Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Sep 2005

TMQ: Basketball's Warning to Football

This week, Gregg Easterbrook has a warning for professional football, mentions the Bills' old school unis (as an FO reader predicted in a thread earlier this week), makes fun of the Vikes for not going for it on fourth down, and ridicules rich dumb people.

TMQ also offers some advice on how to stop the Colts' offense, wonders why the Chargers' suspended Antonio Gates, and actually manages to use "Nocturne Aubergine Klavierlack" in a sentence.

And two more things: Stats of the Week No. 4 should give Kyle Boller hope, and if you bet the Earlham-Manchester game, I hope you took the over.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 13 Sep 2005

216 comments, Last at 18 Sep 2005, 12:16am by calig23

Comments

1
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:14pm

So Kyle Boller should be hopeful that Peter King will pick him for MVP two years in a row, while the rest of the sports world thinks he sucks?

2
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:19pm

I love that TMQ (or TAQ...) is on the Saints' bandwagon.

3
by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:21pm

I just wanted to note that Easterbrook's picture has to be twenty years old.

4
by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:27pm

and if you bet the Earlham-Manchester game, I hope you took the over.

If you bet on the Earlham-Manchester game, I hope you're seeking treatment for your obvious gambling addiction.

5
by zip (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:28pm

TMQ is a big running proponent, despite FO stats that I seem to remember arguing the passing is more important... (insert something here about how many SB teams won with a crappy running game)

Nevertheless I find his criticism of Philly play calling (48 passes, 13 runs) spot on. Looking at the game log, Philly ran 3 times in the 4th quarter out of 22 plays, while being down only 7 or 4 points.

I didn't see the game, but what the hell? Was the Atlanta run D so good they made running pointless?

Also, I think blaming Trotter (which I have seen elsewhere) for the loss is a little unreasonable. They held Atlanta to 14 points!

6
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:36pm

RE:#5 Zip

Westbrook got stuffed many times trying to run between the tackles. He had a few good sweeps and maybe one or two good interior runs, but overall it really felt like the Falcons DLine was dominating the line of scrimage. They really should have run more (including McNabb), but I personally wouldn't have been confident in their success rate. Maybe they should have given Gordon more looks as an interior runner.

7
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:40pm

I watched the game last night, and was screaming for Philly to run (OK, Westbrook is one of my fantasy RBs, and I needed a couple of points out of him, which I got), but for whatever reason they didn't. Maybe they went in with a faulty game plan, or maybe they didn't expect D'Angelo Hall to play so well against Eagles WR #81.

Regarding the Chargers, I saw the end of that game, and was wondering why, with LaDanian Tomlinson in the backfield, didn't they run the ball at least once. Heck, at least they could have thrown to him.

8
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:43pm

Let's face it. Eastie is a rank incompetent. He fails to understand even the most rudimentary business models.

If he hadn't already earned the deserved epithet of the anti-semite, he might be best publicly known as the ultimate know-nothing about the business of American professional sports.

Case in point, this tired canard:

"The core reason for pro basketball's decline is deterioration in the quality of play."

Had he simply phoned Nielsen Entertainment, he would have learned that core audiences for every major American sport have declined throughout the decades, with more rapid plummets in the 1990s, before certain leagues (see NBA) stopped the bleeding.

Today's NCAA tournament ratings are the lowest since 1970. Despite an admirable (and highly profitable business model), NASCAR's ratings also continue to dwindle. Ditto the NBA and NFL.

Would he now conclude that the NFL's declining popularity is a sign of shoddy talent? Poor playing?

The only sector of the NFL's broadcast line that has NOT declined is the Super Bowl, which will hold at about 140 million every year. I would argue that Super Bowl play (despite the last two) over the decades has not been nearly as good as what is seen in the regular season.

So maybe Easterbrook should argue that for networks and leagues to retain ratings, they should offer mostly one-sided and overhyped matches, with halftime shows featuring Janet Jackson's nipple or some soporific tribute to the American spirit, freedom or, well, whatever.

Even the most cursory scan of Nielsen's data would have shown that the NBA stabilized its ratings after expanding to cable, just when Easterbrook says they became shows featuring sloppy play.

9
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:46pm

Handing off to Westbrook and having him run between the tackles is a gross misuse of his talents. Also, it's a lot easier to stick with the running game when you're winning by 15 points.
BB doesn't owe TMQ royalties for his anti-colts offense strategy. BB has been beatin the colts offense since 2001, and TMQ came up with the strategy (which he developed by watching NE/Indy games) last November. I think maybe the royalties should go a different way.
Kurt Warner has played on opening day at Giants Stadium for three consecutive years -- each time suiting up for different teams. And he lost all three games. No wonder the Giatns dumped him last year.

10
by Adam H (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 3:46pm

Re 7 It is freaking killing me to say this, but McNabb did alot more to stop T.O. than Hall was able to do last night.

11
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:00pm

Let me introduce NBA Business Model 101, and explain why it has so far proven more successful than the NFL's.

1. Build and expand the footprint of the NBA commercially domestically in an era of declining ratings and core audience loss.

By creating a development league that will cost little but expand the NBA's visibility to small town America; developing a marketing system around key players who likely will last in the league many years; and increasing revenue streams through very astute licensing agreements, the NBA has created a very successful operation that can continue at the present state for some time.

Key move: Embracing cable. With more than 2,500 hours of network sports programming, the NBA realized that it could best expand with cable partners. This came with a cut in TV revenues, but is given credit for boosting ancillary earnings (especially retail clothing sales) that benefit the league.

Not that a $4.6 billion TV deal is all that shabby anyway.

The NFL was forced into this by the last deal with ABC, which wants to push MNF out of its Monday lineup and onto ESPN. The raters, by the way, have come up with a new method for calculating young male viewers of NFL games (with tend to record 9 percent higher tallies than traditional methods of capturing their viewership. Why? Guys like to watch games at bars or their buddy's apartment).

2. Expand the NBA's stature worldwide.

NBA is the second most popular international sport in key markets (Europe, China, South America), typically second only to soccer. The NBA not only includes national heroes on its international rosters, but markets these same iconic figures throughout the world to increase market share.

The NFL's answer has been its European misadventure. The NFL has proven very difficult to sell to audiences outside of North America, especially when its season overlaps part of big league soccer internationally.

That, and NFL Europe sucks. If we won't consume the product, what makes you think the Europeans will?

I say this as a very large foreign newspaper's correspondent covering the NFL.

They want to hear more about our tennis and racing stars.

3. Diversifying demographics. The NBA, better than all the other leagues, has expanded its demographic reach to dominate key markets. If you want to reach well educated, young, white, affluent men near major cities (and who doesn't?), turn on the Suns. Ditto urban African-Americans. And native Chinese immigrants. And Yankee transplants in Florida.

If you want an aging, static and increasingly rural/exurbian mix of fans knocking headfirst into NASCAR coverage, tune into the NFL.

12
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:01pm

"Everything about pro football keeps soaring: popularity, ratings, gate receipts, licensing."

No. No. Static. Static, except for some sectors (sat radio licensing, etc.).

13
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:02pm

"NFL games are fabulous."

Must not have subscribed to the DirecTV feed from Pittsburgh on Sunday.

14
by Balaji (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:06pm

#13: What happened with the Pittsburgh feed on Sunday?

(I had to leave after the first half, so I don't know if I missed anything.)

15
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:06pm

"In the last 12 years, payments to NFL players have zoomed 125 percent in real dollars."

But see: MLBPA figures for gains in real wages; NBAPA figures for gains in real wages; Open circuit income disclosures for purse winnings for ATP-registered pros; NASCAR revenue reports by the French family that show far better pay from corporate sponsorships and purse winnings for drivers and their crews, yada, yada, yada.

Heck, the more "successful" the NFL is, the less NFL players receive compared to their peers in other professional sports! Not only do they make less, per capita, but their gains relative to their already wealthier peers are inflating faster than theirs!

Caveat: NHLPA figures, which showed very good earnings gains in the 1990s before the owner-imposed lockout of 2004.

16
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:07pm

"(I had to leave after the first half, so I don’t know if I missed anything.)"

Don't worry, B, the Titans didn't show up for the second half either. You didn't miss anything from that "fabulous" snoozer.

17
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:08pm

I want to request a new weekly column for this site. Wednesday Morning Quarterback Quarterback, where Carl devotes a column to disputing the myths propagated by Esterbrook.

18
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:08pm

Easterbrook also fails to points out that the NBA model for their brief run of success was sui generis and based on the happy coincidence of Magic, Bird, & then Jordan all joining the NBA at nearly the same time

Stern made a deal with the devil by deciding to promote individuals rather than teams or the game itself--it worked as long as those individuals actually played in the league;

while you do have some of that in the NFL (the absurb pimping of Fav-ray or Ray Lewis e.g.) it isn't nearly as pervasive

19
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:13pm

RE:#8 Carl "If he hadn’t already earned the deserved epithet of the anti-semite"

C'mon, Carl. That has nothing to do with his sports accumen and is immaterial to the main point of your post. It smacks of a cheap shot, and indeed cheapens the quality of the discussion here. I'm no apologist for what he said before, but can we leave the race/ethnicity comments to the idiots and trolls and stick to criticizing his football knowledge?

20
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:15pm

"So owners: Don't do anything that tampers with the basic structure of shared revenues, because that is what keeps NFL quality, and hence revenue, so high."

But, uhhh, didn't certain owners "tamper" with the current DGR system on their own by finding revenue streams that didn't need to be shared with their fellow football tycoons or the players?

Isn't that what's snarling the current negotiations? He's really inventing a strawman with the players here. Upshaw has gone out of his way to warn the league that he's willing to shut down the union and make the following season uncapped if the owners can't stop their internal bickering over how they share local revenues.

This isn't a battle between some lowly O-lineman who wants a few more years of health insurance tacked on to the CBA. It's about whether Dan Snyder wants to share his ticket sales and parking receipts with Al Davis.

21
by Jen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:15pm

"That ended a chance for the first Kansas City shutout since the Beatles were together."

I didn't think the Beatles were still together in '02 - 'cause that was the year the Chiefs shut out the Cardinals 49-0.

22
by Eagles99 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:15pm

If Philly ran the ball more, they would have been shutout.

23
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:19pm

Actually, Ray, I think Carl's shot wasn't so cheap. It is what he's best known for. Whether that's fair or not is beside the point. Carl could not have begun his sentence by lying about how Easterbrook is best known as a columnist for a magazine or his policy analysis at Brookings.

It's also important because that scandal pushed Easterbrook out of ESPN and into the NFL bunch.

24
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:20pm

I can't believe that no one has pointed this out:

first, Greggy says:

Should the owners or players damage the product by failing to preserve competitive balance, there is nothing in the laws of nature that says the NFL must remain so popular.

but then he says:
.. So owners: Don't do anything that tampers with the basic structure of shared revenues, because that is what keeps NFL quality

if he has been following the major bone of contention in the "shared revenue" debate (and, hopefully, he has been , since he's a columnist), then he would know that it concerns the inclusion (or lack thereof) of luxury box revenue of individual teams into the shared revenue pool.
The rich owners don't want to share (for obvious reasons), while the lower-luxury-tier-owners are trying to put out the word that failing to do so will ruin competetive balance

I should say, I don't necessarily AGREE with the "poorer" owners in this contention, but it's likely to become a more contentious issue

but TMQ seems to be saying to the owners "don't change anything"

25
by BillT (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:22pm

Nice to see hurricane Carl back in action.

26
by Manson (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:22pm

" At 1:20 p.m. ET on opening day, the Saints scored a touchdown -- beginning the New Orleans comeback. Of the city, not the team."

FDA: Please note that this graf contains 100 percent of the daily recommended allowance of saccharine.

27
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:23pm

Art, he could have just not mentioned it all together. It doesn't matter if it's what he's best known for if it doesn't relate in any way to the argument being made. The fact that Easterbrook moved from ESPN to NFL.com doesn't relate to the argument, either.

28
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:25pm

"all of America will switch over to continue watching New Orleans."

But they're not doing that now! They're switching over to pro wrestling, Martha Stewart and E Hollywood Stories.

Or just getting on the Internet.

29
by Balaji (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:26pm

Carl: "Don’t worry, B, the Titans didn’t show up for the second half either. You didn’t miss anything from that “fabulous� snoozer."

I live on the west coast, so I watch all the games at a Steelers bar with fellow expats. So what you call a snoozer, I call fine entertainment. :)

30
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:26pm

I can’t believe that no one has pointed this out:

after spending all that time writing, by the time I posted, Carl had already pointed it out

31
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:26pm

I think it does, Ray. I think people should be reminded about Easterbrook. I have no problem with what Carl said. If Easterbrook said that about African-Americans like Limbaugh did, I would mention it too. We should not be too soon to forget these things.

32
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:28pm

Easterbrook hates midgets

33
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:31pm

"Willis McGahee gained four yards on his first five carries against Houston. When the run doesn't work right away, many teams immediately give up and go pass-wacky. But often the running game starts slowly, then builds steam as defenders tire."

Yes, keep running against nine in the box, trying to wear out the rotation of D-linemen and LBs.

Instead, why not start pass-wacky, mixing in a variety of running and blocking schemes to keep the DBs honest, then, when you're ahead, relying on a rushing game to eat clock?

I bet if the Colts, Pats, Rams and Titans had first discovered this simple feat, they would have been far more successful in the 1990s instead of trying to "establish the run."

34
by elhondo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:32pm

you know, if I thought someone was anti-semitic, I probably wouldn't read his column.

Click the uri to read what someone else wrote on the subject.

35
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:36pm

Art, this is a football site, not some sleazy character-defamation site. The comments Easterbrook made and whether or not he is an anti-semite have ZERO bearing on his knowledge about sports. If you don't like Easterbrook as a person, that's fine, but let's keep the talk on the sports site about sports. Otherwise you're just dredging up negative feelings and animosity for nothing.

36
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:37pm

"Abandoned Quarry Offense Update"

This might be the stupidest paragraph ever converted into bytes and consumed by the American reader. I feel my IQ draining with every tittle and jot.

Make it stop. Please.

37
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:40pm

The comments Easterbrook made and whether or not he is an anti-semite have ZERO bearing on his knowledge about sports

I agree--his level of knowlege about sports is aptly summed up weekly in his column

(res ipsa loquitur)

38
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:42pm

"but ending the chance for the first Kansas City shutout since the Beatles were together."

Week 13, 2002, vs. Arizona, 49-0.

Oh.

39
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:47pm

It's ok to defame a collective people, but not to mention this defamation when parsing his other views? I would think his proven ignorance of what Carl calls one "business model" like Hollywood would lead us to question how he views the NBA or NFL.

The same guy who believes a cabal of Jews abrogate their responsibility to their fellow men by peddling pornographic violence for cash in pursuit of Hollywood profits might not be the sort of person we trust discussing the collective bargaining agreement, the responsibilities and rights of owners or players or the sort of business the NBA runs.

If he gets Hollywood that wrong, why do we trust him to understand the NFL?

40
by HLF (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:53pm

I second the Wednesday morning QB suggestion. Carl could write a column every week about how great the NBA business model is, and how the NFL would be well served to adapt it. He could also write about how underpaid most NFL players are, and how the owners should put up hundreds of millions of dollars of their capital, but run the business with the players interests first, second, and third (and the fan's interest a distant 500th or so).

