Yes reality has set in, especially at the QB position. Care to speculate on the team's long-term plan at QB? It's still not obvious to this fan.
That's certainly the question of the day in D.C..
I doubt that they have a quarterback of the future yet. That's why this team is limited. For now. I've been saying 7 or 8 wins, maybe even 9 if everything went right, not the horrid totals __like 3 or 4__ that many predicted. But the QB situation puts a lid on how much you can improve. The first four games, almost everything went right, so it looked more like 8-9 wins. With the O-line injuries, you lean back the other way. There aren't going to be many easy wins.
Now, we'll get to see what John Beck can do, I assume. But after watching the tape of ther game last night I wasn't as impressed with what I saw of him as I was at FedEx. A lot of rust. Which is natural. No reps in practice with first team. The one scoring drive was against a defense that seemed content to let the Skins throw underneath. He also dropped the ball when he was waving it around as he ran. It just luckily bounced straight up to his as if he were dribbling a basketball. By his age, your habits are ingrained. Better hope that's not one of them.
He had some presence. But there was one pure arm strength pass that he threw 60 yards to Stallworth. But it needed to go 65. He was running forward, so I assume he can do it.
Coming off the bench isn't a fair test for anybody. So the next month will be fascinating. On tape, I thought Grossman was even worse than I'd first thought. Just gruesome. Rattled. One bad decision after another. One of the worst games by a Skins QB in many years. (But maybe you block out some of the bad ones.) None of the four interceptions required a great catch by the defender and two others were dropped. But, after watching Beck again, I thought, "Do you really give the team to him?"
Either way they go, the Skins need to stop throwing the ball so much __37 times Sunday, which has been their average. Way too high and well up in the top half of the l;eague. I assume it's Kyle that has to become more realistic. The defense is the strength of the team. Yet the Skins only ran 14 times. Time of possession 38:08 to 21:52. That's a better measure of how completely the Eagles controled the game. Actually, 20-13 was a somewhat flattering score.
The Shanahans are proud of their offenses. But sometimes you have to admit that your offense isn't as ready to win games as your defense is. Then you have to make sure the offense (the QB) understands that the first rule is: Don't screw up. In the red zone, make sure you get points. That takes some ego swallowing because you always want to get 7. It's a mindset. You're still trying to score a TD, but judgment comes before audacity. In other situations, if you have to take a sack and punt, rather then throw off balance, do it.
As I wrote, I hope Beck turns out to be anywhere near as good as Brian Griese. Forget Bob. I just hope the Shanahans don't really totally believe all the nice things they have been saying about Grossman and Beck. Grossman, because he's a cocky gunslinger, really does seem suited to being a good backup. Can Beck be a "game manager" and let the rest of the team be as respectable and (finally) entertaining as it can be?
Have you been able to find a video showing Kory Lichtensteiger getting hurt? Trent Williams called it a dirty play.
Didn't see it. Maybe we'll find out as the week goes on.
Have they now passed the Yankees as the most easily hated MLB team?
The Red Sox have pretty much become the old bad Yankees pre-Joe Torre. It was hard to hate any team of Torre's. We need a nickname for Fenway Park like "The Bronx Zoo," when bad karma and firings were constant and, whenever the Yanks lost, a multitude of scapegoats had to be found and fed to the tabs, talk shows and fans.
Now, that's the Red Sox dynamic. Dan Shaughnessy, who wrote the "Curse of the Bambino," wrote about three weeks ago __when the Red Sox were still clinging to first place__ that Selig should intercede and forbid the Red Sox from being allowed in the post-season "for the good of the game" because they were playing (and acting) so badly.
Hard to believe.
Instead of players from the Cubs for Theo, why not make them take Lackey and Crawford; addition by subtraction?
IOW, "You can have Theo, but you have to take his lousy contracts with him!"
Crawford will come back and be a good player, I think, but nothing like $1242M. Yes, It would be ironic to have the Cubs stuck with those $200M in questionable deals.
Like almost everyone, I think Epstein has done a superior job, overall, in Boston and will always be a hero there. However, the '04 team was not entirely his by any means. He improved it, but he didn't build it from scratch. However, the '11 team is 100% HIS BABY. And they just had the biggest collapse in September history. And the post-collapse stories, especially in the Globe, are very unflattering to the GM who assembled the "makeup" in that locker room.
