Get better, Eric Berry

NFL.com –Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry‘s season is over after doctors found a mass on the right side of his chest.

Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder announced the news Monday, saying that Berry will visit a lymphoma specialist to determine a final diagnosis. The Chiefs said the ‘leading consideration’ is that he has lymphoma. Berry was placed on the non-football illness list Monday.

“I am truly thankful for all of the support from family, friends, coaches, teammates and the entire Chiefs kingdom. At first I was in shock with the diagnosis on Saturday and did not even want to miss a game, but I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent,” Berry said in a statement. “I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. … I am so thankful and appreciative of being a part of this franchise and playing in front of the best fans in the NFL. I will be back!”

All our good thoughts are going out to Eric Berry today. The former Tennessee and Creekside High School star is one of the nicest guys there is in the NFL. Below is one of my favorite videos from his time in Knoxville. Get well soon, Eric.

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Week 13 SEC Power Rankings: Day Late, Touchdown Short

Each week we rank the teams in the SEC 1-14. This week we’re a day late and very sorry about that, Alabama reclaims its rightful place atop the conference, and Gary Pinkel is Mr. Steal Yo’ Girl.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Well, looks like we’re back to this. After a solid half of a season where we thought it might be a down year for the Tide, here they are. Back at the top. Time is a flat circle.

flat circle

*sighs deeply* Nick Saban is the goddang Yellow King, and there’s not a damn thing any one of us can do about it. He’s been driving Lincolns winning championships way before anyone paid him to, he just does it because he likes to.

2. Mississippi St. Bulldogs

Sometimes it’s better to lose well than win. We all thought Dan Mullen was a moron Saturday when he played for one touchdown when the Bulldogs needed two to beat Alabama. What we didn’t realize is that Mullen is a genius and actually created the easiest path possible to the playoff for his Bulldogs.

By “only” losing to Alabama by five points, the Bulldogs get credit for being in the game with the No. 1 team in the country until the very end, but now don’t face the additional danger of an SEC title game. The Playoff Committee only dropped Mississippi State to No. 4 in the rankings, so now all they have to do is beat Ole Miss and they’re in. Granted, that’s not a given, but it is easier than beating both Ole Miss and Georgia/Mizzou.

I’m on to you, Danny Boy.

3. Ole Miss Rebels

Is Ole Miss-Arkansas the best college football game this weekend? Maybe this is a good Saturday to get outside, speak to your loved ones, or just don’t turn the TV on. Go do something with your life, you degenerate.

4. Georgia Bulldogs

Beat Auburn badly enough that talking heads are now questioning whether Auburn is a good enough team that the win actually benefits Georgia, because college football rankings have always been, and always will be, an unbelievable mess that nothing positive will ever come out of.

Georgia fans are going to have to root for Tennessee this weekend to beat Missouri, which should be high comedy. Call up your Georgia friends and ask where they’re watching the game. Make sure you take pictures. Bonus points if you can get one of them to put on that #8 Jonathan Crompton jersey that you still have. Yes, we know that that’s not a Marquez North jersey, it’s from that sad period in your life when you thought Crompton could amount to more than the eighth-leading passer in the Canadian Football League. Just put it on your sad Bulldog friend and take pictures.

5. Auburn Tigers

Given the schedule, finishing this season with three or four losses really should be considered a major accomplishment. Of course, someone is probably going to scream “SEC BIAS” at me for saying that, but it’s true. You tend to lose more games when you play good teams. Shocking, I know.

6. Missouri Tigers

Might win the SEC East despite getting blown out at home by UGA and losing to Indiana. Georgia fans, Gary Pinkel is Mr. Steal Yo’ Girl.

Gary Pinkel Mr Steal Yo Girl
7. LSU Tigers

Successfully avoided receiving “The Golden Boot” trophy awarded annually to the winner of Arkansas-LSU. The trophy weights 175 pounds, is four feet tall, and has caused countless injuries to victorious players and coaches. Les Miles knows what he’s doing.

