Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Game 5 of the ALCS

I found myself home early today for some bi-naz so I'm going to share some live-blogging thoughts of today's elimination game!  Yay!

-Top of the fourth inning.  Lance Berkman!  Hahahaha!  Oh man.  Running a straight line into foul territory for a pop foul, he managed to slip with BOTH feet and fall down flat on his back.  "Did he hit his head?"  "Maybe it's whiplash?" the intrepid TBS forensic doctors intoned, before a commerical-break worth of research yielded this conclusion from Craig Sager: "MY SUITS BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!"  Also, "Berkman told Joe Girardi he got the wind knocked out of him."  Awesome.

-Oh look it's Brett Fucking Gardner.  I hate Brett Gardner.  He sucks but he's white, dives into first base and runs fast, so naturally he's key to the Yankees offense, along with Derek Jeter's steely gaze and Jorge Posada's inability to catch three outs in a row without 50 trips to the mound.  Brett Gardner runs fast.  That is all.  So do some horses.  GARDNER STRIKES OUT!!!  Fuck that guy.

-After the Gardner strikeout we get a shot of Lance Berkman in the dugout.  Poor guy.  Get that man a wheelchair and some chamomile!

-5-1 after a homerun from Matt Treanor but the Yankees have two on with runners in on second and third with one out.  Ron Washington decides NOT to walk Marcus Thames, even though Lance Berkman is up next and, as John Smoltz says in the booth, is a double-play candidate.  Yes.  Yes he is.  Not because he's slow, but because he'll need to run in a straight line to get to first and that's not really his thing.

-Washington comes to his sense, walks Thames.  Berkman walks up to bat slowly, falls face first onto home plate.

-Berkman flies out, Swisher tags up and scores.  Berkman jogs back to the dugout for a high-five but trips over an extra long piece of grass.

-Inning over.  Sabathia still going strong.  In the dugout.  With his nacho platter.  He's also pitching today too; only one blemish in a day otherwise full of donuts.  Har.

-First and second for the Rangers, one out.  Francoeur singles, bases loaded!  Swisher makes a "great play" to keep the ball from going to the wall, even though it bounced right in front of him and hit him in the chest.  After going 0-2 on Matt Treanor, Sabathia throws strike three but Posada blows the frame job and Treanor's still alive. 

-3-2 pitch!

-Groundout, run scores, 6-2 game.

-How are you even a minor league catcher if you have to run out to the mount all the damn time?  Stupid Posada.

-Mitch Moreland is having a ridiculous at-bat.  He fouled off a pitch so far outside the ballboy had to lean over, then another curve right at the knees, and just hit another one that would've beaned a right-handed batter.  Sabathia eventually strikes him out and ends the inning on the same pitched that Posada blew earlier, a curve that cut across the inside corner.  Posada manages not to fuck this one up and the inning is over.  Maybe Sabathia should job to home after each pitch for meetings with Posada: "Hey Fucker, catch the ball like this.  M'kay?"

-Granderson leads off with a shallow pop up to the third baseman, except this is Yankee Stadium so it goes off the wall for a double.  There are seriously highway rest-stop parking lots bigger than this Little League Yankee Stadium.

-Runners at the corners because of Derek Jeter's amazing ability to control the motion of the earth and draw a walk.

-Kinsler makes a tough pick-up to start the inning ending double-play.  Commercial!  Buy a Blackberry because only Blackberry allows you to, um, drive a cupcake maker van?

-Reader Matt wants the hockey scores, so here's the latest: Minnesota Wild Fan: 1, Rick Rypien: at least 5.

-Kerry Wood in the game now and has run up a 2-2 count without requiring multiple season-ending surgery.

-Lead-off runner aboard as Wood jumped up and just missed a high bouncer.  Both his shoulders are separated.  Dr. James Andrews readies his credit card for another territory to his personal island.

-Kerry Wood's throw is OVER EVERYTHING!  Jeff Blauser scores!

-Readers are up in arms over the lack of content in the liveblog.  If only there was a site that catered exclusively to the TSN and Toronto Maple Leafs audience...

