Well, it’s that time of year where I can sit back, crack a beer, look at the local sports scene, look at the sports scene n general, and make snarky comments like Dennis Miller in the 1990’s- that’s when he was still funny. Now he’s boring horseshit, and has no idea why. Fuck him.
I’d like to start with the baseball lockout. Specifically the Cohen Tax. Folks, we are watching chess. Steve Cohen bought the Mets, and apparently is flush with cash, as every employee at SNY will fall over themselves to tell you. Teams responded to him and his vast resources by not letting him poach their talent. Check. So Cohen found the best of the unemployed talent in the game with experience to come in and manage a pre-lockout wide open wallet. Check. So the owners add a new tax in the new collective bargaining agreement specifically aimed at top spending teams where the lowest spending teams will get welfare AND no directive to spend the money in case Cohen or Los Angeles goes payroll crazy. Check. So Cohen announces that the tax doesn’t mean shit to him. Check.
Baseball took their swing for a rare few million in added taxes. Check. Cohen responded by making $750 million 5 days later. Check. Other owners went out and made moves that are more significant than the Mets adding the end of career Scherzer and the already hurt Marte. See what the Braves did? The Mariners? Phillies? Cubs? Many better players than the Mets acquired. How do I know? Because the Braves won the World Series, and the Oakland A’s – the team you got three players from – didn’t.
In short, since the Cohen tax became a thing? Cohen looks like it kneecapped him.
Plus, the Mets are counting on an AWFUL lot of bounceback years from players, including an outfield that averaged 120 games played per player. They need Nimmo, Cahna, McNeil, Scherzer (dead arm in playoffs, at the most important time?), DeGrom (July? SHUT IT DOWN!), Smith, Cano (juice free), Davis, McGann, Carasco, Walker, Peterson, and Lindor to bounce back. Did I miss anyone? You know, suddenly that roster looks really fucking horrible.
Also, a big fuck you to baseball owners. To punish a guy for trying to win? And using that tax to prop up teams that lose on purpose? While charging the fans premiums for everything? As a sport you’re upset with Steve Cohen but aren’t saying boo about what the Cincinnati Reds are doing? What the Oakland A’s are doing? FUCK YOU, WELFARE QUEEN THIEVES.
Now that I got that out of the way, lets take a look at whatever I feel like.
The New York Mets: the lockout has focused the team on acquiring an aging, expiring contract one time all star starting pitcher, a reliever at a discount coming off of two bad years, another reliever to a minor league contract, and a bunch of guys destined for Triple A. I guess that Cohen tax did work! On a positive note, The Phillies took Familia and Hand into their bullpen, so thanks for taking inconsistent relievers, divisional rivals.
The New York Mets: Hey Billy Eppler- the Oakland A’s just unloaded their all star first baseman. The A’s are the Wal Mart of baseball. You never want to go there, but when you do, you come home with something. The Oakland A’s need a starting first baseman. The Mets rotation needs a left handed starter. Dominic Smith for Sean Manaea? Then move Cookie Carasco or Taijuan Walker for bullpen help? Also, still a fan of the idea of trading Robinson Cano with the Seattle money and an additional ten million just to get him elsewhere. Any return is found money. Roughly $10 million worth. And after that press conference? Good riddance to a guy who will hit 260 without drugs, or roughly $100,000 per point of batting average.
The New York Yankees: How did you shank getting Freddie Friedman? Or Carlos Correa? George is vomiting in his grave and spinning through it.
The New York Rangers: Still amazed at the speed of the transition that losing a $10 million contract and having two top picks back to back in drafts can do. With the right coach.
The New York Islanders: Good job with a strong March. Unfortunately it follows a bad November, December, January, and February. Not the best way to run through a season. This is a great time to trade middling assets for premiums- See Josh Bailey, Cal Clutterbuck, Zdeno Chara, Seymon Varlamov, and Scott Mayfield. Also, consider a reup on Parise at minimum wage. It’s still higher than major league baseball, and Minnesota still owes him cash. If the season ended, they would be drafting 10th. It may be a good time to improve those odds via selloff and tank and go for the first overall like the Rangers and Oilers get every losing season. Not that a fix is in for some teams.