Calling someone "anti-Semite" says more about the quality of your arguments than it does about the person you disparage.

Carl, the only thing missing is your endless insinuations that you're so connected that the rest of us just can't understand your arguments without your connections, and should just be grateful in our ignorance to take what you say as true on it's face.

In summary:
1) GE is anti-Semite
2) The NBA is wonderful, both from a product standpoint (got to love having Vin Baker on your team) and a business model (got to love signing Vin Baker to your team).
3) The owners are what's wrong with the NFL -- guys like T.O. would carry the NFL to new heights otherwise...
4) If the NFL would just stop caring about competitive balance, the free market would solve it (just like in MLB), and we'd all be happier. Oh, and GE is anti-Semite. Oh, and I'm an NFL insider, so I clearly am right. How do my new clothes look?

Thanks again, Carl.

Hopeless Lions Fan,
Seattle

41
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 4:54pm

"More proof that smart people love football!"

Little known fact: Based on demographic research, the most affluent fans of all the U.S. professional leagues follow the NHL.

Commonly known fact: There aren't as many NHL fans as the NHL would like to have.

42
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:07pm

I don't think the NBA's business model is so great. I think that it is better than the NFL's, and the best way to see that is by comparing the actual wealth that has transferred to the owners of NBA frachises compared to NFL ones.

Please remember that NBA teams have been cheaper to buy, so Stern's moxie and astute business moves have given owners a far better return on their money than that enjoyed by NFL franchises.

Not that it really matters, of course. Whether one makes Mark Cuban a bit wealthier or Dan Snyder, it's really Monopoly money to these guys.

Vin Baker is a tragic case, a once-promising career dominated by alcohol abuse. That you remember him and not the 29 percent of the NFL that's been arrested on felony criminal charges is impressive.

And, for the millionth time, the salary cap was not instituted to create a "competitive balance," although that's how it has been sold to the public by the NFL's PR machine (that includes, by the way, Gregg Easterbrook).

It was instituted to cap rising labor costs and create stability by actually cutting a DGR share for the players.

The far more important (and real cap) is the revenue sharing plan between the owners. That's what really creates a sense of balance in the league because teams share the bulk of their revenues.

The problem with CBA negotiations now isn't with the union. It's with tony owners vs. more impoverished owners. This is a relative term, of course.

The players want to make a deal. That's why Easterbrook's advice to the NFLPA is such a strawman.

Easterbrook wants to convey some sort of Candide argument about the current NFL being the best of all possible worlds, and pointing to the players first in warning about upsetting the tea cup.

This is either (1) a profound failure to understand the basic mechanics of the business model or the current CBA or (2) a deliberate, cynical misuse of what he actually knows to be true.

The impasse isn't being caused by the players. It's the owners' fault. And if the owners can't reach agreement, and the league uncaps, mark my words that the same NFL PR machine will kick start to defend a lock out because of "greedy" or "selfish" players.

43
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:12pm

I guess my problem is that Carl isn't wrong about Easterbrook. He seems to be right about everything he criticizes.

Why should we give Easterbrook a pass on these things? Carl isn't propping himself up here as some kind of insider. He's arguing with facts and figures. Everything he's saying I've read already in business journals.

That doesn't sound like insider stuff to me. Easterbrook is the insider. He's the one who draws a paycheck from NFL.

44
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:19pm

Art, the very fact that we're going back and forth on this is evidence enough that the initial comment was misplaced. This is NOT the place to be having this discussion.

As HLF said, calling Easterbrook an anti-semite says more about Carl than it does about Easterbrook. I don't know about anyone else, but personally it now seems that Carl's comments are based more on personal animosity than anything else. Not that is hasn't seemed that way before, but at least then I could believe that the bluster was intended to be humorus rather than acrimonious.

I suppose we should all always be skeptical about what we read, but apparently Carl's criticizims need to be taken with as many grains of salt as Easterbrook's columns do.

I'm certain Carl's pillow will nightly be damp with many softly shed tears at the knowledge of my opinion. ;^)

45
by Penn State Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:20pm

"If the NFL would just stop caring about competitive balance, the free market would solve it (just like in MLB), and we’d all be happier."

Let's revisit the last five years of championships, comparing MLB to NFL.

MLB (World Series)

2000 NY Yankees
2001 Arizona
2002 Anaheim
2003 Florida
2004 Boston

NFL

2000 Baltimore
2002 New England
2003 Tampa Bay
2004 New England
2005 New England

Yeah. We'd hate to see that level of competitive balance in the NFL.

46
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:23pm

But Ray, Carl is right about that! Read what I linked to and tell me he's wrong!

Carl says something that is obviously true, and he is attacked for it? You say it tells us more about Carl than Easterbrook?

I think that is horrible. You seem to believe that this fact has no place in a discussion about sports. I think it does.

47
by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:26pm

Sorry to go off topic, but I note that he cites the Vikings as being "chicken" for kicking the field goal while down by 7 with over 6 minutes to play, citing the "Kick early, Go for it Late" rule; but then three paragraphs later goes after the Vikings for not running when they got to first and 10 on the TB 12 in a 4 point game, with 1:53 to go (and still having 2 time-outs).

It seems to me you can't have this both ways. I generally agree with the rule on the kick early, go for it late, but in a 7 point game with 2 time-outs, 6 minutes does not qualify as "late". If they can get a first and 10 on the 12 yard line with 1:53 to go in a 4 point game, it seems the kicking strategy might have been the right choice (and who thought Mike Tice would have been on the right side of a strategy call?)

48
by Parker (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:27pm

"My goodness, that hurricane was just terrible, I feel awful for everyone affected. I wish there was something I could do. I think I'll start cheering for the Saints." I'm certain these are the thoughts of everyone in America if not the world. Gimme a break.

49
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:31pm

#45, why don't we go a little farther back (and make a quick correction while we're in the late 90's)?

MLB

1995 Atlanta
1996 NY Yankees
1997 Florida
1998 NY Yankees
1999 NY Yankees
2000 NY Yankees
2001 Arizona
2002 Anaheim
2003 Florida
2004 Boston

6 champs in 10 years (one 4-time and one 2-time).

NFL

1996 Dallas
1997 Green Bay
1998 Denver
1999 Denver
2000 St. Louis
2001 Baltimore
2002 New England
2003 Tampa Bay
2004 New England
2005 New England

7 champs in 10 years (one 3-time and one 2-time).

Just becuase the NFL is in the midst of a dynasty and MLB is not doesn't mean that MLB has more competitive balance. I'd call it a wash at best.

50
by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:32pm

Ok, non-Easterbrook comment: what's the deal with the Tom Brady commercial, where the lineman says that they are a "figurative metaphor"? I cringe every time I hear that phrase.

51
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:37pm

Carl hitting a new low by resorting to ad hominems against Easterbrook? Here's one person who's not surprised. At least here on FO, Carl has shown a persistent streak of nastiness towards people he disagrees with. Especially if they dare to say anything negative about the sacred NFLPA.

As for what Easterbrook said in that ESPN column, if you actually read it with an open mind (as opposed to going in with your offensensitivity knob pre-set to maximum) it was clear that he was attacking Eisner and Weinstein for being greedy as themselves, not for being greedy because they are Jewish. What Easterbrook said boiled down to saying that (a) promoting a movie that glorifies violence against innocents is bad, (b) such a movie might encourage people to engage in violence against innocents, (c) given that Jews have historically been targets of (unjustified) violence, a general increase in such violence would likely disproportionally hurt them, (d) doing something that hurts your co-ethnics/co-religionists is particularly bad, and (e) just because all the other producers in Hollywood are amoralistic greedheads isn't an excuse for E&W being amoralistic greedheads. With respect to (d), I don't see anything racist/whatever-ist about telling people who are members of group X that doing something which hurts other group X people is particularly bad. With respect to (e), if you read Easterbrook's text closely, it is clear that he was saying that E&W were greedheads who happened to be Jewish, not that E&W were greedheads because they were Jewish. That said, the whole passage was indeed very badly written in no small part because it was very easy for someone reading quickly to misread the greedhead part of the passage. And Easterbrook doesn't exist in a vacuum, either. Read his beliefnet.org pieces. Read the stuff he's written in print over the years. Calling him an "anti-semite" because of that badly-written piece on ESPN is maliciousness laziness (at best), and I'd expect better from a journalist, of all people.

Now, on to football...

It is disappointing to see Easterbrook continue with his "run-first" monomania, especially given that he knows abouts (and mentions) FO. Tsk-tsk.

As a Pats fan, I was amused by his comment about the WR hitch/out the Pats like to run near the goal line. We were saying the same thing while watching the game.

And while I'm not against schtick per se, it would be nice for Easterbrook to develop some new ones.

52
by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:38pm

At the very least, can we all agree that Easterbrook is better than Skip Bayless?

53
by Fast Eddy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:39pm

I didn't understand his comment about Antonio Gates being suspended by the team being a foolish move by SD management. Didn't he have to sit out 3 games by NFL rules because he didn't meet a deadline? At least that's what I understood from my reading elsewhere.

And the thing about Philly running more. Yeah, sure, as I watched the game I thought the same thing. But we're talking Andy Reid here. If he could have, I'm sure he would have. The trouble is that Westbrook is not a power runner. So he needs his O line to open up holes and they apparently couldn't do that against the Falcons. The Falcs O line didn't have the same problem with the Eagles D line, apparently, so Warrick Dunn had a nice evening.

The commentators seem to be saying that Philly is gonna be fine, just one loss against a tough team. I dunno. No power runner. No good #2 receiver. No really good TE. How is their offense going to score, with magic? I don't like the Eagles chances at all this year.

I do have to agree with GE on SD's non use of Tomlinson on the 7, with 4 downs and plenty of time. Man that was dumb. Trust Marty to mess things up. He HAD that game.

54
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:41pm

I've read the Easterbrook piece before. Did you read what elhondo linked above? I've re-linked it for you in case you missed it. Obviously, Carl isn't "obviously" right. If it was "obvious" others wouldn't disagree, right?

If you think it's "horrible" that I'd like to have a discussion about sports and not about anti-semitism, then that's fine by me. I personally think it's pretty "horrible" that you feel that it IS relevant. We're both entitled to our own opinions.

To his credit Carl hasn't responded to any of this. I guess that makes him a better man than me.

I'm going to leave this here with a final point: Bringing up unrelated bigotry charges only leads to discussions like ours where people get upset and mad. In essense, he's encouraging divisive feelings. As a writer by trade he should know how upset people get by hot-button topics like that, and in the interest of a civilized football discussion he should have left the comment out.

55
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:43pm

Thanks for the support, Art, but I'll take this one.

Ray, my beef is with Easterbrook's style of writing and analysis about the game of professional football. I tacked on the anti-semite tag for a very important reason -- if fits with his previous ways of argument.

Which is to say, he likes to scold. He begins his article (one that purports to be about football, but you never know) by scolding the NBA, a caning he uses then on the NBA players and, last, the owners (a very mild spanking that one: Don't change! Stay wonderful!)

When he begins to attack the "players," I think he's veering dangerously close to racism. I begin to hear the tell-tale sound of "shoddy" workmanship, laziness, money grubbing, etc., as a stand-in stereotype for the modern African-American athlete.

In his sermon, Easterbrook seems to be, perhaps unwittingly, imputing certain stereotypes to the African-American professional athlete. I see this often in other columns about TO, too, just as I once read them about Donovan McNabb.

It's an unfair slur, one that's just as nasty in its own peculiar way as that visited upon Jewish business owners by Easterbrook in an infamous TNR posting several years ago.

Now, I wouldn't merge into the race lane normally. I would let a man make his arguments in peace. But we're not talking about a first-time offender here.

Or, as Jack Shafer once summed them up, a slop of "moral posturing and witless embrace of loathsome cultural stereotypes."

Easterbrook's columns on the NFL once were a very fine experience because they brought in his wide knowledge of things other-than-football. But that same polymath scrutiny can be deadly to his writing when he doesn't seem to grasp the subject or, I hesistate to suggest, intentionally misleads by failing to fully explain his point.

What Princeton and I both noticed first was that he really doesn't seem to know much about the current CBA negotiations. I don't get that because they've been well covered and certainly would be available to anyone getting drawing cash out of the NFL till.

A great many of my colleagues insist that Easterbrook isn't anti-semitic at heart, despite the TNR blogging and the less-than-whole-hearted apology.

I'm not so sure. But like Art I have to wonder if someone who so caricatures Hollywood businessmen would deliver a similar pox on the houses of NFL players?

Whenever he begins his column as a scold, I'm going to bring up his previous uses of the form. And there is one very infamous use of that, and it should be noted.

56
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:47pm

"As for what Easterbrook said in that ESPN column"

It wasn't in ESPN. It was a blog on TNR. I linked to it earlier.

I'm not sure you've even read it, RichC.

57
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:50pm

Posts 48 and 50:

I'm with you completely.

"Eighteenth Century Industrial Soot Gloss." Do you think he means 19th Century? It was a much sootier century.

58
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:51pm

RE:#53 Fast Eddy "The commentators seem to be saying that Philly is gonna be fine, just one loss against a tough team. I dunno. No power runner. No good #2 receiver. No really good TE. How is their offense going to score, with magic?"

They lost because of incredibly sloppy play, not a lack of talent. Sloppy play is MUCH easier to fix at this point then lack of talent. That's why they'll be fine. They still have at least 3 outstanding playmakers on offence, which is more than you can say about many teams in the NFL. Work at cleaning up the mistakes and the penalties, and the Eagles are still a SB team. Oh, and Smith is a fine TE; the Falcons were keying in on him, which is what kept his production down (the do have some experience with talented pass-catching TEs after all).

Reid actually admitted in post-game interviews that he should have run the ball more. I'm sure that aspect of the play calling will get better.

59
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:52pm

Maybe I'm a bit more angry with Easterbrook than Carl is.

I think I see what you're saying, Carl. But I also say you have a right to bring up the other charge. I had forgotten about the "apology."

Now that I've reread it, it is important to note that Easterbrook really just re-argued his earlier points and never grasped how they could be read as Jew-hating dribble.

That bothers me, Ray, and I think it should inform how we read his stuff about NBA and NFL players.

60
by Parker (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:58pm

"Carl says something that is obviously true, and he is attacked for it?"

Obviously true? Not sure about that. Clearly from that blog entry Greg is an anti-Tarantinoite, or at least he is clearly against the films that Taratino makes, if not the man himself.

Suggesting that two Jewish men should be more sensitive to the effect that violence in cinema has on the world than a Christian in the same position seems a bit silly, but it hardly seems the ravings of an anti-semite.

Maybe I don't know what I am talking about, it's happened before. Has he made other, more inflamatory remarks? These just don't seem to justify a constant reminder that they were once written.

61
by Wow (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:58pm

Wow. I'm getting to this one late!

I think I'm with Carl and Art on this. I don't want to beat a dead horse, so I will be brief.

I wonder why RichC and Ray seem to attack Carl for telling the truth. They say Carl is engaging in ad hominem attacks, but really he is just stating something many of us believe to be accurate, as Art said.

Maybe I am not as mad as Art, but I don't know why they attack Carl's charge without looking really at Easterbrook's ad hominem attack against Jews.

I'm Jewish, but I cannot help but think about Easterbrook's issue every time I read something he writes. Carl is more articulate about this, but I agree with him.