-Elvis Andrus hates his team and comebacks.  Derek Jeter with a, you guess it, "brilliant play."  He caught the ball and tagged out a runner by five feet, so brilliance is now measured by a player's ability to not turn around and throw balls into center field.  Kerry Wood's last pitch was therefore also brilliant, despite being two feet outside.

-How do you get picked off second base when Josh Hamilton's at the plate with one out?  Didn't Andrus see the big graphic about how Hamilton was tied for the most single-ALCS homeruns ever with four?  It was all over the screen!

-Hamilton out, onto the seventh.  Rodriguez picks up a one out walk but not as well as Jeter would've.

-A-Rod steals second, because he is greedy.  Jeter would've done it for the team.  Speaking of his team, Marcus Thames hit the last pitch so far you wouldn't even measure it in feet. Maybe parsecs.  It was foul though, and Rodriguez jogs back to second in the richest way possible.

-Lance Berkman returns to the game!  Moonwalking up to home plate, he is the picture of confidence, poise and dexterity.   Quickly down 0-2.  That's the number of feet touching the ground; the number of balls and strikes is uninteresting.

-Berkman strikes out, teammates run out and carry him to the dugout.  All but Mark Texeira, who sits in the dugout and shakes his head, laughing quietly at the thought of a grown man, a professional world-class athlete, unable to run in a straight line without hurting himself.

-A quick top of the eighth, ended by A-Rod's diving catch and accurate throw to get Ian Kinsler.  Yankee fans boo and hold up signs to bring back Scott Brosius.

-If the Yankees hold on, and they absolutely will with only a half inning left and the Yankees still with Rivera in the holster, their pitching is in decent shape going back to Texas.  Phillip Hughes will go Game 6 and Andy Pettite goes Game 7.  The Rangers will send out Colby Lewis in Game 6, so they have the edge there, and of course anytime you've got Andy Pettite pitching a Game 7 on normal rest you've got to like your chances.*

-Curtis Granderson continues to make weak contact with the ball.  This time he manages to feebly loop a ball into shallow right field for an easy out.  EXCEPT this is Little League Yankee Stadium, so it's a line drive homerun.  You could spit it over the fence from home plate.

-Derek Jeter continues to make incredible plays.  "That's what makes Jeter, Jeter."  Yes.  THIS is what makes Jeter, Jeter:  Making awful contact on a pitch you just plain misjudged, rolling it 40 feet into a lucky dead spot in the infield, and smiling like a motherfucker over your good luck.

*Unless the other team is starting a cyborg, built from Walter Johnson's blood mixed with a liquid metal compound, sent back through time for the sole purpose of making people believe in a future worth saving through his pitching skills alone.

-Sportsnet Update!  Rick Rypien has been suspended indefinately pending a hearing from the NHL about jumping up and grabbing a fan against the Wild last night.  Everyone knows this so this isn't really news.  But what IS news... is what Francois Beauchemin and Ron Wilson think about it!  SPOILER ALERT: Nothing interesting.

-Joe Girardi decides that this is the last game of the series and he does NOT want Joba Chamberlain fucking up a five run lead.  Mariano Rivera and his one pitch are the greatest weapon a manager can summon against a team looking for a six run inning.  Except, of course, for literally any other pitcher in the majors, and most AAA pitchers too.

-The Yankees win!  No they don't!  That pitch was a foot outside!  Just because a catcher catches a pitch without moving his glove doesn't mean it's automatically a strike.  Posada was so far outside he was drinking Gatorade from the dugout.

-Moreland singles to left, the tying run is now six batters away.  Andrus fouls out to Berkman though, who crawls his way toward the stands to make the catch.  No more of that "running" for me!

