Bill should stop picking on the outfielder from my state.
You would think that, after killing J.D. Drew for the entire season as being a choker, Simmons would write something containing the words "I was wrong" after Drew hit a clutch grand slam to put the Red Sox on their way to a critical win in game six of the ALCS. Or that maybe he would acknowledge that Drew didn't only hit that grand slam, but he went five for ten with six RBI during the three games in which Boston rallied from a 3-1 deficit. If he was really self-aware, Simmons would question the assumption that girds so much of his writing that certain players are chokers and certain players are clutch. After all, if Peyton Manning can lead an epic comeback in the AFC Championship Game against his bete noire and J.D. Drew can perform at a top level in crunch ALCS games, then maybe this notion of certain players being clutch is vastly overblown and the result of unreliably small sample sizes.
Predictably, Simmons doesn't engage in any approaching a mea culpa, but instead blathers on about how shocked he was and then adds in a bevy of e-mails from his Red Sox herd parroting the same line. File this under the heading of "no shit, Sherlock. You killed the guy all year and then he came up huge. I'm shocked that you were shocked."
A couple other notes on Drew:
1. His overall post-season numbers aren't outstanding, but here are his OPSs for the three Championship Series in which he's played: .750, 1.044, and .905.
2. Simmons made Drew out to be the worst player in recorded history this year, but he ended up with a 105 OPS+ and a .373 OBP. Admittedly, he didn't play like a $14M player, but he wasn't terrible or anything. Of course, I'm sure all those hits and walks were in "non-clutch" situations.
Bill should stop picking on the quarterback from my alma mater.
This passage bothered me when Simmons wrote it a few weeks ago:
Put it this way: When your own fans are chanting "Griese! Griese!" for your backup, only it's 2007 and they're chanting for Brian instead of Bob, then you know you've colossally failed as a starting QB. Is Brian Griese the worst athlete who ever had his name chanted at a professional sporting event? He has to be right up there, correct? This was like 19,000 NBA fans chanting "Madsen! Madsen!" at the same time. Anyway, you beat this Lions team by throwing the ball on them and outscoring them ... and I'm not backing Brian Griese in a shootout. No, thanks.
The Mark Madsen comparison annoyed me, starting with the fact that Griese has made the Pro Bowl, whereas Madsen has never been on the periphery of the periphery of considering for the NBA All-Star Game. Griese has a career passer rating of 84.6. For context, here are the career passer ratings of some other prominent NFL quarterbacks:
Peyton Manning - 94.7
Tom Brady - 91.8
Carson Palmer - 91.2
Ben Roethlisberger - 89.7
Chad Pennington - 89.3
Mark Bulger - 88.8
Drew Brees - 85.8
Matt Hasselbeck - 85.4
Donovan McNabb - 85.4
Jake Delhomme - 85.2
Brett Favre - 85.1
Brad Johnson - 83.1
Steve McNair - 83.1
Michael Vick - 75.7
Eli Manning - 74.6
Trent Dilfer - 70.8
Rex Grossman - 69.3
I'll concede that passer rating isn't a perfect way to judge a quarterback, but it's the most easily accessible. I doubt that different measures would lead to a different result than the obvious conclusion that Griese is a good quarterback. His numbers sit in the Hasselbeck-McNabb-McNair zone and most fans would conclude that those three are good quarterbacks. His numbers are miles better than Rex Grossman, the guy he replaced, and Trent Dilfer, the model for a game managing quarterback. The rap on Griese is that he struggles to stay healthy and that he was a questionable on and off the field when he played in Denver as Elway's replacement. Neither of those criticisms would lead one to believe that he's a bad quarterback.
In looking at these numbers, my primary reaction after "Bill Simmons' beliefs are refuted by the numbers, yet again" is that I would be royally pissed at Lovie Smith if I were a Bears fan. The Bears blew a shot at winning the Super Bowl last year because Smith was totally committed to Grossman as a starter, against all evidence. He stuck with Grossman in a way that he never would have stuck with an underperforming player at another position. Most damningly, Smith did so with a very viable option on the bench, an accurate passer who makes relatively few mistakes and who would have been perfect paired with the Bears defense. Griese would have been especially useful in the Super Bowl because the Bears' offense was going after a relatively conservative cover-two defense that puts a premium on accurate passes underneath and penalizes quarterbacks who take reckless risks down the field. Because of injuries and salary cap issues, last year might have been the extent of the Bears' window to win a Super Bowl with their dominant defense and they blew it with the "equivalent of Mark Madsen" sitting on the bench.
See, I made it through an entire post about Griese without mentioning the '97 Wolverines. Give me a sticker!