8. Arkansas Razorbacks

Snapped a 17-game SEC losing streak, so let’s celebrate with some gifs of Bret Bielema dancing.

bert-ace-ventura-danceBert-Carlton-Dancebert-big-balls-dance

9. Texas A&M Aggies

Going to be a really, really good football team the next few years. The offense is already there, but an inexperienced, mistake-prone defense has kept them from being one this season.

10. Tennessee Volunteers

Absolutely waxed Kentucky, which likely means the Vols are headed to a bowl for the first time since 2010. I say likely because the seniors on this team still have that Derek Dooley stink on them, so anything could happen.

11. South Carolina Gamecocks

Hilariously beat Florida on Saturday by blocking a punt with 12 seconds left in the game to seal Will Muschamp’s fate, because Steve Spurrier loves trolling Florida even more than he loves trolling Georgia.
12. Florida Gators

EXCLUSIVE footage of Will Muschamp getting fired this weekend:

you-play-ball-like-a-girl-muschamp
13. Kentucky Wildcats

The Cats are 0-5 since a 5-1 start. Maybe the football team should adopt John Calipari’s platoon system. Or, you know, let the basketball team play football for them.

14. Vanderbilt Commodores

The good news: did not lose this week

The bad news: has to play a pissed-off Mississippi State team on Saturday, and will likely lose.

The best news: hey, look, it’s basketball season!

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Week 12 SEC Power Rankings: Auburn Sucks

auburn sucks

Each week we rank the teams in the SEC 1-14. This week Auburn just ruined everything and generally sucks, the game of the week of the century is set up in Tuscaloosa, and GURLEY COMIN’. Continue reading

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More on the line than just pride when Georgia takes on Auburn

Rolling_Toomers_Corner_Auburn_University

As the oldest rivalry game in the southern part of our country (yes, the Bulldogs and Tigers played before Virginia and North Carolina ever did — despite the wildly misleading nicknames for the games), Georgia-Auburn inspires emotions that run deep throughout the 175 miles that separate the two schools. Continue reading

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Watch Randy Moss Talk About Meeting Deion Sanders

ESPN has a 30 for 30 on tonight at 8pm ET about Randy Moss, so warm up for it by watching this incredible animated short. For good measure, make sure you check out Spencer Hall’s piece on Moss from 2012 too.

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Steve Spurrier says South Carolina just needs to “Shake it Off”

After a devastating loss to Tennessee Saturday, the Head Ball Coach opened up to Josh Kendall at The State about his future at South Carolina and how his team will prepare for next week. The results, as usual, were spectacular:

“I was telling our coaching staff, I think Taylor Swift’s got a song called ‘Shake it Off,’” Spurrier said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, shake it off and get ready for the Florida Gators next week. That’s what we’re going to try to do, see if we can regroup and try to win a close game. You know we’ve had our share of close ones, though we’ve struggled on defense and so forth.”

Oh my God. Steve Spurrier quoting Taylor Swift. OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod. This is a momentous day in DSSR history. Let’s celebrate with some gifs:

 

spurrier-shake-it-offspurrier-shake-it-off-ribbonspurrier-shake-it-off-dancingI’ll add more as they strike me, but also please send me any and all Spurrier/Taylor photoshops or gifs you’ve got. Find me on Twitter @JacksonOMartin or email them to me at jackson.o.martin@gmail.com.

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Week 10 SEC Power Rankings: A Slow Descent Into Chaos

Each week we rank the teams in the SEC 1-14. This week LSU becomes Bane, Mississippi State takes its turn at the top of the heap (for now), and we dissrespectin’ Bama.

1. No 1 Mississippi St. Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

Clearly the best team in the country right now, and I still wouldn’t be all that surprised if they drop this weekend’s contest against Arkansas. That’s where we’re at in the SEC right now. This is a conference that, much like a Praying Mantis*, eats its own young and leaves only the lucky — which are then categorized as “the strong” — to survive. And that’s what it takes to win this league: just survive.