Also, This whole Ilya Sorokin thing? He’s not special. I’m going to present some goalie stats without attaching names to them, and you pick out Sorokin. 2.51/920, 2.13/.930, 2.28/.923, 2.45/.919. These are the Islanders 4 starting goaltenders under Trotz. Which is Greiss? Lehner? Sorokin? Varlamov?
The New York Knicks: Tank already. You are not going to improve by stockpiling second round picks. Get a top pick and fucking find a decent player. Also, Julius Randle has to go. And it’s OK to trade Kemba Walker in the offseason. He had his homecoming. Now he gets a homegoing. Look across a borough for some ideas. Somehow the Nets acquired Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Ben Simmons. You acquire Evan Fournier and Taj Gibson, while sending out Kirstaps Prozingis and Tim Hardaway for a draft pick. How is competence so far off for a team run by…incompetents? You’d think you’d screw up into an accidental win. This is sports karma for the owner being a jerkoff.
The Brooklyn Nets: The height of your existence happened in Nassau Coliseum. That was in the 1970’s. Harden and Durant did not win in Oklahoma. Harden and Durant did not win in Brooklyn. Simmons hasn’t won shit. Irving only won when he had LeBron and all the refs and league helping his bring Cleveland an asterisk title. Long story short- you’re not going to win with this. Use your salary cap manipulation this offseason to retool.
New Jersey Giants: If anyone buys season tickets, it’s only for the tax write off. You stink. Aim for moving talent for draft picks, and get the first overall for next year. Your management sucks as well. Liars pay a price in the long run.
New Jersey Jets: The last time you were entertaining? You played at Shea Stadium. The last time you were winners? Your coach got a tattoo of his quarterback. Ownership needs to be forced to sell a flagship franchise, because they run it worse than a sprinter with no legs. Oh, one last thing: the Jets had a good start to free agency. They have a lot of draft capital. If they don’t win 8 to 10 games this year? Expect a fired GM.
California Angels: You blame Billy Eppler for how shitty your organization is? Well, he’s gone, but not before bringing in your arguably best player. My question- did he sign Albert Puols to that awful deal? Is he presently ruining Mike Trout’s career? Way to ruin two to three Hall of Famers careers simultaneously. Try to win a World Series maybe?
Los Angeles Lakers: Amazing how bad you are when having to play a full season and the refs can’t just hand LeBron everything. It must suck to know that the only time LeBron truly won a title it was in Miami. And Dwayne Wade won it for him. The only top ten all time NBA list that LeBron belongs to is heel.
Tom Brady: Of course you’re not retired. Of course. Your career will end when you stop drinking the blood of orphans or some shit. Although if your defense held up for 60 more seconds? Or could have guessed as to where the ball was going like all of America watching the game did? It’s probably be another Super Bowl ring. So, why not go for it and walk out on the highest note?
The city of Portland, Oregon: You are due for another sports team. I recommend relocating the Pittsburgh Pirates to an area with West Coast money, and not a dead industrial base.
Marijuana: I do not indulge in smoking anything, which is a personal choice. But if it’s legal in some places, then we should stop prescribing athletes opiates that are heroin derivatives, and just let guys flare up a spliff. There are places in America where alcohol is illegal- which is also draconian- but if it’s not illegal everywhere, why break balls? On some level, this is no different than breaking the color barrier, and its a way to normalize something more holistic than stomach lining eating, liver damaging painkillers.
Performance Enhancing Drugs: Tommy John surgery is performance enhancing surgery. Cortisone is a performance enhancing drug. No one seems to have issues with that. Personally, I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should have a cheater section where we honor Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, all the dudes that did cocaine in the 70’s and 80’s, and a section dedicate to players that use enemas to inject drugs. Oh, and betting. That’s totally bad for Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, but clearly not for Major League Baseball.
If you made it this far? The Islanders goaltender stat puzzle answers are exactly as they were listed. Looks like letting Lehner walk and signing Varlamov was a bad idea. Also, Igor Shesterkin has better career numbers than Sorokin, and has played for non playoff teams until now.