-And that'll do.  Game 6 coming up from Texas!  Go Not Yankees!  The Not Yankees have always been my favorite team, ever since their World Series victories in 2008!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jose Bautista vs. George Bell

In terms of power, the definitive Blue Jays' season belongs to George Bell.  In 1987 he led the league in RBI's and total bases and was named the American League MVP.  What's interesting about the 1987 MVP selection is that it's become a great example of how new statistical measures have changed the way we look at player value; Bell had 332 votes compared to Alan Trammal's 311, a pretty close race.  Side by side, the MVP outcome shows pretty clearly which feats were the most important at the time.  Bell had 47 HR's, 134 RBI's, and a 54 point advantage in slugging % (.605 vs. .551) compared to Trammell's 28 HR's and 105 RBI's.  Bell also hit .302 so yeah, great year for sure (all numbers are from  Except that now things have changed; we value RBI's a lot less and are concerned more with the offensive performance relative to the player's position.  RBI's, of course, have lost panache because, and this is pretty intuitive, they really have more to do with how good your teammates are at getting on base.  So while Bell had a higher slugging %, Trammell had a higher on-base percentage (.402 vs. .352), drawing him almost even for OPS (.953 vs. 957).  Trammell did this as a shortstop; that's a fantastic season for a middle infielder.  Bell had a great year but played an easier defensive position (and played it a lot worse when you compared range factor), walked a lot less (39 vs. 60), didn't steal many bases (5 vs. 28) and had less hits overall (188 vs. 205).  All this stuff is summed up nicely in a stat called W.A.R.P., or Wins Above Replacement Player.  It basically looks at how many more wins a player contributes over the course of a season above what an average or Triple A player could contribute .  It's complicated but it concludes that Trammell contributed an 8.5 WARP (anything over 8 is considered an MVP season) while Bell put up a 5.0 (an All-Star season, but nothing to raise eyebrows over).  But what's done is done.

So George Bell's 1987 MVP may be in dispute, his team record for homeruns has not.  At least until Jose Bautista hits one more.  They're currently tied at 47 and with 16 games left in the season, Bautista has a pretty good shot to get to 50, let alone to the top of the team's homerun heap.  But, again, who's had a better season?  Comparing Bell and Bautista is actually a little easier considering they're both corner outfielders.  The games played won't quite line up, but here's the basic rundown so far:

Bautista:  145 games, 47 HRs, 134 hits, 32 2Bs, 111 RBIs, 8/10 SBs, 93 BB's, 106 K's, .262/.381/.613, .994 OPS, 165 OPS+, 313 total bases

Bell: 156 games, 47 HRs, 188 hits, 32 2Bs, 134 RBIs, 5/6 SBs, 39 BBs,  75 K's, .308/.352/.605, .957 OPS, 146 OPS+, 369 total bases.

So Bell had 54 more hits but Bautista had 54 more walks.  That doesn't quite even out obviously, since a hit can mean more than just one base, so close edge to Bell.  Way more RBI's for Bell but, again, this isn't really important unless you believe in magical powers, called "knacks," that turn themselves on in only the clutchiest, team-neediest situations.  "Knacks" for things don't exist when players have 600 plus at-bats; huge sample sizes are why baseball numbers are so statistically meaningful.  ANYWAY, Bautista does have way more strikeouts and while a popular opinion suggests strikeouts are no worse than any other type of put-out, I think that logically that's wrong.  At least if the ball is in play the possibility for a productive out exists.  Possibilities for errors, runners' advancing on a fielder's choice, that sort of thing.  Of course if the ball is in play then you can also have UN-productive outs, like double-plays.  So, I guess, um, shut up.  I don't like strikeouts.  ANYWAYS, Bautista's walks give him the advantage in on-base percentage and OPS, but Bell retains the advantage, at least at this point in the season, in total bases.  So far the best indicator is probably the difference in OPS+, which takes into account park factors and compares a player's numbers against the rest of the league's.  Bautista's had a much better year relative to his peer's than Bell, so offensively we award a split decision to Jose Bautista.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

You've got to at least ask the question...

