+ Pattern Anthology Day Tripper Top



I’m excited for the ladies over at pattern anthology releasing their first women’s patterns, and I am even more excited that I got to make one!! I tried out the day tripper top in log sleeve with fabric from Girl Charlee. I decided to make one a size bigger and left the bottom piece out to make it a little more loose. Love it.

Top: made from day tripper pattern   brass necklace: Jacaranda Design   silver necklace: sosie     bottoms: Joe’s


  1. love your style!!! I love the top!!


  2. Ashley Sales says:

    Love! I was actually looking at this pattern from Pattern Anthology the other day, so I am very happy to see what you did with it. AWESOME!

  3. Very cute!! I made a Day Tripper top, too, but I used the bottom edge binding… will have to try it without sometime!

  4. Love what you’ve done with this top! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  5. I love your style! And you are such a talented person! I love all the clothes you make!!

  6. Pretty! The adjustments you’ve done really make the difference + I love the black & white stripes pattern, it gives a chic yet casual look to anything.


  7. I think I may have to try without the binding next time!

  8. I love this whole look – so simply chic!


  9. Curious as to which fabric you used?

  10. Love this look. Reminds me of Paris. Tres Chic !!


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  85. A big part of our lives is ruled or rather depends on electronic gadgets and devices. You name them, from the Kitchenaid food blender in the kitchen, the home theater system in the living room, the alarm clock in your bedroom, the hand hair dryer in your bathroom, the CCTV security alarm on your patio, the smoke detector in your garage, your mobile phone, your PC and hundreds of other devices that you use daily. Imagine your life without these things.

  86. Ticket change fees are up, too. Airlines collected $652 million in change fees in the most recent quarter, up 8 per cent from $602.9 million a year earlier. Delta is tops in that category, too, with $200.4 million in ticket change fees, compared to $171.9 million for United.

  87. Despite beating out 48 other Canadian beauties for the title, Panikian said she wasn’t always self confident, especially because of her towering height and what she calls her natural weight 130 pounds.

  88. however, from this experience, i realized attitude is very important, i mean with highly concentrated attention to finish work. good work not just relate to basic sense and professional skills,but also need to exhaust group brain and energy, furthermore creation is necessary.

  89. The haul puts the lucky winner on a par with other multi million pound jackpot winners including Colin and Chris Weir, from Largs in North Ayrshire, who won 161 million last July.

  90. To reduce the number of pat downs given to children and the elderly, screeners in the test programs are being told to send those passengers through metal detectors or walk through imaging machines multiple times to capture a clear picture, according to the TSA.

  91. Here are 10 tips to ensure your titles entice readership, are found in the search engines and are approved by the Article Directory Editors.

  92. Why mess with success? YSL’s Tribtoo pumps have been popular with celebrity footwear fanatics for three seasons and counting, only this season they come with toe cap details (meaning it’d be rude not to buy a new pair, isn’t that right Megan?)

  93. So my question is are they authentic Jordan shoes? And can authentic Jordan shoes be made in indonesia?Most Air Jordan shoes are manufactured oversea’s, in Asia (including Indonesia). If you want to be sure or their authenticity, here is some information you can us below. Pay attention to 10:

  94. Spend 50 percent of your time writing a GREAT headline that is BENEFIT RICH. You must HOOK their attention quickly before your direct mail gets trashed. Make your offer and event so exciting that it triggers a FEAR OF LOSS in the customer mind. Allow them to think about what they will be missing if they don attend.

  95. She admitted failing to demonstrate the necessary skill to perform without supervision after she did not complete a return to practice course at St Martin College in Cumbria between May 16, 2005, and April 25, 2006.

  96. When they repossess your house, you’ll still be swimming in toilet paper.

  97. What others are readingCuring Meat in a SmokehouseHow to Purify and Filter Cooking Oil for Reuse?How to Can Homemade ApplesauceRepurposing for the GardenHow to Genetically Modify Corn Crops: Important Facts Every Consumer Should KnowNon Toxic Freezer ContainersCan Your Own Pumpkin and Squash Enjoy All Year Long!An Economic Comparison of Organic and Inorganic Farming MethodsWild Salmon vs. Farm Raised Salmon: Which is Better?Vitamins with Additives and Fillers Know your Vitamin’s Composition.

  98. Aerobic Workouts for Beginners

  99. The finish of leather should match the rest of yoru outfit. For the office, try a patent leather or faux crocodile look. These are sleek and modern materials that also add texture to a basic suit. Continue the same color of leather onto your handbag or briefcase.5. Play around with the Silhouette

  100. Related Topics:Reviews and Information About the Best, Free, or Most Popular iPhone AppsCommentary on iPhone in the NewsDeveloping for the iPhoneHow To’s and Guides to Help Make Your iPhone Work for YouiPhone Game Reviews and Gaming TipsiPhone Reviews

  101. This comprehensive guide to Fall Shoes will get you in step with the latest styles and hottest trends in footwear. From back to school basics to stylish shoes for men and women if you want to know what to wear and how to wear it, this 2007 Shoes Guide is for you.

  102. Additionally, traveler favorites Nine West and Sunglass Hut have re opened in new locations at the AIRMALL at PIT to accommodate more customers and a larger product array.