Well folks, that’s all for now. Feel free to add your hot takes in the comments below, and remember this- in the end, the athletes work for us. If they’re not entertaining you, stop giving them your money.
It’s been about two months since I last had a thought. Wait, what? NO! It’s just been two months since I had time to write down a few thoughts about the local sports scene, and I guess anything in the sports scene that I’m thinking about.
Let’s start with the obvious: the New York Mets.
Last time I wrote about the Mets, I said that the organization was doing something wrong if they couldn’t acquire a team president. Steve Cohen changed my mind.
Steve Cohen is a very rich man, as every radio show host will repeatedly let you know. The other owners know this, and have been fucking with him in the only way that they can. “I don’t have your money, so you can’t have my stuff.” Agents fucked with him. Players fucked with him. Because he was playing nice and trying to fit in. He finally decided enough was enough.
So what did Cohen do? Basically he said “The stuff I have? The players want.” And then he overpaid Starling Marte by roughly $20 million dollars. Then he offered a guy coming off of an injury tens of millions of dollars. And then the gut punch. The highest annually paid player was the New York Yankees Garret Cole. Was. The Mets offer to Max Scherzer – a future Hall of Fame pitcher who, while old, competed for a Cy Young last season- wasn’t just $5 more than the Cole deal. It wasn’t 1% more.
IT WAS 20% MORE THAN WHAT COLE GETS. TWENTY PERCENT.
Folks, that is called a fuck you. And a game changer.
EVERY agent will come to the Mets with their free agents as a final offer. A deal with Samsung will transform Citi Field into an entertainment destination. The manager is not only not a brand new inexperienced manager, but a widely respected, player friendly one in Buck Showalter. And the general manager he hired was both experienced and mentored by a baseball legend in Gene Michael- Billy Eppler. You know, the guy that brought Shohei Ohtani to the majors? The guy that hired former Yankee Showalter?
I get the sense that Eppler isn’t done contacting former Yankees. Brian Cashman will be a free agent executive in December of 2022. He’s presently making $25 million. I get the sense that Cohen can make a better offer.
And I want to give a pat on the back to Eppler for this overlooked gem- sure, losing Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto hurts if you’re rooting for a player instead of the team. But by losing both Confotro- who seems to be good every other year, and Syndergaard- who has pitched a handful of innings over the last two years and will maybe throw 125 innings next year if he doesn’t get injured? The Mets gained two second round picks in this upcoming MLB draft. And with the Kumar Rocker fiasco? The Mets gained a compensatory first round pick. So 5 of the top 80 and 6 of the top 100 picks will belong to the Mets. Anyone want to know how to restock a farm system? Let inconsistent and injured players bring you high level picks and save you wanted money.
Gone are the days where the Mets are auditioning rookie major league managers. By the way, former Mets manager Rojas is now an outfielders coach for the Yankees. Outfielders coach.
I’ll add this- in October I offered to be the Mets GM. At this point, I will accept an assistant GM position.
The New York Yankees: Your Dad wouldn’t put up with this Mets shit!
Major League Baseball: Give the players what they want. When it comes to Labor vs Management situations, there are two truisms: Management will always fuck labor because management itself is inherently backstabbing as people, and labor asks for fairness which usually falls against backstabbers.
The Chicago Cubs saw their team value increase 400% in the last decade because PLAYERS won them a World Series. Shouldn’t the owners reward the players with that new found $3 billion dollars? That the players made them? Yes, yes they should. The Wilpons sold the Mets for almost 7 times what they paid for it in a mere 20 years.
Also, paying players more doesn’t mean fans pay more. In the last 5 years, the average salary of baseball players has decreased. Have ticket prices?
The New York Rangers: Again, a good coach with a solid system can create a winning culture when surrounded with talented athletes.
The New York Islanders: A coach that works hard to emphasize defense at the point to stifle the offense has faith in Josh Bailey, who magically neither plays offense or defense. Something I learned in research this week- the more time you play Josh Bailey in a game, the statistically more likely you are to miss the playoffs.