Damien Cox, a hockey "writer," voiced his, um, not quite opinion, not quite a question, not really any kind of reporting at all, about Jose Bautista's sudden power surge this year, complete with the requisite suspicion about PED's.  This wasn't in his column but his own blog.  The issue raised here and here has been about whether or not the lack reaction against his article, compared to Jerod Morris asking the same baseless questions (albeit in a much less accusatory, faux-noble and contemptible way) about Raul Ibanez last year, is a result of a double-standard between bloggers and mainstream writers.  Morris was raked over the coals for suggesting that, given the history of baseball stars and steroids, it was reasonable to be suspicious of any player who's had a dramatic performance jump.  Why hasn't the mainstream media attacked Cox the same way for the same kind of unfounded character assassination?  Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler went after him during, if I remember, the second game of the Jays-Yankees series but didn't mention him by name and didn't really drop the hammer.  Their criticism was mostly that he isn't around the team, hadn't seen how hard he worked, intangibles, blah blah, square jaw blah.  I'm here to fill in that criticism. 

My problem with the Cox article isn't that he thinks there's something funny about Jose Bautista's numbers this year.  I think every fan who's watched a game this year wonders how a guy with 100 career homeruns managed to hit 42 of them in two-thirds of a season.  It's not even the numbers; have you watched this guy hit baseballs this year?  It's like his bat is twice the width of a normal bat and he's hitting tennis balls filled with flying faerie juice.  His groundouts are hit harder than Ichiro's homeruns.  When he connects it sounds like missiles detonating against other missiles.  He's killing so many baseballs that Greenpeace activists throw buryric acid at him like he's a Japanese whaler.  Of COURSE one has to wonder why.  

Cox fails to understand that "just asking the question" is tantamount to an accusation, especially when you consider that Major League Baseball does indeed test for steroids.  There's no proof, no corroboration, not even an unnamed source he can point to as a catalyst for his article.  There's only a jump in numbers and, remarkable as Bautista's year as been relative to other seasons, a spike in numbers isn't remarkable in itself.  In fact, considering the rollercoaster Aaron Hill and Adam Lind's numbers are riding from last year to this year, we should be asking what performance-enhancing substance they were using last year.  Or, rather,  what performance-damaging substance they're using this year, depending on which season you think is the outlier.  Statistical abnormalities happen all the time.  To properly analyze stats, the analyst has to appropriately set the parameters of a player's sample size, otherwise, the comparisons are meaningless.  Cox, bless him, is a hockey writer and only knows about Stanley Cup rings, Heart, Soul, Grit, Toughness, Character and (as a Toronto newspaper writer) that fighting is bad.  It's common sense that the way you count and compare numbers is important, right?  When you look at the Raul Ibanez example this makes much more sense. 

This is terrific article on the Ibanez-Jerod Morris hulabaloo from last year.  Briefly, the story was that Raul Ibanez got off to an incredible start last year, hitting .329/.386/.676 with 19 homers and 54 RBI's in his first 55 games (all numbers from the linked article).  That's 55 HR's and 159 RBI's over 162 games.  In other words, preposterous numbers for a 37-year-old.  After some deliberation on the situation itself, Posnanski makes the astute point that the kind of stretch Ibanez started the season on was typical of many other hot streaks he'd had in his career.  He points out a number of other stretches of games where Ibanez got hot and put up similar numbers only to cool off later and revert to form.  These stretches, like any hot stretch for any player in any sport, seemed to come at random, either mid-season, playoffs, whenever.  Has Ibanez ever hit 55 HR's and drove in 159 runs in a season before?  No, but his career numbers suggest numerous occasions where he's been as good of a hitter.  The point is that when an analyst says a player's performance is outside their normal range of production, they have to be very careful that they know exactly how that past performance has been quantified.

Obviously, in the case of Jose Baustita, there is no 130 game stretch one can point to and see a similar display, therefore this season stands totally apart from the rest of his career.  TSN looks at outlier seasons here in an attempt to explain how Bautista's amazing season compares to other players whose careers had an unexpected jump.  There's lots of examples of players coming out of nowhere, having career years before disappearing due to injury or ineffectiveness.  That contextual lens makes more sense, doesn't it?  He's a guy who got into a good situation in Toronto, was given all the playing time he wanted, stayed healthy and kept getting pitches to hit because Vernon Wells started out strongly too.  Before long Bautista will be back platooning with some other average player and we'll all talk about his one amazing year.  Right?  Not steroids, just a fluke?