  103. One of the most popular fishing areas in southeast Ohio. A free permit is required. The American Electric Power ReCreation Lands is one of the top recreation areas in Ohio. More than 42,000 acres of reclaimed strip mine land is open to public hunting, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, sightseeing, and camping. In addition, it has more than 350 ponds, making it an angler gone to heaven fishing experience. The area hosts a variety of outdoor programs, from Wheelin’ Sportsmen hunts to youth fishing events. In 1998 the AEP ReCreation Lands were recognized by the Department of Natural Resources as the single largest outdoor recreation facility in the state. In addition to fishing, the area has seven campgrounds with restrooms, water, and picnic tables, located at various locations that are available for public use free of charge. The Central Ohio Coal Company began extracting coal from the hills of Muskingum and Morgan Counties in 1947, moving more than 2 billion cubic yards of earth and mining over 110 million tons of coal. Today coal extraction still continues on the land, but much of the area has been reclaimed and hundreds of the old stripmine ponds have now become a bonanza of high quality fishing lakes. Key species: Largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. One of Ohio’s best places to fish, AEP Ohio Power Lakes is located near McConnelsville, OH. Trails’ printable online topo maps offer shaded and un shaded reliefs, and aerial photos too! Use topographic map functionality to find elevation, print high resolution maps, save a PNG, or just learn the topography around AEP Ohio Power Lakes . You can also get free latitude and longitude coordinates from the topographical map and set your GPS. Subscribers with access to our maps can download or print any topo, and cover more terrain when you map your AEP Ohio Power Lakes route ahead of time.

  104. If you have limited capital, set aside any thoughts of a fancy store or great office. Start home based and explore the advantages of working at home. Or if you must be “out there” selling your products, rent a small section at a flea market or fair. You may consider renting at the mall only when you see money coming in.

  105. The AHL’s other new entry for 2009 10, the Abbotsford Heat, kicks off its inaugural season as the top development club of the NHL’s Calgary Flames on Oct. 9 when San Antonio visits the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.

  106. The model turned actress has once again teamed up with the shoe and boot brand to create a spring/summer range, featuring pairs of fun sandals which come complete with a Minnie Mouse style bow.

  107. Of course there’s a display case dedicated to Monolo Blahnik, famous for filling Carrie’s closet on “Sex and the City.” This Manolo Blahnik from 2003 is one of the daintier numbers in the exhibition. Referring to his shoes from the 1980s to the oughts, Steele said, “Blahnik is the first superstar shoe designer and from this you can see how shoe heights have gotten higher,” said Steele. “But he always resisted platforms.”

  108. The WineRack has the exact same flaws as the Beer Belly. Your cartoonishly large sweater puppets will attract a lot of attention, first in a good way (when everyone ogles you) and then in a bad way (when someone calls the paramedics for your leaking breast implants).

  109. Beth told ABC she surprised her ex husband is alleging he was unaware of her lavish collection as she claims she never could have afforded the shoes on her own.

  110. It is for this reason that most reputable dance studios choose to wait until a student is in their early teens to begin their studies in pointe shoes. Additionally, pointe shoe manufacturers have increased the number of size variables (including the length and width of the foot, and the length of the toes), allowing for shoes to be closely fitted to each dancer’s feet, reducing the likelihood of damage to the foot.

  111. Michael Hiestand has covered sports media and marketing for USA TODAY, tackling the sports biz ranging from what’s behind mega events such as the Olympics and Super Bowl to the sometimes hidden numbers behind the sports world’s bottom line.

  112. The adoption agency in charge of an adoption will help match every child to the right family taking into account the child emotional health and the child development needs and wants. People on the inside will do their best in giving a child to a family that reflects their ethnic identity as closely as possible. Whatever the color of your skin be it black white or yellow everyone is eligible and considered to adopt a child. And I say rightly so because, everyone is equal regardless of the color of their skin. The color of a person skin doesn make one person better at loving a child than any other. Black skinned moms, yellow skinned moms or white skinned moms all have that quality that women have when they become a mother, and that is to protect their young and love them for as long as they can. We all love the same so no excuse to judge someone by the color of their skin. Please don be that couple who procrastinate because they are slightly more tanned than others. I raised this issue after having someone ask me is it right for white people to adopt a black baby, or a black person adopt a white baby. It not about right; it about doing the right thing for the sake of the child. Madonna and Angelina Jolie are prime examples of the black and white issue that some people see a problem. Have patience, and be flexible and energetic. The adoption agency will most likely be looking at how determined you are about becoming parents and that you can as a couple positively transform a child life.

  113. One of the final advantages of copper pipe plumbing is that it resists temperatures changes well. If a fire ever occurs in your home, toxic gases will be released if you have CPVC, or plastic pipes. Copper is a considerably more expensive material than plastic. Although the installation of copper pipe plumbing requires less hardware, it will still be more expensive to install.

  114. Things happen all the time, most that are meant to, many that aren’t, while a lot of stuff that takes place may be superhuman, ridiculous, funny, weird, or plain unbelievable. The world is such a big place, and there are so many facts about anything and everything, that it is impossible to know all of them.