*This poorly-thought-out metaphor is almost certainly incorrect, and based on (at best) a middle-school level of understanding biology

2. No. 3 Auburn Tigers (6-1, 3-1)

Hard to penalize the Tigers for going to the wire against a still-dangerous Auburn team, but there were some points of concern in Saturday’s game. The Tiger defense, which has looked downright good for much of the year, struggled to stop an inconsistent Gamecock attack other than three Dylan Thompson interceptions.

This weekend’s matchup with Ole Miss isn’t a play-in game to the playoff — the winner still has a long way to go to get there — but the loser is likely eliminated unless they can win the conference.

3. No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels (7-1, 4-1)

There’s Bad Bo Wallace! The Dr. was just 14/33 passing and threw one of the worst interceptions you’ll see this season when an incomplete pass would’ve taken the Rebels to overtime in Baton Rouge. This game was bound to come sooner or later,

On a related note: the playoff committee rankings — like all midseason rankings, including the article you are reading right now — are useless, but keeping Ole Miss in the top four was absolutely the right call. The most obnoxious thing many polls do is succumb to recency bias with losses, and the committee didn’t fall into that trap. Just because the Rebels lost last week and Oregon won doesn’t mean the Ducks are automatically the better team. So good job by Condi Rice and friends.

4. No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1)

Could the NCAA have actually done Georgia a favor by suspending Todd Gurley for an additional two games? Think about it.

If the Bulldogs survive the next two games against Florida and Kentucky, which they should comfortably, they get the nation’s best player back in time for their toughest game of the season. Oh, and he’s had four weeks of rest, 80 less carries on his odometer, and he’s going to be pissed off when he gets back on the field.

Really, y’all should be thanking Mark Emmert.

5. No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1)

The Tide jus’ ain’t played nobody yet, Pawwwwllll. ‘Cept for that sorry-ass Archie Manning’s team and we all saw how that happened. Roll Damn Goalpoasts.

In all seriousness, there are five ranked teams in the SEC West and Alabama hasn’t beaten any of them. I’m open to the Tide being the best team in the conference at the end of the year, but we just haven’t seen it yet.

6. No. 19 LSU Tigers (7-2, 3-2)

Les Miles has a winning record when his teams are trailing during the fourth quarter. If that’s not proof that the man is a goddang sorcerer or Bane then I don’t know what is.

Oh, you think the darkness is your ally, but you merely adopted the dark. Les Miles was born in it, molded by it. He didn’t see the light until he was already a man; by then, it was nothing to him but blinding! The shadows betray you, because they belong to Les Miles. He will show you where he has made his home, whilst preparing to bring justice. Then, he will break you.

lsu bane

7. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-4, 0-4)

Shhhhhhh. Don’t speak, just watch.

8. Kentucky Wildcats (5-3, 2-3)

Played Mississippi State as well as could reasonably be expected, and had a chance in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats were trailing by just a touchdown and then things went horribly, horribly wrong.

9. Texas A&M Aggies (5-3, 2-3)

Had a bye week. Alabama still scored four more touchdowns on them.

10. Missouri Tigers (6-2, 3-1)

Remember that time when Missouri lost to Indiana and could still win the SEC East with just one Georgia loss? Man, the West should secede from this conference or something because the East just isn;t up to par.

11. South Carolina Gamecocks (4-4, 2-4)

A fire once burned down the library at Auburn University. In response, Steve Spurrier said, but the real tragedy was that fifteen hadn’t been colored yet.”

That doesn’t have much to do with the game on Saturday, I just think that Steve Spurrier is hilarious.

12. Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3)

Realistically, what could Will Muschamp do to get fired on the sidelines this weekend against Georgia? Like, if the Dawgs were up 42-0 at halftime do you think he just wouldn’t be allowed to come out for the second half? We need to try and make this happen, for science.

13. Tennessee Volunteers (3-5, 0-4)

Saturday’s matchup against Alabama was emblematic of the Butch Jones era at Tennessee thusfar. The Volunteers were badly outplayed by Alabama, with the game turning into a blowout int he first half, but made enough noise in the fourth quarter to give Tennessee fans hope.

