Super Bowl was a success.

Well, I know it wasn’t the commercials.

If the NFL owners and their Commissioner stopped listening to the warm and fuzzy, self-promotional drivel emanating from Jerry Jones’ lips about the greatness of a North Texas Super Bowl and sat outside for more than 10 minutes like the rest of us–maybe, just maybe–the bitter cold would have slapped some sense into their collective heads.

The average high temperature in Arlington in February is 60 degrees. The average low is 39. It is still Texas, not a place that’s known for extremely cold weather conditions — hence why they were ill-prepared for them.

Somehow, when the powers that be picked the site of the Super Bowl in May 2007, they didn’t know the precise fucking weather report for February 2011 — but they did know that it’s been as hot as 96 fucking degrees (and, to be fair, as cold as -8) in Arlington in February and that the average low is, if not comfortable, at least decently above freezing.

No offense, Texas. You’re proud people and were kind and gracious hosts. And while I understand that the NFL can’t control the weather, they can control the selection of the host city.

Man, you are gonna flip shit when they have this thing in North Jersey.

For the record, I’m against hosting a Super Bowl anywhere that palm trees don’t grow.

South Texas, where palm trees grow, Christmas 2004.

But go on.

Ice doesn’t fall off stadiums in Miami, Arizona or Southern California and injure unsuspecting fans.

YET.

Call me crazy, but the Super Bowl should be a vacation for the 80 percent of the fans who are coming from cold-weather destinations to experience this grand event.

Why? Is it called the Vacation Bowl? Is the Super Bowl in any way, shape or form about the weather conditions? If you want a football vacation, go to the fucking Rose Bowl. If you’re paying a couple grand per ticket for the Super Bowl and the game itself isn’t what’s important to you, you can get fucked. Thanks for helping to price out the little guy.

If, instead, you want to pander to owners who build billion-dollar stadiums, at least make sure that their states have, say, more than three snow plows and have heard of magnesium-chloride (aka, ice melt).

This is actually pretty much a good idea.

In the absence of either, Dallas was locked up tighter than a 90-year-old without prune juice.

Food metaphors and constipation humor! We’re rollin’ now!

Even when the roads finally did open, it was impossible to find a cab. There’s nothing like having a Super Bowl party when the host city’s cabbies are on a coffee break. All at the same time.

This is all your fault, Roger Goodell. How did you not predict, four years in advance, that America couldn’t count on North Texas cab drivers to ferry Mark Schlereth around to Super Bowl parties? YOU’VE FAILED US ALL.

How did Messrs. Jones and Goodell think tens of thousands of people were going to get around?

Rickshaw, probably.

Anyway, is that all?

That’s not all.

Fuckin’ a.

Call me a stickler, but the league probably shouldn’t sell seats that don’t actually exist or that are constructed with lincoln logs, bailing wire and twine, either.

I agree, which makes me a stickler as well.

Super Bowl 45: Records Will Be Set Regardless of Whose Lives We Put in Harm’s Way.

This according to one of the dirtiest players in NFL history, who has said before that playing in the NFL is about “trying to get after people.”

Beware, if you watch the video there, of repeated usage of “The National Football League.”

If by the grace of God you did make it into the stadium on Sunday, you probably noticed that the national anthem was botched

Also Roger Goodell’s fault.

the field had two distinctly different pieces of turf (making Donald Trumps’ comb-over look stylish in comparison)

If you’ve gotten this far into this and your eyes aren’t bleeding yet, please be aware that you may be dead.

and Will.I.am and the Peas will.they.won’t perform at another Super Bowl halftime.

I also think the Black Eyed Peas suck, but even so, what the hell does that mean?

The one and only thing that saved this Super Bowl was the players. They did not disappoint. They came out of the tunnel and put on a great show. Their passion and heart melted all of the icy issues.

You know, Mark, I hear Bleacher Report is looking for new writers. You’d fit right in!

Owners, please listen.

Or, lacking that, Twitter people, please listen. No, seriously. Please? Come on, guys. Just listen a little bit.

I know you call the shots and I understand you’ve taken great financial risks. But the players–your players–take much greater risk. They put themselves in grave danger every time they strap on a helmet.

So every time NFL players play, they’re in harm’s way. Let’s just file that away for a minute and move on.

Please understand that fans don’t pack your stadiums to catch a glimpse of you owning your butt off in your luxury box.

I think even Jerry Jones understands that. He knows that fans pack stadiums to watch a live football game on a really, really big screen that’s definitely not going to fall down one day and crush like a hundred people.

They come to watch the players put it all on the line and battle for a victory.

Who says we’ve evolved past the era of Roman gladiators?

In North Texas, it was the players who saved this Super Bowl from being an abject disaster. They deserve better than a choice between being put in harm’s way or being locked out of their seats too.