  115. Long lasting and durable

  116. As the patterned hull moves through the water, small bubbles of air become trapped in the nanoscale grooves, providing a low friction cushion, akin to a hovercraft effect. For extra cushioning, pipes from inside the boat can continually feed gas into the grooves. The technique reduces friction on any size craft, and the UT Battelle team claim it could even help submarines move through the water more efficiently. The researchers report that just a few percent reduction in drag provides a “significant” increase in water speed and fuel efficiency.

  117. Great question. Glad you attended an absolute auction. Go to more before you bid. Definitely follow the data on the purchases you observed until there is a re sale on those props. Or until they are rent ready. It not over until its over and you are only guessing that there will be profit.

  118. Barefoot Run: Abebe Bikila’s Run Without ShoesThat is not why Bikila didn’t wear shoes in 1960, though. Bikila was a last minute addition to the Ethiopian Olympic team, added because Ethiopian Wami Biratu, who was supposed to run the marathon, broke his ankle playing soccer. Because Bikila was added to the team so late, the shoes provided for him by Adidas did not fit comfortably. Instead, he chose to run without them.

  119. By evening, most of the crowd in Baghdad had left and security forces refused to allow anyone to enter the area surrounding the square.

  120. I’d like to know who took this poll. Because if it is true, that the vast majority disapprove of the congress while members of the Republican and Democrat parties are voted in, that could mean two things could be possible, either our electronic voting system is a fraud (you can’t tell what goes on in computers, which is why I would dissaprove of an electronic democracy based government, it would be too easy to manipulate it with the right resources) or the media blackout of third party candidates is extremely effective

  121. He has covered everything from high schools to horse racing to the college and the pros. The only thing he likes more than his own voice is the sound of readers telling him when he’s right and wrong.

  122. But okay, the designer sandals were cute, well made (for rubber) and comfortable. And they made for comparatively cheap label flaunting.

  123. It was a carnival organised exclusively for poor children. They had fun, relished a sumptuous five star meal and were offered shoes, blankets and other gifts.

  124. Liquorice is one of the best remedies for removing calluses and corns that have just recently formed. You can just grind some liquorice stick and mix it with about a teaspoon of sesame or mustard oil. After you wash at night, apply this paste to the forming bumps.

  125. After the dissolution of the school board, education committees will be appointed in its place. Experts say bringing quality into education is now the big challenge before the new education committee.

  126. Learn about various situations that you are likely to confront while working

  127. In another incident that sparked outrage, a six year old girl was reduced to tears after screeners frisked her at New Orleans airport in March 2011 a scene recorded on video and posted on YouTube.

  128. Victoria Beckham suffers with bunions

  129. OverviewAlthough I absolutely love new computer gadgets, I tend to be a bit slow when it comes to replacing items like the keyboard and mouse. To me, these things are like tennis shoes or a pair of jeans they need to be broken in good, before you’re really comfortable with them. However, my maple syrup stained keyboard had reached the point where it was more “broke” than “broken in”, and my ancient mouse had somehow become haunted, moving around on its own volition. It was time for something new.

  130. Asked about his relatively low profile, (he rarely gives interviews), Bensadoun denied shying away from the spotlight. “You just have to be real. It’s a question of time. I travel quite a bit,” he said, during the brief meeting in the cafeteria.

  131. This guide has focused solely on the leather, but that isn the full story. As Sparkdog pointed out, an equally important factor in price is the quality of construction, but I am not very knowledgable on this subject.

  132. Go with a couple of friends to a local micro brewery and do a beer tasting. Everyone loves beer, right? Find a local micro brewery and find out when they do their public tastings and try some styles you might otherwise be afraid of.

  133. Ned Thanks for the advice. It great to see someone from our area on this site. I loved reading your blog last night and will continue to do so. I always perform tons of research before jumping into a project so I trying to be fully informed before making my first purchase. My problem is more about patience, I not good at doing nothing. I literally have no stress and nothing to do at the moment besides research REI and look for homes. If I had the property, I would have a project to keep me busy. I can stay in one place very long so that why I would really like to get the ball rolling soon or I know that I loose interest in researching/looking and I answer the call of the open road again.

  134. Whenever I crave drop dead gorgeous shoes at a great price I only need to peruse the website of Aldo Shoes to make my picks. The selections they offer are always trendy and stylish. I can have my pick of espadrilles, platform pumps, moccasins, loafers, wedges or flat sandals in the newest must have colors. Aldo values its customers and employs cute tricks to keep you. They offer ten percent discount if you enter your email online and spur of the moment disocunts which can be quite substantial. I especially like the free return policy but this is something I never have utilized as I am always happy with my selections.

  135. play 10/21: Nevada teacher killed in school shooting is a . 10/21: Nevada teacher killed in school shooting is a hero: Police; Scientists discover better way to transplant hair

  136. Department outside. Two eyes involuntarily on shelves consort of the shoes. I blurt out: “well, good Shoes! “I:” you to shoes are interested in? “I and this man has known for a long time, and I had never know Word of his shoes are interested in? He: “I think shoes is great. nike dunk high heelsf possible, I be glad to spent all his money In shoes! “Can I hear wrong? This thing will only be possible in the movie, isn it?