How ironic that the Cubs, of all teams, would be deserate to get the GM who just built the overpriced team that had the biggest late-season collapse ever? Hey, Theo, can you come to Wrigley Field and do that for us, too?
As if the Cubs need any help collapsing.
Seriously, I assume, if he goes to the Cubs he'll improve them. But there have been other young GM's who built teams that won multiple world titles, then went to the Cubs to "cure" them, then failed and ended up much further down the MLB pecking order.
Like Andy MacPhail. Won Series with Twins in '87 and '91 with a lot less $$$ firepower than Theo, then couldn't overcome Cubness in Chicago and now, hasn't been able to overcome the Peter Principle in Baltimore.
If a family chooses 2 quarterbacks that NO OTHER TEAM wants, you should blame the Shanahans, not the quarterbacks. These two guys should be fighting for the 3rd quarterback position, not the first. This is what happens when your coach/assistant coach thinks they are the only smart people in the league.
We'll hear more of this, I suspect.
Starting with his arrival in Denver, Shanahan inherited John Elway __already "pre-evaluated" for him as a great QB. Then came Griese. He stayed with him for four years __6-10, 11-5, 8-8, 9-7. So, that shows what he can do with a QB with a humble 82 QB rating but good judgment and game-management skills. But Shanny had his running game working then, usually. After that, four years of excellent Renovation of Jake Plummer (42 wins). Mike identified him when others didn't. And it was Shanahan who offered the comparison __not in style but in results__ between Plummer and what Grossman might become. That was part of the "I know football" speach.
Well, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that all my reservations about Rex __as a starter__ look correct. After nearly eight full games, and those incredible 19 turnovers, Rex sure doesn't look like Jake. In his 1st three years in the Shanny System in Denver, Plummer had 60 TD passes and only 34 interceptions. How does Rex compare to that?
The McNabb evaluation was a disaster, even if you think, like me, that when you get a QB with McNabb's record you have to make concessions to play the game his way __not entirely, but accodate him__ rather than say, "We want to you to change. A lot."
We'll see how Beck works. Shanahan is an exceptional NFL coach. But his track record on evaluating quarterbacks __not named Elway__ hasn't been too special since he took over the Broncos in '95. He gets big points for Plumer. But Griese (okay, a winning career record), Cutler, McNabb, Grossman? Next up, Beck.
So did he jump ship or was he pushed?
Now, no more Red Sox answers. See, it's like the old Yankees __gotta talkj about them even after they are long gone from the post-season. But, yes, palace back-stabbing is a hard subject to resist.
Great job keeping them to 20 points, especially when the offense has 4 turnovers.
Actually, not so great. The Eagles had drives of 72, 72, 69, 36, 64, 39 and 39 yards before getting two first downs in their last possession to run out the clock.
Rocca's punting really deserves credit. He was part of the reason the Redskins had such good field position much of the day. The Eagles started drives at their own 20, 18, 28, 21, 20, 20, 9, 29, 31 and 11!!! Their only good field position all day was at the Washington 47 after a Grossman interception.
The Redskins, and you could see this inability to capitalize on golden opportunities really annoyed Shanahan, started drives at the Philly 44 and 18 and also got the ballwith plenty of operating room at their own 30, 30, 33 and 40.
However, the second half really was an intense effort by the defense. And, as Lanxdry said, they looked a half-setp shy of standard NFL "reckless abandon" in the first half. My standard, when watching a defense, is to say, "Do they look like crazy people flying around everywhere?" Because the best defenses look that way. If they just look like they are playing pretty hard or "giving a good effort," that's not the NFL standard.
Landry was awake in the 1st half. After his comments, I watched to see if he was guilty, too. I'd say he "showed up" right from the start. 'Others, maybe not so much.
In evaluating what the Nats most need for next year, lots of people (in the blogs) are asking for 'clutch' hitting. The sabremetrician crowd has pretty much convinced me that there's simply no such thing as a 'clutch' hitter. Some hitters may have a season where they seem to produce better with RISP or in the late innings, but then comes a season when they don't -- but that's just all random luck. Do you believe a team can buy clutch hitting on the free agent (or trade) market?