Remember when you said “they put themselves in grave danger every time they strap on a helmet”? That was, like, two paragraphs ago. Sounds like harm is coming their way regardless.

There are a lot of arguments you can make against a lockout, against an 18-game season, against a lot of things that NFL owners do that are very profitable, but bad for fans, players or both. If you’d like to hear none of them, just ask Mark Schlereth.


Clayton: This Year’s Good Teams Will Be Next Year’s Good Teams

John Clayton, Great Prognosticator, has come up with a list of seven teams he thinks are the early favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl.

I’m just going to come right out and tell you what teams he’s got: the Packers, the Steelers, the Patriots, the Colts, the Saints, the Falcons and the Ravens.

So we have the last two Super Bowl champions, the top three seeds in the AFC, the team with the third-best record in the AFC, and the top seed in the NFC.

This is great stuff. What would we do without this valuable knowledge that the best teams are still the best teams right now, before anyone has made any roster moves or anything? Is Clayton that hard up for shit to write about now? I can just imagine the conversation with his editor:

“Hey, Editor, I don’t know what to write. I know I have to write something, but I have absolutely nothing to say.”

“Well, John, why don’t you handicap next year’s Super Bowl two days after this year’s Super Bowl?”

“But that’s ridiculous. How can we really say who’s going to win next year’s Super Bowl? This is a league of parity, so there are surprise teams every year; this season’s disaster can easily be next season’s champion.”

“Yeah, but who do these people think you are, fucking Nostradamus? Who are the best teams this year, Clayton?”

“Probably the two in the Super Bowl, right, and the Patriots, they won the AFC; and the Falcons, they won the NFC; and the Colts, Manning is still great; and the Ravens, they won 12 games; and throw the Saints in there, since they just won the Super Bowl too.”

“So basically this article is just a big middle finger to the Jets, Bears and Eagles. Alright, I dig it. How quick can you have it for me?”


The Yankees Are Totally Fucked Now

At least, that seems to be Jon Heyman’s thesis here. Okay, I really don’t know what his thesis is. I think it’s that Andy Pettitte is like the Aaron Rodgers of baseball. Not sure. Let’s find out.

Andy Pettitte’s franchise-crushing decision to retire has solidified the Yankees’ place atop our list of winter non-winners (sounds nicer than losers, doesn’t it?), a rare spot for a team that usually heads the winter winners list.

The New York Yankees, a $1.6 billion sports franchise with 523,489,335 championships and its own TV network, have been crushed by Andy Pettitte’s retirement. GROUND INTO POWDER. LAID OUT TO DRY.

Now all they have is Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, Rafael Soriano and Curtis Granderson. What ever will they do with only ten star players?

They surely wouldn’t even want to imagine things without Rafael Soriano, perhaps the most controversial signing of the winter.

I think Brian Cashman has made it quite clear that he spent the entire winter imagining things without Rafael Soriano.

But thanks to that $35 million outlay for a setup man, against general manager Brian Cashman’s wishes, at least they have a lockdown back-end of the bullpen. And they’re going to need it.

Unlike all the other teams, who don’t need good relief pitchers.

Pettitte will be recalled as one of the most consistent (he’s the only pitcher ever to throw in at least 16 seasons without a losing year)

Wins and losses are definitely the best way to judge pitchers. That record couldn’t possibly have anything to do with pitching 13 seasons for the team with the highest payroll in professional sports buying every single free-agent superstar hitter. That can’t possibly be relevant.

Andy Pettitte’s ERA by year: 4.17, 3.87, 2.88, 4.24, 4.70, 4.35, 3.99, 3.27, 4.02, 3.90, 2.39, 4.20, 4.05, 4.54, 4.16, 3.28

I’ve never seen such consistent mediocrity! Let’s get this fucker in the Hall of Fame!

and clutch (his 19 postseason victories are a record) pitchers ever.

Literally the only pitching stat that Jon Heyman uses in this entire article is wins.

Things that may help you win 19 postseason games:

  • Starting 42 postseason games
  • Being on the team with the highest payroll and all the best hitters

Things that may not help you win 19 postseason games:

  • Being “clutch”

Things that may not help you win 19 postseason games unless you’re on the Yankees:

  • Giving up 271 hits in 263 postseason innings
  • Having a career postseason ERA of 3.83 and WHIP of 1.30

Pettitte’s postseason numbers are almost exactly the same as his regular-season numbers. He wasn’t clutch in the postseason. He was just himself: a decent starting pitcher with occasional flashes of brilliance playing on a series of great teams. That is to say, a Yankee legend.

He will also be remembered, at least in the near-term, as the man who left the Yankees with a rotation that is extremely questionable beyond ace CC Sabathia and up-and-comer Phil Hughes.

