Monthly Archives: August, 2014

Josh Gordon and the NFL Are Both Pretty Dumb

After about 24 days of thinking about it, possibly because they wanted to dick him over more by taking away his 2015 preseason, the NFL and its arbitrator upheld the year long suspension for Josh Gordon for failing his third drug test.  Previously, Gordon had tested positive for codeine, even though he had a prescription for that kind of cough medicine, and marijuana.  This time, he was popped again for weed.

I’m not going to shed too many tears for Josh Gordon.  While I think it’s stupid that an athlete can be suspended for a non-performance enhancing, not very bad substance is stupid, I also hate intoxicated driving of any kind, and Gordon couldn’t keep himself from getting a DUI while awaiting the punishment for his third failed test.  That’s not the kind of guy that I’ll cry for.  Do what you want in your own life, but don’t risk the lives of so many innocent others by driving in that kind of state.

With all that being said, the NFL’s drug testing policy, especially for weed, is beyond stupid.  Check out Andrew Sharp’s piece from the end of last month on Grantland about it, where you’ll find a ton of interesting and confusing details.  The most important fact is that 2 urine samples are always taken during one of these tests.  Whenever the first test is above 15 ng of THC per mL of urine, they look at the second cup.  If the second cup has any THC, it’s called a failed test.

Pretty sure this rule makes no sense, and the Gordan case is a perfect example of why.  Gordon’s first sample was 16 ng/mL.  His second was 13.6.  So if they had pulled the second sample first, Gordon would have passed.  But even though is second sample is below the threshold of 15 ng/mL, he unfortunately lost the coin flip that involves which cup they test first, so he’s screwed.

So yeah, Josh Gordon was suspended largely in part to the blatant luck of a 50/50 chance.  I have no idea if he smoked or if it was secondhand smoke (I’m gonna guess the former), but the dumb fact that the NFL suspends for weed and the dumb way they conduct the test has to be mentioned.  I won’t defend a high driver’s judgment or morality, but it sucks that such an asinine set of circumstances means that we won’t get to watch Josh Gordon in 2014.

Logan Mankins Analysis: 2 Days to Digest It

So I knew that I shouldn’t post any thoughtful analysis of the Pats dealing their 6 time pro bowler and starting left guard.  We were all so shocked by the deal that I wanted to think about it some more.  Gather insight from the tons of other people online posting it, and decipher through all the BS (just because there’s always a ton of BS on the internet).

But I still haven’t gotten any closer to digesting the move than I was when I first heard that Logan Mankins was traded to the Bucs for a 4th rounder and TE Tim Wright.  My gut reaction was, “This scares the crap out of me.  Good thing the Pats’ coach is Bill Belichick or I’d hate this move.  I’ll trust Bill.”  Now, my reaction is the exact same — verbatim.  Still worries me a ton that the Patriots may have the best team that they’ve had since either 2010 or 2008 (pre Brady injury of course), and they just traded their starting left tackle.  While I will not criticize Belichick as assuredly as Andrew Sharp of Grantland, and while I’d never suggest anything even suggesting for a second that BB is stupid in any way, I also worry if BB the GM has gotten in the way of BB the coach.

At some point, don’t you just have to go for it in certain years?  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Belichick has made a consistent winner.  In any sport but the NBA, the best way to run an organization is to just be in the hunt year after year and have it work out one postseason.  (Baltimore Ravens, anyone?)  But Tom Brady is 37.  Darelle Revis might be part of another franchise by next March.  And the AFC might never be weaker than it has been/is in the 2011-2o14 era.

And there’s one more thing that scares the shit out of me.  Tom Brady didn’t like it.  In New England, we’ve become so accustomed to having Belichick and Brady be on the same page with every move.  The only true exceptions that I can think of are Lawyer Milloy and Deion Branch, both of which also happened in either August or September.  Even when Randy Moss was traded, Brady was fine with losing the most talented receiver he’s ever played with.  He was on board.  Now, he’s not.  And an unfortunate secret is that Brady didn’t do very well last year with his offense having some question marks.  You could actually tell his confidence wasn’t at the typical Tom Brady level of confidence by the way that he would duck at random times early in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.  Sure, it’s different when its the timing with your new receivers is messed up than your trust in your O Line, but I still worry about the lack of continuity, especially when 3 preseason  games have already been played.

