Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fack Youk [Year In Review]

Gentlemen, we should be proud of ourselves (semi-dramatic pause) because it's been a great year (week). We increased our readership 1000% (from 1 to 10), although I don't have Google Analytics set up yet, so I might be overstating that. Over that same time period, we were acknowledged by some, ignored by others, and went unnoticed by basically the rest of the world. Fear not, friends, at the rate we're going, this time next year we will have attracted approximately 100 readers, roughly 107 pageviews and possibly one member of the opposite sex.

A special thanks to our reader(s). This blog wouldn't be the same without you. (Actually, it would).

In any event, before we actually develop a readership, I thought I would post a letter from my company, sent out just before Christmas, with my FJM-style comments in blue. Happy New Years.

To All Employees:

The partners would like to thank you for helping [Company Name Withheld Just In Case] achieve one of its best years ever in 2008.
[Great! So this means we are going to get some of our best bonuses ever, right?]

We recognize that this achievement has required a strong commitment throughout the company as well as many long days (and we know some long nights).
[You bet. Well, it's a good thing we are going to be handsomely rewarded with some of our BEST BONUSES EVER!]

Recent economic news has given us a clear signal that we will face much tougher times in the coming year.
[Well that's nice, but we've been in a recession for quite a while and we just had one of our best years EVAR!!!!1!!!!]

I'm sure all of you know or have heard of someone who has been laid off or of companies making other drastic spending cuts.
[Yes, they work for financial companies who had their WORST years ever. Sucks for them.]

Due to this reality, we have decided to cut and in some cases eliminate bonuses for the end of this year.
[Oh. Let me see if I follow here... Due to the reality facing other companies who had their worst years ever, we (a company who had one of their best years ever) are going to cut bonuses. Yes?]

This decision was very difficult because of the contribution you have made to the success of the company.
[Doesn't sound like it was that difficult. Words I would have chosen before "difficult", in no particular order: inexplicable, profitable, greedy, inconsiderate...]

We feel, however, that it is extremely important during these uncertain times to maintain flexibility in the business so we are not forced to make much worse cuts in 2009.
[So, not only was this a great year for the company, we are moving to Jersey and thereby cutting costs, but we still need to cut down on bonuses? How about we wait until we actually have a bad year you cut the bonuses? So if we have a good 2009, do we get the money that you took out of our bonuses back?]

We are doing everything we can to make the company more competitive, more efficient, and more enjoyable to work at.
[Except giving you guys bonuses.]

With your help and commitment we expect to be one of the companies that make it through these difficult times.
[DIFFICULT TIMES FOR WHO? Surely not a company who just had "one of its [fucking] best [fucking] years [fucking] ever in [fucking] 2008"]

Thank you for your understanding.
[I don't understand]

We truly appreciate your efforts.
[Just not enough to give you bonuses]

The Partners

[You probably shouldn't have started the email where you tell everyone that their bonuses are being cut with the sentence "The partners would like to thank you for helping [Our Company] achieve one of its best years ever in 2008."]

Collusion or Delusion? [Follow Up]

In doing some more research on the topic of my previous post, I came across this article by Tim Marchman published in the National Review, back in December of 2003. He (not surprisingly) goes into more depth about the history of collusion in MLB than I did, and adds that joint holdouts were another big reason for the inclusion of the anti-collusion language in the CBA. He also says:
It was for violating this deal in the 1980s that owners agreed in the early 1990s to pay the players $280 million, a payment which drove expansion as owners sought to recoup the money by charging huge fees for the rights to new teams. Sandy Koufax decides he'd like to get paid something like what he's worth, and 40 years later you get to watch the Florida Marlins cavorting around in teal uniforms; what better illustration of the law of unintended consequences?
See what you can learn on these here Internets? The impetus of his post were "the ominous shadows of collusion falling across this weekend's winter meetings in New Orleans [in 2003]". These "shadows" stemmed from the exploitation of a seeming loophole the owners found in the CBA. At the time, the MLBPA was considering filing a grievance alleging that the owners were flooding the markets with free agents, according to Marc Edleman.