Or is it a fluke?  Carlos Pena is one of the top first basemen in the American League.  He's had seasons of 46, 31 and 39 HR's and is on pace for 34 this year.  He's won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, played in the All-Star game in 2009 and was in the MVP discussion in 2007 and 2008.  He came out of nowhere too; his breakout year was 2007 but he was drafted way back in 1998.  He only went to the Rays because Boston let him go as a free agent, as did the Yankees the off-season before that.  There's never been a hint of discussion about Pena and steroids.  Bautista could be another Pena, a star who comes out of nowhere and excels on a young team because he was given a chance to play every day.  It's not hard to see examples of players who've had seasons well outside their career averages, nor it is impossible to find players who've come from obscurity and turned into stars.  

I'm not stupid or naive, of course I wonder about Bautista's line drives that dent the centrefield restaurant, but nor am I a well-known sportswriter whose job it is to do some research.  Pena is a great story because he's the exception to the rule, as is Bautista and any other player who's toiled in the minors, been a free agent, been a Rule 5 or a waiver pick up only to find a home and have a great year or two.  The point is that there lots of examples of this kind of thing happening where steroids weren't an issue, yet Cox doesn't even mention an alternative.  Shouldn't he?  I guess he's not just curiously "asking the question" since to do so would suggest he's willing to look at any explanation, not just the one he's decided on.  His argument seems to be that because other players did steroids and baseball's rules allowed it, every player who's numbers go up dramatically is subject to pessimism and doubt.  Well, okay, that's actually reasonable.  We're all jaded and suspicious now.  Except that Major League Baseball does in fact test for steroids.  That's important isn't it?  Shouldn't Cox address that?  Well no because again, he's not actually accusing Bautista outright, he's just complaining about baseball's steroid history and tossing Bautista's name in the mud.  Let's see how it looks if I do something similar.  Ahem...

Don't blame me.  When it comes to Damien Cox, how is it exactly that one of his blog posts, normally ignored by everyone outside of Toronto, suddenly becomes one of most talk-about stories in Major League Baseball?  Chance?  New keyboard?  Diet (ahhh no, this is a sportswriter after all)?  New reading glasses?  Anyone familiar with the great Mitch Albom's brush with controversy should at least be willing to wonder about Cox's sudden transformation into the baseball writer king.

Shouldn't we at least be asking the question about whether or not Cox "borrowed" some ideas from someone else and "forgot" to credit them?  I mean, this recent blog post is pretty explosive, much more than his usual body of work, and plagiarism has happened before, not that Cox has ever been accused of this sort of thing but SHOULDN'T WE AT LEAST ASK??  Don't blame me, it's certainly not my fault that it's now up to Cox to defend himself against a totally baseless charge he did nothing to deserve.  I can't be held responsible for anything I write!  Why?  I'll tell you why?  BECAUSE SOME WRITERS SOMEWHERE HAVE PLAGIARIZED BEFORE!!!

Disclosure:  Cox Bloc did this same angle on Cox-as-a-plagiarizer.  I read it afterwards so I did NOT plagiarize, I'm just guilty of being less clever than I originally thought.  That was certainly bound to happen eventually though.  

Stupid Damien Cox.  Take some damn responsibility for your opinions, or do some research, or know something about steroid testing, or samples sizes, or innocent until proven guilty, or anything to do with being not just a reporter but, good God, the associate sports editor at a major newspaper. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Go Gay Go! SCORES!!!"

I was driving home from work today, as I often do, and was listening to an interesting conversation on the radio about gays in sports.  Mark Spector's recent column was the topic and Spector was on the show with TSN's Ryan Rishaug and Sportsnet's Jaime Thomas.  They were talking about how the pro sports world would react to whichever player was willing to come out and become the first openly gay active pro athlete in team sports.  There's been former athletes come out after their playing careers and several pro tennis players and golfers have come out (do your own research if you want to know who!) but so far nobody in any of the four major sports has been willing.