The NHL: Maybe it’s time to go back to the 2019-2020 COVID playoff schedule, where everyone makes the playoffs? You screwed up early outbreaks, which benefits present COVID teams. My position is that if you can’t field a team, you should forfeit. But reality says that teams will roll out AHL caliber players and charge you NHL prices. Since you’ll fuck the fans at every turn, collapse the season and give each team a playoff birth. There’s not going to be an NHL player Olympics anyway, so let it fly.
The NFL: Have you seen the state of football in New York? Pretty good, right? Sure, a playoff bubble, but very likely a 10 win team.
But those guys in New Jersey are absolutely terrible. You need to have two pro leagues. One for the good teams, and one for teams trying to get there. Like European soccer.
The NBA: you have the most complicated salary cap in sports. You have a $113 million salary cap. One team follows that. ONE. Five teams are 50% above the cap. Sure it’s a soft cap. But if you have 29 teams ignoring the cap? You need to rewrite the collective bargaining agreement into reality.
The New York Knicks: Last year was fun because you were hard nosed and tough. Then you added soft players in free agency, drafted strong players that you refuse to play, and wonder why you’re losing. You lost your way.
The Brooklyn Nets: You’re not winning a title. Too old, too much Kyrie. Thank you for signing those guys so that the Knicks didn’t look even more dysfunctional.
Alright folks. I’m switching from writing to reading: next up, The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Hopefully Buck will hand it out to the players.
As we sit in the rarified time of year where all four major North American sports are rolling, now is as good a time as any to do some quick hits on the New York sports scene, as well as anything else I can fit into a paragraph of a take.
New York Mets: A second year in a row of failing to find a president tells me something: you’re doing it wrong. Yes, a team president can change a culture. But the St. Louis Cardinals have had back to back losing seasons once since 1960, and I’m almost positive that they’ve had more than one team president in that time. Maybe culture starts at the top?
Also, I am available for the GM position. And unlike other GM’s I won’t trade any of the top 5 prospects unless I think they stink.
New York Yankees: Need a shortstop? Wait until a week into free agency, and see what the Mets would take for Francisco Lindor. I get the feeling that you could move a bad contract or two and get a bargain price based on the savings. Maybe move Gerrit Cole’s deal, because without super glue in the glove that deal seems like it’s about to blow up.
New York Rangers: See what happens when you get a good coach? Amazing. Hopefully the Mets take note.
New York Islanders: While you’ve been the most successful team in New York for the last two seasons, realize that’s always a tenuous position. On that theme, Zdeno Chara needs a rest. Time to make that guy a 7th defenseman and give Robin Salo or Samuel Bolduc a chance.
New York Knicks: You need an all star. Watching Julius Randle shoot in the clutch is like watching…Kirstaps Porzingis shoot in the clutch. You need the guy that ends opponent’s rallies. You need the guy that looks forward to getting the ball with 8 seconds left on the clock and the team down by one. You have 4000 draft picks over the next few years. Seems easy to look to move picks and pieces starting with Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robrokenson.
How many times do we need to watch a Knicks 10 point lead evaporate in the last 3 minutes of a game before you address this?
Brooklyn Nets: Trade Kyrie Irving. I get he is wholly overpaid and few teams can afford him. But he is a me first player. Always has been, always will be. No one wins with him unless they have 3 other all stars, and then they don’t even win. A swap with the Sixers for Ben Simmons would help with the salary differential, and Simmons doesn’t need to shoot with James Harden and Kevin Durant willing to throw even more shots up. Plus, Philly hates winning, so Irving will fit in nicely.
New York Giants: You are hard to watch. You need an identity. You wasted a 2nd overall pick on a running back when you had so many more issues. That’s like a homeless guy buying a Ferrari. You can’t even sleep in that, which makes it a total waste.
New York Jets: You are hard to watch. You need an identity. And a new owner. You have a head coach who was a defensive guru, and your defense is absolutely horseshit. You have the second best quarterback in the draft playing like he was chosen in round 5. You’re a dysfunctional franchise.
Jet and Giants: If you merged these two teams into one? They would win 4 games all season. Think about that. Also, call yourself New Jersey, for fucks sake. You’ve been there for 40 years.