  137. good articles

  138. August 8, 2013The Myth of Competitive BalanceCommentsThere once was a time, back when there was no need to specify which world war you were referring to, when the fullback was the most important position in football. Owners actually bid against each other for fullbacks. I like to imagine everyone present at these bidding wars looking more or less like the Monopoly Man, disputing the preponderance of the forward pass the way present-day offensive coordinators debate the viability of the read-option.During this time, two teams decided they desperately wanted a specific fullback with a boxer’s physique and a nickname to match: Stanislaus “Stockyard Stan” Kostka of Fargo, N.D. The football Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Eagles engaged in a bidding war for the fullback’s services. The owner of the Eagles at the time was Bert Bell, who lost out to the Dodgers and their $5,000 bid. In an effort to promote competitive balance, Bell worked feverishly the following season to institute the reverse draft known to American sports today.Bell wouldn’t need to bother with any bidding war to get the top talent the following year: Due to the Eagles owning the worst record, combined with the first-ever reverse order NFL draft, he would have his pick of the country’s collegiate stars in 1936.It may be the simplicity of hindsight that makes Bell’s fortune seem to unfold as such a tidy coincidence. History is rarely a direct line, and it’s impossible to know how much the Stockyard Stan affair influenced Bell in the decades forward. It’s equally impossible to know whether commissioner Bert Bell in the 1940s and ’50s kept Stan Kostka’s statuesque shadow in the back of his head when he lobbied to embed revenue sharing initiatives in television contracts, or when he created the TV blackout rules that still haunt fans in this very-different digital landscape.What is certain, though, is Bell’s name is irreversibly tied to the commonly held belief that competitive balance is essential to the financial success of professional sports. Likewise, Bell’s legacy is synonymous with the antitrust exemptions that enable American sports leagues to restrict their labor markets in order to institute salary caps, reverse order drafts, revenue sharing and luxury taxes. Bell is but one of a long, unbroken chain of league commissioners who extol the virtues of parity and insist fans will not be interested in sports if these measures are not in place.We will probably never know if Bell’s early lobbying victory influenced him for the remainder of his life, shaping American sports’ politics and finances for the remainder of the century. What we do know, though, is he was wrong in almost every way.The need for competitive balance is a myth: Fans will watch leagues without it, and even if they didn’t, there’s precious little evidence that leagues can do anything about it. There is one thing salary caps, revenue sharing, reverse-order drafts and luxury taxes do quite effectively: They transfer money from players to owners, increasing league profitability.There was one other thing Bell was wrong about: As for the square-jawed talent from Fargo, Stockyard Stan played in nine games for Brooklyn during the 1935 season, compiled 258 yards from scrimmage and exited professional football after the season without ever having scored a touchdown.* * *Roger Goodell, in the midst of a labor dispute in 2008, responded to a question from a fan about the future of the salary cap by saying, “The goal is to keep the competitive balance of the league.” Gary Bettman — in between wryly mocking fans for crawling back to the league after the most recent lockout — believes (incorrectly) the NHL’s competitive balance is “the best in sports.” That title is actually owned by the NFL. David Stern presides over the least competitively balanced league, but he believes the most recent labor agreement will “level the playing field” by redistributing more than $200 million from large markets to smaller market teams.If this all sounds vague and circular to you, that’s because the concept of competitive balance is purposely vague. League commissioners and owners have rarely proposed their own clarifying definitions. The closest we have come was the Bud Selig-organized Blue Ribbon Panel On Baseball Economics to analyze the economic structure of Major League Baseball, which concluded: “Proper competitive balance should be understood to exist when there are no clubs chronically weak because of MLB’s structural features. Proper competitive balance will not exist until every well-run club has a regularly recurring reasonable hope of reaching postseason play.”There are two separate but key concepts here to keep in the back of your head: That competitive balance is a function of the league’s policies, and that if a club is well-run, it has a reasonable hope of basic success.The former idea, that league policies affect the relative strength or weakness of clubs, has always been a part of sport history. How that relates to actual on-field success is the part that has changed over time. As economists Rodney Fort and James Quirk outline in their wide-ranging paper, “Cross-Subsidization, Incentives, and Outcomes in Professional Team Sports Leagues”:”The reserve clause was introduced into baseball in the 1880 season as a way to control player salaries. Subsequently, it was incorporated into all other major American sports leagues … the reserve, or option, clause in a player’s contract essentially binds the player for his entire playing career to the owner of the contract.”That is all simple enough: Owners wanted to pay players as little as possible, and in the pre-trust-busting era, they were able to get away with quite a lot. But look at what happens when that collusion is challenged:”Over time, as the reserve clause faced court challenges, owners of sports teams developed the argument that, whatever the consequences of the reserve clause on players’ salaries, it was needed to preserve competitive balance. Owners argued that free agency would allow the richest teams to acquire a disproportionate share of the playing talent in the league. Competitive balance would be destroyed, driving weaker franchises out of business.”Indeed, in Toolson v. New York Yankees (1953), the reserve clause was challenged and upheld in federal court, because leagues are a single entity “amusement” with the primary purpose of entertaining the fans, which ostensibly requires offering a competitive product for each and every game. Of course, this competitively-imbalanced dystopian vision owners painted of a free-agent system was not all that different from what they