I say "willing" because, as was noted on the radio, the word "courage" would be somewhat disrespectful to players who aren't willing to make that public announcement.  It is their choice after all; it shouldn't come down to courage vs. cowardice dichotomy since it's hardly cowardly to want some privacy.  Yet it will be bold for someone to go public, that's a lot of attention on a personal subject and potentially a lot of backlash.  I suspect though that it won't be the kind of backlash we might think and that's what I want to eventually bring up. 

At the same time though, there's a pretty big benefit to being that first person.  Comparisons to Jackie Robinson will be made (and hopefully tempered heavily; there's sure to be some nastiness coming that player's way but it won't be as bad and there will also be a lot more support), there's TV appearances, certainly a book deal and maybe a movie.  I don't care if an athlete is gay or straight, they're all brands and you gotta cash in when you can!

There's two major challenges for an athlete in a team sport coming out.  First, obviously, is the degree to which they will be accepted by their teammates, opponents, fans and media.  I would think that teammates would be the group any athlete considering this announcement would be most concerned with.  They spend more time during the season with their teammates than with their family, after all.  It's not necessary that everyone be best friends of course, but a divided team will collapse at the first sign of hardship.  These are the truisms we've been taught by players and coaches so we'll just believe them and move on.  Imagine a team divided along lines substantially trickier than strategies and practice length and you can see how a player would hesitate at unleashing this kind of polarizing issue in their dressing room. 

That's where this debate becomes a little murkier and much more interesting.  Homosexuality in our society is a hot-button issue and gay marriage rights are the fault line of a major cultural identity crisis in the United States.  For a player contemplating this decision this kind of polarization is, seemingly, a major concern.  Is it though?  Here's a reasonable expectation for how each of the four above listed groups will react.

The media will be overwhelmingly supportive and congratulatory towards that player because, well, can you imagine what will happen if they are not?  Sure you'll get a few Rush Limbaughs who say exactly the wrong thing, there will be a few irrelevant preacher types who warn of the impending Apocalypse, but this will serve the player in the end because every else in the media will absolutely shit on their head.  Don't worry Mr. Gay Athlete, the media will be your loyal foot soldier because God help them or their editor if they are not. 

The fans will make jokes, be supportive, be spiteful, cheer loudly, boo when he (and this is a "he" we're talking about here, in no way are the same social issues present if Serena Williams says she's a lesbian) drops the ball or goes 0 for 5.  Fan will be incredibly supportive and caring, ignorant and horrible, distant and disinterested, and quickly distracted by the next game and a different channel.  The player will be pretty separated from all of that.  Players love the fans when they're cheering for them, are mildly annoyed or indifferent when they boo and are totally removed from any other opinion they might have.  Sure, that first game will garner them a pretty good cheer but after that fans will grow bored and will find something else to argue over.  It'll be a story that turns into a novelty and soon forgotten.

Opponents will be very interesting.  Which player is willing to be publicly flayed in the media and heavily fined over some comment meant only to get inside their opponent's head?  Apart from Sean Avery?  Think of the most famous attention whores in each sport.  Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco don't seem like they'd go that far, and besides that isn't about them so they won't care about it.  Fame sluts in the NBA only care about joining the Heat, baseball players don't often give those kinds of quotes, and even Avery or a Steve Ott might not push this one.  Hockey has its own set of accepted groups that are, apparently, considered fair game for discrimination: French Canadiens, Swedes, Russians, oh hell, all of Europe.  Homosexuality isn't the same and any trash talk in this direction would quickly go public and follow that linecrosser around for their whole career, like the Avery-Georges Laraque incident.  Leagues will come down hard on this kind of trash talking and it won't be worth it.