62
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 5:59pm

I don't think looking at the champions of individual leagues are the right way to tell whether or not there's competitive balance, because it takes a lot of luck (not just talent) to win a championship, in any sport - you have to have fewer injuries, etc. Yes, there is an issue of talent too, as well as player evaluation. Playoff participation, I think, or records over a multi-year period, are a better measure of competitive balance, but even those are difficult to use, because if a team is managed poorly, and evaluates talent poorly, it can remain at the bottom regardless of the money it spends (see: New York Knicks). There are a lot of variables.

I would say that more money brings a team two key advantages - first, in signing talent, and second, to write off mistakes. In fact, I believe that in the majority of cases, the latter is more important than the former.

A team that spends less, but that evaluates talent superbly (see: Oakland A's) can compete against teams that spend more. However, a single mistake in signing can cripple them where a higher-revenue team could simply write off the contract.

You can point to many NBA or MLB teams that signed some player to a mega-multi-year contract, for which said player immediately decided "I'm guaranteed, time to take the rest of my career off." And the team wallows in the depths of mediocrity or worse for years as a result. The Yankees, in contrast, would simply sign a replacement player.

In the NFL case, all teams are punished equally, via dead money against the cap, for their mistakes. No team can avoid the penalty for overspending, or mis-spending. Delay it, perhaps, but not avoid it (see: the Titans, who have a ridiculous amount of dead money this year).

This makes player evalauation, and team management, important for every team, not just a few. If a team is managed well, then they will, over the years, have a better record than one managed poorly.

So I would say that the NFL's system would maintain competitive balance, but only in a vacuum where every team had the same general manager and scouting reports (woe to the league if that general manager was Matt Millen). Given that such is not the case, you are going to have well-managed teams that rise to the top - but I don't believe that's necessarily a fault of competitive balance, but rather often owners that are unwilling to show an inept GM the door.

T.

63
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:14pm

“More proof that smart people love football!�
Little known fact: Based on demographic research, the most affluent fans of all the U.S. professional leagues follow the NHL.
Commonly known fact: There aren’t as many NHL fans as the NHL would like to have.
-Carl

Normally I wouldn't engage you, Carl, because I know you are just looking for a response, but as a hockey fan I can't just let this go by.

1. TMQ says smart people love football. In response you claim that the most afluent fans on average of a sports league are NHL fans. So? All smart people are afluent? Fans cannot follow multiple leagues? Besides, TMQ never said dumb people don't like football. This kind of non-sequitor undermines your credibility in your seemingly more reasoned posts.

In reality, the NHL has the most afluent fans (if that's true, which it probably is) not because of intelligence factors but because of racial and demographic factors. Let's face it: The NHL has the whitest fanbase of any sport in America, concentrated mostly in the Northeast, West coast and the Midwest. White people are on average wealthier than minorities in this country, and the Northeast and West Coast are wealthier than the South. Hence the relative afluence of NHL fans.

God I hope lots of people reply to this post calling me a racist.

2. Gregg Easterbrook is not anti-Semitic. He said something insensitive and was rightly chastised for it, but it was also misinterpreted and taken out of context. Further, it was an isolated incident. I am Jewish and while I wish he hadn't said it, I was not offended and didn't think it represented anything bigger than what it was. Even if it was an anti-Semitic statement, one such incident not mean that the speaker is an anti-Semite. Abraham Fox of the ADL overreacts to everything, and I say that as a former ADL volunteer.

3. What was so dumb about TMQ's paragraph on Baltimore's defense against Indy's offense? He correctly asserts that Baltimore's motion on defense threw off the Colts' rhythm for 3 quarters, while also pointing out that when a defense tries something bold and ambitious like that, confusion and mistakes result on both sides.

64
by Larry (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:18pm

I know I'm going to regret wading into this, but I simply can't let it slide. GE suggested that Jews should be held to a higher moral standard because others have treated them with behavior that doesn't live up to any remotely plausible moral standard. This argument is so ridiculous on its face, that the only explanation for it is that you want to take any opportunity to condemn Jews and reduce their legitimacy in this world.

This is more than 'a bit silly,' it is one of the essential devices used in today's world to attack Jewish institutions and it needs to be called out on every invocation.

65
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:23pm

SJM,

I wasn't making a connection that smarter people like hockey. What Easterbrook wrote couldn't be proven with any known data, so I just wanted to showcase a fact that could.

The NHL paid a lot of money to find out why they couldn't expand the game beyond their tight demographic. Partly, NHL wanted to show ad buyers that they could nevertheless deliver a highly desirable demographic.

I only mentioned it because I thought it was interesting. I would've thought it was the PGA or ATP. Nope. Hockey.

I really wasn't drawing a conclusion about intelligence, although you did, adding in something about white people.

So far as I know, no one has yet to administer IQ tests to fans of various American teams. If they do, I'd like to see the results on the Raiders.

66
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:23pm

Carl,

I agree that Easterbrook's moral elitism can be tiring. Perhaps I'm not familiar enough with the rest of his body of work to get the proper context, but I've never read any of his "scoldings" of the NBA as racist. After all, there are NBA players who are not black, and I saw no reason to assume that his comments were were aimed only at those players who are black.

I will still contend that you could have made your initial argument without bringing anti-semitism into it. After all, you didn't call Easterbrook out for being a racist in that initial post, which may have made the comment about anti-semitism relate. Perhaps the connection was so strong in your mind that you didn't feel the need to tie it tightly in your words, but I can't be the only one who read that post and saw it as I have already described.

Personally, I still don't think this is a proper forum to bring up anti-semitism and racisim. I guess I'd grudgingly admit that it's on-topic if you intially came out and brought up the "Easterbrook doesn't like the NBA because he's a racist" argument, but I'd still feel that making the argument is inflammatory in a Web Forum setting, and therefore not in very good taste.

But you didn't come out with that argument, and so the "anti-semitism" comment was just sitting there with no seeming relevance. All that does is turn off people like me who don't think it's appropriate, and fire up people like Art who are apparently so emotionally involved in the topic that they start lashing out personally (c'mon Art, RichC obviously read the thing, simple factual error about it's origin aside; your attack on him personally doesn't lessen his argument).

Yeah, you can accuse me of trying to ignore racial issues and sports or whatever for preferring not to have it come up here. Ostrich head in the sand? Maybe. I personally look at it as an issue of tact. Criticize Easterbrooks arguments all you want (you definitely seem right about much of it), but the apparent personal attacks of bigotry (sorry, but that's how it came across to me) I could do without.

But again, that's just me.

67
by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:23pm

Re: #61

Wow -- you're begging the question. I quite obviously don't believe Carl is telling the truth. As for Art, yes, you are correct. It was in his TNR blog and that caused him to get axed by ESPN.

As for the ad hominem charge, even if Easterbrook was an anti-semite (which I don't believe), that would be irrelevant to what he says about football. Try reading the definition of an ad hominem. It means to argue "against the man" instead of against what he says. If someone says Y, it stands or falls on its own merit, not on the character of Y. Saying that "Smith asserts Y, but Smith is an evil man, therefore Y is false" is what Carl is doing with respect to the "anti-semitism" thing, and that's the very definition of an ad hominem. Now, to extend far more fairness to Carl than he extends to others, I will point out that he does list a number of legitimate counters to Easterbrook's claims.

68
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:23pm

Hate to repost, but if you don't want people to criticise Terrel Owens and imply that he is a stereotypical selfish, greedy, money-grubbing Black athelete, tell him to stop acting selfishly, greedily and generally in a manner which is embarrasingly consistent with the negative stereotype you so rightly decry.

BTW, why is it wrong to call Owens greedy and selfish but not wrong to call NHL players (back during the lockout) greedy and selfish? Because a stereotype about Black players exists? That may be, but it doesn't mean that Owens isn't actually greedy and selfish, because he is, just like many White NHL players are.

69
by zach (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:27pm

If Philly ran the ball more, they would have been shutout.

you should join a friend of mine, who last night asserted "the eagles aren't thinking as a team", to form the NFL's first tandem of psychic commentators.

but seriously, while at times it did seem futile to run against the falcons' defense, what you can and can't do effectively against a good defense is always changing. the eagles' mistake wasn't simply to pass more often than run; their mistake was to pass successfully, and then fail to take advantage of the opportunities that then opened up for the run game. on their TD drive, if i remember correctly, they used the pass outside to owens to set up the run and the swing pass to westbrook.

also, they hurt themselves with some false start and illegal formation penalties, which led to longer first downs, and thus more passing attempts.

70
by Art (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:30pm

BS, RichC!

What Carl is saying is that Easterbrook has taken this form of argument before. He calls it a "scold" or a "sermon." Whatever it is, he's seen it before, noting one particular episode that many people remember more than any of his other writings.

Carl, have you posted about Easterbrook before and mentioned this?

I say Carl has every right to bring it up because it is so similar in form and function to how Easterbrook attacks the NBA and NFL players while buffing the reputation of the owners.

Unlike a lot of people here, Carl went on to make a lot of points about his article that have absolutely nothing to do with "ad hominem" remark. He talks football and he seems to know more about the CBA and other topics than Easterbrook.

71
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:32pm

Easterbrook's comment about smart people WAS A JOKE! Of course he didn't back it up with data. He didn't mean it seriously. But you, in your attempt to ridicule him, did take it seriously, although you failed to show that he was wrong and instead quoted something irrelevant.

Please reread my post and remind me what I implied about intelligence. I don't remember. I thought I was saying straight out (not implying) something about afluence to explain your "interesting" results.

72
by Ray (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:32pm

RE:#61 Wow

Sort of like what RichC said above. I'm not attacking Carl because of the accuracy of what he said. I'm actually trying not to do that (although I may be failing). I'm attacking Carl because I believe that, irregardless of whether what he said is true or not, this is not the proper place to bring it up, especially since it seemed to do absolutely nothing to support his initial arguments.

73
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:35pm

"BTW, why is it wrong to call Owens greedy and selfish but not wrong to call NHL players (back during the lockout) greedy and selfish? Because a stereotype about Black players exists?"

Actually, I've written before about how the hockey players weren't all that greedy or selfish. They also, it should be noted, weren't the ones who shut down the league. It was an owners' lockout.

Also, I've written about how one could make a very valid argument that TO is underpaid compared to many of his peers and likely would earn more guaranteed money on the open market. At least he and his not-so-stupid agent believe he would.

This argument, by the way, has instilled no love for me from the NFLPA. The union doesn't much like writers questioning the importance of guaranteed contracts to solving many of the ills currently troubling the NFL. The NFLPA, you see, doesn't want guaranteed contracts.

That's why I read RichC's posting with a certain amount of irony.

74
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:41pm

SJM: What's silly about TMQ's paragraph is it was the same thing he wrote last year after Baltimore tried the same technique with the same results. What he neglected to point out is in order for that defense to work against the Colts, you need an offense that can stay on the field long enough to keep your defense from getting worn down with all the shifting and movement. What this boils down to is in order to beat the Colts, you have to be better than them. Too bad for the Ravens, there are three teams (Pats, Eagles, Steelers) that meet the qualification, and they're not one of them.

75
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:42pm

#71 is right on.

I don't care for many of GE's harangues about the NBA, but some of the commenters are taking his tongue-in-cheek items way too seriously.

76
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 6:44pm

SJM, settle down. I gave you a little factoid for free. Now you can mention it to fellow hockey fans while tooling around in your Bentleys or tippling at Max's Paris.

One would think you would thank me for giving you the bar patter. Instead, you pull a RichC on me.

77
by Max (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:04pm

I'm a hockey fan and I've never been to Paris, Carl. I prefer St. Moritz, of course. We keep a chalet there.

"But you, in your attempt to ridicule him, did take it seriously, although you failed to show that he was wrong and instead quoted something irrelevant."

Gee whiz, man, calm the %*&^&$* down. I don't see where Carl was trying to ridicule him there. Although, Carl, you did ridicule him in other places. That's not nice.

I don't understand how you can say what he gave you was irrelevant when you then spent a lot of time trying to explain why this was so. You obviously found it interesting, so it was relevant to you.

78
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:15pm

Re: #42

"That you remember him and not the 29 percent of the NFL that’s been arrested on felony criminal charges is impressive."

No, it's not. Vin Baker's problems began in Seattle. A once-proud basketball franchise that went from the NBA Finals in 1996 to a lottery team two years ago can pin a major chunk of its downfall to Vin Baker. Vin Baker is a large part (pun intended) of "What is wrong with the NBA?", and he's a source of great animosity for people in Seattle. What *is* impressive is that you'd jab at HLF without recognizing this fact for yourself.

Seattle basketball fans have a laundry list of complaints to level at this so-called superior business model. The NBA is NOT doing better in Seattle, and one of the reasons for that is that it's become some sort of a haven for free agents who decide to tank their contracts until the last year, then play it up for another fat contract elsewhere (Hope you enjoy Jerome James, New York).

And the ultimate difference between that 29 percent of the NFL that's been arrested and Vin Baker is that the NFL can cut that 29 percent if their legal troubles are interfering with their job. Vin Baker was stuck, and in fact there were talks of filing a grievance when he was eventually released by Boston because he was an incorrigible, non-functioning alcoholic. A GRIEVANCE. I don't get to file a grievance against that fat bastard for what he did to Seattle's basketball hopes for over half a decade, why does he get to file a grievance because the team he suckered into trading for him finally gave him the boot?

Great business model. Engendering anger in fans is such a wonderful idea, I don't know why anyone didn't think of it before. I hear this is why baseball decided to try it out, too. God knows, it's about time for another round of Yankees and Red Sox playoff runs. Haven't had any of those in.. gosh.. 10 months!

79
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:23pm

Putty, if you really want to base the downfall (and later rise) of Seattle's basketball team on Vin Baker, I don't know what you tell you. Enjoy your scapegoat, I guess.

As I've written elsewhere, the statistics don't support your argument that players "tank" it when they get their guaranteed contracts. Perhaps that's because the first three years of NBA play really weed out the guys who want to work as hard as possible to develop their talent from the rest of the chaff.

This isn't so in football because of the high injury rate. What really screws NFL players isn't their legal woes (see the starting RB for the Ravens, or the infamous LB), but the incidences of crippling injuries.

Jerry Jones would install Hitler at QB if he put up 350 yards and 4 TDs every game. If he didn't, Miami would.

Actually, I'd pay to see Hitler get knocked around behind Miami's line. That might be his punishment in hell.

80
by jds (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:26pm

TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH!

I am now hijacking this thread. All those who have posted more than 3 inches of column space above, or who have posted more than 3 times above = STAY HERE.

All others, over to the MMQB thread. That thread is dead, but I will go over and post something to bring it back up to the top 5 most recently commented EPs.

I leave you with two thoughts. Manning or Brady? Was Rush right about McNabb? Discuss, in addition to the other discussion above.

81
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:30pm

Max,

I found the factoid interesting, not relevant. I spent time trying to show exactly why it was not relevant. It was definitely interesting though.

Will I see you at the country club later? If not, congradulations on the new NHL-viewing home theater you installed in your estate.

Carl,

I am not surprised that you identify with NHL players. But I'm asking is there a moral difference between criticising NHL players and criticising TO on the same grounds, supposing that one were to do so?

