Friday, July 27, 2007

Shoeless Joe Quote

One more quote from W. P. Kinsella's masterpiece:

"But mostly the arrivals will be couples who have withered and sickened of the contrived urgency of their lives."

That's the J.D. Salinger character finishing his spiel about why people will come to an Iowa farm to watch ghosts play baseball.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sports Notes

Couple quick note here.

First of all, I just watched the first episode of "The Bronx is Burning" on the Web site. I guess it's an ESPN series that started right after the All-Star game. But it certainly rocks. At least for me personally. It's about the 1977 Yankees, which is one of my favorite teams of all time. It was the first Yankees team in my lifetime to win the World Series. And I even remember staying up late to watch Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in the sixth and final game of the series to clinch it, and then sprinting through the crowd, which was pouring onto the field after the game. You certainly don't see that anymore. The first episode had the whole "Straw that stirs the drink" quote thing in it, which was a dig by Jackson at my favorite player at the time, Thurman Munson. I'm like 10 when all this is going on, so to me these guys were larger than life.

Can't wait to watch the second episode. And the video quality online is outstanding.

In addition, I just ran across this great perspectivce on the whole Mike Vick thing. I don't have the streed cred to have said it even close to as well as Mr. Granderson does.

That's about all for now.



Oh yeah, and what the fuck is up with the Tour de France? Can that even be considered a sporting event anymore?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


This is just plain silly.
I actually went to Starbucks today and grabbed a latte. As I've said before, the shit really works, especially when you haven't had it in awhile.
I find myself wondering, however, if Google is not the next Starbucks. (Because I've written "Google" in this blog, will it be passed by someone at Google for perusa? "Google for purusal." I like that.) You know, something that started out pretty cool, and still has some good product, but just got so big that it's Quality (as in the Zen in the Art of Motorcycle sense-I mean to reread that book again this summer) control could just not be maintained, and it got kind of bland and diluted, in a least-common-denominator sort of way. But the stuff still works, if you can channel in.

Coffee talk, hah, hah...


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shoeless Joe

I'm currently reading the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, which the movie Field of Dreams is based on. Field of Dreams is a great movie, and the book is equally great so far, but different. One major difference is that the kidnapped writer is not some fictional '60s radical, but instead is J.D. Salinger, the very real (albeit in a fictcional account) author of Catcher in the Rye, which is a great high school read. (Enough with the "greats;" they're getting grating.)

Anyhow, I'm talking to Dr. Dee last night about my last post on Randy Moss (incidentally, which has been published on this Web site, where you get the most insightful, unbiased Bills coverage in the world), and he comments that I have always had good insight into Randy Moss. Intersting. Then, I'm reading Shoeless Joe and on page 84 (Moss' old number with the Vikes, who are Dr. Dee's favorite team), I came across this passage, which made me think of Dr. Dee:

(The narrator and Salinger are at Fenway Park watching a Red Sox game, and the narrator is trying to encourage Salinger's passion for baseball). "Look around at the fans, count their warts just as they count ours; look at them waddle and stuff their faces and cheer with their mouths full. We're not just ordinary people, we're a congregation. Baseball is a ceremony, a ritual, as surely as sacrificing a goat beneath a full moon is a ritual. The only difference is that most of us realize that it is a game. Good writing is a ritual, I've been told, so many words or so many pages a day. You must know that..."

The funny thing is this whole number, interconnected universe, tumblers coming together and opening up a peak into what could be --- well, this all plays in with the theme of Shoeless Joe.



Thursday, July 05, 2007


I know that summer has barely reached its midpoint, and we haven't even played the baseball All-Star game yet, but with the Yankees sucking (playing mostly lackluster ball), and I having attended a cookout where a couple of grade school football coaches were already getting excited about starting pratice in a couple weeks, I guess I'm kind of in a football state of mind this morning. For some reason, I got up thinking once again that this Randy Moss to the New England Patriots thing is not going to work out.

Why is this important? Well, it's probably the most talked about trade of the offseason, plus the Patriots are somewhat of rivals with my beloved Buffalo Bills (who might be skipping town in a couple years, but that's another story.) Patriots play the Bills twice a year and have forever, so, I'm somewhat familiar with the franchise and also interested in what sort of team they will have.

A lot of the focus on this trade has been on how Moss' personality is going to fit in with the Patriots. This is mostly bullshit of course. Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn't fool around, and if Moss is a malingerer (a term my father-in-law used to love to use), he will be gone. His contract is structured in such a way that the Pats can do this.

The more intriguing issue, from my view, is whether or not Moss will fit in with the Patriots offense. If you remember, Moss was famous for telling the Vikings to find someone who can overthrow him, so he had time to run under the ball-or something along those lines. With the Vikings, he played with strong-armed QBs like Cunningham, Jeff George, and Culpepper, an incredible run, and of course, Denny Green liked to air it out. It's my contention that Brady is not that type of quarterback.

I started trying to prove this theory by going to the numbers. I thought that stats like yards per attempt (YPA) and yards per completion (which is actually much harder to find and I had to figure it out myself) would bear out my contention. But the fact is they did not. Drew Bledsoe, for instanace, who I always consider a great long-ball thrower from personal observation, never ranked higher than eighth in YPA, and was only in the top 10 three times in more than 10 years as a starter.