actually had under the reserve clause. In “Those Damn Yankees: The Secret Life of America’s Greatest Franchise,” Dean Chadwin wrote of the true effect of the reserve clause on competitive balance:”The reserve system had always been justified by the owners as necessary to maintain competitive balance. In fact it has enabled the best teams to squirrel away talented players in the minors where they can serve as insurance in case of injury, and more importantly be kept off the rosters of potential rivals.”Even though the reserve system was largely a mechanism for the richest clubs to hoard talent and restrict labor costs — the very opposite of competitive balance — the argument had proven a worthy tool and received federal sanction.That argument has evolved over time to fit the needs of each league, but it has generally been claimed that increasing competitive balance will also increase fans’ interest, getting them to attend more games and spend more money, thereby raising profits for the league. Today, the most discussed tools to promote competitive balance are concerned with keeping the top clubs from spending too much: salary caps, luxury taxes and revenue sharing.Each league has its own particulars, and many fans are misled with anecdotal evidence into believing that these measures affect competitive balance. The NFL, which has the most restrictive salary cap and most socialistic revenue sharing agreement, has the most competitive balance, whereas Major League Baseball was mired in controversy during the 1990s because of a few rich clubs dominating, combined with the lack of salary cap or revenue sharing arrangements. To many, the evidence seemed apparent enough: Small-market teams couldn’t afford good players, and therefore couldn’t compete without some league policies to distribute revenue or prevent the big clubs from spending too much. Owners no longer needed ammunition to argue in federal courts against trust-busters, but rather against player unions fighting for a larger slice of the pie. The concept of competitive balance is a timeless weapon.* * *The first thing owners do to convince others that there is a competitive balance issue is to focus on the number of teams winning championships. The Blue Ribbon Panel mentioned above began its report by declaring, “[from 1995-1999] no club from payroll Quartiles III or IV [the lower half of the league] won a DS [Division Series] or LCS [League Championship Series] game, and no club from payroll quartiles II, III or IV won a World Series game.” Aside from a woefully inadequate sample size and problematic methodology, this is a fundamentally flawed way to measure parity.”Playoffs are not a scientific experiment of any sort,” sports economist David Berri of Southern Utah University and author of “The Wages of Wins” told me. “Especially in something like football, that’s purely a crapshoot. It is very much the same thing in baseball, because seven games is not enough time to determine who the better team is.” Sports economist J.C. Bradbury of Kennesaw State University makes the same argument in his book “Hot Stove Economics”: “In a best-of-seven contest, the inferior team would still be expected to emerge as the champion 40 percent of the time. It would take 23 games for the inferior team to have less than a five percent chance of winning more games than the superior team.” The randomness of postseason play makes for an enthralling spectacle, but it isn’t a sound argument for whether a league is competitively balanced.Rather, the preferred method of measuring competitive balance is looking at the distribution of wins over time. When sports economists do this, they almost invariably find that salary caps, luxury taxes and revenue sharing have no effect on competitive balance. John Vrooman found in his 1995 study that salary caps ironically promote competitive imbalance because it allows the league to behave as one entity, rather than each team acting as an individual firm. Once a league is recognized as a single economic entity, it (shockingly) starts acting like one, and that isn’t good from a competitive balance perspective. Once MLB, for example, is a single entity, it’s primarily concerned with the health of the entire league. So it institutes policies that may shuffle money around to make unprofitable teams profitable, but it doesn’t mandate they become more competitive, as has been the case with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have (until recently) been lousy on the field for two decades, and yet quite profitable off of it.But Vrooman’s work was admittedly theoretical. For more analytical work, Martin Schmidt and Dave Berri conducted a 2001 study that analyzed competitive balance using a traditional measure of equality, the Gini Coefficient, to measure the relationship between attendance and wins in baseball. To their surprise, they found the 1990s were actually the most competitively balanced decade in baseball history, and there had been a steady trend in that direction for decades. The Gini Coefficient has its problems and limitations, but it’s also not the only measure to come to the same conclusion. In his aforementioned book, Bradbury used the Noll-Scully Measure of competitive balance — which uses the relationships between the average number of wins per team, the number of teams in the league and the number of games each plays — to measure MLB’s historic competitive balance. He found very much the same results as Schmidt and Berri: “Competitive balance today is about what it was in the 1980s, and it’s the best it’s been in the league’s entire history. Recent attempts to improve competitive balance with policies such as revenue sharing and a luxury tax don’t appear to have had much effect.” Likewise, Berri stated unequivocally in a 2011 blog post: “We found that none of these institutions [salary caps, luxury taxes, etc.] had any statistically significant impact on balance in any of these leagues [NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB].” These are but a few of a host of studies echoing the same conclusion: league policies don’t affect competitive balance to any measurable degree.These data-driven analyses put the competitive balance narrative in perspective. Competitive balance is a nebulous red herring, one that cannot be properly identified by those who purport to be concerned about it. And even if competitive balance was a real concern, wins have never been distributed more evenly — even before salary caps or revenue sharing were put into place.Professional sports commissioners have spent a lot of energy trying to artificially create competitive balance. (Getty Images)* * *The term itself is a clever