BTW, Thank you for that lovely factoid. I will surely mention it to my fellow "loaded" (in both senses of the word) hockey fans. But I drive a Lincoln Navigator.

82
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:34pm

Wow, there has been some really great discussion about football on this thread.

Look, racism is bad, mmkay. But unless you are saying that Easterbrook's racism is affecting the ideas he lays forth in this column, then I don't see how it has any bearing on the conversation. Now, maybe you'll respond by saying you brought it up because his racist views affected his ideas of the economics of Hollywood, so why not the economics of the NFL. Fair enough. If that's really why you brought it up, though, maybe you should have mentioned that instead of just saying

If he hadn’t already earned the deserved epithet of the anti-semite, he might be best publicly known as the ultimate know-nothing about the business of American professional sports.

As it's written here, you are just attacking the man, not the ideas.

I think this came up already also, and Wow replied with:

They say Carl is engaging in ad hominem attacks, but really he is just stating something many of us believe to be accurate

Of course, just because people believe it is accurate doesn't mean it's not an ad hominem attack. For example, if T.O. comes up to me and says "Hey, I really think it would be a good idea if everyone donated as much as they could to the Red Cross," it would look pretty stupid if I said "Hey, you're a selfish prick and a bad teammate, why should I listen to you?"

Alright, I don't know why I'm adding to this. Time to go read about football.

83
by DavidH (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:35pm

Whoa, looks like I should have refreshed the thread before posting that, I think it would have been more appropriate about 20 posts ago, since my points have already been covered.

84
by HLF (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 7:46pm

Carl,

I deleted anything overtly unkind I was about to say. Could you consider either asking FO to give you your own column, or limiting yourself to maybe 25% or all posts here? That way those of us that find whatever presumably ignorant and futile and anti-semetic enjoyment in reading GE's TMQ most weeks can discuss it with others... Fair enough?

Hopeless Lions Fan,
Seattle

85
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:04pm

I've yet to find any albatross that quite measures up to Vin Baker in the annals of Sonics' history. Wally Walker runs a close second, but a 7-year max contract of which perhaps 1 year was fruitful (granted, the remaining 6 were split 4:2 with the Celtics), a perennial cancer with his 4-year denial of alcoholism, his insistence on being treated like a performer despite his willingness to act like one, and the fact that he was traded to replace Shawn Kemp (when he was still a force of nature, not gravitation), makes him a pretty good candidate.

Also, while you might be right, you'd have a hard time convincing Toronto that Vince Carter wasn't "that big a deal" when it came to their failures, too. Regardless, the gross miscarriage of justice that was his 2005 season doesn't make a good case for the NBA's greatness either.

And it's a shame, too, because for the majority of players, you're right, they work tremendously hard to get into the league, and to stay there. Sometimes, though, it's not getting there that's hard, it's staying there. Your response to me suggests you didn't realize that...

86
by Tyler (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:05pm

Hey guys, remember back when this site was used to discuss football? Where's a good Manning/Brady arguement when you need it? Atleast that has some relevance to football.

Without mentioning anyone in particular, no one forces you to read TMQ. If you think he's an idiot that knows nothing about football, then why bother reading it and then complaining about it? While I think that he certainly is selective in his examples to make himself look smart, so what? He writes a football column, on the internet. He's not writing research papers that are going to affect your life. Well, maybe he is, I don't know. But those aren't the ones that are up on NFL.com.

So back to football....who else here thinks that Fast Willie grabbed the starting RB spot for the Steelers until he does something to lose it? I mean, I know Amos Z. looked good a few years ago too, but does anyone really think that Duce or Jerome will be able to outperform Willie when they make it back onto the field?

87
by bobstar (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:06pm

Re: post #84: there's no reason you can't do what you outline, HLF; just ignore the posts you don't like. Most of us do. :-)

BTW, regarding your moniker, aren't you at least a little bit optomistic about this year's team?

88
by Lionel the Lions Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:07pm

“moral posturing and witless embrace of loathsome cultural stereotypes.�

I have to confess I went back and reread GE's article after that. A lot of people might not like what Carl had to say, and I did not really believe the ad hominem quip myself until I came across that "moral posturing" line and how Carl used it in his defense.

I will say that it caused me to read GE in a completely different way that made sense.

His last two diatribes on the NBA and NFL players follow the same pattern as The New Republic piece. Carl is right. He starts off with a sermon and the target of his jeremiad is the NBA players, who he blames for ruining the game of basketball.

Look at some of the hidden stereotypes here. I begin to see players who are selfish, lazy, disrespectful, shiftless and in it only for the money not the game.

I do not think they are and I never really noticed how he used that kind of language until now.

Then GE goes on about the NFL. Here he has the same sort of unruly mob, with the same vices, controlled only by the whip of the salary cap. Benevolent owners and their salary cap.

People in here are attacking Carl for changing the conversation. But I think he made me read the article in a completely different way. Maybe ESPN was beginning to see the same pattern?

If GE wants to debate the economics of the league and the importance of the salary cap, I will listen. But Carl raises some very good points about why we shouldn't listen to these arguments and why there might be some problems with the motive for their expression.

I am willing to listen to that.

89
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:28pm

"Sometimes, though, it’s not getting there that’s hard, it’s staying there. Your response to me suggests you didn’t realize that…"

Putty, I certainly can understand your anger about Vin Baker, but let's see if we can look at it in another light.

There were two parties here. One of them, the Sonics, could have moved at any time to nix the contract. They had his admitted drinking problems to cite and could have filed for immediate relief from his contract based on the documented medical problem.

The NBA's CBA, of course, allows for teams to unilaterally cut a player once he tests positive three times for a substance that's either banned outright by the league, or after a modified grievance is agreed to by both parties and the league office.

This is exactly what happened to Baker in Boston. He was cited for noncompliance with his Boston alcohol program, and released.

The problem with Seattle is that the front office was mystified by the meltdown. Here was a four-time All Star who was an Olympic standout, the son of a Baptist minister who proved unfailingly polite to reporters, owners and fans before.

He put up outstanding numbers, and then began an inexplicable downturn.

Bear in mind, however, that Seattle had certain reasons for letting him keep playing: (1) They had an insurance policy on his salary, and didn't want to kick that one; (2) they believed he would turn it around and become the Vin of old; (3) he would show flashes of brilliance before succumbing again to drink.

And I'm also not sure that this was the greatest front office in the world. If I recall, they got Kenny Anderson and Potapenko in trade for Baker, and Anderson was high priced and at the very end of his value as a player. Potapenko was always hurt.

Remember that this was the same Seattle front office that had a great talent in Shawn Kemp, and they never really developed him. Kemp, too, fell into substance abuse and later ate himself out of the starting lineup.

Remember, Baker was a double-double threat every night for four out of five years in Seattle, then fell off the shelf. Maybe the problem was that he was sold as the answer, and he was really just a part, one that eventually wore down because of problems beyond the game of basketball.

Football, as you know, has had a certain problem with illegal substances. We call them "steroids."

The problem is that Baker's drug issues didn't improve his play, but the NFL's drug of choice likely improved the quality of competition there.

I guess I have a soft spot for Baker because he was always one of the nicest, kindest men to talk to in the locker room. Like many others, I kept hoping he would pull it together.

90
by Paul (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:30pm

Carl, quick informal study of "smart people"--Mathematicians and Engineers, all 'rocket scientists'.
Roughly 50% men, 50% women
The women all follow their children in their sports (primarily soccer and basketball) and no professional sports. Plenty of female sports fans, just none in my office.
The men: over 50% fail to worry about overpaid crybabies (i.e., professional athletes)
Smart Male sports fans: #1 sport: football (pro and college). #1 team: Steelers (small study group at this point).
At this point, the sample group for fans of other sports drops to only 3 individuals, and hockey does rank high. This is related to Steelers being the #1 football team--Pirates aren't much of a team anymore, and hockey still exists in Pittsburgh. (side note, this office does work at Cape Canaveral, Florida and has two Penn State grads, myself included.) Steelers fans are very devoted.
After football, hockey stays fresher than the other sports in regular season. Among our office, the sports fans only really follow the sports around playoff time. Long regular seasons dull the experience.
Steeler game on Sunday WAS exciting, particularly for Steeler fans. It was definitely not "who's going to win" exciting, at least after the first half or even during the second quarter.
NBA games don't have the excitement of a football game (disregard the product in Chicago, DC and well, entire NFC North) until you get to a game 7 in the playoffs.
And America has not switched to watching pro wrestling, Martha Stewart and E Hollywood stories" Only half has, the other half is on the internet or busy working a second job to pay for gas.

91
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:35pm

Bill Simmons made an interesting point that McNabb hardly scrambled at all this game, and it seemed like it might be at least in part related to the spearing to the chest that he took early-on.

Not having seen the play, I'm a bit mystified as to how the officials can eject two players for a pre-game tussle, not eject someone who threw a punch later on *AFTER* the warning ("oh, well, now that we've warned everyone its okay to do it"), and then allow one of the Falcons players to make what I'm told was a helmet-to-chest tackle on the QUARTERBACK.

Honestly it sounds like the Eagles really got screwed that game.

Though this may not be quite as relevant to TMQ as TMQ's own would-be vile, racist underpinnings, I thought it was interesting. And hey, look, football!

92
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:37pm

Paul, I'm doing the regression now on the dataset you gave me and extrapolating the data for the entire U.S. population.

I seem to be getting some real pro-Steeler outliers. Hmmmmm.

"Steeler game on Sunday WAS exciting, particularly for Steeler fans."

At the risk of suggesting to those outside the Steelers' fan base, the game wasn't competitive past the opening Titans' drive.

Some Nashville fans in here might like to perk up now about when they turned off the tube or switched to figure skating.

93
by SJM (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:41pm

Here I go again:

Most professional athletes are motivated by money. This is a fact, and it has nothing to do with race or stereotypes. It has to do with motivation.

Let's say you love to play football. You play because you love. Now I start paying you to do the same thing you were doing before. Over time, your motivation to play will change from love of the game to trying to earn more money. The more money you get paid, the more you will care about money rather than football.

The above is a summary of the results of a psychology study on motivation I read a while back. Unfortunately I can't link it for you, since I have no idea where to find it. But since I'm a filthy rich hockey fan, I am obviously an authority on money.

94
by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:46pm

"NBA games don’t have the excitement of a football game (disregard the product in Chicago, DC and well, entire NFC North) until you get to a game 7 in the playoffs."

I could return to an earlier argument I've made in other places about the mechanism that's missing that would force owners to be competitive.

There's a reason the Bengals, Chargers, Saints, et al, have been consistently bad throughout the era of the salary cap. It's because the onus for remaining competitive has been placed on the players, not the owners.

With shared revenues, there is no "penalty" for underperforming, for pooping on your fans, for failing to compete in the playoffs or put together a winning team.

I think there's a very real reason why the Colts and Patriots and Steelers have been consistently good over the last few years. It's because their GMs want to compete harder than others and they're smarter and tougher than their peers.

At this point I usually bring up my plan to remainder two NFL franchises to Europe every year for their inability to put out a professional product. At this point Tarrant yells at me, so I won't do it.

I will say, however, that many fans get mad at the wrong party. They too often blame the players, when they should be more closely scrutinizing the way the front office drafts, trains, retains and competes for talent.

The Colts, Pats and Steelers have been very good at this. Others, perhaps, haven't had the proper incentive to try a different path.

Pitt fans, you now inherit the sins of the Dolphins. Enjoy.

Whatever ills befell the NHL, you can be sure the business model in place made both the high-salary teams like Detroit and the low-market but smart franchises such as Ottawa or Tampa Bay get out there and duke it out.

95
by CoreyG (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 9:26pm

91:
Having seen the play, it did not appear to me that Lavalais lead with his helmet. He crunched McNabb with his shoulder, and it was a vicious hit. The only thing questionable about it to me was that Lavalais had, for a split second, both feet off the ground, which I thought was a penalty (launching?). I don't remember clearly enough whether his feet were off the ground before or after the hit.

96
by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 9:37pm

Front office incompetence is not exclusive to the NFL. The Clippers are the hallmark for terribly managed teams that stay afloat financially while putting out a horribly substandard product. The Pirates are doing it in baseball as well.

97
by putnamp (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 9:48pm

Tarrant, I know you're reading this (a great statement, cuz if you're not you won't argue) - what's wrong with doing the Premiere League style, anyway? I liked this idea when I thought of it, in spite of the implementation being a nightmare and convincing owners to go along with it being virtually impossible.

98
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 9:53pm

Regarding Larry Tripplett of the Colts: how can he be a "journeyman" when he was drafted by the Colts and has only played for the Colts? He may not have started (much?) in 2004, but he figured heavily in the D-Line rotation all year. Shoddy reporting, that.

Otherwise, a quite enjoyable column. It's so good to be in football season again!

99
by CoreyG (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 11:15pm

98:
one of the definitions for a journeyman is "a worker or sports player who is reliable but not outstanding" so I don't see anything wrong with it as used in the article

100
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/13/2005 - 11:43pm

#99

True. Guess I'm just overeager to defend a player on the team I root for. Or maybe I still have hopes that as a 2nd-round pick he'll blossom into something more.

101
by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:50am

I realize at this point this site has many readers, and they have come from many sources. However I think quite a few of us started reading this site when TMQ took refuge here for a few weeks after his ill-advised comments.

I used to read TMQ every week because it was the most interesting football column on the major sports sites. Then, he moved here, and I started reading FO, and now TMQ seems like unoriginal crap.

There are two explanations for this: either TMQ has become stale and repetitive over the years, or Football Outsiders has raised the bar for football articles. Ironically (or not, I can never be sure) his unwise comments on Jews in Hollywood led me (and possibly many others) to realize that there is vastly more interesting football commentary being written outside the major sports journalism sites, and that TMQ is actually nothing special.

In summary, Football Outsiders rocks. That is all.

102
by Rich (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:00am

re: #101

I think part of the problem is that TMQ hasn't developed any new schticks. As I said above, I don't mind schtick per se -- a humor football column is a cool thing. But reading the standard devices over and over again for years does get tiring. TMQ needs to dig deep, give 181% :), and come up with some new stuff.

103
by Dan L (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:16am

Re #90:
You know, I was really hoping I was the only rocket scientist in here. Anyway, a quick informal study of the rooting patterns of my co-workers (like just guessing from my conversations with them) is that those who are into sports are into football, baseball, hockey, and basketball in that order. And the hockey is more frequently college hockey (since many come from New England) than professional.

In any case, there's nothing ad hominem about pointing out a style of argument that has been shown to produce false conclusions in the past. And mentioning that the Weinstein brothers were Jewish was totally out of place. You can scold people for being amoral, but bringing the stereotype of the money-loving Jew into it was unnecessary. Also, it was a really dumb move. Neither volume of Kill Bill was even in the top ten in gross earnings in their respective years ('03 and '04). But The Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Terminator 3, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST!, and Meet the Fockers all were. Austin Powers in Goldmember was as well, in 2002. Easterbrook didn't attack the producers of any of those movies (well, I don't know if he did or not with the Passion of the Christ, honestly.)