Jones will likely have a worse record after two seasons in Knoxville than Derek Dooley did. There’s a lot of positive momentum in Neyland Stadium right now, but that will only last so long without the wins to validate it.

14. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6, 0-5)

Exclusive video from the Vanderbilt locker room:

Feel free to send any and all hate mail to the author at Jackson.o.martin@gmail.com, just know that it will be republished and made fun of.

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Week 9 SEC Power Rankings: Bye Week

The Power Rankings are taking an off week to prepare for a tough opponent in “car shopping”, so no jokes this week, but here are the rankings:

1. No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels (7-0, 4-0 SEC)

2. No. 1 Mississippi St. Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0)

3. No. 5 Auburn Tigers (5-1, 2-1)

4. No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1)

5. No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1)

6. No. 24 LSU Tigers (6-2, 2-2)

7. Texas A&M Aggies (5-3, 2-3)

8. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-4, 0-4)

9. Kentucky Wildcats (5-2, 2-2)

10. Missouri Tigers (5-2, 2-1)

11. South Carolina Gamecocks (4-3, 2-3)

12. Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3)

13. Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-3)

14. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-5, 0-4)

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Previewing the World Series with Ben Weinrib of the Knuckleblog


Francoeur vs. Francoeur

Just like last year, we’ve brought on resident nerd/stat boy Ben Weinrib from The Knuckleblog to preview the World Series with us. This year’s Fall Classic is not Red Sox-Cardinals (thank God), and instead we take a look at a really fun matchup between the Royals and the Giants. Ben’s thoughts on the series are in normal text, my snark/contempt/general dissatisfaction is in italics.

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The Royals led the majors in stolen bases this year with 153, and their 81 percent success rate on steals was also third in the league. The Giants, on the other hand, were second-to-last with 56 steals on the year, and their 67 percent success rate was fifth to last on the year. That’s a pretty stark difference, but when you look at how smart each team’s baserunners are as far as taking extra bases on hits and tagging up, they’re much closer. Using the advanced stat BsR, the Royals were 12th in the league at 1.1 and the Giants were 21st at -2.2, so the gap in baserunning isn’t nearly as far as one would think by just looking at the base stealing numbers.

To expand on that, the Royals have continued to run wild in the playoffs. They’ve got 13 stolen bases already this postseason, with no one else notching more than four. the Giants have three, but have also been caught stealing three times — the same amount as the Royals. Baserunning isn’t only about stolen bases, as you alluded to, but all those extra runners in scoring position have sure helped the Royals thusfar in winning their first eight games of the postseason.

I don’t have much data to substantiate this, but neither Bruce Bochy nor Ned Yost are known for being very good tactical managers by the sabermetric community. Bochy has a reputation for keeping his (starting) pitchers in for a couple batters too long, while Yost does way too many bunts and really botched this year’s Wild Card Game. Despite their negative reputations, though, Bochy has had much better results with a .539 winning percentage and two World Series titles in the past five seasons compared to Yost and his .482 winning percentage.

You’re mostly right, though Bochy is definitely in the upper tier of managers by almost anyone’s definition (dirty little secret — every manager is awful tactically by sabermetric standards, even Joe Maddon). A big reason his teams have done so well in the playoffs is his flexible use of the bullpen in the postseason. While he might have a reputation for leaving his starters in too long, he is also willing to use his closer in situations many aren’t — non-save situations and multiple-inning saves. In other words, he’s willing to use his best bullpen arm in the biggest situations of the playoffs and not just the ninth inning.

Yost sucks though, for sure.

So it turns out that Zack Greinke trade is looking really good for the Royals. The Kansas City picked up Lorenzo Cain (second on the team and 29th in the league in WAR with 4.9), Alcides Escobar (third on the team with 3.5 WAR), and Jake Odorizzi (who they later traded for James Shields along with Wil Myers; we’ll discuss that trade in a second).