The most reactionary, backwards, ignorant comments, either from opponents or teammates, will come from league oddballs like... well, it's probably unfair to call players cavemen before they've done anything.  Carl Everett was a crazy, crazy man but he's retired now.  I really only wrote that sentence so I could link to those quotes.  Lots of people will agree with those comments but publicly only a minority will support anyone who comes out against homosexuals in sports and in society.  Maybe I'm being naive but I think that there's far more support for the first gay player than they think.  Those outlying voices will be written off and characterized as unfortunately relics of an era we soon hope to pass.

Here's where it's not so simple.  This player, wherever he is, will be a big, big deal when he comes out.  Interviews in every city, print and radio, for himself, his teammates, opponents, management, everyone. This will be a travelling circus long after the national interest has waned because each city will need to hear his story one more time.  Let's say then that the opposition this player faces from his own team isn't about his beliefs or his lifestyle but the distraction he'll cause for his team?  His teammates will all range in supportiveness but none will particularly enjoy the distraction after the novelty has worn off.  That's where the real centre of this debate lies to me because publicly the first gay athlete will be overwhelmingly hailed for his courage for paving the path for the future.  Again, maybe I'm naive, but I think it's a pretty clear path, media-wise, as long as the announcement isn't totally botched, like right before Game 7 or something.  It's the other public debate that will be misunderstood, miscontrued, poorly verballized and set up as a straw man:  Will it be okay to love the announcer but hate the announcement? 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things that Are and Are Not okay with the NHL

Things that are Okay:

-15 year, front-loaded, cap-circumventing contracts that are unlikely to be fulfilled because both the player and the team are aware that the player is a butterfly goalie with groin muscles made out of gossamer and voodoo.

-12 year, front-loaded, cap-circumventing contracts that are unlikely to be fulfilled signed mere minutes after a player has declared themselves a free agent on July 1st.  Or by a Canadian on a Canadian team.

-8 year contracts to aging defensemen that is unlikely to be fulfilled by teams whose owner were prominent in Gary Bettman's hiring and supported him through the lockout.

-12 and 11 year contracts, front-loaded, cap-circumventing, signed by Detroit.  Detroit and player contracts are like a Roy Halladay fastball that paints the outside corner:  They both know what they're doing so they always get the call.

-13 year contracts signed by the league's most popular player.  There's no out-clause where he can bolt for the KHL, right?  Okay, yeah, then it's fine.

-Headshots, hits from behind, missed high-sticking penalties.



-Labour disputes.

-Neutral zone traps.

-Bad attendance.

-Bad U.S. television numbers, unless absolute top-flight superstars are involved.

-Potential team owners who cobble together money from the sock drawers of magicians, couch cushions of used car salesmen and the power of Gary Bettman's prayers.

Things that are Not Okay:

-17 year contracts that is unlikely to be fulfilled IF the player is Russian, not North American or the Good Kind of Eastern European.

-Potential team owners who are Canadian and RICH AS FUCK.

-"Sloppy seconds."


-The 2007 Preakness Stakes.

So yeah, the Kovalchuk contract is a hilariously bad contract.  Here's the breakdown, courtesy of

2010-11: $6 million
2011-12: $6 million
2012-13: $11.5 million
2013-14: $11.5 million
2014-15: $11.5 million
2015-16: $11.5 million
2016-17: $11.5 million
2017-18: $10.5 million
2018-19: $8.5 million
2019-20: $6.5 million
2020-21: $3.5 Million
2021-22: $750,000
2022-23: $550,000
2023-24: $550,000
2024-25: $550,000
2025-26: $550,000
2026-27: $550,000

The total cap hit is $6 million.  Or "was."  It's ridiculous, right?  Look at the last 6 years!  It takes our beloved CBA that we lost a year of hockey for, chews it for a while, spits some of it out, stores the rest in its lip for years until it develops a Lou Brown voice:


THEN sprays it all over the front page of every hockey publication in North America!  A tragemedy!  Except that it's totally legal, totally compliant with the CBA and would probably win an appeal, even though the Devils have said that they won't appeal the ruling.  This is so stupid.  WHY DOES THE NHL DO THIS?!?!  I'M SO MAD I oh fuck it it's 30 degrees outside, who cares.  Enjoy your summer!