Easterbrook is a scold. And his arguments against the NBA are the arguments that you hear almost exclusively from people talking about black players. The argument against players with no "fundamentals" is an argument against black players. The unstated assumption is that college players all pick up the fundamentals. And except for some European players, virtually every publicized transfer from high school (or at least not college) to the pros has been non-white. A good counter-example to the fundamentals argument is the WNBA. They've got great fundamentals. They don't dunk, they pass, and they play as teams in general. And nobody tunes in. Princeton73 is absolutely right to say (#18) that the popularity of the NBA surged with the arrival of Jordan, Magic, and Bird on the scene during the same careers. It had nothing to do with fundamentals, and it doesn't now.

One last point: If NBA guaranteed contracts (along with baseball's) are a problem, and I do believe they are overly generous in fully guaranteeing the contract, that has absolutely ZIP to do with revenue sharing in the NFL collective bargaining agreement, which is the holdup to a new CBA. Get rid of the fully guaranteed contracts and you have a much better business model than the NFL in the NBA. For instance, Chris Webber is not worth 20 million dollars a year. He may be worth 8-12, in terms of what he can still do on the court. But he cripples the finances of the Sixers because they have to pay him, or they have to trade him for someone equally useless. Guaranteed contracts are an albatross, but they've got nothing to do with the NFL CBA.

104
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:19am

Um, Carl? While we've debated before, I don't think I've ever made a comment for or against any plan to demote teams to NFL Europe for poor play.

I think you have your previous arguments crossed between people.

T.

105
by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:07am

Carl, your inflamatory comments make me close every thread you're involved into.

Thank you for your contribution into making FO a lousy place for intelligent football discussion.

106
by Moe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:13am

Looking for a little help from you fellow outsiders.

I can no longer get to the nfl.com web site. I used to be able to but now the screen starts to load and then hangs. Since I am doing this from work I can't exactly ask the IT guys about it... don't think the boss would be too pleased.

Any thoughts on what is going on? Alternatively could someone email me the content at "baenjunk @ hotmail. com" (remove spaces of course). I don't think this would violate any copyright issues as it is an open site.

Thanks

107
by Terry (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:27am

Carl, which giant international newspaper are you a reporter for? Can we read your work online? I am really interested in gaining more of you insightful analysis.

108
by Clod (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:14am

Why don't we change this to the bitch about tmq thread...you people are rediculous. If you don't like him move the freak on. I hope Aaron reads this as well...I have been on this site from the first year and miss guys like sid and B that used to be able to discus things in a civilized manor...if we can't get some sort of flaming ban system in place or post limit, I unfortunately don't know that i will continue to support.

hey carl....look at a glass half full once in a while, it may extend your life.

109
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:28am

Moe: I know somebody that had a similar problem with another website. The solution was to install java from www.sun.com You can try that, but I don't know if it'll work or not.

110
by BillT (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:34am

Not to get off the subject (as if that would be a bad thing)...

Does anyone know where I can find an article with last year's AFC playoffs DVOA ratings for each player? I swear Aaron did something like this, but I can't find a damn thing.

111
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:45am

Hey Clod, I'm still here, I just stay out of discussions that don't interest me. As it happens, I agree with many of the points Carl has hit upon in this thread, although it doesn't stop me from enjoying TMQ, as long as he's not discussing basketball.

112
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:52am

"Carl, which giant international newspaper are you a reporter for? Can we read your work online?"

Currently I'm the NFL correspondent for Lance! (exclamation point comes with the journal). If you read Brazilian Portugese, enjoy. It's sort of the USA Today of Brazil's sports world.

I also earn a daily paycheck for a large U.S. daily. My "insights" in here are simply provided to drive up web traffic for Aaron and to ask people to reconsider some of the tacit assumptins and myths that have scabbed over media coverage of the league.

This is nothing new. Better voices out there would include King Kaufman at Salon, Allen Barra at wherever he is now, FO (of course) and TMQB, before he went over to NFL.com.

113
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:53am

assumptions, even

114
by kris (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:53am

I find Easterbrook boring, but not half as boring as I find the NBA. To me, and this is my subjective opinion and not meant as a comment about Carl's obviously thoughtful reflections on the business approach of NFL vis NBA, but I think NFL games are way more competitive.

For two obvious reasons: one, the element of violence makes courage and camaraderie possible in the NFL in a way that it can never really be realized in a basketball game. You can't really be a lazy NFL player, because you'll get your head knocked off, in other words. But lots of basketball players spend their careers riding sometimes immense talent by standing around 85% of the time doing nothing.

Reason two is the simple thing that because the NFL regular season is so short, the season is really more of a tournament. Every game counts in a big way. Any given night in an NBA season is pretty near meaningless. (And while I'm naive about business models and such, wouldn't the length of the NBA season help explain its value?)

I thought of a third reason. Just my personal opinion, but I think that the rules of basketball make arbitrary referee decisions a bigger part of that game than any other major sport. A game in which "crunch time" revolves around intentionally fouling [i.e., cheating] your opponent seems conceptually faulty for me.

Bottom line is that I find Easterbrook boring and repetitive but I share his dislike of basketball.

115
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:02pm

"Having seen the play, it did not appear to me that Lavalais lead with his helmet. He crunched McNabb with his shoulder, and it was a vicious hit. The only thing questionable about it to me was that Lavalais had, for a split second, both feet off the ground, which I thought was a penalty (launching?)."

The first penalty that should have been called was "spearing." Many fans don't realize it, but "spearing" doesn't just occur when a defensive player slams into a receiver rolling on the ground.

"Spearing" should be called anytime a player -- offensive or defensive -- initiates contact by leading with his head. Properly enforced, it's the only penalty on the books that protects the player initiating the illegal contact.

That's because of the high risk of very serious neck, spine or head injury that comes every time a player decides to use his helmet as a spear.

If the ref missed it, then the league office should institute a fine or suspension for Lavalais, ironically to protect him and not McNabb.

McNabb will recover from a chest contusion. But few NFL players ever regain their former cut after breaking a neck, spine or skull.

116
by Moe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:05pm

re 109

Thanks B, I was afraid the answer would be java since that has been specifically banned by the IT guys.

117
by Lionel the Lions Fan (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:36pm

Re: 90 & 103

I agree completely. I would like to add in the Lions to the list of underperforming teams under the salary cap.

But ya gotta have hope!

118
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:53pm

Re GE being anti-semitic: I'm going to address this at some length, please be warned and skip this post if you only want to have a football discussion.

GE seems to me to have made anti-semitic remarks in the referenced article/blog/column. He may or may not have intended them that way, but they came off that way. Does making an anti-semitic comment make him an anti-semite? Who judges?

Could Carl be accused of racism by citing the fact (and I'd like to know the source BTW) that 29% of NFL players have been arrested on felony charges (which is different from being felons - arrest does not equal conviction)) since that COULD be seen as playing on a stereotype that young black men (I believe a majority of the NFL players are African-American) are criminals? Yet he implies if not states that GE is a [c]overt racist for making comments about NBA players that also can be linked to stereotypes about African Americans.

Bill James wrote once in an Abstract that an announcer could never say a black baseball player looked like another one unless it was so obvious that it couldn't be avoided (although why it is relveant at all is questionable). The point being that I'm going to venture into something that could be construed as anti-semitic: GE continues to write for The New Republic (just had another scold in there about Detroit and big SUVs), which is a magazine with a number of Jewish writers, a very liberal and pro-Israel editorial stance (being pro-Israel is not a common position on the left these days) and Jewish ownership since its origins (I might be wrong about the ownership but don't think so). I think not observing the viewpoint and religion of TNR's editors and owners would be like not observing the a similar thing about the racial make-up of Jet or Ebony.

My judgement is that GE wrote a stupid anti-semitic piece and got fired from one job, more likely because he attacked people in the ownership structure of the company that he worked for than actual anti-semitism. The leaders of that company found it convenient to claim anti-semitism rather than thin-skinnedness. Meanwhile, a magazine with a generally Jewish viewpoint continued to publish him. If TNR's owner/editors thought he was anti-semitic, why would they continue to employ him - they are pretty consistent in attacking anti-semitism wherever they find it. Since they are in a better position to judge his character than I am, and do not see him as anti-semitic, I think the weight of the evidence is that he's not. And I therefore disagree with Carl.

As for writing something stupid, and in one case, at least, anti-semitic, well I think GE did that too. In fact, I think Carl has amply shown GE's ignorance if not stupdity and bias on several items in this week's TMQ.

119
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 12:59pm

Back to football:

“Spearing� should be called anytime a player – offensive or defensive – initiates contact by leading with his head. Properly enforced, it’s the only penalty on the books that protects the player initiating the illegal contact.

Can Carl or anyone point me to the actual, complete rulebook? Preferably a free one on a web site (disclaimer: one that doesn't violate on copyright laws). When I last checked NFL.com, they only had an extract. I found it odd in a conspiratorial kind of way that they didn't publish they whole thng (what, we can't HANDLE the truth?)

120
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:12pm

Carl: (re #115)

The officiating in that game was horrendous. I'm not going to get all uppity about it because I was watching fouls on Philly more than the reverse, so I have no doubt that Philly committed several penalties not seen as well.

I can understand if they missed the spearing penalty. But seeing the injury to McNabb afterwards, you'd think the league/officials would say "hey.. maybe something went wrong on that play" and look at it in review.

There was a clear horse collar tackle early on, and an obvious late hit on Owens in the second half that wasn't called where he was thrown to the ground after the whistle blew.

Now add the fact that they threw out players before the game, and then quietly stood by as minor fights broke out three times in a game, you have to wonder if the officials weren't told to back off or something.

121
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:20pm

"Could Carl be accused of racism by citing the fact (and I’d like to know the source BTW) that 29% of NFL players have been arrested on felony charges (which is different from being felons - arrest does not equal conviction)) since that COULD be seen as playing on a stereotype that young black men (I believe a majority of the NFL players are African-American) are criminals?"

Actually, that was a typo. I meant to type 21 percent.

The research was done by an SI staffer I really don't particularly like, but his work on this book was beyond reproach because it relied on actual court documents and not unsourced gossip.

Jeff Benedict, Don Yeager (yes, that Don Yeager, MDS), "Pros and Cons." It's probably still in print.

And I was being charitable with the felony bit. Actually, the standard for the authors was "very serious crimes." They included rape, assault, batter, DUI, fraud, drug dealing, domestic violence, etc.

They included both white and black players. Jake Plummer was featured prominently.

The authors determined that the only time the NFL weeds out players (even those with multiple scrapes with the law) is when gambling is involved.

The high rate of convictions for all of these crimes was also noted.

For those of you in Boston, Benedict is the former director of research at the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University.

Yeager is the bad cop.

I'm not quite sure why mentioning the fact that one in five NFL players get arrested and convicted for very serious crimes makes me a racist! That certainly would come as some surprise to my wife of color!

The reality, however, is that both the NBA and NFL are largely composed of African-American players. In the NBA, the players tend to be a bit younger because of the draft, but this has no effect on the arrest rate.

Click on my name for an interesting study of this by Michael McCann at Miss Law.

The NBA has a lower arrest and conviction rate than the NFL, but somehow it's the NBA that's been given the image by columnists as some out-of-control gaggle of urban toughs.

I sense a bit of racism in that. Not the old style Jim Crow kind of racism, but one that begins a scold with certain stereotypes.

Where have I heard that before?

122
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:31pm

Click on my name for the classic essay on spearing by Jon Heck, who chairs the NATA group on this.

Every single trainer in the NFL wants the rule changed to more reflect what the NCAA did this year -- intentional or unintentional, if the ref catches you lowering your head on a tackle, you get flagged.

I travel through a lot of NFL locker rooms. In nearly every one there's a poster that says, "Look at what you hit."

I think the refs should be looking at the hits, too.

123
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:41pm

NFL Rulebook:

A fifteen yard penalty will be called... A tackler using his helmet to butt, spear, or ram an opponent ... (or) Any player who uses the top of his helmet unnecessarily.

The problem isn't necessarily so much with the rule. It's with the way it's enforced. This had led to long discussions between refs and NATA.

My pro bono work every year involves revisiting this issue.

124
by MRH (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:46pm

I’m not quite sure why mentioning the fact that one in five NFL players get arrested and convicted for very serious crimes makes me a racist! That certainly would come as some surprise to my wife of color!

Carl,

Well, of course there were 2 "could"s in my comment. Which is quite different from saying you ARE a racist; and I did not mean to imply that you are one either. My point was:

1. A common stereotype is that young African American males are criminal.
2. A majority of NFL players are young African American males.
3. A disproportionate number of NFL players are arrested and convicted of felonies.
4. It is easy to say that because of #2, someone citing #3 is implying #1, a racial stereotype, and is therefore racist.
5. And #4 would be be wrong-heade logic.

It is not entirely clear to me that your insinuations that GE or unnamed "columnists" are racists do not follow the same faulty logic. I believe Michael Wilbon of the Wash Post often criticizes greedy, lazy, knuckle-headed NBA players. Is he a racist? Or is he exempt from being a racist because he is a man of color?

I would like to repeat that I'm NOT saying or attempting to imply that you are a racist. Just disagreeing with you.

125
by HLF (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:51pm

re: 87/bobstar

No, 1-0 with that win coming at home vs a Green Bay team that looks to me to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year (and a team they could barely move the ball against) is not heartening or encouraging. Harrington is a detriment (and watching Navarre and Henne-Navarre Jr. for the past five years has given me an appreciation of sub-standard QB'ing), the front office is clueless, and the uniforms are atrocious. If the Lions could only play the Packers 16 games this season, I might get some hope.

re: 94/Carl

You mention San Diego and the Saints as being consistantly terrible during the salary cap era. This is factually bunk. The Chargers played in a Superbowl, and the Saints were fantastic in the mid-90's.

Folks that use the past five world series winners as evidence of competitive balance in MLB and the Pat's recent success as evidence against competitive balance in the NFL are either obtuse or fantasy-prone. Every single NFL team is two years or less away from winning a championship. Every single NFL team opens the season with a chance to go far in the playoffs. Only outrageous pay to top draft pick busts seems able to derail a team seriously for more than a year or two.

New England went from 5-11 to Champions in one year. Carolina went from 1-15 to almost Champions in two years. The Rams went from someting abyssmal to Champions in one year. The examples are endless. In MLB, the Royals, Devil Rays, Pirates, Brewers, and many more start the season with zero chance; the Yankees and Red Sox are more or less guarenteed winning seasons and playoff chances. This is the same problem the NHL had, and has hopefully addresses (even though in the NHL's case it benefited unfairly my beloved Red Wings).

Hopeless Lions Fan,
Seattle

126
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 1:56pm

"You mention San Diego and the Saints as being consistantly terrible during the salary cap era. This is factually bunk. The Chargers played in a Superbowl, and the Saints were fantastic in the mid-90’s."

I would refer you to work I have done previously on this for, ahem, the Chargers, which has been published. The nut of this work has appeared in FO in another forum.

A linear profile of pre- and post-cap performance by these teams proves the point. Their records do NOT compare well to their peers, and this cannot be explained statistically. In fact, it is their inability to consistently perform well that singles them out.

127
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:08pm

The NBA has a lower arrest and conviction rate than the NFL, but somehow it’s the NBA that’s been given the image by columnists as some out-of-control gaggle of urban toughs.

I sense a bit of racism in that. Not the old style Jim Crow kind of racism, but one that begins a scold with certain stereotypes.

I'm confused.

The NBA, which is predominantly black, has a lower conviction/arrest rate than the NFL, which is also predominantly black (I'm assuming that's accurate).