I think that this column up to this point proves that I would hate the trade if Bill Belichick wasn’t the one pulling the trigger.  That fact is making me remember things like “Mankins hasn’t been as good in the past 2 years, especially last year,” and “They do need a tight end and some decent depth on the line.”  And I understand that it’s against Bill Belichick’s religious principles to get rid of a guy after he’s already declined a ton.  This is selling high, it’s just a question of whether or not it’s high enough for 2014.

So I’ll stand by the trade, but only because Bill Belichick is running the Patriots.  But I’m not going to expect to have any full understanding of it after another 2 days of thinking.

Jon Lester is Ridiculously Consistent

Before the trade sending him to the A’s on July 31, Jon Lester had a 2.52/2.62/3.02 ERA/FIP/xFIP.  Since the trade, he has a 2.60/2.64/3.09 line.  Not too much to analyze here, but I just wanted to point it out.  That’s why the A’s got him, a guy who is gonna perform no matter the circumstances.   There’s so much unheralded benefit of having your guy at the top be this reliable.  Manager knows that he won’t have to kill the bullpen for 1 of 5 days.  Way less chance of a guy lacking confidence in himself.  And, maybe most importantly for the A’s, that’s the kind of guy that you want for the playoffs, so Billy Beane won’t have to say this anymore.

Red Sox Get Cuban Outfielder Rusney Castillo

So the Red Sox officially beat the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox, and others in a bidding war for 27 year old Cuban defector Rusney Castillo for 7 years and $72.5 million.

I’ve been somewhat skeptical — but mainly just intrigued — about the Sox’s recent strategy of hoarding tons of outfielders, as the team is now up to 6 possible starters in 2015: Cespedes, Bradley, Victorino, Craig, Nava, Castillo (and maybe Brock Holt).  I would tell the readers of this piece how the Red Sox are gonna have to make a fair amount of trades in the offseason, but if you know enough about sports to find this blog, you know enough to already be aware of that.

Outfielding logjam considered, I love the deal.  We’re all expecting this guy to be at least an average player, correct?  Maybe he won’t be Jose Abreu, to whom so many are comparing him because Castillo’s $72.5 million winning bid beat Abreu’s $68 million as most all time,  But given that Castillo’s salary is cheap by 2014 MLB standards, I love the signing.

An average player is worth about $12 million, as each WAR should be worth roughly $6 million on the free agent market, and an average player is worth about 2 wins. I think it’s fair to expect Castillo to get about 3-4 WAR for the first 4 years of the deal, and then be an average 2-WAR player for the final 3 years.  Let’s go with the conservative estimate of 15 total WAR.  That’s worth roughly $90 million on the FA market, and that doesn’t include inflation and all the money that MLB teams will get in new TV deals, thereby increasing the amount that each player will make.

No matter what the Red Sox do with their outfield, but especially if they give Jackie Bradley Jr. and his dirt cheap rookie deal the priority over some other guys, the Sox will get a lot more from their outfield than what their payroll in that area would suggest.  That’s the kind of flexibility they’ll need to remember when pursuing an ace this offseason, preferably Jon Lester.  Think about the position players and their 2015 salaries:  Pedrioa, Cespedes, Castillo, and Craig are all making good money but still are underpaid.  Ortiz, Napoli, and Victorino are all making good money, and are probably either underpaid or paid fairly.  And then Bogaerts, Bradley, Vazquez, and Holt all make way less than their play is worth.

Combine all of that with a loaded farm system, and I don’t see why the Sox can’t go for 2 top of the rotation starters, one through free agency and the other through trade.  Ben Cherington has been in a Daryl Morey “Collect Assets” mindset for a little while now, and the time to cash some of them in is the winter before the 2015 season.

Kershaw’s 2014 vs. Pedro’s 1999/2000

So Clayton Kershaw is a beast if you didn’t already know.  Also, Pedro Martinez’s 2 year span of 1999 and 2000 was lights out.  As I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding whether or not Kershaw in 2014 is the best pitcher since Pedro in 2000 (for the record, I said that he was; the only season for a starter since 2000 that could compare is Zack Greinke’s 2009), I decided to break it down here as to who was better.  At first glance, it seems like it’s not even a debate, but I wanted to get a closer look.  The only challenge will be resisting the urge to talk to girls at a bar about this just because they say they’re Red Sox fans.  I’ll try my best.

