Thursday, November 17, 2005

Comments Bag

Alrighty, I've had 24 hours to go through 30-something comments, and I'll take this opportunity to answer some of the questions asked during the dark days of Awaiting Moderation. (And for all the questions I got about why the comments weren't working, I point you here for an explanation) OK, let's get to it:

From Friday's "Loser Picking Winners" Post ...
"i think it's fair to say that the cedrick wilson honeymoon is over for both the fans and cedrick himself.

'I am one of the only free agents they brought in and I'm a receiver, so you would think I'd be used more,' Wilson said. 'But this offense is not based that way. That's research I should have done during the offseason before I came here. Now, the situation is what it is, and I pretty much have to make the best out of it. I'm just trying not to be negative.'

um, keep trying. and as for doing the research that the steelers passed the fewest times in the NFL this season... well no sh*t. doesn't this guy or his agent pay ANY attention to the NFL?"

Yep. This is basically the same conversation I had with my buddy Andy last week. I made the point that Wilson can complain all he wants about not getting the ball, but that doesn't change the fact that he's been pretty-well covered when Ben/Charlie/Tommy have thrown in his direction. Alternatively, Quincy Morgan, who's currently behind Wilson, could very easily be # 3 if for no other reason than he seems to have a knack for getting open.

What's funny is that after Wilson's griping, he did see a little more of the ball against the Browns, but on his first catch (a screen pass) he fell down untouched about six inches past the line of scrimmage. On the insanely underthrown Batch bomb in the first half that Cedrick made a really nice play on, he stumbled, which might have prevented him from getting into the end zone. And on the onside kick in the fourth quarter, Wilson made a great play on the kick, but -- you guessed it -- fell down (if he'd stayed on his feet, there was a good chance he would've scored). So maybe Ced should do a little less complaining, and a little more Pilates (or any other exercise that gives you better balance).

Cowher was asked about Ced's comments during Tuesday's press conference, and he seemed unfazed. That seems like the right approach on something this silly -- no matter how annoying it might be.

From Monday's "I'm too lazy to post anything after the game so leave comments" post ...
"Graphic just came up with about 6:00 to go in the 3rd Re: Steelers' run vs. pass ratio the past few years. Showed a 61% to 49% ratio for 2004 season.

Can't be sure, but I think Norman Einstein read the figures, too."

You know, I remember them showing the graphic, and I was only half paying attention. But a second before they took it off the screen I noticed the 61% and 49% ratio. Now my ability to add and subtract, in a word, sucks (see below, for example), but my job isn't to put silly graphics on the screen during football games. Presumably, the guy with that job actually is in possession of a calculator, an introductory arithmetic book, and coworkers who check his math. Then again, as Steve pointed out, Norman Einstein and his posse aren't necessarily qualified for their jobs either.

"Ryan (and readers): This is off-topic, I know. But I need some opinions.

I'm having a debate with my colleague. It is my contention that "Steelers Nation" (that is, the number of Steelers fans in the world) is bigger than "Red Sox Nation." I think Steelers Nation is vastly underreported, quieter, and hasn't had a cathartic event (like the Red Sox World Series win in 2004) to bring attention to its size. Plus, it just seems that there are more NFL fans in the country, so even if the two "nations" were similar in per capita measurements, Steelers fans would outnumber those of the Red Sox. My colleague says I'm wrong, that Red Sox nation is bigger.

What do you think?"

Hmmm. Very interesting question. I have a couple of thoughts, but like most things, I'm basically making things up as I go along. If this were 2003, I'd probably say Steeler Nation was bigger than Red Sox Nation, hands down. During their horrific 6-10 campaign in 2003, the Steelers still did an unbelievable job of getting fans at away games. And even last year, before fans knew how good the Steelers really were, they were packing it in at road games. (For a glaring example of this, see the Week 5 game at Dallas. It was basically a home game for the Steelers, and many of the Cowboy players admitted as much)

To take it a step further, this season, the Chargers mandated that people couldn't buy single-game tickets to home games. The idea was to shut out Steelers fans for the Monday night game back in October (or at least make them effectively pay double for the ticket). Well, I don't think that slowed anybody up, because Qualcomm looked to be half black and gold. (And even though the ticket scam didn't work, at least the Chargers were smart enough to pass out their own -- albeit white -- version of the terrible towel to mitigate some of its visual effectiveness)

The Red Sox also travel well, but they were always outdrawn on the road by the Yankees (until this year). Makes sense too. The Yankees are perpetually in the post-season and have won a crapload of World Series in the last ten years. It follows that they would have more fans. But as the 2004 season started to unfold, you could almost feel the Red Sox bandwagon taking on passengers. And by the time Boston actually won it, all bets were off.

Still, if I had to guess, I would say that Steelers Nation is probably a little better represented outside of Pittsburgh than Red Sox Nation is outside of Boston. For starters, professional football is so much more intense than baseball, and a lot of that has to do with the schedule and the nature of the sports.

Other than opening day, and the pennant race, it's really hard to get to jazzed up about baseball. Don't get me wrong, I love watching it, but a loss in the middle of June doesn't affect me the way Tommy Maddox throwing three picks against the Jags might, for example. The NFL season is 16 games. So basically, every game is a big game, and impacts the rest of the season.

If we were to chart the rise of the Red Sox fan from the donkey punch that was the 2003 ALCS, to the World Series victory in 2004, I'm guessing it would be monotonically increasing (and probably exponential). Now everybody can't be a Red Sox fan (there are 29 other teams) so that means that either (a) some fans switched their allegiance, or (b) fans new to the game adopted Boston as their team. In the run up to the World Series, I'm guessing it was mostly the latter. And specifically, I get the impression that the bulk of this population consisted of the Abercrombie & Fitch college crowd looking to either fit in (you know, the girls you inevitably see proudly wearing their Boston hats, yelling and screaming during games even though they're not quite sure what the difference is between a bunt and a triple), or get laid (the guys who follow around the girls wearing their Boston hats ...).