Can’t argue with results: 

I know we’ve talked about this trade before, but most of the baseball media (myself included) did not like the Wil Myers-James Shields trade at the time. The Royals were far from contention and traded the #4 overall prospect in baseball (according to Baseball America) for two years of a very good (but not #ELITE) pitcher. While I still don’t think it was the right decision at the time, it’s certainly paid off, since they made it to the World Series.

I didn’t love the deal at the time, but it’s also the type of trade teams make when they think they’re on the verge of the playoffs. We’ve proven over and over that everyone who makes the postseason has just as good a chance at winning the whole thing as anyone else, so doing whatever it takes to make it to the dance just makes sense. 

Hindsight being 20/20, Myers hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire with the Rays. Prospects are never a sure thing, so a team like Kansas City might be smart to go ahead and deal them for proven talent when possible. No, I’m totally not still jaded by the ghost of Jeff Francoeur, shut up.

Fun fact: the Royals were the only team in the majors to not hit 100 home runs and were also last in the league with a .113 ISO. Not a single player on the team hit 20 home runs and only three players even reached double digit homers.

Isn’t that what Billy Butler is there for? Wait, I had something for this:

Is it time to give up on Billy Butler

I made that back in July, and I just knew it would come in handy at some point.

Jake Peavy, the Giants’ Game 2 starter, has been a revelation since being acquired from the Red Sox at the Trade Deadline. His ERA dropped from 4.72 to 2.17 in large part because his walk rate dropped from 3.34 to 1.94 BB/9 and his home run rate dropped from 1.45 to 0.34 HR/9 (admittedly these aren’t drawn from the biggest samples). Who would have guessed that going from a hitter-friendly AL park to a pitcher-friendly NL park would make him look better?

So, it took you six whole talking points to work the Red Sox into this? That might be a new record, Ben. 

Ready for me to ruin a (sort of stupid) nickname?

It can’t be a worse nickname than “Xander Bogaerts Frozen Yogurts”. I’ll never forgive you for that one.

Big Game James Shields has a career 3.72 ERA in the regular season and 5.19 ERA in the playoffs. Now he only has 50.1 career innings in the playoffs, but if you run a 1-tail Z-test, you get a p-value of 0.0209, which means there is a significant difference between the two ERAs. Math!

Yeah, I don’t know what that means.

I think this World Series is another great time to appreciate just how weird Hunter Pence is. Who taught him out to swing and throw? He still managed to be 31st in the league in WAR (4.7) despite looking completely uncoordinated. Let’s just appreciate this great video.

Nothing for me will ever top this fake scouting report written by Grant Brisbee over at SBNation, mostly because I think this was the actual reaction of any poor soul sent to see Pence in action:

The Royals bullpen led the league in WAR (5.9) and the Giants were 28th (0.5), but don’t be fooled. The Giants actually had a better ERA (3.01 vs. 3.30) and those WAR numbers are skewed because the Giants play in a better ballpark for pitchers, so they are held to higher expectations.

Uh, aren’t you supposed to be the advanced stats guy? What the hell is this? You’re favoring ERA over WAR? Stick to your role, Ben.

When the teams travel to San Francisco, I’d assume Billy Butler or Eric Hosmer will play first depending on if Madison Bumgarner is starting, but they’ve both been equally disappointing this year. The real question to me what the Giants will do at DH. It’s going to be a real black hole. Andrew Susac? Juan Perez? Mike Morse? That’s a cornucopia of suck.

Ban the DH.

Prediction: Royals in 6

Damnit Ben, I’m also going with the Royals in 6. So congratulations on your World Series championship, San Francisco Giants.

 

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Stick, Gloves, Shirt Fight of the Week: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins vs Dan Hamhuis

Some of the most fun fights in the NHL come when two guys who rarely throw gloves go at it with each other. Daniel Hamhuis has been in four fights in his career, one for each season he’s spent in the league, but hasn’t been in one since 2010. Meanwhile, this was the first time Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has ever been in a fight in his NHL career.

Both guys came out swinging, making for the best fight of a down week. Hamhuis takes this one because his uppercut was the only heavy punch that landed on something other than a helmet or visor, but Nugent-Hopkins was more than game for his first fight.

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