In his 2005 paper "Has Collusion Returned To Baseball?" Edleman details how, following the 2002 World Series, many teams began to talk about shedding payroll. Then, on Dec 20th, clubs simultaneously non-tendered 46 arbitration eligible players including Pudge Rodirguez and other top level talent, thereby devaluing the price of all free agents (Edleman gives specific examples if you have time to read the essay). This also redefined that year's "fair-market value" and adversely affected outcomes of the hearings of the players who accepted arbitration.

Edleman says, "Federal antitrust law finds that an agreement to effect price exists even when there is a tacit or inferred agreement", and cites two cases involving American Tobacco and Monsanto (Sidenote: watch The Corporation) as indicators that the arbitrator may rule against the owners. He concludes:

When considering both the documented series of events that occurred during baseball’s 2002–03 off-season and their economic effects, it seems plausible that a baseball grievance arbitrator may find that Major League Baseball clubs once again violated baseball’s “collusion clause”.

This was of course written before the decision was handed down, and he was right to take an somewhat ambiguous stance.

Marchman's take was different, essentially dismissing the charges of collusion (also before any ruling had been handed down). He proposes a hypothetical situation in which two GMs are talking about each others arbitration cases and who they will or will not non-tender that year. He deduces that similar scenarios were probably unfolding at the time in team offices throughout the league, one at a time, but was likely not in violation of the CBA.

The owners did have to pay, but only $12M, and with no admission of guilt.

In light of this, the circumstances I laid out yesterday seem pretty frivolous and almost certainly won't result in any judgment against the owners, considering they non-tendered 46 players on the same fucking day, and didn't have to admit any guilt.

I just really don't like the thinly veiled, tacit encouragement to scale back spending that Selig endorsed when he asked Volcker to address the owners and executives. Like I said in the previous post, maybe the owners would have come to that conclusion anyway. So why allow the appearance of impropriety? Perhaps Bud could have presented Volcker as a resource for the owners to contact individually if they had specific questions.

It just gives a lot of credence to the sentiment that since Selig was an owner, he is now a stooge for the owners. Baseball will be better off if their next commissioner has the betterment of the game in mind, instead of the interests of the owners alone.


(This story would have fit better about a week ago, but with the holidays and all, I am just getting to it now.)

This is all I have been hearing since the Yankees had their big 3 signings this year: "All that money for one player?", "Highest payroll in the league?" BLAH BLAH BLAH...go fuck yourself.

First, I would like to address to the two biggest groups of haters (Red Sox and Mets fans), then I will address the general haters.

Red Sox Fans: You are a bitter bunch of fucks. Your team has the second highest payroll and just because your fucktard owner wouldn't dish out a few extra million dollars for Tex you can't handle it. Then most of you do the obvious thing and try and say how much Tex is gonna blow this year. Which is quite logical because who would expect him to do well with the security of a long term contract, his proven record of offensive and defensive ability throughout his career, and the small fact that he will have the luxury of batting in front of ALEX-FUCKING-RODRIGUEZ. You will be lucky if Tex doesn't hit 135 HRs this year.

Mets Fans: You are just pathetic. You all get pissed because when you signed K-Rod, and everyone was on your team's dick for about 20 minutes until the Yanks signed CC and AJ. You are a second class team. DEAL WITH IT. Also, don't give me that shit about payroll, because you have the 3rd highest payroll in the league and the highest payroll in the NL. I think deep down you all know that no matter who you sign your team is still going to suck and not do shit when it matters.

General Haters: First of all, the people that say the Yankees are bad for baseball are retarded. I will bring you back to the mid to late 1990s. For those of you who remember, the 1994 World Series was canceled because of a players' strike. All that BS aside, the Yankees emerging from that, spending a shit load of cash and creating this dynasty that carried baseball out of that. I will also knowledge the McGuire/Sosa HRfest helped too, but the Yankees started that shit and carry it on to this day.