Because he wasn’t just a pretty good pitcher; he was also secretly the general manager, lurking in the shadows and constructing a rotation that relies heavily on soon-to-be-39-year-old Andy Pettitte, only to crush the Yankees franchise with his retirement. Sneaky bastard.

Kevin Millwood is the only viable name left on the free-agent market. He’s certainly a consideration, a solid veteran with a decent track record within the division despite a 4-16 record with Baltimore last year, when a groin injury plagued him.

You know what else has plagued Kevin Millwood? Sucking.

Millwood’s track record within the division:

  • Red Sox: 4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
  • Rays: 5.03 ERA, 1.55 WHIP
  • Blue Jays: 5.17 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
  • Orioles: 3.74 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
  • Yankees: 5.12 ERA, 1.64 WHIP

If you need someone to beat the Orioles and no one else, he’s your guy!

The sad thing is that Millwood’s career numbers are very comparable to Pettitte’s, especially before last season. Too bad he didn’t have the Yankees’ lineup behind him almost his entire career.

As for where the current Yankees may be headed, if they don’t improve their starting pitching situation, some wonder if their usual October trip will be scrapped.

Yeah, all they have is a stacked lineup, two top-flight starters, about five credible-looking starting pitching prospects coming through their system, and the best one-two bullpen combo in baseball. What ever will they do?


Rick Reilly Again? Rick Reilly Again.

With a Super Bowl in the bag, Aaron Rodgers has taken on a Jesus-like role in Rick Reilly’s imagination.

In 50 years, when they write Rodgers’ life story, they won’t praise so much his freakish arm.

Well, actually, that’s probably one of the things “they” will praise.

They won’t write about his Houdini feet.

Freshly cut from the corpse of Harry himself! When you’re a professional athlete, you really can buy anything.

They won’t go on about his grace under pressure, his rifle-scope accuracy or his courage while the land around him burned.

Sorry, did I say Jesus? I meant Mad Max.

No, they’ll write about his unlimited capacity to forgive.

Check that. Still Jesus.

Through all the hell Brett Favre put him through, through all the yo-yoing Favre did with Rodgers’ career all those years, Rodgers never lost his patience. He never lashed out. Instead, he forgave and got to work.

Timeline time!

2005: Rodgers is drafted 24th overall.

2005-06 season: Rodgers backs up Favre.

2006-07 season: Rodgers backs up Favre. Favre makes sounds like he might retire after the season.

2007-08 season: Favre decides not to retire. Rodgers backs up Favre.

2008-09 season: Favre “retires”; Rodgers becomes the starter.

The only thing I can conclude based on this is that Rick Reilly has never seen a yo-yo in his life.

One year — one fucking year — of not-retirement. That’s “all the yo-yoing Favre did with Rodgers’ career all those years.” Really, Reilly? He “forgave” Brett Favre for continuing to play in the NFL? Remember, this is Brett Favre Retirement Bullshit 1.0. Rodgers didn’t have to deal with the Favre retirement drama in New York or Minnesota.

Aaron Rodgers is an awesome quarterback — in my opinion, the best quarterback in the NFL. I think he’s totally great and deserves all the credit in the world for winning the Super Bowl. So why can’t we just praise him for being the fucking man? What is this bullshit? How many backup quarterbacks in the NFL do you hear bitching publicly about the guy ahead of them not having retired yet? I never once heard Tarvaris Jackson whine to the media about Brett Favre, and Tarvaris Jackson’s entire career has been torpedoed by that self-loving media whore. In fact, outside of some wide receivers, very few NFL players tend to bitch publicly about playing time — mostly because they know football is a team sport, and also that their coaches would rain the fucking fire of god (that is to say, the fucking fire of Aaron Rodgers) down on them if they did that.

If patience and forgiveness had anything to do with success in the NFL, Pope John Paul would have been a fucking beast.

Fast-forward to the biggest moment of his life — Super Bowl XLV — and teammates started turning on him again.

Memo to present and future NFL players: Every time you fuck up, you’re turning against your teammates. Just remember that.

They started dropping the ball. Literally.

Not figuratively? No? Are you certain? Okay. Just making sure. Fine. Moving on.

Five different perfect passes went begging.

But Jesus was there to lift them up and take the sins of humanity upon himself!

The main perpetrator, though, was Jordy Nelson, a third-year kid who dropped not one … not two … but three wide-open, room-service, pretty-as-you-please passes.

But did Rodgers lose patience with him? Did he lash out?

I submit that he did not.

No, he did something more amazing.

What’s more amazing than losing patience and lashing out? Off the top of my head, everything.

With the game in the balance and Pittsburgh trying to pull off the greatest come-from-behind Super Bowl win, Nelson dropped a spiral that could’ve iced the game.

Anybody else might’ve bit a hole in his helmet.

Like who, for example? Who, with the lead in the Super Bowl, would do that?