And somehow it's racist that the public wrongly believes one predominantly-black institution commits more crimes than another predominantly-black institution?

If one were to say "This league is mostly white players" and "This other league is mostly black players" and people automatically said "Oh, league #2 must have more criminals" well, that could very well be racism. But one is, in essence, comparing apples and apples here.

And it's not like problems with NFL players are swept under the rug by columnists. People know about Nate Newton, Ray Lewis, OJ, et al and they were all rightfully condemned. Late night hosts made their jokes about OJ and Newton just like they made jokes about Kobe, etc.

I would, however, point out that while it isn't indicative of the entire NBA, many NBA players market themselves as thugs/"street"/"attitude" people - even when they aren't - because it helps sell merchandise and project an image. So a general public perception that the NBA has a more "thuggish" attitude than the NFL, is not necessarily racist (although there's certainly some of that, in some people), but a natural byproduct of the way the players, and to some extent the league itself, has marketed itself to the public at large. Few NFL players market "themselves" as strongly as NBA players do. The NFL markets teams, the NBA markets players, thus, it is human nature, not necessarily racism, that when someone thinks of "negatives of the NBA", they think of all the individuals that have had trouble, but when they think of "negatives of the NFL", they think more of teams that suck.

T.

128
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:12pm

"This is the same problem the NHL had, and has hopefully addresses (even though in the NHL’s case it benefited unfairly my beloved Red Wings)."

Analysis of NHL success over a 15 year period before 2003 found that the single largest determinant for success was the ability to draft and train young players.

Although long considered an outstanding team at selecting free agents, Detroit was one of the leaders for drafting acumen, following only the NJ Devils, which had a certain success over the period, too.

In fact, NJ was almost the perfect example of how a team could win almost solely through brilliant drafting, conditioning and training.

What made Detroit so scary wasn't just that they were great at assessing rookie talent, but that they could develop the talent so well, then trade off players they knew would be marginal for much more valuable free agents they thought were improperly used by other teams.

Detroit, in sum, wasn't successful because they had a high payroll. They had a high payroll because they were successful at finding, developing and (here was the expensive part) retaining the best of the best.

Other teams at the top of the draft pecking order included Tampa Bay, Ottawa and Minnesota (albeit for a far shorter period).

129
by The Saint (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:19pm

I found this in an earlier Football Outsider.

"SD since 1994 (the first year of free agency contracts under the 1993 CBA):

Pts OPP
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 322 290
San Diego 11 5 0 .688 381 306
San Diego* 9 7 0 .563 321 323
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 310 376
San Diego 4 12 0 .250 266 425
San Diego 5 11 0 .313 241 342
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 269 316
San Diego 1 15 0 .063 269 440
San Diego 5 11 0 .312 332 321
San Diego 8 8 0 .500 333 367
San Diego 4 12 0 .250 313 441
San Diego 12 4 0 .750 446 313

So, in 12 years under free agency and the other items of the CBA, the Chargers have managed three winning seasons."

Is that from Carl?

130
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:19pm

Analysis of NHL success over a 15 year period before 2003 found that the single largest determinant for success was the ability to draft and train young players.

Isn't a 15-year period for this sort of thing too large? I had thought a lot of the payroll disparity in the NHL hasn't shown up until recently.

The other question about this is whether or not this isn't a predictor, but a result. Are the results predictive? That is, if you take a 7.5 year period, and find the best teams at drafting in that period, do they stay the best teams?

It seems to be pretty much a tautology that the best teams in any league will usually be the ones who draft the best over a long period of time, even given free agency, since the draft allows you the best chance to get something for "under market value".

131
by Jon in Cleveland (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:22pm

Fanbay has some nice graphs so you can compare team performance from year to year, even before the salary cap.

Eyeballing these, I'd say Carl was right. Some franchises perform well more often than not. Some underperform nearly every year.

132
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:23pm

Enter, Mr. Ron.

From 1994-95 to 2004-5, eight teams have won the Super Bowl. The 49ers, Dallas, Packers, Denver (twice), St. Louis, Ravens, Tampa and New England (three out of the last four years).

In the 10 years before the salary cap, six teams won it. Raiders, 49ers, Bears, Giants, Redskins and Cowboys.

8-6 doesn’t exactly look like dominance to me, especially when I see a team like the Patriots dominating like none other. So much for the parity that comes from the salary cap.

133
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:30pm

"The other question about this is whether or not this isn’t a predictor, but a result. Are the results predictive? That is, if you take a 7.5 year period, and find the best teams at drafting in that period, do they stay the best teams?"

Yes, the results were predictive. We went out even further in the analysis to 25 years, and cut in closer to handle the expansion years, etc.

But this is hockey-specific because of the unique business model of the NHL. Basically, teams have unusually strong control over the bulk of a young player's career. They own the rights to the kid and have a farm system that moves him up or down. Once on ice in the NHL, they will hold his free agency rights in suspension, for most players, until he's nearly 30 years old.

So that continuity over a long period of time is important to consider. To appraise any draft, you have to go out a long time, which we did. But we also cut up the phases to make sure the analysis held, and it did there too.

The really interesting thing about the draft system is that it's designed to help the worst-performing teams, who get to draft higher in the order annually to compensate for their performance.

But we found (no surprise, really) that the very best teams on ice did consistently well in the draft no matter where they picked. They always found value.

Something important to consider was how teams used these prospects, of course. It's important to remember that very strong teams will often trade off prospects to acquire athletes they can use in playoff runs or who they plan to retain for a long time.

Detroit was very good at this.

Our analysis of teams acquiring free agent talent, by the way, found that Philadelphia and Dallas were better than most at finding value in free agents, a trait that helped them, but not so much as great drafting would have.

I don't like to compare the NHL to the NFL when it comes to the draft because it's so paramount in importance to the NHL because of the long period of service to a club, unlike in the NFL.

In fact, one could say that the most successful clubs in the NFL are those least likely to hang on to players at certain positions.

See New England.

134
by Jon in Cleveland (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:35pm

i found this one too

"By the way, research shows that the teams that have prospered under the salary cap (so much for parity) are the Colts, Patriots, Steelers, Titans, Eagles, Rams, Seahawks, Packers and Bucs.

I would humbly suggest that this success has absolutely nothing to do with the cap or even DGRs (although by allowing other teams to become mediocre for their livelihood didn’t hurt). It’s because they’re simply smarter than the rest of the league.

They pay for better scouts, draft better, train players better then spend the right money on free agents to retain excellence.

Scatterplot the performance of some franchises, and the salary cap never helped or hurt them. They sucked or have been relative flatliners no matter what – Cards, Lions, Jets, Chargers, Skins, Bears, Saints and Falcons.

They were, most years, mediocre before the cap. They continued that tradition after it came into effect."

135
by Jon in Cleveland (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:37pm

carl posts a "caveat" for the skins saying they were great under gibbs "pre-94" but have sucked ever since

i agree

136
by John Crantler (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 2:49pm

"Every single NFL team is two years or less away from winning a championship. Every single NFL team opens the season with a chance to go far in the playoffs."

Ha! Don't worry, Browns, you'll get that hardware in 2008. Yeah, right.

Raiders? Nope. Jags. No. Washington, no. Cards. No. Let's just write off the whole NFC.

137
by zip (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 3:59pm

Re: #136

Did you write off Carolina for the next 2 years after they went 1-15?

If not, do you think the Raiders, Jags, 'Skins and Cards are WORSE than the 1-15 Carolina Panthers were?

It's easy to say that teams suck, and will suck for the near future, and you'll be right most of the time-- but not ALL the time, and that's the difference between the NFL and MLB that was being claimed. NFL teams have had turnarounds like Carolina from 2001-2003 or San Diego from 2003-2004 that make it possible that the 2005 Browns, Cards, or whatever team seems hopeless, could experience a similar turnaround in the next 2 years.

138
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:25pm

Well, Zip, anything is POSSIBLE, but not everything is probable.

Carolina, by the way, was an expansion team. The salary cap is older than the franchise, so it's a bit hard to say whether the ownership team would have been strong performers before 1994, or weak ones.

See also, Houston.

Or as linebackers like to sing, "Baby, you can drive my Carr (into the turf)."

139
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 4:47pm

Yeah. We’d hate to see that level of competitive balance in the NFL.

I crunched the numbers last year, and although I don't have them handy, over the last 10 years around 80% of NFL teams have won a division championship (only counting the top three teams in the four-division era), while 67% of MLB teams have won their division. For the NBA, it's 63% (counting the two division winners and the team with the best record from among the remaining teams to correct for the 2-division system).

140
by Geaux Tigers (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:20pm

ScottdB, did you account for the size of the divisions? MLB was reorganized a few years ago, and wildcards were added. The NFL has had wildcards for a long time. Did you note that?

Wouldn't a better way of looking at the issue was simply following which teams made the playoffs every year for the last 10 years?

141
by 2 Legit (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:24pm

In that case, Geaux, the NBA would have about a 50% playoff average. Not shabby. Did it without a "hard cap."

142
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:40pm

A 50% playoff average fo the NBA would be impossible given that more than 50% of the league makes the playoffs (30 teams, 16 playoff slots) each year. After one year playoff participation would be >50% :)

T.

143
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:55pm

I want to make two points, one about this "parity" theme, and one about this "racism" theme:

(1) While winning a championship is all we care about as fans, nobody in their right mind should think that a 5 or 10 year sample is really all that sufficient to prove or disprove parity. Some teams are excellent for more (or less) than one calendar year, and a discrete analysis such as amount of championships won by a given team just doesn't seem to have any bite to it.

Is there a generally accepted standard on what truly defines parity, anyway? Aggregate win/loss? Aggregate point differential? I suppose this is one thing DVOA is perfect for.

(2) Can we please make a differentiation between the term 'ignorant' and the term 'racist'? Racism is a grossly over-used term that has become stigmatized amongst white people as some sort of incorrigible sin - it is a bad thing, but it is not permanent, and it should not be the Scarlet Letter that it is (because in being so, it leads people to deny their ignorance, rather than accept and resolve it).

To me, racism should imply some sort of active element leading to malicious anger or hatred. It is not common, because it's widely recognized as wrong, and the active element makes it easy to avoid.

The far greater problem is ignorance, which people grow into. There's no club you join, or contract you sign, that says "I agree to be ignorant"; it is something that often and easily happens to even the best of people, and the proper response is to seek to educate one's self.

It comes in varying degrees. You can make an innocuous comment to a friend that turns out to be not-so-innocuous, and they take offense. You can make a wide, sweeping implication on the moral obligations of Jews in light of the Holocaust. There are shades of grey.

Unfortunately, when the word "racist" starts getting thrown around, those shades of grey start to disappear, and you are either a BAD EVIL RACIST or a GOOD COMPASSIONATE INTER-CULTURAL RENAISSANCE (WO)MAN, even if the greatest extent of "multi-culturalism" you'll ever experience is eating sushi one day and Indian food the next. These sweeping polarizations only end up providing a safe, comfortable dichotomy for people who subconsciously recognize their own ignorance but simply haven't had a chance to say something stupid yet.

I'm dangerously close to getting carried away here, but I think the word "racist" desperately needs a makeover in American society, and I feel that it's gross misuse has turned it into a subversive tool for the ignorant to shelter themselves from their own responsibilities. I think it's a mistake to ignore the difference between racism and ignorance.

144
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 5:59pm

According to my database, 10 out of 14 AL teams in MLB made the playoffs between 1995 - 2004 (10 years), and that includes the expansion TB.

In the NL, it's 12 out of 16.

The "small market" teams would have included Seattle, Oakland, Minnesota, Florida, Reds, Padres, Giants, Arizona and Colorado.

Some "big market" teams that didn't make a dent included Detroit, Toronto and Philadelphia.

Perhaps the problem with certain underachievers (KC, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Milwaukee) has nothing to do with salary issues and everything to do with incompetence.

145
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:06pm

You may want to reconsider classifying Seattle as a small-market MLB team. Their MLB gate attendance over the last 5 years is among the top 4 or 5, and in fact there were 2 or 3 years when they beat the Yankees handily for attendance.

For purposes of payroll, they've been a big market team for a good 4+ years now.

146
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:08pm

I put them in there because the revenue streams from their old stadium were worse than the ones they have now.

Ironically, when they made less money they were a better team.

147
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:12pm

#144: So there are 8 MLB teams that haven't made the playoffs in a decade. That seems like a whole lot of teams to me. I'm not looking at any data for the NFL, but I can't think of 8 teams that have been out of the playoffs for the last decade. Even the Cardinals and Saints got in and won games.

148
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:19pm

"#144: So there are 8 MLB teams that haven’t made the playoffs in a decade. That seems like a whole lot of teams to me. I’m not looking at any data for the NFL, but I can’t think of 8 teams that have been out of the playoffs for the last decade. Even the Cardinals and Saints got in and won games."

When did the Cardinals win a playoff game?

Don't get caught up in the "won" part, either, we're just talking making it. If "winning" is key, then count the Seahawks out. Meanwhile, I'll go cry myself to sleep again.

149
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:21pm

It's hard to make that comparison, cause the MLB has 30 teams and 8 playoff spots, the NFL has 32 teams (was 30 in 1994) and 12 playoff spots.

150
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:34pm

I agree completely, B. That's a huge obstacle.

The problem with the NFL is that far more teams get in. If we accept that making the playoffs is an indication of success relative to your peer franchises, then some NFL teams are simply flatliners or chronic underachievers.

In the salary cap era, the teams that were best at getting to the playoffs were Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, Pittsburgh and New England in the AFC; Philadelphia, Dallas, SF, Green Bay, Minnesota and St. Louis in the NFC.

In fact, these teams have made the playoffs about every other year.

The bottom dwellers would be San Diego, Atlanta, Detroit, any NY team, the Cardinals, Redskins, New Orleans, Chicago and the expansion teams (which isn't really their fault, so we probably shouldn't mention them).

As I've said before, this is a league that creates a myth of "parity" by invoking the salary cap. But the salary cap has NOT created parity.

The same teams dominate the playoff spots year in, year out, although I get the feeling Denver won't make it this season.

151
by Drew (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:41pm

When did the Cardinals win a playoff game?

The 1998 Cardinals won a playoff game at Dallas (see link). They also gave up 53 more points than they scored on the season. 7 of their 9 wins were by 3 or less.

152
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:44pm

You know, maybe we should give Putty a group hug. He has to survive a rotation of Mariners, Seahawks and Sonics every year. Ouch.

The most successful team in the metro area might be the Canucks.

153
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:47pm

I've spoken before about the other curse of the major market team: New York.

Imagine subsisting on NY Giants/Jets, the Knicks under Isaiah Thomas, whatever overpaid Rangers configuration or the mismanaged Islanders, then Mets! Mets! Mets!

It's a study in mediocrity. If NY didn't have the Yankees, what could they possibly hope for? Opening day at Coney Island?

154
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:51pm

ScottdB, did you account for the size of the divisions? MLB was reorganized a few years ago, and wildcards were added. The NFL has had wildcards for a long time. Did you note that?

The presence of the wild card is why I used division winners -- we've had three NFL and MLB divisions for most of the past decade (where we didn't I corrected for it by throwing out the worst NFL division winner). Also, I don't really consider one token playoff appearance in 10 years to be much for the average fan to cheer about, whereas a division winner has accomplished a little more (usually getting home field advantage).