Look at teams like the Marlins, Pirates, etc. These teams have cheap owners who are only in this to make money; I won't get into all that but that is why their payroll is a fraction of the Yankees. This is also the reason why teams like this sell-out 4 games per year: Opening Day, and when the Yankees are in town. That is bad for them, how?

Now for the main point that inspired this whole piece. For all of you out there that hate how much the Yankees spend, I don't care. And guess what, neither do any other Yankee fans. We pay money to go see our team play and we expect management to do what it takes to put together the best team available for our fucking entertainment. If your owners/management are just too fucking cheap to do that, then that's your fucking problem.

And another thing, you don't hear us bitching when some Boston fag (Matt Damon/Ben Affleck) makes $25 Million to make some piece of shit movie that you assholes flock to like its the next coming of Christ. FUCK YOU ALL.

How Long Is Too Long?: The Cases of Mike Shanahan & Joe Torre

Sure, they don’t remind you of one another. Mike Shanahan, a gruff, standoffish, football coach and self-proclaimed offensive genius. Somebody I would hate to have in my family. Joe Torre a/k/a St. Joe, player’s manager, calm, green-tea drinking, all-around great guy—somebody you would be proud to have in your family.

Both finished the 1990s with championships in their respective leagues and were at the top. From there, both went downhill.

For Torre, who last won a World Series in 2000 against the Mets, his decline came with the aging/retirement of the ‘90s core—Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, David Cone, El Duque to name a few. Most importantly, key cogs in the bullpen, such as Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, Ramiro Mendoza, who in my opinion are why the Yankees won 4 out of 5 from 1996-2000, either left the team or became injured. As these important relievers left the Bronx, Torre’s bullpen management skills were exposed and overworked relievers kept the Yankees from winning #27. This despite having the highest payroll in MLB for the whole decade. Following the loss of their third straight ALDS in 2007, Torre, after 12 full seasons in the Bronx, was arguably forced out of the organization.

With his contract up, The Yankees offered Torre a one-year deal with a $5,000,000 base pay and $1,000,000 bonuses to be paid for each of three benchmarks the team reached: winning the ALDS; winning the ALCS; and winning the World Series. Also, if the Yankees made it to the World Series, Joe Torre would pick up an option for a new contract for the following year. The contract, despite the pay cut, would still have kept Torre as the highest paid manager in the game. Understandably, the Yankees saw these incentives necessary to instill a fire in Torre. They thought he was complacent, too much of a player’s manager and that he failed to push their talented stars to attain their optimal performance levels. Torre’s strong sense of pride saw this offer as a personal affront and he rejected the Yanks’ offer, leaving for sunny La La Land Dodgers.

Mike Shanahan was hired by the Broncos in 1995 to replace Puppet Extraordinaire Wade Phillips. Shanahan, who led the vaunted 49ers offense consisting of Steve Young, Jerry Rice, John Taylor and Ricky “I Won’t Bore You With a Hackneyed Chris Berman Nickname” Watters took over a pretty talented team in Denver led by NFL QB legend John Elway. Shanahan led Elway and the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl championships in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, during which time the Broncos set a then-record for victories in two seasons. He was the last coach to win two consecutive titles until New England's Bill Belichick did it during the 2003 and 2004 NFL seasons. Between 1996-1998, the Broncos set the NFL record for victories by going 46–10 over a three-year span.

After their Super Bowl victory in 1998, Mike Shanahan only won 1 other playoff game again, due in part to the retirement of Elway and career-ending injury of Terrell Davis. Despite being able to make any running back a 1,000 yard rusher, including the aforementioned Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell, Shanahan, director of player personnel, could never assemble a quality defense.

The past 3 seasons, defensive coordinators were fired due to their ineptitude. In these 3 seasons, the Broncos went 24-24 and failed to make the playoffs. In somewhat of a surprise, Shanahan was canned. He had only 2 losing seasons and finished his career as the Broncos all-time winning head coach with a record of 138-86 (.615). Presumably, Denver owner Pat Bowlen wanted Shanahan to give up control of player personnel so that somebody could come in and revamp the defense. Shanahan, a prideful man, probably refused and the two got into an argument resulting in his ouster.

