Sunday, January 25, 2009

I am, in Fact, Alive

Work has interceded for the past two weeks. I was in trial last week, but that's in the rear-view mirror, leaving me with time to vomit out the thoughts that have been percolating in my spare moments for the past two weeks:

1. Co-sign on the various writers (including my old buddy Stewart Mandel) pointing out that the presence of the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl is a good argument against a large playoff. (It is not an argument against a plus-one or even an eight-team playoff as long as the eight-team playoff is the eight highest-ranked teams as opposed to six conference champions and two at-large teams.) For all the playoff advocates who demand that college football be "settled on the field," what was settled on the field when New England beat Arizona 47-7 in December? New England finished 11-5 and missed the playoffs. Arizona finished 9-7 and not only made the playoffs, but got home games against Atlanta and Philadephia, two teams that had better records against more difficult schedules. It's not just that the NFL playoffs are becoming increasingly random; it's that the system rewards undeserving teams.

2. I have a lengthy "why are the Hawks so much better?" post percolating in my head and a lot of the explanation will have to do with Mike Bibby turning the clock back by six years. So here's the new question: do the Hawks re-sign Bibby? They'll be paying for his decline years, he'll probably be overpriced, and one has to question spending a lot of money on a guy who has had such an uptick in performance in a contract year. On the other hand, the Hawks have no apparent replacement at the point guard spot. After spending years without a point guard, do we really want to go back to the days of having several talented swing men and no one to feed them the ball? Plus, Bibby's primary value is his shooting as opposed to his quicks, so he might age more gracefully than a point guard who depends on athleticism.

3. When contemplating Mike Vick's return to the NFL, I assumed that the political orientation of his new city would be important. He needs a fan base with a low percentage of PETA members. San Francisco is definitely not what I had in mind. On the other hand, people love dogs in every state (wasn't that a line in Obama's 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention?), so it might not make a difference.

3a. I really don't see Vick's return to the NFL going well. He was never strong at technique or decision-making, but his athleticism made up for his shortcomings as a passer. Two years in Leavenworth cannot be good for Vick's athleticism. Vick might make sense if a team signed him, along with Vince Young and Dennis Dixon, and employed a modified version of the zone read offense, but we all know that college offenses can't work in the NFL.

4. After the 413th rendition of the Thomas & Friends Roll Call song for my two-year old, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I started teaching him various fight songs in the guise of "animal songs." Thus, he requests the "Elephant Song" and I hum the Alabama fight song for him. There's an "Alligator Song," a "Dog Song," a "Lion Song," a "Tiger Song," a "Bull Song," a "Badger Song," a "Bumble Bee Song," and a "Goat Song." (There is no "Wolverine Song" because he already knows Hail to the Victors as the "Michigan Song"; it's a part of his post-bath routine. Last night, he warbled some of it, proclaiming Michigan the "concrete heroes.") This plan has gone off flawlessly. Occasionally, I think I can handle this whole fatherhood thing.
5. The extent of my thoughts on John Smoltz leaving: good for him. The Braves are in no position to seriously compete for the World Series, certainly not with three holes in the outfield. Smoltz probably has one last year left in his arm. He should play for a team with a chance of winning something major. He doesn't need to be toiling for a team whose upside looks to be around 80 wins, certainly not when one of his best talents is his postseason performance. At least he didn't go to the Mets. I'm also comfortable with the Braves letting Smoltz go. The Braves are a mid-market team, which means they can't compete every year. It's better for them to acknowledge that fact and plan for the future than it is for them to bust their humps to max out at 85 wins. (One counter: the "plan for the future" approach is a little inconsistent with signing Derek Lowe.) In short, we don't need to have our collective panties in a bunch that the Braves and John Smoltz went through a divorce because the divorce makes sense for all concerned.


Unknown said...

1. Agreed that the Cardinals success shouldn't lead one to believe a playoff is the fairest system out there, but are you suggesting that the NFL go the "Bill Simmons after his 0-4 picks week" route and adopt a BCS style approach to determining a champion? For the most part, I think the NFL gets its playoff structure right. New England, with their weak schedule and losses to both the Colts and Chargers had every opportunity to make the playoffs and didn't.

I don't really have a problem with division winners making the playoffs automatically (though 3 divisions per conference would be preferable), but I do think that the NFL should seed, and dole out home-field advantage, based on overall record, and not "wild card" vs. "division winner" status.

2. While alot of the uptick during Bibby's contract year can be traced back to finally being healthy, I share your same reservations about re-signing him. That said, overpaying for Bibby probably beats reverting back to Ty Lue/Flip Murray-type options starting at PG. Going that route would totally submarine the success the Hawks have posted since acquiring Bibby.

Michael said...

I would make the NFL playoffs smaller to avoid the possibility of a 9-7 team making the Super Bowl. Maybe four teams? I admit that this would make less money and would never happen, but if I were G-d, that's what I'd do. I'd also make the NCAA Tournament a 12-team affair.