It’s the end of the fucking Super Bowl. Nelson — who has normally been pretty reliable — dropped a pass. What the fuck are you going to do, stand around and chew him out or go and fucking try to win the game? Do most quarterbacks just stop playing and go beat the shit out of any receiver who drops a pass in the final five minutes of a game? Somehow I didn’t hear about this.

What did Rodgers do? He threw the very next pass to him. He ignored his safety-valve receiver and waited for Nelson to cross.

Tell me “waited for Nelson to cross” isn’t a thinly veiled Jesus reference.

It kind of sounds like Rodgers’ great miracle of forgiveness is running the play that the coaches drew up the way that the coaches drew it up. Why, Reilly, do you feel the compulsive need to add this extra mysticism to things? It’s quite common in the NFL for a coach to call another play for a normally reliable receiver after a dropped pass. That’s called “coaching.” It really has nothing to do with Aaron Rodgers at all except that Rodgers is the one who executed the play.

Oh, and a safety-valve receiver is there in case a play gets blown up or everyone else is covered. Not throwing to him — or, in Reilly’s words, “ignoring” him — is not a particularly amazing feat. In fact, it’s not even an average feat. It’s not a fucking feat at all. It’s a pretty typical NFL play.

But why am I surprised? Rick Reilly’s entire career has always been about adding meaningless moral lessons to sporting events. Aaron Rodgers isn’t just a champion — he’s a savior! Who else could have saved Jordy Nelson from being brutally dismembered by Aaron Rodgers but Aaron Rodgers?

This time, Nelson’s hands were true. He caught it for a colossal first down. Two plays later, Green Bay scored the winning touchdown.

If he dropped the ball and the Steelers won, would this article be about Aaron Rodgers’ stubbornness? I say yes.

To err is human. To forgive is divine.

Jesus.


I’m Still Here

The Super Bowl has only been over a few hours, but I’m sure sportswriters are jumping all over each other to write the most ridiculous things they possibly can about it. More FJC is coming.


Rick Reilly Turns Favorites Into Underdogs

Sweet Jesus, Rick Reilly, what?

You root for the Green Bay Packers in this Super Bowl because Steelers fans want their team to win but Packers fans need their team to win. They need it like air.

That’s right. The entire town of Green Bay has been asphyxiating since 1996. Won’t somebody please help the children!

You root for the Packers in this Super Bowl because Green Bay is the last little town to keep its team. You want it for Decatur, Ill., which lost its team to Chicago, and Portsmouth, Ohio, which lost its to Detroit, and Pottsville. Pa., which lost its to Boston. You root for the Packers for the same reason you root for Roberto Benigni to win the Oscar or Buster Douglas to win the fight. It’s right.

Holy shit. The Packers are the scrappy underdogs here? They’re the David Eckstein of this situation? They’re favored to win, for fuck’s sake.

Also, is Roberto Benigni really that holy to our society?

In Green Bay, you can also buy cheese top hats, cheese sombreros, cheese ties, cheese earrings, cheese footballs, cheese bricks, cheese beer cozies, cheese sunglasses, cheese flying discs and, naturally, cheese fezzes.

Green Bay: a place where you can buy a lot of cheese-shaped shit that’s made in China. Go Packers!

Do they wear steel beams in Pittsburgh?

Should they?

You root for the Packers in this Super Bowl because every now and then the game needs to have on top the little team nobody can seem to hate.

You know that this is a $750 million sports franchise, not a pee wee baseball team, right?

You root for the Packers in this Super Bowl because of Ouida Wright and her boyfriend, who never dreamed being homeless in Green Bay would be lucky.

Because it’s not.

They were on the street when the Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sent a “mystery” man out, waiting for someone to address him with the secret phrase: “Have you been to Dallas lately?” Wright heard about it, said it to the right guy and now she’s going to the Big Bowl with her boyfriend. Hotel, tickets, flights–everything paid.

You can just feel that in Rick Reilly’s mind, this whole thing has been completely romanticized. The mystery man, tired after a long day of no one telling him the secret passcode, was on his way to grab a hot dog when he tripped over Ouida as she was sleeping in her usual spot by the 7-Eleven under a makeshift blanket partially woven from discarded taquito wrappers. She awoke as she normally does: by clutching at the jacket of the person nearest her and screaming “HAVE YOU BEEN TO DALLAS LATELY?” in his face. Amazed at the unlikelihood of the whole thing, he awarded her a trip to the Super Bowl and helped her get discovered as the most talented jazz flutist in the history of the state of Wisconsin.

But no, she probably heard about the contest on the radio or something, then went over Visitor’s Bureau way to look for the guy and tell him the secret phrase.

Yes, when they come back to Green Bay from watching the Packers play in the Super Bowl, they still won’t have anywhere to live.

What’s your point?

I guess it’s that going to the Super Bowl is less important than having somewhere to live. What’s your point?