I am certain that there are players who choke in the clutch. But they get eliminated from the sample data pretty quickly; they're like companies that trade on the stock exchange but go bankrupt and lead to "survivor bias" in computing average stock market returns.
You'll find that MLB hitters drive in 15% of the runners that are on base when they hit. Some have a higher percentage because they hit more home runs (rather than singles) and __what do you know__ when you hit a homer EVERYBODY SCORES. And some, because they are just great hitters in all situations, drive in higher percenateges.
For example, in their careers, Pujols, Zimmerman and Werth have driven in 19%, 16% and 14% of the men who were on base when they batted. Last year, Werth was only 11%. But don't forget, Werth walks a lot, Z'man and even Pujols don't as much. So they pass up RBIs by taking walks and leacving the lifting to the next man.
But Werth's 11% is an aberration, I assume and you'll see 14-15% next year.
It must be frustrating beyond belief to finally win the Division and then fall in the playoffs to their annual nemesis. Not that I have anything against the Cards, in fact I sort of admire them, but I really do feel for the Brewers. And what an ugly way to go out.
First, let me go out of my way to make my annual World Series prediction which, I'm confident, has been right exactly 50% of the time throughout my career. I'm every bit as good as a coin flip, I promise.
Rangers in Six.
All of the LCS teams burned up their bullpens because all four had starting rotatio0ns with ERA's in the 5's and 6's in the LCS. (Wow!) But the Cards looked to me like they were stressing their pen the most. I think that will catch up to them worse in the Series than it does to the Rangers.
Yes, using all those relivers __that's just Tony. It's part of wehat he does well __living for match ups. It drives you crazy in June. And it's not exactly fan friendly in long post-season games. But it's what he's good at when he builds a team. They got a SP (Edwin Jackson) and an everyday player (Furcal) at the trade deadline but they got THREE key relievers (including Rhodes in mid-August).
BTW, I think it is obvious that Marc Rzepczynski is "really" named Mark Repcynski and he justed added the two "z's" and change the "k" to a "c" to mess with his teahcers when he was in junior high school.
He's a lefthanded relief pitcher, soi this makes perfect sense.
Back to your Brewers, I was somewhat sympathetic but thought Ron Roenicke (brother of ex-Oriole Gary) was a bit grudging in his post-loss comments, saying, "St. Louis is hot. Did they do anything wrong? It's pretty incredible to go a whole series and have every single thing they do go right."
Have you noticed how people who lose to LaRussa have a really, really hard time being generous in their comments? Tony gets under their skins. And wants to.
BTW, will somebody in the World Series PLEASE pitch inside and get some of thesehitters feet off home plate? A couple of ejections won't kill the sport.
The tone of the LCS was set when there were almost instantaneous "warnings" in Game One so that all the Nyjer Morgan bad-blood between the teams wouldn't be the story line. All the "pitch away" that followed helped both teams hitters. But it helped the Cards more.
Fielder seems almost certain to leave Milwaukee.
However, I've almost lived in St. Louis the last two weeks and I think there is a 49% chance that Pujols stays because 1) the market for him exists but isn't huge and 2) the Cards will offer him an A-Rod type deal in New York with merchandise and marketing angles when he breaks certaian records and, maybe, a piece of ownership someday.
Fielder doesn't "belong" in Milwaukee any more than he belongs someplace else. But Pujols is perfect in St. Louis. He should be in a town where Baseball Rules. Imagine him in the Ranger lineup __and their 1st baseman sometimes hits 9th! But in Dallas, he'll always be in the Cowboys shadow. Tony Romo, for heaven sake, will always be a bigger figure than Pujols. Ridiculous.
Also, a reader sent along a note pointing out that batting average plus slugging average did a nice job of identifying the greatest hitters. It's not a sabermetric type stat. It's more aesthetic. But Ruth and Williams are 1 and 2. And I believe Pujols is 4th. Or 5th at worst.
So, that's who we get to watch in the Series.
Their bats are hot, does it matter who's pitching to them right now?
No, it doesn't.
I think this is the expansion Senators year to win the Series.
I took my curse off them last year __after 40 years. Now, I may pull for them a little. Okay, granted, not much. What a contrast: St. Louis the all-baseball town and Dallas which thinks it has a baseball team but still isn't quite sure.