verbal ploy, because it’s juxtaposed with “competitive imbalance,” which naturally steers the mind to assume a certainty of outcome. But sports rarely, if ever, have a complete certainty of outcome, ESPN Classic excepted. Even in the most unbalanced league, the best team almost always loses some games (thank you, 2007 New York Giants) and the worst teams almost always win some games (damn you, 2008 Detroit Lions). What the competitive balance debate really entails is probabilities of winning. Along those lines, as long as there’s at least a slim probability of either team winning, fans remain interested.To illustrate this point, Berri pointed out to me the amount of fan interest in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament or regular season college football, two venues of runaway competitive imbalance, yet also two of the most popular American sporting spectacles. We watch sports for a multitude of reasons, one of which is to witness the improbable. (While on the subject, you rarely hear NCAA officials pining for greater competitive balance, perhaps because their labor costs are already zero.)When I spoke to Bradbury, he was unequivocal in his belief that the need for competitive balance is a myth. “If there was no uncertainty of outcome, yes that would be a problem for revenue. But we’re nowhere near close to that point. So when owners say, ‘look we don’t have competitive balance, if we don’t win more no one is going to come, therefore I need salary caps so that I can afford to pay players as much money,’ that’s really just a PR argument to try and hold down labor costs.”Similarly, when I sent Berri an interview request via email, he politely accepted, and then succinctly post-scripted, “And yes, [competitive balance is] entirely a myth!””It is the case that if you went to a game and you knew exactly what was going to happen, you’re not going to find it very interesting,” he said. “But that’s not what we’re talking about when it comes to competitive balance. Even though we know the Heat are better than the other teams, there is still a chance that they could be upset. And as long as there’s a chance of that happening, we have an interest in the outcome.”Fans care about competitive balance to the extent that we don’t want games to be fixed (and, I suppose, to be cognizant of the fix). But this isn’t saying much, and the data doesn’t support much else.It’s easy to imagine tormented fanbases caring deeply about competitive balance. Indeed, Berri’s 2001 study cited above backs them up. It seems fans care about competitive balance to a statistically significant degree over three- and five-year stretches, implying fans don’t mind waiting until next year to see their team win as long as every year doesn’t become the proverbial “next year.”But remember the Blue Ribbon Panel’s definition of competitive balance: “… when there are no clubs chronically weak because of MLB’s structural features. Proper competitive balance will not exist until every well-run club has a regularly recurring reasonable hope of reaching postseason play” (emphasis mine). As the data has shown, clubs aren’t weak because of a league’s structural features; they’re weak independent of what structural features leagues implement. In fact, the definition itself is circular. A well-run club can, by definition, field a competitive team by finding labor market inefficiencies to exploit. There have been far more small-market clubs able to do so than those that have lost money in any given year over the past three decades. “Moneyball” is the most obvious, culturally relevant and sexy example here, but it’s hardly the most important.Every year and in every sport, teams hire students straight from graduate school into their analytics departments, and the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference keeps metastasizing with eager khakied wannabes waiting to be called up to their own corner of the major leagues. Yes, the rich teams are hiring, too, but that’s not all that important. The whole point of the statistical revolution is to properly value players based on what they contribute on the field, which is largely independent of market size or team revenue. Forget Hollywood’s portrayal, the statistical revolution hasn’t been about rich teams versus poor teams; it’s about not overpaying, which is what salary caps and luxury taxes have been trying to prevent. In some ways, advanced statistics are accomplishing what lockouts, luxury taxes and salary caps have been attempting for decades. One of the reasons these league policies haven’t affected competitive balance is because spending more money on players than they’re worth isn’t a good strategy for winning games.To be fair, there is one measure leagues can implement that Berri acknowledges helps competitive balance. During my research, I came across a study that analyzed the effect the 1993 Collective Bargaining Agreement in the NFL — the one that implemented the salary cap and expanded free agency — had on competitive balance. In a major oversight, it assumed all the positive effects of competitive balance were due to these mechanisms, not one other implementation in that same CBA: the salary floor, or the mandatory minimum spending on players each team had to meet per year.The Buccaneers are a prime example: Forced to spend money on players, their record drastically improved, going from hapless day-glo orange laughing stock to perennial .500-plus contender. Of course, the Buccaneers didn’t become a top-spending club, and Tampa Bay didn’t suddenly evolve into a booming metropolis. They were simply forced to spend money on players.Similarly, reverse-order drafts are often — but not unanimously — believed to increase competitive balance, although to what degree is often contested. This is because — unlike revenue sharing which simply shuffles money around — drafts reallocate talent. But teams always have the choice of “selling” that talent for more prospects and picks as that talent demands higher salaries in future contracts. If the team is only interested in profits, this won’t help it improve on the field.However, salary floors don’t come with that option. Teams simply must spend money on players, so they might as well try and do it on good ones. This is further evidence the competitive balance argument is circular: If the only universally effective league policy is one that forces Monty Burns-esque owners to actually, you know, spend money on players, then policies that artificially restrict player salaries cannot help competitive balance.