It’s all Falling Apart.

What is going to become of the Derek Anderson award? But more importantly, what is going to become of Derek Anderson. Anderson was released by the Browns today, just a couple years removed from a Pro Bowl appearance and a few months from some of the worst modern quarterbacking of all-time. To add insult to Anderson’s departure, the Browns have brought in Seneca Wallace. With all due respect, Mr. Wallace, you are no Derek Anderson. I’m worried. I’ll admit it, all of this news coming at me at once, I’m a little bit at a loss of how to handle this situation.

Clearly, Anderson is unlikely to ever start another game in the NFL. Jake Delhomme, sure, he throws picks in playoff games. That’s experience. No one wants a quarterback that can go into Buffalo and win 6-3 while contributing absolutely nothing to the offense. Does Seneca Wallace win that game? I think not. Perhaps it is the nature of the award, you simply cannot maintain this level of anti-excellence. Anderson’s sucking was just a comet streaking across the sky, and we should all be thankful we were here to see it.

I will implore an NFL team to add Sir Derek to their roster. There’s got to be room somewhere. The guy is a winner. Was Cy Young given such an unceremonious exit? Part of me wants to think there will always be enough terrible quarterback play to go around in this league. Josh Freeman, JaMarcus Russell, these guys hopefully have a long career of single digit passer ratings ahead of them. And, looking at the draft my mouth waters at the prospect of Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford being given the opportunity to start. Surely, there is at least one titanic bust in this year’s crop.

I guess my question is, does Anderson deserve his standing? Or, was he simply at the right place at the right time? Where should we go from here? I’m afraid I’m just not thinking straight. Perhaps you can take the time to offer an opinion, or some insight.

Certain Numbers Still Open Eyes.

Aroldis Chapman Touched Triple Digits in his Debut.

The headline at Sports Illustrated reads, “Justified Hype.”  This is after a two-inning Spring Training debut for Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman if you recall is the Cuban pitcher who defected last year, and was granted free agency.  The left-handed Chapman had pitched in the World Baseball Classic, but a wild bidding war for his services never materialized, and he ended up in Cincinnati.   I’m not going to say he was forgotten about, but until he hit the mound, it wasn’t a name that a lot of baseball people were throwing around.  He wasn’t getting half the attention of Steven Strasburg.  But, a couple good innings, and one 100 mph reading on the radar gun, and Chapman has already fulfilled the hype, and we are talking about a rebirth of Reds baseball.

Is this going too far?  Of course it is.  Everything is hyperbole and overstatement at this point.  Even the scouts get in the mix.  These guys like being quoted, I’m sure.  So, how do you get into the article?  You make insane comparisons and projections based on two innings.  “The best arm I’ve seen since Herb Score.”  A classic scout quote.  Drop a reference to a pitcher most fans have never heard of.  (Score was a dominant left-hander whose career got derailed after being hit with a line drive 50 years ago)  There’s no doubting Chapman’s gifts.  They stare you right in the face.  By all accounts he did look devastating, but this is a guy who the day before most people assumed would be spending some time in the Minor Leagues.  Now, he’s part of a new Reds nucleus that could lead them back to prominence.  I wonder how much rests on that one number, 100 mph.

Would people have been as excited if Chapman threw 96?  I don’t think they would have.  It would have almost been a disappointment.  This was his calling card, the 100 mph fastball.  A lot doubted he could deliver, but when he did, the hype explodes.  It’s still a powerful number in sports.  A 100 mph pitch isn’t something you see every day.  The difference between 99 mph and 100 mph is cavernous.  I remember when I was a kid, I think Guinness listed Nolan Ryan as having the fastest pitch ever at 101 mph.  I never saw such a number, but there it was in the book, and since then every time someone hits 100 mph on the gun, it’s an occasion for celebration.  I marvel at its staying power.

Other sports numbers have been made obsolete.  A 300 yard drive for example is nothing.  The long hitters now pound it out there 330, 340.  But, that doesn’t carry the same weight that 300 yards did in the eighties.  Or, a 4.4 second 40 yard dash.  Four-four is still fast, but you see guys like Chris Johnson running 4.2something, and 4.4 doesn’t sound so impressive, and 4.2 doesn’t sound so mythical.  Numbers fall by the wayside all the time in sports.  1,000 yards rushing is long dead, but 100 mph fastball can still turn heads.  It sure did in Arizona.

St. Mary’s: The 1st Team You Have to Pretend to Know About.

Honestly Thought it was Gales.

The noise you hear is me striking matches.  Some people prepare for the NCCA Tournament by studying up on every team in field.  I practice lighting 8×11 inch pieces of paper on fire.  Serves two purposes.  First, it’s a nod to my pyromania, secondly it’s good practice for when my NCCA pool inevitably goes down the ole Toto on the first weekend.  No matter your method of preparation, it’s about time to start kicking the tires.  Selection Sunday will soon be upon us, and the first berths in the tournament have already been handed out.  Cornell is in, Siena, Old Dominion both in, and tonight it was St. Mary’s College upsetting Gonzaga to grab the West Coast Conference’s spot in the field.  The ‘Zags will still get in as an at-large bid, and I think St. Mary’s would have had a shot as well.  They were 26-5, that should be good enough, no?  I’d ask Joe Lunardi, but it doesn’t matter.  They’re both in.

This is where you make you upset calls, these early conference tournaments.  The Gaels have a double-digit seed written all over them.  I haven’t seen one second of their games this year, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume they can shoot the ball.  Let’s check the numbers….10 of 21 from 3-point range tonight.  There you have it.  The Gaels feature a young fella named Mickey McConnell.  Hard to not fall in love that name.  Mickey’s shooting 51% from downtown this year.  Whoops.  See, now you know everything you need to know about St. Mary’s.  They have a shooter’s chance.  We’ll wait until we see the draw before we decide if St. Mary’s has a shot at winning a game or not.  You want to know the beauty of it, though…

The upsets don’t really matter in the pool.  Unless you are in one with a couple thousand people it isn’t going to matter if you get 23 or 27 games right in first round.  You can brag to people about going 16/16 day one, they won’t believe you, you’ll pull out your iPhone and show them the bracket, you’ll talk about how you love Mickey McConnell and how you knew they were going to beat (Temple?), but come week two that four or five point lead you had could pretty easily have evaporated.  You win pools by picking the Final Four.  Or at least, 3/4 and then having the title game completely correct.  This is how it’s been since the beginning of time, but upsets are all anyone wants to talk about.

Getting too creative with the bracket is the best way to lose, actually.  You throw a #12 seed into the sweet sixteen, they lose by 25 in the first round, and you look like a moron while spotting the field a few points.  Upsets can be big, but they’re more important for the people betting the games.  You want to make your hay on these unknown underdogs, you have to hit some money lines on the first two days.  That takes courage.  That takes some knowledge, and if you hit one, you can cover all your other pool expenses.

So, if you want to learn something this week, try to distinguish between the top teams.  That’s where the answer is.  Is that what I’m going to do?  Absolutely not.  I take swings in the dark.  Pinata style.