Before I get to the actual comparison, though, I need to make a quick note about Pedro’s 1999 and 2000 seasons.  In 1999, Pedro had a 2.07 ERA, 1.39 FIP (not a misprint), 13.20 K/9, 1.56 BB/9, .38 HR/9 and .93 WHIP in 213.1 IP.  In 2000, he had a 1.74 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 11.78 K/9, 1.33 BB/9, .71 HR/9, and .74 WHIP in 217 IP.  There were no stats for HR/Fly ball or xFIP back then.  Many, including most statheads, would consider Pedro’s 1999 season as the superior one.  Count me among the minority who will look to his 2000 season first, although I totally understand the reasoning for choosing 1999.  After all, that FIP (fielding independent pitching, whose definition is here) is microscopic.  But I still tend to put more emphasis on ERA than FIP, because the game isn’t played by robots.  It’s entirely possible that a hurler will pitch differently than he would in a different ballpark or with a worse/better defense, which is what he’s supposed to do: pitch to get outs, not improve his stats.  In my opinion, FIP overestimates how much control a pitcher has over whether or not his surrendered fly balls turn into home runs, which I’ve never understood considering that FIP is supposed to show that what happens after a ball gets put in play is largely luck.

All this is meant to say that I’ll take Pedro’s 2000 season as the barometer for best pitching season of the past 15 years up through maybe Kershaw’s 2014. (See what I did there?  Tease the rest of the column.  Pure brilliance.)  I usually trust baseball reference’s WAR calculations a little more than fangraphs, anyway, and baseball reference shows his 1999/2000 WAR to be 9.7/11.7, compared to fangraphs’ 11.9/9.9.  Take your pick with your own reasoning, but I’ll go with Pedro’s 2000 season.

Now, since I’ve already showed Pedro’s numbers, let’s look at Kershaw’s.  The Dodgers southpaw has a 1.86 ERA, 1.87 FIP, and 1.99 xFIP.  The xFIP number really only proves that his ERA and FIP numbers are not really lucky/unlucky, because there’s not much difference between the 3.  And right there, we have a big difference from Pedro’s 2000 right off the bat, because Kershaw’s ERA and FIP are very similar.  Pedro’s 1.74/2.17 is a difference of .43 to Kershaw’s whopping difference of .01.  Kershaw’s HR/9 is .50, which is lower than Pedro’s .71, and could make up for some of the discrepancy between their FIPs.  While we can’t see Pedro’s HR/Fly ball rate, Kershaw’s is 8.2%, which is definitely below average but not out of the realm of reasonable expectations for a pitcher of his caliber.

Time for the stats that Sportscenter won’t show in a 5 second graphic that’s somehow supposed to tell you everything.  Kershaw strikes out 10.78 batters per 9, exactly 1 fewer than Pedro.  His BB/9 rate, however, is .15 lower than Pedro’s at just 1.18.  If I’m going to choose Pedro’s 2000 over 1999 because I’m not putting a ton of stock in strike outs and I’m putting a lot of stock in allowing baserunners at all, then I have to be consistent and say that Kershaw’s .15 BB/9 actually comes close to making up for the 1 K/9 fewer than Pedro.  After all, if a pitcher gets out over 65% of the batters he faces (and for a stud like Kershaw, it’s definitely higher), then it’s more important to just get guys out, in part by not walking them, than to strike them out.  That being said, even with the higher BB/9 rate, Pedro still beats Kershaw in WHIP, with a rate of .74 to .84.

Of course, Pedro would win if we just went by innings pitched.  Martinez threw 217 that year, and Kershaw isn’t even at 150 because of a short DL stint.  (Also, rumor has it that the baseball season has a month and a half left.  But I factored that in, as you’ll see.)  So let’s look at how deep each starter went into the games.  Fourteen years ago, Pedro threw 217 IP in 29 starts, which is an average of 7.48 innings per outing.  That’s an ace right there.  But Kershaw does come close, with 20 games started in 145.1 innings, for an average of 7.27 innings per outing.  That’s not even one out worse than Pedro, so there’s not a huge difference.  Kershaw does lose some points for simply missing 3 starts early in the year, though, because those 20+ innings went to the Dodgers’ 6th starter instead of their ace.  It sucks to blame a guy for injuries, but they do matter when having a debate like this.

Break this all down, and it looks like Pedro comes out on top with just the stats alone, although a huge FIP-believer could make a case that Kershaw narrowly edges Pedro on the stats, because a .30 difference is definitely something to notice. 