Yes, in Moss' years with the Vikings, his quarterbacks averaged something like eight yards per attempt, and were in the top five in the NFL in YPA five out of seven years. In contrast, Tom Brady, who has been a starter for six years, has never ranked in the top five in YPA, but he has ranked between eight and 10 four times. This is really not that huge of a difference, and perhaps, we can attribute what difference there is direclty to Moss. After all, Vikings quarterback Duante Culpepper dropped from second in the league in yards per attempt at 8.6 in 2004 (his last year with Moss) to out of the top 10, with a 7.2 YPA average in 2005, his first year without Moss. (It also should be noted that Culpepper's career also went south when Moss left the Vikings, and he has not, as of yet recovered.) In fact, Brady, at 7.8 YPA, actually ranked ahead of Culpepper in 2005. (I thought perhaps that Culpepper's yards per completion might be higher because he might be getting more distance on the passes he completed vs. Brady's having a higher completion percentage, but that wasn't the case. Interestingly, when I ran YPA numbers vs. yards per completion, the ratios and rankings pretty much remained the same. Now, maybe if you go back to old school bombers like Lamonica, Bradshaw, and Namath, who generally had lower completion percentages than today's quarterbacks, the YPA vs. yards per completion ratio changes when comparing them to modern quarterbacks...)

So, I guess my first conclusion is that Moss should elevate Brady into the top five in YPA numbers in 2007. If he doesn't, he probably isn't doing his job.

Okay, so let's move onto more subjective material. Mainly, is Tom Brady a deep ball thrower that will be able to use Moss to his fullest and enable the Moss acquisition to benefit his team? There seems to be mixed opinions on Brady's arm strength, but my contention, after years of watching him, is, no, he is not a great deep ball thrower. Here's a write-up on Brady from before the 2000 draft when he was taken in like the fifth or sixth round:
"Pocket passer who has the arm strength to split zones...Very effective on quick slants...Can torch defenses once he gets into rhythm...Has a good feel for spotting his alternate receivers... Puts good zip behind his short tosses and can drill the long sideline throws..."

That concurs pretty much with my observations of him. Brady throws a great mid-range ball, very accurate, with good zip. And he can go over-the-top after defenses start cheating on his mid-range and shorter throws. This is what makes him an effective long-ball thrower-not the pure over-the-top arm strength of a George, a Culpepper or a Cunningham. Brady's like a pitcher whose location and ability to throw a change-up now and then makes his fastball that much more effective. It's my opinion that Moss doesn't fit into this type of offense, as he lacks the discipline to effectively run the mid-range routes that set up Brady's home run balls.

As a result, Moss is not due for a big year numberswise, because the Pats' offense is not set up to feature the type of receiver he is. Brady is not attuned to throwing numerous deep balls and letting Moss go up and get them-which is basically what they seemed to do in Minnesota. It's my prediction that unless Moss evolves into a Paul Warfield-type personality (which I'm not saying couldn't happen), he's going to be unhappy in New England, and it will show up in his play on the field.

If you remember, Warfield was an All-Pro with the Dolphins because he was such a deadly deep threat. However, in five years on the Dolphins, Warfield only caught more than 30 balls in a season once, although he did average more than 20 yards per catch. Warfield, who was a consummate pro, I'm assuming was a good blocker and ran out all his patterns (Shula would accept no less I think), even when he wasn't involved in the play, which contribtued to the Dolphins pair of Super Bowl titles. Moss' history hasn't shown he has the discipline to do this kind of stuff. Of course, maybe the Patriots' coaching staff will get Moss to change his attitute, but it's going to take a lot of work, and it's my opinion that he's not worth the effort the Patriots will need to put in. (I ran this piece in January, as to why I don't think the Patriots have won a Super Bowl in the past couple years, after winning three in four years, and I think the Moss' signing is indicative of the reasons why and will help prevent the Pats from winning this year's Big Prize as well. Of course, the Pats also miss Charlie Weiss, who is a great coach and would perhaps be able to figure out how to best utilize Moss in their offense.)

I'll just conclude by saying that although the Patriots don't run a true West Coast offense (I think they run something closer to the Mike Martz mid-range-based passing game), the West Coast offense has really changed the game. When I was trying to come up with teams that Moss would be a good fit for, I came up with the Colts and Bengals, two teams with strong-armed quarterbacks who consistently can get the ball deep. I think J.P. Losman may fall into this categorey as well, but he's a bit raw and the Bills already have Evans to run the deep routes. Ironically, the Raiders, for whom Moss famously failed, supposedly like to throw the ball deep, but unfortunately haven't had a quarterback (or an offense, I guess) who could do that effectively since Jeff George in the mid-199os. Funny thing is, this JaMarcus Russell, who they just drafted number one is rumored to have a gun, and it would have been interesting to see if he could have developed a Culpepper-type relationship with Moss. Alas, these things are why the Raiders suck anymore...

But, suffice to say that Montana and Walsh have changed the game to such a significant extent that a player like Moss is now a dinasour. Same as Drew Bledsoe became. Funny, I would have loved to have seen Moss work with Bledsoe, instead of Owens last year, but, hell, why do I know all this stuff that NFL execs can't figure out?

Best regards,


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

History Detectives

This is a great show on PBS. It's only on during the summer, and it appears it wil be on this year at 10 p.m. on Monday. It starts out kind of like Antiques Road Show, but, the detectives only pick out three items per show that people have found around their house and think are valuable. The detectives (which include a socialogist and a couple appraisers) then investigate the validity of these items. Last night, this guy had a English pound note that was used in a drinking game and signed by WWII leaders like Roosevelt, Churchill, Patten, etc. Another great feature is the use of Elvis Costello "Watching the Detectives" as the theme song.