All Major Sports: Stop firing people today over things that happened years or decades ago. It’s a stupid practice to use modern standards to not only evaluate the past, but to punish it. Or in many cases, punish it a second time. It’s even dumber to have the people who originally made those initial decisions making new ones that are even worse. Unless you can dig up Hitler’s bones – who actually did bad stuff- and make him apologize? Shut the fuck up, be glad the world is a little better now than it used to be which isn’t much, and then learn what forgiveness is so that we continue progress instead of falling into retroactive justice for none of your concern that makes society even worse than it used to be. Let he or she who is without sin case the first stone, but everyone else? SHUT THE FUCK UP. We’re not chasing Nazi’s hiding from Holocaust crimes. Most of these sins are from emails and tweets that hurt your feelies. Remember that sticks and stones rhyme? Time to grow up.
Besides, why should behavior occurring outside of work affect your job? If your lawn looks bad you should lose your job? If your wife is ugly you should lose your job? How about losing your job when you’re bad at your job, and dealing with personal matters personally?
Sports Teams Across the Nation: It costs $2 to make a t-shirt. Here’s an idea: start selling them to fans at $5. Not all of them- you can have some kind of fancy t-shirt, maybe with frills or flip flop paint or something. But a basic, made in China t-shirt? You give that shit away to fans at games in rocket launchers. Offer fans some free advertising for your awful franchise at low prices as a thank you for putting up with our milking you for every dollar you have while we have a 300 winning percentage offering. You know, actual decency? Instead of firing a guy that said “Ching Chong” 20 years ago? Speaking of, Shaq is still on the air, so get cracking, social justice warriors!
While baseball fans prepare to celebrate the 74th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier on April 15, 1947, few people know of another rumored to beat Robinson to it 42 years earlier.
Almost 90 years before Martin Luther King Jr. made his five-day, 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery, William Clarence Matthews made his.
Born in Selma on January 7, 1877, Matthews lived with his two siblings, Fannie, the oldest, and Walter (or Buddy), the second oldest. His father died in the 1890s, and his family moved to Montgomery, Alabama.
Where did this rumor start?
In his seminal “Only the Ball was White” in 1970 on the Negro Leagues, Robert Peterson described Matthews as a great college player at Harvard in the first decade of the century and cites his rumored entry into the National League.
Sol White’s book “History of Colored Baseball” – published in 1907 – referenced this note on Matthews
“It is said on good authority that one of the leading players and a manager of the National League is advocating the entrance of colored players in the National League with a view to signing ‘Matthews,’ the colored man, late of Harvard.”
Most thought that manager was Giants legendary manager John McGraw, an enormous believer in the talent residing in anyone who could help his team win. McGraw, in 1901, tried to sneak Charlie Grant, second baseman of the Columbia Giants of Chicago, a black team, onto his roster as Tokohama, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. McGraw also employed two black stars, Rube Foster and Jose Mendez, to coach his pitchers.
Article in “The Boston Traveller“
On July 15, 1905, local paper “The Boston Traveller” (some sources reference the spelling with one L and others with two) – one of nine local Boston papers and known to stretch the truth sometimes for sales said this.
“It is very probable that [Matthews] will become a member of the Boston Nationals very soon.
It has been hinted at for the past few days. Now it is rumored that it will transpire.
A person ‘on the inside,’ one who generally knows whereof he speaks, has this to say: ‘Captain Tenney has long been hunting for a lively second baseman to strengthen his infield. On hearing of Matthews’ remarkable ability, and after following the career of the young negro collegian-professional while at Harvard and Burlington, (he) decided that William C. was just the laddy buck he needed.’
The source “on the inside” then offers a rationale for Matthews’ acceptance where others would fail:
“As Matthews is a Harvard man, he should prove a great attraction… Matthews is a well-educated, gentlemanly fellow, as well as a clever ballplayer.
If Harvard men do not object to associating with and idolizing the negro, certainly none of the National IJeague players will object to breaking bread with him.”
The article refers to player/manager of the Boston Beaneaters (became the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves) Fred Tenney (fellow Ivy Leaguer from Brown and off-season teacher at Tufts University).