But if there’s one beef that I, and most baseball fans, have with sabermatricians, it’s that they don’t realize that the entire game isn’t determined by stats.  There’s two facets of this that clearly shift the argument in Pedro’s favor.  First, Kershaw throws in Dodger Stadium, which was 23rd in terms of park factor in 2013.  (That means that it was the 8th most favorable to pitchers.)  Fenway, on the other hand, was 7th for hitters.  Because FIP does not take this into account (FIP- on Fangraphs does), it shows that Pedro was facing a tougher time during most of his outings. 

And here’s another reason that Pedro had a tougher time each outing:  Steroid ERA.  As far as I’m concerned, if the stats are as close as they are, the “steroid era” line ends the argument.  Remember what Martinez did in the 1999 All Star Game to the juiced guys in the national league?  That’s what pitchers in the league were facing at the time.  Now, it’s entirely possible that Pedro cheated as well, and I don’t want to get into a moral argument, because that’s another debate for another day.  But I just mean to show that offense was way, way better 14 years ago than it is now.  Pedro pitched through that on the way to an insane 1999 and 2000 seasons, and Clayton Kershaw, while dominant, isn’t the same pitcher.  After all, Pedro had 11.7 WAR in 217 IP, and Kershaw has 6.1 WAR in 145.1 IP.  Pro-rate that to 217, and he’s still at just 9.1 WAR.  Pedro’s the clear winner here, to the delight of all Red Sox fans.

Sox Offense: Signs of Life for 2015

After averaging -3.4 runs all season (all numbers approximate), the Red Sox have now scored 22 runs in their last 3 games, albeit against the Houston Astros.  While nothing in baseball can be determined from a pair of games, one in which they scored 9 runs and the other with 10, the games can be used as a microcosm for the state of the Red Sox team in 2014, and more importantly 2015. 

After everything went right last year, everything has gone wrong this year.  I have a feeling that we won’t see either extreme again, although the Red Sox are on a streak of extremes since 2011.  In 2011, they experienced both ends of the spectrum.  2012? Horrendous.  And 13 and 14 I already said.  But that becomes a problem for fans (and many media members), who will see what happens this year and not have their hopes high for 2015. I’ve heard so many fans say “Well, we caught lightning in a bottle in 2013 (true), but this year is a more accurate representation of the Boston Red Sox.”  They’re acknowledging one extreme and not the other. 

But Ben Cherrington knows that 2015 should be a different tale.  Let’s look at the offense next year.  They’ll replace AJ Pierzynski with probably Christian Vazquez, which is an upgrade simply because Vazquez has a body temperature somewhere in the nineties.  Mike Napoli, who has done way better this year than people realize, should be good for 115-145 games of a 3 WAR-level of play.  Bogaerts should take another step, and Brock Holt might actually be the Brock Holt that we’ve seen the past few months.  Then, the Sox should be able to piece together the outfield through Cespedes, Bradley, Victorino, Craig, Nava, and whatever they do by probably trading at least one of those guys.  (And maybe Giancarlo Stanton?  Yes.)  And here’s to hoping that Papi and Pedey are still Papi and Pedey next year.  The latter is a little more sure than the former.

The Sox will have to beef up the pitching staff, but I think it’s clear to just about anyone who follows closely that the offense will be a lot better next year.  While 2 great games means next to nothing from a statistical perspective, they can serve as a reminder that better times are to come for the Sox.  When there’s nothing to cheer for in August except 9 and 10 runs within a few nights of each other, I guess that’s what we’ll have to focus on. 

Pennant Races Will Be Closer Than Expected

Remember how everyone was saying “The Tigers-A’s ALCS will be insane!” Yeah, turns out that one of those teams might not even make the playoffs.

The Tigs have sputtered recently, going 3-7 in their last 10 compared to the Mariners’ 8-2. Once that happens, you have the teams tied for the 2nd Wild Card spot (tied by percentage points, as the Tigers have played 2 fewer games). Over in the National League, the Braves have fared even worse of late, going 2-8 in their last 10. They’re now 2.5 back of the 2nd Wild Card spot, and they’re behind the Cardinals and Giants (who actually did something at the trade deadline), and they’re tied with the Reds. They’re also just a game ahead of the Marlins, but Jeffrey Loria’s joke of a franchise has a -31 run differential in addition to being the freakin Marlins, so that won’t last.

I think Atlanta has killed their chances. Sure they can come back and turn it around, but it’s hard to come back from a landslide like this, both for tangible and intangible reasons. This skid does seem like the kind of thing that can hurt a team’s confidence and chemistry, as overrated as those two facets of the game might be. But tangibly, it’s just hard to make up 2.5 games in a month and a half when there are 3 teams to fight with.
Back in the AL, maybe I’m naive to Kate Upton’s abilities to take away a dude’s pitching ability, but I think the Tigs will pull it out.  Just seems like a rotation of Scherzer, Price, Verlander, Porcello, and Robbie Ray / Anibal Sanchez will be able to pull it out. 