12 and 14 years are way too long for a manager/coach to remain with the same team. After a while, things get stagnant and that drive to win it all disappears with past success, a fat contract and control over the roster. Sort of like that tenured professor who does not keep up with current management practices or current law, these coaches do not keep up with the evolution of the game.

In my opinion, 10 years should be the cutoff point, especially if there are no championships won in the past 5 years. John Wooden and Joe McCarthy are exceptions to this because they continuously won championships and the time of their last championship served as a "tolling period."

Below are examples of coaches who I believe should be relieved of their duties based on tenure and championship droughts. While the idea of firing some of these coaches may be preposterous, you need to remember that organizations are more than 1 individual.

Jeff Fisher, Head Coach Tennessee Titans—His career achievement is that he came within 1 yard of winning a Super Bowl. Will not be fired because of the current economy and Titans are a small market team.

Andy Reid, Head Coach Philadelphia Eagles—Lost 3 consecutive NFC championships and a Super Bowl. Too conservative and his sons legal troubles have distracted him. He may be relieved of his duties if Philly loses.

Bobby Bowden, Head Coach Florida State—Last national championship in 1999. 79 years old. No motivation for players, no discipline. Anybody could recruit for FSU and be a better game coach. Let Jimbo Fisher have his chance.

Joe Paterno, Head Coach Penn State Nittany Lions--Last national championship in 1986. Age 82. We love ya Joe Pa, but don’t you have grandchildren?

Recently Forced Out: Phillip Fulmer--Head Coach University of Tennessee Football. Last championship in 1998; Tom O'Brien--no championships in 10 years at Boston College (ousted in 2006.)

A Few More Years: Ron Gardenhire--Manager Minnesota Twins, Tom Izzo--BBall Coach Michigan State, Mike Krzyzewski--BBall Coach Duke, Charlie Weis--FB Coach Notre Dame, Al Skinner--BBall Coach Boston College

WBA Reviews Holyfield vs. Valuev Decision

I first saw this on the crawl during SportsCenter last night:
FightNews has learned that the WBA Championship Committee has ordered a panel of judges to review the contest between WBA heavyweight champion Nicolay Valuev and Evander Holyfield, for the WBA Heavyweight title, held December 20th in Switzerland. The source stated that the WBA is taking this action “Due to the respect for the opinion of the fans and the media.”
Since the fight was in Switzerland, it aired live in the afternoon two Saturdays ago. Partially out of boredom and partially out of morbid curiosity, I went on and watched the fight from the third round on and read along with Brain Armen Graham's live blog.

The fight was wildly boring, with Valuev basically sitting in the middle of the ring, not throwing any punches and Evander not doing a whole lot more, but significantly out-landing the giant. Graham (118-110) and every single other account of the fight I read agreed it was an obvious win for Holyfield, who came out of retirement because "God told him to unify the heavyweight belts". (Sidenote: watch Religulous)

Shockingly, the judges awarded the fight to the 7 foot ogre from Russia 114-114, 116-112, 115-114. Holyfield took the "defeat" graciously, probably more so than I would have. I don't know how often these things get reversed, but it would be nice to see Holyfield rewarded for getting into great shape at age 46 and getting the job done. And hopefully he never fights again.

Shanahan Out In Denver

After missing the playoffs on the last day of the season in embarrassing fashion, the Broncos have let go of Mike Shanahan. The Broncos launched their coach of 14 years and two Super Bowls into what is sure to be a turbulent offseason on the coaching carousel.

In firing a coach who will almost surely move onto another coaching vacancy, the Broncos haven't really weakened the talent pool, but are swimming in some fairly shallow waters. There are a few ex-head coaches available such as Cowher, Schottenheimer, Billick, along with the newly displaced coaches of this year, but all signs indicate that the number of coordinators turned head coaches will be at an all-time high next year.

Thanks for the memories, Spags. Good luck with your interviews.