Boston was awful – middle infielders Ed Abbaticchio and Fred Raymer had combined to commit 80 errors by mid-July on a team that finished 51-103. Would Boston’s futility open the door for talented players like Matthews?
He enrolled at the Tuskegee Institute from 1893 until 1897, where he graduated second in his class Tuskegee (was first football coach). Booker T Washington arranged for him to continue his study in the north, first at the Phillips Andover Academy, where he was the only African-American in his class of 97 students. Then, in the fall of 1901, at Harvard University.
Aaron Molineaux Hewlett & William Henry Lewis
While few schools provided opportunities for African-Americans, Harvard broke ground in many categories. Aaron Molineaux Hewlett, hired in 1859, became the first physical culture teacher in the nation. Hewlett also taught physical education, sparring lessons and coached baseball and rowing from 1859-71.
One of the foremost football minds of any generation, William Henry Lewis earned All-American honors at Harvard (the first African-American to do so), then coached the Crimson from 1895-1906. Harvard won over 85 percent of their games under Lewis (114-15-5).
Standing at 5’8″ 145 pounds, Matthews gained popularity with his classmates after arriving on campus in the fall of 1901. Under Coach Lewis’ guidance, his “wonderful quickness and pertinacity” helped him succeed playing QB.
Baseball Career and Racism from Opponents
During his Freshman season, Matthew’s hitting coach was Wee Willie Keeler, while Cy Young coached the pitchers (both HOF).
While Harvard initially sat Matthews when opponents like the University of Virginia refused to play if he was in the lineup, they eventually stood behind him. Georgetown and West Point considered forfeiting but relented after Harvard declined to accommodate their threats.
Despite playing with future MLB players Eddie Grant and Walter Clarkson (combined to play 15 MLB seasons), Matthews was Harvard’s best player (2B-SS).
He led the team in hitting his final three years (he hit .400 and stole 25 bases during his senior year). During his four years at Harvard, the Crimson won 81 percent of their games (76-18).
Breaks Northern League Color Barrier
On July 4, 1905, Matthews became the starting second baseman for the Burlington, Vermont team in the Northern League. Matthews became the only African-American playing in white professional baseball leagues at the time. He got three hits in his first game and fielded excellently. He played well for the whole season, with the Burlington team taking second place and narrowly missing first place.
Matthews was one of only four players who played the entire season for Burlington. 1905 was his only year in professional baseball as he entered Boston University School of Law to work on his law degree in Fall 1905.
Matthews other accomplishments
married wife married Pamela Belle Lloyd from Hayneville, Alabama, in 1908.
Replaced his mentor at Harvard, William Henry Lewis, as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Boston area.
Named chief legal counsel for the Marcus Garvey founded Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.
named the Head of the Colored Division of the Republican National Committee in 1924. (Matthews’ position was the first time a major U.S. political party put an African-American in charge of organizing the African-American vote).
Following the 1924 election, Matthews delivered a list of seventeen demands to improve African-Americans’ position in the Coolidge administration.
Under Coolidge, Matthews became U.S. Assistant Attorney General.
Matthews died on April 9, 1928 (51 years old) of a perforated ulcer.
Obituaries for Matthews ran in most of the major newspapers in the country. The New York Times called him “one of the most prominent Negro members of the bar in America.”
Over 1,500 people attended his funeral in Boston, with William Henry Lewis serving as an honorary pallbearer.
He’s buried in the Cambridge Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Negro Leagues historian Larry Lester
We have to look at this in the context of history; America during that period was under the separate but equal doctrine, upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision [in Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed state-sponsored segregation]. The most visible Black athletes at that time were jockeys. The Black athlete was not acceptable in mainstream society and especially not in the most popular sport in America. That tells me that William Clarence Matthews must have been one hell of a shortstop.”
Boston Globe (1905 quote concerning Matthew’s ethics)
“For seven years, Matthews could have earned much money by playing for semi-professional teams, but this he has refused to do … Here is a man who, to maintain his amateur standing, has repeatedly refused offers of $40 a week and board to play semi-pro baseball in the summer. He had the example of many contemporaneous college ballplayers who were accepting ‘indirect’ compensation in an underhanded way, but he has kept his record clean, and his, it is sad to say, is an exceptional case.”