With the Sox out of it, I’ll be posting a lot more about the MLB pennant races, including going team by team nd breaking down each squad’s chances.  But for now, things have gotten awfully interesting with the recent slides of the Tigers and Braves.

RIP Robin Williams: One of his Best Scenes

Robin Williams was a beast. And I don’t feel that I could do him better justice than anyone else you will find on the internet the past day or so after his death. But here’s something that you might only find in a few places. Since this is a Boston sports website, I decided to honor Williams with one of his best scenes ever, when he’s discussing one of the greatest games ever.

RIP, Robin Williams.

Analysis of the Kevin Love Trade

Adrian Wojnarowski reported, because Adrian Wojnarowski reports everything related to the NBA, that Kevin Love will be on his way to Cleveland once the Cavs can trade Andrew Wiggins on August 23rd.  Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a 2015 first round pick will be the final package for Love, and the Timberwolves will then trade Anthony Bennett to the 76ers for Thaddeus Young. I’m gonna break this down for al 3 teams, starting with the easiest to break down (and least important, frankly).

76ers: Smart trade for them, no reason not to make it.  Thaddeus Young has a contract that looks a lot like Jeff Green’s.  He will earn $9.1 this year and has a player option for $9.7 million next year.  Green has both a 2015 salary and 2016 player option of $9.2 million, by comparison.  The Sixers have no use for Thaddeus Young, because he is a guy in his prime when they don’t want players in their primes.  The 26-year-old young will bring back a number 1 pick from last year, meaning that Philly will sport a young nucleus of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett, Joel Embiid, and Elfrid Payton, drafted 11, 6, 1, 3, and 10 respectively.  Combine that with who tknows how many 2nd round picks, and that’s a team that no one would mind building around — it’s just gonna be painful to watch them for another year or two.

Timberwolves:  In the NBA you almost never get equal return for a superstar.  It’s pretty much impossible to have the type of trade in football where all of the young, cheap assets that a team is willing to give up for a superstar add up to be more than the superstar (RG3 trade, probably), or in baseball, where 90% of a team’s success comes down to individual numbers that are added up to create the final product, and the young guys equal the superstars that way (Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez trade for the Marlins).  But the TWolves might have a chance to do that here.  There’s no guarantee that Wiggins will reach anything close to that potential, but I wouldn’t rule it out for the top pick in maybe the most loaded draft since 2003, either.  As much as I was praying for the Celtics to get Love, of course, I gotta admit that Flip Saunders played it perfectly.  He could’ve had a bunch of draft picks, and a collection of either Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, the 6th pick that was Marcus Smart, the 17th pick that was James Young, or whatever else, but none of those assets other than Smart are really that valuable.  If Saunders had taken that kind of deal, he would have been betting that a bunch of small coins would add up to a dollar, and, again, that rarely works in the NBA.

Cavaliers:  If you look at what Bill Simmons said awhile back, his thought process makes total sense on paper.  Keep Wiggins for awhile, see how well he plays with LeBron, and take advantage of the fact that the Love trade will be there in February.  Maybe see if you can get the trade done without Wiggins, especially if Bennett actually acts like the number 1 pick that he was.
The night of LeBron’s Decision 2.0, my friend exclaimed to me: “Wait, the Cavs can now stick any top wingman in the league with Andrew Wiggins for 3 quarters, let LeBron rest a little and dominate on offense, and then have him shut down that guy in the 4th.  This team is gonna be insane defensively!”  That’s 100% true.  That would’ve been a scary defensive team, especially with however many games they’ll get our of Anderson Varejao.  I get all that, and I get Simmons’ point, as well.
But ultimately, the trade was a smart one for the Cavs.  Right now, you have the 29 year old best player since Jordan who just turned an up and coming team into a contender by himself.  At some point, don’t you wanna be a full blown contender?  I’m not buying that LeBron could start breaking down soon since he’s about to pass 40,000 minutes in his career, because the same people who mention that tend to mention how superhuman he is.  But this isn’t 2006 LeBron, in which we knew he’d keep getting better for another 5 years.  It’s much more valuable to the Cavs to use their asset that hasn’t fully appreciated (Wiggins) to turn him into an asset that is ready to go right now.
And while the thought process of waiting out the Wolves and just making the trade in February sound plausible, that brings so many What Ifs into the scenario.  What if the Wolves get off to a great start, and Saunders decides to ride it out?  What if the Warriors finally put Klay Thompson into the deal?  What if Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson play so well for Chicago that Saunders feels that the Bulls can offer a better package?  Or, more simply, what if Wiggins sucks out of the gate, or even gets injured?  By trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love now, the Cavs take way less of a risk.  Maybe the expected value isn’t quite as high, and maybe I should care about that kind of financial term considering I’ve used the word “asset” probably 47 times in this piece.  But, in truth, this isn’t about expected value.  This is about getting a Top 10 player to play alongside the 2nd best player ever.  That’s the kind of stuff you don’t turn down in the NBA, and you don’t take a risk that it might not work out.