Also, as noted, nearly every NFL team has made the playoffs at least once in the past decade, so that's not much of a bar.

155
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:58pm

I would argue that with as many teams as New York has (and the Nets have to count, seriously), it seems like they're just a highly deviant example of an average city. I was just thinking to myself a few minutes ago that over the last 10 years, there really hasn't been a single sports franchise anywhere in America that has been as perennially succesful as the Yankees. 10 years, 10 playoffs, and what, 4 championships out of 6 World Series appearances?

Also, the Nets and Mets have both been to the NBA Championship and the World Series in the last 5 years. That's gotta count for something.

156
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:24pm

If you were a conspiracy theorist, you would note that the Nets and the Yankees are part of the Yes!Network, part of Steinbrenner's evil empire, and that the Devils have a part in that.

So, the mega-deal that links the three franchises into one vast and powerful marketing and media force has George at the helm.

As a former denizen of the city, however, I can assure you that the Nets and Devils remain very NJ, very suburban. They don't have a lot of fans in the city, unlike, say, the Mets, who can't seem to figure out money management.

On the other hand, you have cities that really spoil their fans. Off the top of my head, I can think of Miami (even though no one goes to see the Marlins), Dallas (Cowboys, Mavs, Stars, Rangers -- well, three out of four ain't bad) and the Bay Area (whenever one side of the Bay is down, the other is usually up, and you have As, Giants, Raiders, Niners, the previous incarnation of the Sharks and the Warriors; OK, the Warriors will probably never be good).

Maybe there's some research out there about regions that produce excellence (Northern California, Florida, Dallas, Indianapolis) and those that don't (New Orleans, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, et al).

157
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:44pm

Carl (#156 )--
Maybe there’s some research out there about regions that produce excellence (Northern California, Florida, Dallas, Indianapolis) and those that don’t (New Orleans, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, et al).
Doesn't Indianapolis have to win something before we call them excellent? Maybe multiple somethings? Have the Pacers even won the Eastern Conference? I know the Colts haven't won the AFC.

I'd wait to call them excellent until Indianapolis wins something bigger than the Robert Irsay Franchise Swipe of 1984. At least at the pro level, greater Indianapolis is considerably less than excellent. Nice colleges, though.

158
by Dan L (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:47pm

Philadelphia and Boston are two other cities that spoil their fans. The 76ers, the Flyers, and the Eagles are all fairly well run and successful organizations. Don't mention the Phillies, because they're a joke with management as bad as the NY Rangers. Boston has the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Bruins, and the Celtics. Also not bad.

159
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 7:52pm

It's been brought up numerous times in the past that Seattle's distance from virtually every other major city might have a significant affect on their performance in road games.

160
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:02pm

"Doesn’t Indianapolis have to win something before we call them excellent?"

I would say winning most of your home and away professional basketball games over the last decade is pretty impressive for a small market team. The Pacers are annually a playoff lock and the Simons run a superb franchise.

Ditto, the Colts. Only Denver (another small market team) has surpassed the Colts when it comes to making the playoffs in the Salary Cap era.

So, for a small market, they overachieve, and they do so every year.

Compare this to say, New York minus the Yankees. Or Atlanta, which really only gives us the Braves as consistently good (and no one goes to their games).

Since the Packers are the only show in town, let's give Green Bay some sort of award, too.

161
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:05pm

Detroit might be the ultimate split personality. One the one hand, the city gives us the Pistons and Redwings. On the other, Tigers and Lions.

I say this even though I picked the Lions to win their division. If they don't, who is going to call me on it? A bunch of Brazilians?

162
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:15pm

Carl (#160 )--

I know you like the Colts and all, but no pro team in Indy has even made second place in their sport. If that's excellence, then the word is useless.

163
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:23pm

You're obfuscating excellence, Starshatterer; we're talking about year-in/year-out "quality product" franchises. The overall context is that this is a minor tangent from our discussion of football parity.

164
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:34pm

You’re obfuscating excellence, Starshatterer.
No, I'm trying to narrow the term down.

Simply making the playoffs is, as Carl has pointed out before, not that hard in either the NFL or NBA. To be "excellent" should be a little tougher than being "consistently above average," small market or no.

165
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:43pm

I would put both the Colts and the Pacers as significant outliers when it comes to winning in their respective leagues.

Indianapolis is barred from holding a MLB franchise because of likely vetoes from the Reds, Cubs and White Sox on expansion.

As a developer of minor league baseball talent, however, the Indianapolis Indians also have proven to be uniquely good, which was part of a stastical survey I did a few years ago.

Besides, my Brazilian readers know that I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl this year. My prediction makes it so. The city is now "elite."

166
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 8:50pm

For those keeping score, the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA drafted Wayne Gretzky. When the league fizzled, he went back to Canada and the NHL.

I also forgot to mention that the Pacers won several ABA titles when the league was comparable to the NBA.

The Indianapolis ABCs and Clowns produced eight Hall of Fame baseball players, including a kid named Hank Aaron.

He helped the Clowns win a NAL championship in 1952.

167
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:02pm

I picked the Colts to win the Super Bowl this year.
Since everybody and his cousin picked them last season, and more than a few did the year before, doesn't that make the Colts chronic underachievers?

And now we're talking ABA from three decades ago? Minor league baseball? How about their high school JV teams -- are they any good?

File them with Portland, among regions that don't produce excellence.

168
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:06pm

I fail to see how the Colts -- second only to the Broncos in the AFC since the salary cap was initiated -- are somehow on the curb looking in.

Ditto, Pacers, which was a team handicapped by the very deal that brought them into the NBA from the ABA.

I thought the point of FO was to look at teams and players who excelled as moneyball units, statistical outliers that were worth studying because they pointed to another way of success?

It's like that tired old argument about the Bills weren't much because they never won the Super Bowl. I happen to think they were pretty good, even though they haven't been so great in the latter years of the CBA.

When I think of excellence, I think Bill Polian.

169
by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:08pm

At the risk of violating my agreement for the greater Brazilian football market, I should add that I picked Detroit and Kansas City to win their divisions, too.

I have the Bengals and Cowboys as wild cards.

I will probably regret the Bengals' pick.

170
by Ike (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:26pm

Carl I like Detroit and Dallas too.

171
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:31pm

Philadelphia and Boston are two other cities that spoil their fans.

This would be true if Philadelphia sports had won anything in the past 20 years.

Philly's got well run sports (save the Phillies, you bastards) but they're perennial teases.

I'll take it with the Eagles, though. I'd rather see the Eagles come close and fail every year than see the complete bastardization of football that is the Tennessee Titans this year or the 49ers last year.

172
by Josh (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:36pm

I hate Carl

173
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 9:38pm

I thought the point of FO was to look at teams and players who excelled as moneyball units, statistical outliers that were worth studying because they pointed to another way of success?
You say that a lot, but I haven't seen it. Sure the Colts have some great players: Manning, Harrison, James. And they pay 'em top dollar. They play moneyball on defense, and only total Colts' homers would call their defense, "excellent."

So feel free.
It’s like that tired old argument about the Bills weren’t much because they never won the Super Bowl.
At least the Bills won their conference. So did the Sabres, for that matter. That puts Buffalo ahead of Indy -- shall we add western New York State to the list of "regions that produce excellence"? Are we in Lake Wobegon, where every sports region is excellent?

Somebody's got to miss the cut, and Indy's among 'em.
When I think of excellence, I think Bill Polian.
And that's part of your charm, Carl. By the way, who does Bill Polian think of when he thinks of excellence? Would he grade "excellence" on the curve, like you seem to? Use your insider staus and let us know -- we already know what you think.

To me, excellence is absolute. The Steelers have excellence -- they usually contend *and* have won it all, multiple times. The Pirates have five championships and the Penguins have two -- but you left Pittsburgh off your list.

The definition of "excellence" should be more than "whatever lets Carl blow kisses to Bill Polian."

174
by putnamp (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 10:33pm

#171,

Ahha! Something that Seattle can hold over Philly's head this year: We won the WNBA Championship last year!

Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go cry myself to sleep for the second time today.

175
by Dan L (not verified) :: Wed, 09/14/2005 - 11:43pm

This would be true if Philadelphia sports had won anything in the past 20 years.
Philly’s got well run sports (save the Phillies, you bastards) but they’re perennial teases.
I’ll take it with the Eagles, though. I’d rather see the Eagles come close and fail every year than see the complete bastardization of football that is the Tennessee Titans this year or the 49ers last year.

It's not that bad, Pat. I know the Flyers never win anything, but they really seem to make the effort to excel every year. And they're consistently almost good enough. Getting Forsberg and Derian Hatcher this year with the salary problems they had was a stroke of genius. And the Eagles have been the same way for 7 or 8 years. The sixers haven't been particularly good recently, but they were the second best team in the NBA in 2001 (when they were the only team to win even one game against the Lakers in the playoffs.) And yes, the Phillies are pathetic. I've been around philadelphia long enough to root for the Orioles and, more specifically, against the Phillies for years. In any case, in 3 of 4 sports Philly has been above average for years and years. This is especially surprising considering that two of the three sports at which philadelphia has some luck are capped (NFL and NBA.) The NHL obviously doesn't count since this is the first year they've had a capped system.

176
by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:55am

#162: "no pro team in Indy has even made second place in their sport"
The Pacers lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals during the Shaq era which put them in a solid 2nd place.

177
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:56am

I've long thought Easterbrook is a scold who is also a smart guy that too often gets sloppy. I need a lot more evidence to label somebody an anti-semite, however, and it is an unfortunate aspect of our public discourse that we leap to such dire conclusions about other human beings based upon such little evidence.

In the same vein, I enjoy a lot of what Carl writes about, but I also tend to think that he overstates his case quite often. For instance, he recently supported the assertion that NFL owners don't seek cash flow, which must be curious to a Patriots season ticket holder who lays out $35 to park his car at Kraft's stadium. It also ignores the rather large disparities in franchise value, which for some curious reason tends to track the the disparities in non-shared revenue. Gee, I wonder why the NFL owners are having a difficult time in agreeing to a new revenue sharing arrangement, if they don't seek cash flow?

I also think carl overstates when he asserts that guaranteed money doesn't affect player performance. Anyone who really thinks that Manny Ramierez' behavior would not be somewhat different, in terms of getting into the lineup as often as possible, or even pinch-hitting when his manager asked "pretty please", if he knew that the Red Sox could break their 20 million per year obligation, well, I'd like to join you in a friendly little card game. Closely tying future compensation to future performance does affect the manner in which human beings approach their tasks.

Having said that, I think Carl is completely correct is asserting that the salary cap is not critical to maintaining a system in which every franchise has similar opportunities to be competitive. Adequate revenue sharing is far more important. Finally, I also agree that the real weakness of the NFL is that owners can make a lot of money without ever fielding a competitive team. My preference, which will never happen, of course, would be to toss every cent of revenue into one pot, and give the Super Bowl champ 20%, the runner up 10%, the other 10 teams that make the play-offs 5%, and the remaining 20 teams would get 1% each. You'd see a lot different behavior from a lot of front offices in such a system.

178
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 11:05am

Adequate revenue sharing is far more important.

If revenues were equally shared between all teams completely, you'd have a salary cap automatically - teams can only spend money they have (consistently, at least).

At levels lower than this, a salary cap is just acting like the debt/value ratio restriction of baseball (though consistently applied, and more visible). It's economically healthy for the teams. If players have issues with the amount of money available for them, they should be targeting the definition of DGR, not the cap (which, to be fair, they are).

179
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:17pm

I'm going to keep this up until we hit 200 posts. I think FO should pay me for working so diligently to increase web traffic. I'll work piece-jobs, guys.

"To me, excellence is absolute. The Steelers have excellence – they usually contend *and* have won it all, multiple times. The Pirates have five championships and the Penguins have two – but you left Pittsburgh off your list."

Yes, but every one of these championships you listed came in an era either (1) without free agency; or (2) without a salary cap.

To me, the purpose of FO is to determine, in the moneyball era, how to win or lose. You inevitably grade on a scale.

Yes, the Oakland Athletics have yet to win a World Series in this era, but would we not say they've produced a franchise that strives for excellence every year?

And besides, it's easy to admire the team that's been best at this when it comes to professional football: New England.

I just want people to look at some of the other gems out there, and Bill Polian is one of them. He's not alone, but he has made Indianapolis into a highly successful franchise in an age of free agency and salary limitations.

Donnie Walsh of the Pacers is cut from the same cloth, and is in many ways even more impressive because of the lack of a similar DGR sort of arrangement in professional basketball.

I could make the same case for the New Jersey Devils or the Ottawa Senators or Detroit Redwings in hockey. Yes, those Redwings.

180
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:22pm

I think the main reason you can give credit to Polian is this: Indianapolis is not Boston.

181
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:34pm

"In the same vein, I enjoy a lot of what Carl writes about, but I also tend to think that he overstates his case quite often. For instance, he recently supported the assertion that NFL owners don’t seek cash flow, which must be curious to a Patriots season ticket holder who lays out $35 to park his car at Kraft’s stadium."

Yes, of course I overstate. I do this to spark new ways at looking at the myths and assumptions that rule coverage of the NFL, the same sort of tired ideas Easterbrook musters about the NBA.

And I like Easterbrook! Or, at least, the old Easterbrook. Or, rather, the Easterbrook who chooses to approach the NFL with wit and polymath wisdom rather than the Cotton Mather in his pulpit railing against NBA players and their strawman reflections in the NFL.

As I've said before, I don't know if he's an anti-semite. I do know that he has marshalled anti-semitic speech to make a point about a subject he doesn't seem to understand. I think it's important to mention some of the stereotypes about NBA players he uses to then cudgel strawmen in the NFL, part of his way of making points about a subject he doesn't seem to fully understand.

He doesn't always write like this, but he's become the scold in prose for the last two weeks, and I know I'm not the only one who has noticed the eerie similarities.

And, Will, you know I never said cash flow wasn't important to running a business, even the NFL. What I said was that cash flow, oddly, has not been shown to be a reliable determinant for franchise value at sale. See Vikings.

The reality is that owners tend not to look at current or future expectations of cash flow as the PRIMARY markers for business decisions. Rather, they look at inflation of franchise values. As I have written before, this has everything to do with the lust for owning one of a very limited number of sports team (and there is no greater cachet than a NFL team).

People overpaid for Holland tulips and speculative shares in South Seas economic development projects in the age of the Clipper ship, but that doesn't mean the cash flow on the ledger sheets was what propelled the spending.

And, Will, as I've written elsewhere, the cost of parking at Kraft's crib has more to do with a state-ordered levy on parking than market rates. That cash goes back to the taxpayers. If you don't like it, bring it up with the Bay State's legislature.

"Gee, I wonder why the NFL owners are having a difficult time in agreeing to a new revenue sharing arrangement, if they don’t seek cash flow?"

Because it would affect their ability to edge out their competitors on the field, too. A better bottom line helps teams like Washington, Dallas, Pittsburgh, New England, etc., agree to more guaranteed money up front, with in turn woos free agents who will agree to play for what might ultimately be less money, but which is far more likley to be paid.

The ABA, NFL, NFLPA and I have discussed this issue. The smaller owners are trying to get a bite of the cash. The wealthier owners are telling them to do it themselves or convince the taxpayers to help them.