William Clarence Matthews
“I think it is an outrage that colored men are discriminated against in the big leagues. What a shame it is that black men are barred forever from participating in the national game. I should think that Americans should rise up in revolt against such a condition. Many negroes are brilliant players and should not be shut out because their skin is black. As a Harvard man, I shall devote my life to bettering the condition of the black man, and especially to secure his admittance into organized baseball”.
NEW YORK, N.Y.- Have we lost our minds? I understand that the last calendar year has flipped the entire world upside down, but we as football fans still need to hold on to our common sense. As the feuding between Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks plays out, there’s no justification to siding with the organization over one of the best quarterbacks in the game currently. The Seahawks are nothing without Wilson and that if they trade him away, they would surpass the Houston Texans as the most incompetent franchise in the NFL.
Get with the times and realize where your bread is buttered is what I would tell Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll’s old school philosophy of playing hard-nosed defense, running the football and not turning it over have produced plenty of wins, including a championship. But as we approach the 2021 season, things are different both on the field and with decision making. Carroll is no longer the most important piece of the franchise and him jettisoning the player most responsible for winning should send the head coach out the door quicker than Russ can say “Go Hawks.”
Let’s straighten one thing out first: Russ’ frustrations were never solely about the offensive line. That unit was a façade as Wilson was speaking more about of the lack of input he’s had in multiple different aspects of the offense, from scheme to play calling to philosophy. Take this anecdote from The Athletic of an incident that happened leading into Seattle’s Week 11 game against the Cardinals.
“Before the Thursday night game against Arizona, Wilson met with his coaches. For some time, Wilson has sought – even pushed – for influence within the organization regarding scheme and personnel. In the meeting, he outlines his own ideas for how to fix the offense. His suggestions were dismissed, another reminder to Wilson that the Seahawks did not see him the same way he saw himself, as a player who had earned greater control over his situation, his future, his legacy. He stormed out of the room.”
As you can remember, Russ was cooking the first half of the season. Through the first seven games of the season, Wilson threw 26 touchdowns to six interceptions as Seattle jumped out to a 6-1 start. The following two games against the Bills and Rams, in which Wilson committed a total of seven turnovers, led to the meeting between coach and quarterback detailed above that left the signal caller miffed. Since that meeting where it was “decided” (more like demanded) that the offense throttle down, Wilson threw just 12 touchdowns to three interceptions the final seven games of the season.
While the turnovers were reduced, so was the potency of the offense. The final eight games of the season (including the playoff game), the offense was neutered, turning the Seahawks from legitimate Super Bowl contender to playoff flop. Seattle averaged just 23.6 points per game after that infamous meeting detailed above, which would have tied them with the Lions for 20th in the NFL in terms of points per game if extrapolated out for the entire season. In a league that’s seen the successful teams pivot to a more aggressive style, Pete still clutches the philosophy of playing not to lose. This has led the team to win games at times in spite of Carroll’s conservative coaching. Carroll is trying to buy a Ferrari but drive it like it’s a Prius. I’m no expert, but I would love to know how handcuffing one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL is conducive to winning.
Now that we’ve outlined the importance of Wilson to winning and why it would be asinine to trade him away, what happens if a trade does go down? How on Earth can Seattle expect to make up the value of losing a top-3 quarterback in the league? With how much of a crapshoot drafting his replacement is, there’s no guarantee that even five first round picks would be enough to equal the value that Russ brings to this organization. Carroll doesn’t want to enter a rebuild, so which quarterback is coming back in a trade that can step in and lead this team to the playoffs? Dak Prescott? Jameis Winston? Derek Carr? Good luck with that.
The NFC West, which was the most competitive division in the NFL in 2020, will become even tougher next season with the Rams acquiring Matthew Stafford, the 49ers getting healthier and the Cardinals making a splash with their signing of J.J. Watt. The only hope of repeating as division champs rests on the shoulders of number three. If he’s anywhere else but Seattle, it’s curtains on any hope of even making the playoffs.