ESPN Suspends Dan Le Batard for Having a Personality

Officially speaking, ESPN suspended Dan Le Batard for 2 full days for renting billboard space saying “You’re welcome LeBron — Love, Miami” in Cleveland.

But that’s the problem with this story.  Everything is too official.  To put it in human terms, Le Batard was suspended for doing something that people didn’t completely like and ruffled a few feathers, and The Worldwide Leader is not going to stand for something that a handful of their viewers might not like, because they have a track record of not acting, but reacting.

Now, I think that a lot of shots at ESPN are ridiculous.  With just about any organization that dominates its industry, as does ESPN with sports media, people are quick to launch grenades at all the wrongdoings that a company exhibits.  This is especially true in 2014, when sports as a whole are on the rise and any jackass can get a Twitter account and a blog through something like wordpress.com.  (Yes, that was a shot at myself.  Just trying to show that everyone lives in a glass house with this kind of stuff.)  But, while many like to get on ESPN’s case a little too much, what happened here with Le Batard represents a situation that Bristol’s very own has often demonstrated.

In one of Jason Whitlock’s best pieces, he properly criticized ESPN (Whitlock criticizing ESPN before working there again?  I’m shocked.) for how they handled the Rob Parker “RG3 isn’t black enough” controversy.  As Whitlock pointed out, ESPN had no issue with the opinion that Parker expressed right up until the internet started calling Parker out.  They even reran the segment later in the day during their highlights of the morning show.  Despite my feelings that Parker’s comments were not only asinine but also detrimental to race issues in America, it would be nice if ESPN stood by him during the backlash like they had when he originally said those stupid words.

The Parker and Le Batard situations also remind me of how ESPN handled the Brent Musburger – Katherine Webb controversy.  While it’s fair to say that Musburger went out of line — I’m not saying I agree with that, but see the logic behind the point of view — ESPN might care to remember the fact that they chose to have 1 of their 40,000 cameras for the National Championship Game on AJ McCarron’s smokeshow of a girlfriend… and Musburger seemed to now know that.  I sorta kinda feel like if ESPN had a problem with what Musburger, their number 1 college football announcer, said, then they might wanna shoulder some of the blame for creating a situation in which Musburger would make such a remark.

Note: For my opinion on the Musburger-Webb controversy, please refer to Fred Toucher’s wonderful rant in the aftermath.  I don’t think that anyone who disagrees with Toucher and me is a moron, as I do see the logic, but his points of debate are clearly better than the other side, in my view.  His rant is also germane this Le Batard situation.

The final example is the recent Stephen A. Smith fiasco.  While I obviously think Smith’s comments on how a woman can provoke a beating were stupid, wasn’t it a little weird that Smith was suspended only after the apology?  Suspending a guy for making comments that dumb, especially about such a sensitive gender issue as domestic violence, is only fair, but didn’t it seem like they were suspending him for people not accepting Stephen A.’s apology as much as ESPN had hoped.

What Dan Le Batard did didn’t break any rules, and I don’t think it was “in bad taste,” which is the kind of phrase that is used by people who are way too sensitive about everything approximately 90% of the time.  ESPN suspended Le Batard just because the stunt didn’t help ratings, and it rubbed some of these “in bad taste” ultra-sensitive people the wrong way.  According to ESPN, that’s enough of a reason to suspend a guy.  But the fact that he was suspended a grand total of 2 days should show you that ESPN doesn’t really have a huge issue with what Le Batard did — they are doing it just because you can’t color outside the lines at all when you work for the worldwide leader.  Having a personality and being a tiny bit unexpected isn’t right for corporations of America in 2014, and ESPN is a prime example.