My point here is that who knows if this crowd will still be hardcore fans when the season starts. Theo's gone, Manny's probably not far behind, and if this team starts to struggle, I'm guessing most of the "Real World: Fenway Park" set will occupy themselves with other inane pursuits. Steelers fans, on the other hand, are much more old-school in the sense that they don't suffer from bandwagon-itis. Part of that is a function of the town (where the average age is something like 80, and people born there tend to hang around), and the fact that Pittsburgh has won four Super Bowls since the mid-70's, so there's not quite the Cinderella story thing working for them. Which, in all honesty, if fine by me.

So the extremely long answer is: The Steelers -- with the caveat that the Red Sox bandwagoners will soon lose interest and pursue things like applying for the "Amazing Race," and hanging out at Starbucks.

"Since Maddox obviously can't throw the ball, it would be fun to see Randle El QB this team..."

There were several comments like this, and it's kinda hard to argue that it wouldn't be fun watching Randle El at quarterback. And like I mentioned Tuesday, I want Tommy to do well, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where that might happen. And a lot of people (including Cowher in his press conference) point to Maddox needing a confidence boost, but I think it might be more than that. The guy can't throw the ball 30 yards. Of course I have no idea, but he was able to throw the ball down the field in 2002, 2003 (see Titans/Falcons regular season games, and Browns playoff game in 2002, for example), but not this year. Not even close. You can have all the confidence in the world, but if you can't throw a 10-yard out, you can't throw a 10-yard out.

My only concern with running Randle El out there is that he hasn't really taken a lot of snaps at QB, and I can only imagine the fan reaction after he threw a couple of picks. Of course, I'm not advocating Maddox should start either, so I guess I'm precariously perched on the fence. (But if you held a gun to my head -- even a water gun -- I'd say start El.)

"Not to be a jerk, but 120 plays times 16 games per week times 16 weeks = 30720. Perhaps you are claiming that each play counts as 2 data points, 1 for the offense and 1 for the defense. That may be a defensible position, however the number of plays in the NFL is still half of what you stated.

Now, back to trying to figure out why my numbers are all hosed up at my job."

Well, you're certainly not being a jerk. I can't count, it's that simple. You would think that using Excel to multiply 120*16*16 would give me the right answer, but hey, maybe my computer suffers from the same affliction as Gareth's calculator in Season 1, Episode 1. Or maybe I'm an idiot (see here for evidence). What's funny is that I was trying to make a point about the importance of stats and stuff, and I can't even multiply three numbers correctly. That sounds about right.

"Kranchik has been activated, which is no big news, even though there was a case to be made for getting Matt Cushing or Walter Rasby who are better blockers.

But the big news is that instead of cutting Nate Washington, they cut Willie Williams. Sorry about that for Willie who has been quite a warrior and a great mentor for the young guys, but it speaks well for where Bryant McFadden and to a lesser degree Ricardo Colclough are in their development. And the confidence the Steelers have in them and Ike."

Yeah, I thought cutting Willie was weird too. There was some mention of the Steelers trying to re-sign him if he cleared waivers, but I haven't heard anything yet. The fact that the Patriots signed Artrell Hawkins is a good sign because I figured the second Williams set foot outside the South Side facility, New England would offer him a contract. Bryant and Ricardo have made a lot of progress, but I liked having Willie around as insurance. Plus, his nickname is "Khaki," and that should count for something.

"This is totally unrelated, but what the heck are those pictures? Why did you post things that make me scared that people would dress up in that fashion? Ryan, you've scarred me for life, I think."

-B. Minich, PI
These are pictures of $50 million man, Clinton Portis, from his weekly press conferences. Seriously. For some reason, I don't see Cowher going for this.

From the Steelers - Browns recap ...
"Tommy's wife ratting him out has to be one of my highlights of this season. It ranks just below Drew Rosenhaus taking the microphone the other day to seal the sincerity of T.O.'s apology. I woke up one morning and the NFL had become must-see-comedy tv."

This is what makes the whole Tommy thing so mind-boggling. You want to pull for the guy, but when he's not throwing interceptions, he's getting called out by his wife for lying. Maybe Drew Rosenhaus and Vann McElroy can have a duel to the death. No prize. Just for laughs.

"Fantasy question: Should I start the Baltimore D against Touchdown Tommy or the Colts D against Arnie Palmer?"

Who knows if my buddy Desmond is serious with this question, but who cares, I'll answer it anyway. (Like Dr. Drew used to say on his radio show, "Loveline:" this might be a crank call, but someone out there might actually have this question. Yeah, right.) If Tommy starts and you don't start the Baltimore D, you should be kicked out of your fantasy league and be forced to play co-ed softball on Sunday's from here on out. I know I should hope the Colts beat the Bengals, but I think I'll still be pulling for Cincy (partly because Indy is undefeated, partly because I'm not very smart). Either way, I don't think I'd take the Colts' D against the Bengals' offense. Other than the Steelers game, Palmer has been pretty damn good, and I'm still not sold on Indy's defense.

And even though I mentioned this earlier in the week, it's worth repeating: If Tommy starts, the over/under in that game could be 8. And you'd be well-advised to take the under. (This is barring all defensive touchdowns; in that case, the over/under could easily be 75.)

One more thing. I'm glad to see that the people who read this site are almost as lazy as me. Solid.