Two starting pitching poor teams make the World Series, not a surprise in the American League but a big surprise with the Cardinals disposing of Philadelphia and Milwaukee. In the year of the pitcher, what gives? And, of course, we can't let you get away without telling us who ya got winning the Series?
Great point! What happened to the Year of the Pitcher?
And, to close the book on the subject, run-scoring ended up down by 0.20 of a run again this year to 8.56 runs a game. That continues a seven-year trend. It matters because the drop in scoring from '09 to '10 was very large and people expected a bounce back. Instead, it went somewhat lower.
You can live with 8.56. But you don't want it near 8.00. Just not enough action.
Let's say the Nats were in the position of the Cubs negotiating with the Red Sox about Theo Epstein who has one year left on his Sox GM contract. What would you suggest the Nats give up to get a GM like Theo? What's a good GM worth in baseball?
The Nats have a good GM. And his scouting background (plsu sabermetric work from assistants) may be more in tune with the times than the geek-centered front offices whose secrets are now common knowledge.
Saw "Moneyball." Liked it. The Sabermetric movement, Bill James (and all the rest) deserves its Moment of acknowledgement. Well done.
Of course, the more you focus on the reality of the '01-'02 A's, the more it b ecause obvious that, historically, it's pretty 'ridiculous. No mention of Mulder, Zito and Hudson __the best starting rotation in the sport, all developed traditionally__ or Chavez, Tejada, etc. Also, the wailing about losing Johnny Damon is comic. His one year in Oakland in '01 he hit .256 with 9 homers and 49 RBI and an OPS of .687. And his OPS+ was (awful) 82. They were lucky to lose him. But you saw 20-foot-high posters of him throughout the movie like he was a Core A's Star. Isringhausen was replaceable. The A's had to find a way to replace the production of Jason Giambi. That's pretty much it. But that wouldn't make a whole book, much less a movie.
Davey Johnson was using "new stats" in the mid-'80's. Others were using nthem in the mid-'90's, as Moneyball says. The movie just did a Hollywood version. That's okay. Just wanted to give a shout out to Paul DePodesta, ex-St. Stephens and Episcopal and a good football and baseball player at Harvard (I'm told). He was the "real" charcater played by Jonah Hill. Believe me, he was correct not to allow his name to be used in the film. Hill did a great job __of playing somebody who is absolutely nothing like DePodesta in real life.
If DePosdesta lets Hill be DePodesta, he's stuck with it the rest of his life. "Oh, you're thast fat slob in the movie." What's he going to say? "No, I'm the real good athlete who was also a Saber seamhead who really did all that stuff." John sent me a "Hi" through Jason Reid, so I'll send this one back to him.
You'd think on a day when the QB can't hit anything, they'd attempt more than 14 rushes. It's not like they were way behind either. Seems like Shanny Jr. likes his pass plays a bit too much.
But it worked for Matt Schaub with the Texans, right!? And it must have been the Shanahan system and Kyle that were the key, right, not that, maybe, Schaub is a real good quarterback.
As we all know, professional football is an occupation that attracts very small egos. (Like journalism.)
Is it just me or is it that obvious that the Nationals pitchers are much better than those we have seen in the playoffs ... and that our bats are much more puny? Rizzo & Co. must be studying this, right?
Without Strasburg, the Nats had a better team ERA this year than either team in the World Series. The Nats were 7th in baseball at 3.58. The Cards were 12th at 3.74 and the Rangers were 13th at 3.79.
Give me pitching as a long-term foundation every time.
Those stats are a bit distorted by ballpark effects. Busch Stadium is a pitcher's park, Nats Park is neutral (always the "fairest" park every year, along with Toronto) and Texas is a wind tunnel with a Jet Stream out to RF that everybody denied existed __until THE FIRST SERIES ever played there when everybody said, "Holy %^%$, look at those balls fly outta this tinkertoy box."
Ironically, St. Louis and DC dimensions are almost identical. (Yes, as I;ve said before, both parks built off the same blueprints, but with cosmetic changes so you don't realize it.) One big difference is the "slash" in the first base stands in D.C. Apparently that lets the wind __of the Anacostia, off the Potomac, off I don't know what__ help balls fly a little better. The Nats thought they were building a slight pitchers park. They ended up with a "perfect" neutral park. IMO, they got lucky. If you tried to build a "fair park," you'd never pull it off. It never "plays" exactly like the design on paper.