As we look ahead to the upcoming season, the ball is in the head coach’s court to decide whether his ideal principles of winning or actually winning are more important. If wins are truly what he cares about, Russ should be cooking more than a Popeyes employee after their chicken sandwich was introduced. If instead ego wins out and Seattle decides to trade their top-3 quarterback, not only will Wilson be gone, but so will the wins.
NEW YORK, N.Y.- When a once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself, would you want your team to pass it up? That opportunity could arise this offseason as Houston Texans franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson is furious at his organization for their handling of the offseason process so far. If this gets to the point of contention to where the only solution is for Watson to play elsewhere next season, how many teams could justify not trading for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback? The answer is just one.
Outside of the Chiefs, every other NFL team should be on the horn with the Texans trying to facilitate a trade to bring in the stud quarterback. Whether it’s because of age, production, or consistency, Watson is an upgrade for every other team outside of Kansas City.
Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Watson. I’m not going to tell you different. Rodgers will most likely win his third MVP award in just a few weeks, so while he gives the Packers a better opportunity to win the Super Bowl this season, the long-term view favors Watson. The former Clemson standout is entering the prime of his career, as he’ll be just 26 years old next season.
If you are Green Bay, would you rather have a Super Bowl window of another year or two with the 37-year-old Rodgers, or would you rather have a decade long window to win a championship with Watson? Don’t forget, the Packers are going to trade the former Cal quarterback within the next two years anyway because they moved up to draft Jordan Love in the first round this past offseason. If you are going to move on sooner rather than later, I’d rather pivot to Watson than an unknown commodity in Love.
Other teams with aging quarterbacks even have less of an argument to hold onto their current starter than the Packers do. Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger, Tampa Bay with Tom Brady, New Orleans with Drew Brees (although I’d be shocked if he does decide to return in 2021) and even Seattle with Russell Wilson all would be better off ditching their guy to bring the current Texan on board. The NFL is about sustained success. Winning a title in the short-term is great, but consistently contending year in and year out is just as important. Watson provides both of those options.
Despite organizational chaos, Watson’s play has stayed consistent throughout his short career, and it’s been consistently good. In the three years he’s been healthy for a full season, Watson has made the Pro Bowl all three times. The former first round pick has been able to keep the ship afloat despite seeing three general managers come and go. Rick Smith, the man who drafted him, stepped away to tend to his ill wife. Brian Gaine took over before he was relieved of his duties after one season. Bill O’Brien was able to wrestle power away and become both the head coach & general manager before he was canned during this past season.
Despite all of the turbulence and turmoil going on in the front office, Watson was still able to stay focused and play at his best. When looking across the league, consistent quarterback play is far from a given. Guys like Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Ryan Tannehill, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo all have had up and down careers. Some have reached highs greater than what Watson has achieved so far, but all have reached lower lows that have led to bad play and questions about their future in some cases. Watson has been more consistent than all of these guys above, another reason why he would be an upgrade for all of those teams.
Finally, we reach the production side of Watson’s game. Not only has he been one of the most dynamic players we’ve seen the past few years, no single caller has done more with less. Heading into the 2020 season, O’Brien thought it would be a savvy business decision to trade away one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and Watson’s security blanket in DeAndre Hopkins for an injury prone running back and a second-round pick. Not only did Watson have one of the best receivers taken away from him, he also had to deal with a Houston rushing attack that was the second worst in the entire league while also getting sacked the second most times of any quarterback in the NFL.
Despite that, Watson had himself a career year. He led the league in passing yards (4,823) and finished second in passer rating behind only Rodgers. Watson threw 33 touchdown passes, a career high, while only tossing seven interceptions, a career low. He also set a career high in completion percentage (70.2%), which was good for third in the league.
How many quarterbacks are having career years after their top weapon was taken away, their run game was nonexistent and their offensive line doubled as a turnstile? From the production perspective, Watson would be an upgrade over Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert and even eventual No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.
Whether it’s the age of Deshaun Watson, his consistent play or his production, 30 out of the 31 teams should be begging the Texans to trade the franchise quarterback to their team. It’s unprecedented to have such a dynamic player at the most important position in sports become available, so when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, there’s no excuse to not pull the trigger.