* * *Salary caps and revenue sharing accomplish very calculated and important goals for league offices with massive payoffs, the same goal they’ve been fighting for since the inception of the reserve clause more than 130 years ago: to systematically lower player salaries. In 2003, Rodney Fort published a theoretical work showing that redistributing revenues from rich teams to poor teams will make winning less valuable for all teams, and therefore make labor less valuable as well. What he showed was that if the benefits of winning (money) are spread out more evenly, then everyone has less incentive to win and therefore will spend less money on players to try and win.In a 2007 study, John Solow and Anthony Krautmann used the aforementioned Blue Ribbon Panel’s data on MLB clubs pre-revenue distribution to create a model to estimate what player salaries would have been without the redistribution. They found that “[revenue] redistribution lowered [player] salaries by approximately 22 percent without affecting league balance.” A 1998 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics examined the four major U.S. sports, and found, “Salary caps and payroll taxes may seem beneficial to owners, but their effects appear to be more symbolic and cosmetic than fundamental.”That study also observed that the ratio of the salary cap to the average salary in the NBA fell during the late ’80s and early ’90s, when the league saw its revenue increase dramatically (must have been Horace Grant). The NBA had (and still has) a soft cap, which suggests that increased revenue was not being passed on to the players in the way it would under unrestricted market conditions. Typically, under unrestricted markets, if a league’s revenue grows, owners will then have more money to spend on talent, whose salaries will rise as well (MLB and European soccer have seen this occur). But under the NBA’s capped system, revenue growth outpaced salaries. So even though the NBA can claim player salaries grew in absolute terms, they didn’t grow as fast as league revenue, and it’s very likely players would have earned more under an uncapped system.However, to understand that salary caps restrict labor costs, one needs to look no further than the name itself: It is a cap on salaries.If salary caps and revenue sharing don’t affect competitive balance, what does? Berri had a simple answer: “Outcomes are determined by talent and luck.” Since luck is, by definition, outside of human control, competitive balance is affected by the size of the talent pool the league is drawing from. The biggest changes to competitive balance happened during major supply shocks, such as integration in baseball, or widespread scouting in other countries.In his seminal paper, “The Short Supply of Tall People,” Berri articulates this argument right in the title in intuitive fashion as it pertains to the NBA. The NBA has been the least competitive league for some time because there are only so many athletic seven-footers, and there’s nothing a salary cap or luxury tax can do about that. Those seven-footers (or the select few transcendent talents such as LeBron James or the unparalleled Andrea Bargnani) can be shuffled from team to team, but there will always be a few teams with them and many without.But this made me wonder why we don’t hear European soccer leagues talk more about competitive balance, even though they draw from a global talent pool. Berri’s answer was the simplest one he could give: It would be illegal for them. You see, those darn socialists in the European Union make their sports leagues abide by all the same labor laws as every other industry: You can’t own the rights to a worker before he signs a contract, you can’t collude to determine how much money you will spend on employee salaries in order to artificially lower their value, and you can’t penalize each other for spending too much money on employees.(Some might counter this point by gesticulating feverishly at Financial Fair Play (FFP), which is basically an initiative to stop clubs from going into massive debt by signing players to heaping piles of money. FFP won’t allow clubs to transfer money to each other, and it doesn’t stop clubs backed by wealthy sponsors/oil billionaires/conglomerates/actual countries to simply even out the club’s finances with their own pockets. On the contrary, it will likely widen the gap between small and large clubs, since smaller clubs, almost by definition, don’t have wealthy backers to boost their bottom line, and they won’t be permitted to take financial risks to climb the standings. Financial Fair Play is, in sum, very similar in spirit to what we have seen in the United States: a way for leagues to ensure clubs don’t lose money, and not much else.)The other wrinkle European soccer offers is the promotion and relegation system, combined with qualifying for lucrative tournaments based on the end-of-season standings, which keep fans interested in contests aside from the top of the standings. Beyond that, it creates a compelling incentive for most clubs to get results, lest they face the stiff financial penalty of relegation or not qualifying for an international tournament. This adds intrigue to contests that might be competitively imbalanced, in the American sense, because the bottom of the standings matter just as much (if not more) than the top.* * *Maybe this would all come as a shock to old Bert Bell. On his deathbed, a doctor advised Bell not to watch football because his heart was too weak. Bert replied, “I’d rather die watching football than in my bed with my boots off.”Perhaps it was just an instance of macho braggadocio, or maybe Bert cared more about the game than any of us, and he genuinely believed in this competitive balance thing. Maybe, he’d look around today and see that the modern game is about so much more than what happens on that precise rectangular turf, and recognize the need to allow those other aspects of the game to play out just as freely as the physical sport he loved so intensely.Then again, as commissioner in 1958, Bell took a more heavy-handed approach to the reverse-draft idea he invented some 25 years before, this time with coaching talent. Hoping to improve on the Green Bay Packers’ last-place finish, Bell contacted Jack Vainisi, their personnel director, regarding the team’s head coaching vacancy. Bell recommended an assistant coach on the New York Giants with a flair for the authoritative by the name of Vince Lombardi. With help from the league office, Lombardi took the job, and went on to accomplish a few things. Upon reflection, I think Bell would be pretty pleased with how things turned out, and would probably buy David Stern a brandy for coining the phrase “basketball reasons.”There’s a reason I imagine they all look like Monopoly Men.