As the Yankees are finding out with the "New" Yankee Stadium __which is "identical," yet completely different. Come on guys, spend a few hundred million, rip out a bunch of bleacher seats, get a CURVED outfield wall, not a STRAIGHT one that decreases outfield AREA (didn't anybody take high school geometry?) and fix that joke ballpark in the Bronx.
You can buy hitting (usually). Or trade pitching for it (always). We'll see if the Nats can do it.
You say the reality check in the Eagles loss is for the Redskins but I would suggest the reality check will turn out to be for you as the season plays out for having drunk the Shanahan kool-aid so enthusiastically heading into the year. Sure 3-2 is alot better than last year at this point but teams have now seen the inherent flaws in this team and know how to dismantle them going forward.
I said they looked like a 7 or 8-win team to me, maybe 9 if they got every possible break; iow, they were improved and not at all like the silly 3 or 4-win predictions of some national pundits. When things started perfectly, it looked m ore like 8 or 9. Now, with the O-line mess, it looks more like 7 or 8 again.
You can search all you want for kool-aid __in columns or elsewhere. You won't find a drop. Realism? So far, you'll find plenty of that, I think.
"They are great. No, they are awful. You're an idiot. No, YOU are an idiot." Welcome to Redskin World.
I've been amused by this all my life. It's never bothered me to try to look at things the way they are. And changing my mind doesn't bother me __since nobody really sees things "as they are" very often. Sometimes you get lucky for a while. So far this year, I haven't had to change my mind about the Redskins. But I may. And it won't bother me.
Glad to be at the Seriezs next Sunday, but the Panthers, even at 1-5, will be a test for the Skins with two O-linemen out and a new QB. I think this is where Shanahan's coaching __discipline, holding the sense of teamwork together, emphasizing that this is part of a longer process__ may help keep the Redskins from having one of their classic Snyder-Era panic attacks as soon as "something goes wrong."
I gather much of it is because of his and Pujol's attendance at the Beck rally a few years ago, but, if we only knew, I'm sure all teams (most of whose players are very rich) have many such players. My own O's have Luke Scott, who is so somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. I tip my hat to all of the Cards as well as their manager, who seems to do his best work with scrappy underdog teams.
First I've heard of the Beck rally. I don't keep up with these guys politics or religion.
The more someone is passionately interested in politics or religion, and is certain he is right, the less interested I am in them. Just a personal flaw.
Some of the greatest writers had some of the most insane politics. T.S. Eliot thought that the world started to go to hell in the 14th century and was only getting worse every century. I doubt he'd have an i-pad. Yeats was a Rosecrucianist. I don't even know what one is, but I think I hear loose screws rattling.
I hate auto racing. I'd save millions of gallons of gasoline and lots of lives by abolishng the whole thing.
Glad you brought this up. I covered only one Indy 500 and went to another with my wife on vacation. But I was the "Thunderboat Racing" writer for the Post for several years in the '70's when the President's Cup Regatta was held on the Potomac off Haines Point every July 4th weekend. That is Unlimited Hydroplane boat racing. Speeds (now) of 160 mph in the straights. If anything, the Thunnderboats were more dangeorus than any of the forms of auto racing. On Black Sunday in '66, three racers were killed in the same day on the Potomac in that event. They didn't even stop after the first death (Don Musson in Miss Bardahl). Then Rex Manchester and Don Wilson died in a later crash. But the race continued as an annual (and somewhat controversail) event until '77. I got to know a lot of the drivers. I think it was Don Duddington, the race organizer, who showed me an old group picture of all the major famous Thunderboat drivers from his (earlier) day. If I remember correctly, and I may be off a bit, about half of them were dead, all killed in crashes. So, I covered it every year with the expection that it was about a 1-in-3 chances that I'd be writing about a death, not a race. Maybe the odds weren't really that high. But it felt like it. It was an amazingly dramatic and loud event that drew huge crowds to Haines Point and the opposite side of the river. So "loud" it beat Indy. And that's hard to do.
One of the boat racers, Graham Heath I think, said, "I thought to myself, 'We've got to be crazy. Sane people don't do this.' But there's just something about racing. It's in your blood."