Much of this isn't grounded in economics, but philosophical notions about how businesses or football should be run. Jerry Jones simply doesn't want to give the goodly citizens of Green Bay he money he rightfully can say he earned on his own. There's more to do about pride in self-sufficiency, a faith in Capital and a strong Texas sense of entitlement than anything about the good of the whole in that.

Personally, I like seeing guys like Jones in the league. Keeps it from getting too boring.

182
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:38pm

"I also think carl overstates when he asserts that guaranteed money doesn’t affect player performance. "

I'll change my mind when the statistical surveys bear it out. As for Manny, you and I both know that his offensive production rivals anyone else in professional baseball. If he puts up those numbers with the guaranteed money and I'm a Sox fan, I'd be happy to have him around.

183
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 12:41pm

"I think the main reason you can give credit to Polian is this: Indianapolis is not Boston."

Yes, but I've also predicted the winner of the last four Super Bowls based on my metrics (I didn't see New England before that). This year, Indianapolis came out at the top. If I'm wrong, I'll eat crow, but I'm not afraid to say up front that the Colts are the best team this year and that Polian is the reason for it.

184
by Ray (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 1:04pm

I think the primary component to competitive balance will always be management. No matter what league and what player salary system, a crappy front office can always do bad, and an excellent front office can always do well.

However, I do think it just makes plain logical sense that money available to spend on players also affects competitive balance. If Team A has $100M to spend and Team B has $70M to spend, it follows by logic that Team A can pay for better players if we assume that better players cost more money (which is a pretty safe generality; even if you have an outstanding rookie, eventually you'll have to shell money out to retain him).

There are a lot of other factors that affect competitive balance (not the least of which is plain old luck). But if you can control one of those factors to level out the playing field a bit, doesn't it make sense that it would help competitive balance?

Put another way, if we take Team A and Team B above and give them identically competent front office's, which team on average would you expect to have more success? The one that pays $100M for players, or the one that spends $70M?

185
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:05pm

Carl: "Yes, but every one of these [Pittsburgh] championships you listed came in an era either (1) without free agency; or (2) without a salary cap."

Come on now. When the Penguins won those championships, they had one of the greatest players ever to play his sport, in his prime. I don't think you need excellence in management when you have a talent like that, but if you're going to talk about "regions that produce excellence [in sports]", you have to include Pittsburgh.

I guess Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Mario Lemieux, Terry Bradshaw, and yes, Barry Bonds, don't qualify as "excellent".

186
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:12pm

Anyone who lives in the Iron City will tell you that they haven't produced any champions in a long, long time.

And I'm the first one to say that's a real shame. The Pirates were once one of the very great franchines in organized baseball, and the two Negro League teams were the best in the game.

The Steelers have a well-deserved reputation for excellence dating back to the 1970s.

As for the Pens, they have had more bankruptcies than championships over the past decade. Yes, they had an outstanding team. But that was then, and this is now.

I can't say that this is a "region of excellence" when two of the three professional teams are the worst in their leagues.

I won't speak for the Riverhounds.

187
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:42pm

Yes, but I’ve also predicted the winner of the last four Super Bowls based on my metrics (I didn’t see New England before that).

Last 4 or last 3? New England won 4 years ago, so if you didn't pick New England the first time, I think you mean the last 3.

188
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:42pm

"Anyone who lives in the Iron City will tell you that they haven’t produced any champions in a long, long time."

True enough. I hadn't even been born yet the last time the Steelers or Pirates won a championship.

But the Steelers have been pretty darn competitive over the last 10 years, and are at least as competitive as the Colts. 4 home AFC Championship losses and a Super Bowl loss are disappointing to local fans, but I'd rather have that record than that of, say, Detroit (nothing personal, Lions fans :)).

Considering that Indy has maybe two such competitive franchises (Colts, Pacers) to Pittsburgh's one, and considering that the Penguins will become more competitive over the next few years, I don't see a huge difference between the two.

189
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:45pm

"New England won 4 years ago, so if you didn’t pick New England the first time, I think you mean the last 3."

I consider that an illegitimate championship, Pat, because I didn't pick it. Therefore, the Pats didn't win, despite everything the NFL says to the opposite.

They get credit for the other two.

190
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:50pm

For Indianapolis, Bal, I considered three professional franchises: Colts, Pacers and the AAA Indians, who continue to prosper despite being affiliated, in recent years, with Montreal, Milwaukee and the aforementioned Pirates.

Or, as I like to joke, if you want to catch a great AAA team, go to PNC (especially this time of the season, when the call ups are showing their stuff). How about that Cal Eldred?

The Pirates are too heavy of an anchor to make me consider Pittsburgh. They stink, so the other two sink.

And the Pens, albeit young and talented, aren't going to bring Lord Stanley's Cup home to put in the closet anytime soon.

Without a new stadium and development zone deal, they likely won't even remain in town.

Salt Lake City Penguins, anyone?

191
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 2:54pm

"Or, as I like to joke, if you want to catch a great AAA team, go to PNC (especially this time of the season, when the call ups are showing their stuff). How about that Cal Eldred?"

I take offense at that statement.

They resembled a AAAA team at at least one point this season. ;)

192
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 3:48pm

They've looked like Hickory over the past three weeks, Bal, despite the win against St. Louis yesterday.

That they suckered me into buying a $27 seat last week to watch them lose in 12 innings against the Arizona powerhouse (put 15 men on base, score two) is a national tragedy. I demand an investigation!

Why can't Easterbrook use his inimitable skills to attack the Pirates?

193
by Nocturne Aubergine Klavierlack (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:03pm

Only seven more posts to go, Carl.

194
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:15pm

A discussion about moribund sports cities and no one mentions Chicago, the City of Weak Shoulders? The Blackhawks give new meaning to the term suck, the White Sox and Cubs have avoided the World Series like the plague, and the Bears have three winning seasons since 1992 and two of those were 9-7 in 94 and 95. From 1970 to 1983 the best season by far was 1979 when the Bears went 10-6. It's actually amusing to think that everyone wants to associate Chicago with a rich football tradition but that tradition was almost exclusively before the merger.

Also, to say the Colts are this faboulously run franchise is disengenous and shows a short memory. From 1984 through 1998 they had only 5 winning seasons and never topped 10 wins. Since then they've done very well but you can't just say they're a well run franchise. Can anyone even remember what those teams were like? They were the perrenial bottom dwellers of the AFC East.

195
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:20pm

I consider that an illegitimate championship, Pat, because I didn’t pick it. Therefore, the Pats didn’t win, despite everything the NFL says to the opposite.

I'm still confused though. How many Super Bowls did you pick? The last 3 (TB, NE, NE) or the last 4 (NE, TB, NE, NE) or the last 4-ignoring-the-fact-that-the-patriots-won (STL, TB, NE, NE)?

196
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:26pm

"Since then they’ve done very well but you can’t just say they’re a well run franchise. Can anyone even remember what those teams were like?"

Since 1994, when the salary cap (and CBA) was instituted, the Colts have had two losing seasons.

Two.

My point was that in this moneyball era of free agency and salary cap, we should honor the excellence of teams like the Colts. Bill Polian should get some kudos for this.

197
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 4:59pm

3. 3-13 twice and 6-10 once. Plus 8-8 once - I'd rather consider winning records than "not losing."

The bigger factor in the Colt's winning ways is Manning. Not to mention moving to the weak South instead of being in the East.

Alternatively you could say that the Colts are a franchise that has really benifited from the Salary Cap. Without spending limits they would never be able to compete with NE, NY or a dozen other teams. However, that flies in the face of your research and therefore makes them the statistical outlier.

Maybe they've been able to do well because when they suck they really suck and end up with a high draft pick. Coryatt and Emtman in the mid-90s and Faulk, Manning, Harrison and Edge after that.

198
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:12pm

Lots of teams have gotten a high draft pick and turned it into nothing. The Colts were fortunate/smart enough to draft Manning with thier pick. They were also able to trade away Faulk for a bunch of draft picks which were used to assemble the weapons around Manning, and build a solid O-line to keep him upright. The Colts deserve a lot of credit for assembling a good team and keeping it together.
Now if only there were some kind of award we could give to the best team each year. Maybe a silver trophy that looks like a football. We should name it after a famous coach from the 60's. That's a good way to reward excellence.

199
by Balaji (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:14pm

"Why can’t Easterbrook use his inimitable skills to attack the Pirates?"

He'd have to get in line behind all the Pirates fans who attack the team (the ownership, really).

200
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:18pm

Ooops. I was looking at Denver, the best AFC team in the salary cap era.

Indianapolis has had three losing seasons.

Still, three since 1994 ain't shabby.

201
by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:37pm

Now if only there were some kind of award we could give to the best team each year. Maybe a silver trophy that looks like a football. We should name it after a famous coach from the 60’s.

That is a good idea. I would call it "The Mac Speedie Trophy."

202
by Isaiah Thomas (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 5:44pm

"Without spending limits they would never be able to compete with NE, NY or a dozen other teams."

Yeah. Good thing in a more open spending league like the NBA the Pacers can't hold their own against the Knicks and Celtics.

The Colts with Peyton could never compete fairly against the Giants with Eli.

203
by Drew (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:03pm

RE 202,

I think the idea was that, in the absense of spending limits, the Giants would have Peyton (or at least some all-star).

204
by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:06pm

Should we really consider the Broncos a team that followed the cap starting from 94? After the loss of, what, a third rounder?, for salary cap abuses during their Super Bowl run it makes them a weak case for parity.

Re 202:
Good management with money is better than good management without money is better than bad management with money is better than bad managament without money.

The Colts had bad management for more than ten years after they arrived in Indy. Don't give the Irsay's too much credit for getting it right now.

205
by Isaiah Thomas (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:20pm

"I think the idea was that, in the absense of spending limits, the Giants would have Peyton (or at least some all-star)."

Actually, what I suggested was that the stupid team would still make the bone-headed draft selection.

San Diego, enjoy Ryan Leaf.

I think what Carl has been saying is true. There's an underbelly of chronic misfits. These teams haven't performed well at all more often than not during the salary cap. If they have economic parity, I would think they would have performed better.

Which is why I agree with Carl that the "myth" of the salary cap is a fraud. I think the Colts under Polian would be very competitive, whether the Irsays owned them or not.

I am from Indianapolis. Go Colts!

206
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:32pm

Isiah Thomas, will you join my Fantasy Football league? We're still working on getting Dan Snyder and Mark Cuban.

207
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:40pm

" Dan Snyder and Mark Cuban."

Actually, I could make a case that these two are some of the best owners in their respective sports, based on their treatment of fans and their dedication to increasing franchise value.

That Snyder's team isn't very good, well, does that really matter? It's all cash flow, right Will? And no one flows more cash than Dan.

208
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:52pm

So by your reasoning the Brewers are the best team in baseball?

209
by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 6:57pm

Uhhh. No. But if they made the money and had the franchise value of Snyder's and Cuban's properties, I would say, Yes!

But that would be comparing Baltic to Park Place with four hotels on it.

This sort of discussion is going on in another thread, but it's worth repeating here: Just because you own a team that doesn't win on the field doesn't mean you don't score in the boardroom or when you cash out.

210
by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 7:30pm

Whoever it was that mentioned Chicago as an abysmal sports town conveniently forgot those 8 years in the 90s when MJ led the Bulls to 6 championships.

211
by Michael Jordan (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 8:08pm

And we haven't done %*^&$**@% since!

Go Bears!

212
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 8:59pm

carl, do you suppose there is five hundred million dollars more prestige in owning the Redskins than the Vikings? Is there one billion dollars more prestige in owning the Yankees than the Twins? By the way, the Vikings price was in good part speculative, depending on whether they get a partially taxpayer financed stadium, which is no different than a pharmaceutical comapany's price being partially based on speculation of government approval on a new drug. Either way, projections of future cash flow heavily determine the value of the company.

Also, if I'm a Red Sox fan, and the Yankees catch my team on the last day of the season, depriving me of a possible game seven in the ALCS, no, I'm not real happy that Manny won't pinch hit if he doesn't feel like it, and I would prefer that he have substantial financial incentive to do so. Not for the first time, I'm curious as to why you think such incentives would modify owners' behavior (I agree), but not players' behavior. As to proving it statistically, short of having half the teams play with guaranteed money, and half the teams with non-guaranteed money, or having players alternate years between guaranteed money, and incentive-based guarantees, it is not easy to test. Athletes are not so different than other driven individuals, say, the top echelon of salespeople, that we cannot make inferences as to what the effect of closely tying future compensation to future performance is.

213
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 09/15/2005 - 9:13pm

Also, carl, I'm too lazy to find your posts in which you discuss the NFL's business model, compared to the NBA's, but I do think it is instructive to look at the comparative franchise values of the Browns and the Cavaliers, even after the Cavaliers secured the services of the hottest young star, in a sport where one star has more impact than football.

That said, I do think the NBA has greater upside potential, given how much easier it is to market the sport internationally. Football, given how many more players the sport requires, and how much more elaborate and expensive equipment is needed, will never export particularly well, even if if the NFL markets flawlessly, since it will be much more difficult to get young men playing it instead of other sports. I suppose this may change somewhat as the world becomes more affluent, but I just can't see football overcoming that inherent disadvantage. Thus, the NBA could well catch the NFL some day. It'll also be interesting to see if MLB can catch a clue and fully exploit the international market.

214
by Ray (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 10:30am

RE:#205 Isaiah Thomas "Which is why I agree with Carl that the “myth� of the salary cap is a fraud."

Excellent managment will do well in either system. But saying that the salary cap does not help competitive balance just isn't logical.

Pretend that there was a perfect copy of the Irsay's who owned a franchise in New York in an uncapped league. Each team was managed identically, the only difference being the size of the market each team was in (and correspondingly, the amount of cash each team was able to make and spend on players). Given 10 seasons, which team would you expect to have better success?

I can't see any way you can argue that the team with less money to spend on players would have an equal or higher chance of success over the team that has more money to spend on players. And this is why people believe the NFL 'propoganda' about the salary cap and 'parity'. It just makes logical sense, and I challenge you or anyone (Hi, Carl!) to make a logical argument against it.

Look at it this way. In other places on this site, people have made the analogy of sports players to salespeople selling talent. Teams purchase the talent from the players, and use the talent to have a greater chance of winning games. Given a free market, the more money you have available, the more talent you can afford, and so the greater chance you have of winning games.

Is talent the only factor in winning games? Of course not. But it is A factor, and that fact cannot be denied.

215
by Nocturne Aubergine Klavierlack (not verified) :: Fri, 09/16/2005 - 12:54pm

I think Carl has left the building. Or moved into another one.

He got his 200 posts, which must be some sort of journalistic milepost, like hitting 61 homeruns or scoring 100 points in Hershey.

Say what you want about him, but he stirs it up.

216
by calig23 (not verified) :: Sun, 09/18/2005 - 12:16am

Re: #125
You mention San Diego and the Saints as being consistantly terrible during the salary cap era. This is factually bunk. The Chargers played in a Superbowl, and the Saints were fantastic in the mid-90’s.

The Saints were fantastic in the mid-90's? Fantastic? Really?

The Saints were good in the early 90's(91 and 92), mediocre for three years (93 to 95), and horrible for four years (96 to 99).

I see no fantasticness in the mid-90's.