October 31, 2011

Silver Bullet

This slice of wisdom from JaMarcus Russell in Jon Wertheim’s Sports Illustrated profile of the former Raiders quarterback and quintessential draft bust: Russell, according to Wertheim, “likes Drew Brees [though Russell says he throws off his back foot too much].’ ” ... On behalf of Brees and all other NFL quarterbacks of the past decade who’ve devoted more attention to developing their craft than Russell – which is to say all of them – one final thought: Yo, JaMarcus – have some more Purple Drank.
The above is from Mike Silver's weekly NFL piece on Yahoo; although I trimmed out a trio of lame jokes -- apparently, when Silver was taught the comedy rule of three, no one told him that the shit should be funny -- you get the gist of it. Anyway, I have nothing against Silver -- in fact, we seem to have a lot in common, not the least of which is our esteemed alma mater -- but I do have a major problem with him ripping Russell.

The average blogger/sportswriter didn't grow up dreaming about covering sports; they dreamt of playing them. But at some point, they just weren't good enough to compete. Maybe they realized it as far back as Little League, or were told as much as they got cut from the varsity, or when they didn't get a scholarship, but somewhere along the line it became abundantly clear that they couldn't hack it. And so they found another way to get themselves in the game -- by writing about it.

But no matter how successful sportswriters become, they constantly have one thing thrown in their faces by the players (and even some fans) -- that is, that they couldn't possibly know what they are talking about because they never played the game. Which is what makes Silver's angle so appalling to me: basically, that Russell isn't allowed to have a take on a quarterback's tendencies because he was a terrible NFL quarterback.

Apparently, Silver has no idea what the implications of this are: That the players are right -- if you can't play the game at the highest level, you can't have an opinion about it. In taking down JaMarcus Russell's critique of Drew Brees' foot, Mike Silver has managed to shoot the sportwriting community in theirs.

July 21, 2011

Fire Mike Quade!

One thing is certain: the guy flat-out cannot manage. This team is absolutely stacked, and Quade is making them look like they're the 2011 Cubs for God's sake.

Let's start with the bats. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has cannily assembled a lineup replete with stellar offensive producers. I mean, you've got guaranteed 40/40 man Alfonso Soriano -- currently on pace to fall a mere 17 homers and 38 stolen bases short of that lofty standard -- batting 7th most days! And Soriano is still a top offensive player in numerous categories. Categories like average annual salary. And walk avoidance, where he is currently 10th in the league among players with 290+ PAs. Sure, that's impressive, but he only ranks fourth on the Cubs, as he is outundisciplined by Aramis Ramirez (7th in NL), Starlin Castro (6th), and Darwin Barney (2nd). With bases this unclogged, how are the Cubs not leading the league in runs scored? Mike EEEE, that's how.

And you want to talk about pitching? How about a starting staff so brimming with talent that Quade insisted Hendry trade away a rather serviceable 28-year-old back-end guy in Tom Gorzelanny, just to save a cool $2.1 million while replenishing the A-ball disabled list (two pitchers) and corner-outfield talent pool (a 22-year-old High-A repeater whose recent hot streak sent him soaring past the Mendoza line). Yes, it's safe to say that the Cubs have a very, very good rotation.

What more does this guy need?

Then there's the bullpen... Oh, that bullpen. Let's begin with the back end. The one thing every team looks for in a closer is the ability to block out the pressure and come into a game and just pound the ball zone. And nobody can throw balls like Carlos Marmol. Sure, he's regressed a little from his '09 peak of 7.91 BB/9, but he still leads the league at 5.98, so don't even try to tell me Quade doesn't have a reliable guy to hand the ball to in the 9th.

And the rest of the bullpen falls right in line behind Marmol, smartly avoiding strikes -- these are MAJOR LEAGUE hitters they're facing, you know -- and commanding their way to an NL-leading 4.46 BB/9. Be it Jeff Samardzija, Kerry Wood, or John Grabow, bases empty or sacks packed, the Cubs bullpen is committed to walking men regardless of game circumstance, a crucial skill for relievers to have, and one that Mike Quade seems intent on squandering.

Plus, he's not Ryne Sandberg!

Did Quade spend four whole grueling seasons as a minor league manager, where he was often a bigger draw than either team and was showered with adulation as a Hall-of-Fame ballplayer somehow managing in the sticks? He did not. Instead Quade spent just 17 years toiling in anonymity as a manager in the minors. Call me when you've paid your dues, Mikey.

And you know what the worst part is? Not only is Quade not a Hall of Famer, nor a former Cub, but he never even played in the major leagues! Yes, just like fellow managerial midgets Joe McCarthy, Jim Leyland, and Earl Weaver -- who combined for fewer than 5,200 wins and barely cobbled together 20 playoff appearances between them -- Quade never even made it to the bigs.

The bottom line is, despite a mere $134 million to work with, Jim Hendry painstakingly constructed a perfectly good 70-win team, and Quade is shitting all over it on his way to 65 wins.

Fire Mike Quade!