Well, there is certainly something about speed, thrills and danger that attracts some people and always has. Beyond a point, I'm not one of them. But I get it. (I watch the Blue Angels.) Jim Murray famously wrote of the Indy 500, "Gentlemen, start your coffins." I love the line. But I wouldn't cancel the event.
This is interesting to me because the Presidents Cup, which was a fixture from '46 to '77 and maybe further back, may be returning NEXT YEAR to the Potomac. Same boats. Last mont, 9/23, they had a four-boat "exhibition" to "test the waters" so to speak on whether to bring the Unlimited Hydros back to thsi area. I don't know where that sits now.
But Don Weldon's death __it's very sad, but I think you'd have to define the word "tragedy" more precisely than is usually done to be confident in using it for an activity that is so obviously ultra-dangerous regardless of the 'latest safety measures'__ will bring the core dilemma of the President's Cup into focus before it comes back.
Anyway, felt very bad for Weldon, his family and the auto racin g family when I saw the crash tape. But I still remember the feeling I'd get when I'd see one of those Thunderboats start to "lose it" and go airborne.
Why do they do it? I don't know. But it's a fact that people always have.
Maybe there are just too many topics today. One more and done.
"[S]tarting at 32 ... from that point, Ted Williams had one season with more than 30 homers or over 100 RBI." -- you Dear Mr. Boswell, At age 33 and 34, Ted Williams was serving in Korea. At age 35, he walked 136 times (!) and had a slugging percentage of .635 -- which was merely the best in the American League. He also led the AL in slugging at age 38. In fact, he slugged over .600 at age 35, 36, 37, and 38. His OPS was over 1.000 through age 39. But, by all means, let's look at his homers and RBIs. That's a good picture of what he accomplished. Also, I understand Albert Pujols is headed to Korea. It's a perfectly comparable situation. -- Red Sox Nation, Maryland
After he turned 32, Williams was stil, a tremendous hitter. When he could stay healthy. Yes, he went to Korea. But he only have more than 420 at bats in one season after he hit 32. And he only had one season with 90 RBI after that age. Pujols may stay great, too. But how much will he play. Even Ted Williams aged. If you use Williams WAR, he was probably worth a $150-million contract for the remainder of his career at Pujols age. But Pujols has already turned down $195-million. Pujols is worth a lot. But very, very few are worth what he wants and may get. And that's my point.
Too hot-hitting teams w/one ace and otherwise weak starting pitching should make for a fun world series. I assume the Rangers will be favored, but you can't count the Cardinals out.
Cards have home field and get to subtract a DH from Texas as many as four times. I think it's a good Series, not a walkover.
In June, when the Cards were swept in D.C. (and Livan shut them out 10-0 in the middle game), they were a mess and people were writing off LaRussa, believe it or not. Bad fundamentals. Weak middle infield. Then they made deadline deals. But it took weeks before this hot streak kicked in. But right now, they are a tough team. Healthy, deep bullpen and better starting pitching (during the regualr season anyway) than people think.
And they have Chris Carpenter __their best weapon__ ready on full rest for Game One. This is no easy pick.
Love your chats, read them with great interest every Monday. Far be it from me to proofread ANYONE, but I think there may be a mistaken word in today's online column (the reality check one). It currently reads: "Hope, they say, itâs a strategy." You have made this point in various forms before in chats and the like, and I think you meant to write "Hope, they say, isn't a strategy." Apologies if you meant it the way it was written, but thought I would mention it! Look forward to today's chat...
Okay, that's painful. Of course, the expression is: Hope is NOT a strategy." And that's what I intended to write. I didn't catch it when I reread it. It's on me. Sorry. Grrrr.
Favorite moment of the weekend - Gotta be Harbaugh's chest thumping which upset Detroit's Schwartz (the biggest chest thumper I've seen when Det was 5-0), who in turn went AFTER Harbaugh. Too funny; grown men behaving like idiots! What was Harbaugh doing? What was Schwartz thinking?? AMAZING!
They both made fools of themselves. Harbaugh was COMPLETELY disrespectful and rude. Total no class. An "accident?" More like "in character for him." Acted like Schwartz was a traffic cone. And Schwartz took too long to react. Either punch the guy or ignore it. Don't chase him like it's a playgorund. But I guess he had to "act fast."
Well, I'm not "acting fast." Gotta go. See you all next week. Thanks again.