  139. August 6, 2013The Quarterback Nonsense IndexCommentsPlayoff failures and a lack of a Super Bowl ring figure greatly into one’s Quarterback Nonsense Index, or QNI. Other factors include being overexposed, and overpaid.No athletes generate as much mass-media nonsense as NFL quarterbacks (well, maybe with the exception of one or two). When they win, it is news. But when they lose, lose badly, lose comically, get paid, get married, get a new tattoo or do anything else besides study playbooks and lift weights, it’s bigger news. An entire industry is fueled by quarterback nonsense: ESPN would go dark during the day without it, sports radio would not be a three-station-per-market phenomenon, and the blogosphere would go back to being a concentrate-on-your-jobosphere. Also, I would still be teaching algebra.Quarterback nonsense, in other words, is an economic resource that provides jobs and stimulates commerce. Yet economists have been slow to study it scientifically. What factors generate quarterback nonsense? Which quarterbacks generate the most nonsense? How many jobs does Cam Newton create when he drapes a towel over his head?You know where this is going: A Quarterback Nonsense Index (QNI). The quantifiable factors are weighted, sums are tallied and we get a rating of which quarterbacks are best at stimulating the kind of prepackaged debate that keeps the lights on over at the First Take studio.Here are the underlying catalysts of quarterback nonsense and their weightings:No Super Bowl Ring: Five Points. A no-brainer: if you are not a winner, you are a nonsense magnet. The points only accrue after four NFL seasons; even the loudest crank would not argue that Ryan Tannehill should have won a Super Bowl by now. And rings as a backup don’t count.Playoff Failure: Five Points. Losing in the playoffs is a more powerful nonsense catalyst than going 6-10 and failing to reach the playoffs. The quarterback gets far more national attention in the playoffs, making his failures extra juicy. You cannot prompt a “cannot win the big game” storyline (the nonsense equivalent of fossil fuel) for a player who does not even get close to the big game.Playoff Bumble: Two Points. An extra premium for doing something scandalous or inept during a playoff run. Only applies to a few elite nonsense-niks.Overpaid: Five Points. This tag applies both to quarterbacks who recently received near-record contracts and quarterbacks whose hefty contracts from a few years ago keeps them clinging to rosters in cities that are ready to move on.Extracurriculars: Two Points. Everything from serving time to dating Carrie Underwood to Tweeting a picture wearing the wrong hat goes here. You might think that arrests and scandals would be worth more to the QNI, but the burn rate on a scandal is surprisingly fast. Quality nonsense lingers.Appearance Issues: Three Points. Tattoos, wild hair, pretty boy aspirations, snotty facial expressions. Go to jail for dogfighting, and the trial-punishment-redemption cycle will expunge much of your nonsense record. Get caught on camera making a weird face after an interception, and it stains permanently.Big Market: Three Points. It is easier to generate nonsense in Chicago than Cleveland. It’s almost impossible not to in New York. Quarterbacks in the top ten media markets earn premium points, which stick with them for a year after they leave.Five Year Linger: Two Points. Spend five years with one team without winning a Super Bowl, and a quarterback earns extra points for wearing out his welcome.Recent First Pick Overall: Two Points. The first player taken in the NFL draft absolutely MUST win a Super Bowl before (or immediately after) the players chosen beneath him. The ghosts of Tim Couch and JaMarcus Russell hangs over every first overall pick until he gets that ring, as an army of bloggers prepare to update their all-time-bust lists. There is a statute of limitations on this category, because no one really cares where Carson Palmer was drafted anymore.Overexposed: Two Points. Commercials, video game covers, and fame-for-fame’s-sake are powerful nonsense catalysts. It’s a slippery slope from “I hate his stupid insurance commercials” to “I hate him,” and the best nonsense provocateurs know how to exploit it.Championship: Minus-Four Points. Super Bowl rings soak up a lot of nonsense, but not all of it as Eli Manning learned from 2008 through the 2011 playoffs.Up and Comer: Minus-Three Points. Young superstars enjoy a nonsense-free glow for a few months: there is nothing to be gained from criticizing a player most fans are still getting acquainted with. Most of the Class of 2012 gets this deduction, as does Colin Kaepernick.Legend: Minus-Two Points. Tom Brady, Drew Bree, and Peyton Manning have acquired additional nonsense resistance that goes beyond their Super Bowl success. Arguing about someone’s place in history does not have the same juice as arguing whether his body language proves that he is not enough of a leader to win the big game.Add up the scores and each non-rookie starting quarterback has his own QNI score! Now, let’s start the nonsense countdown. (Which, by its very existence, generates more nonsense!)31. (Tie) Russell Wilson, Seahawks; Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (-3). These two second year quarterbacks are still “in the bonus” when it comes to nonsense. They accomplished just enough as rookies to satisfy expectations (trounce them, in Wilson’s case), are too young to have any disappointments on their resume, were too far down in the draft order for advertisers to pounce on them with overexposure and play for smaller media markets at the extreme corners of the nation. Wilson and Tannehill have a grace period that should extend beyond their first slump or less-than-lovable moment. After that, they are on their own.30. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (-2). The QNI acknowledges the lingering squick that accompanies Roethlisberger’s 2009-10 sexual assault violations. But the lack of formal charges, three years, counseling, and marriage-fatherhood (plus some careful image management) have buried the incidents. Remember: this is nonsense we are dealing with, not actual dialogue about the problems facing society. As a proven champion going about his business in a tiny market, Roethlisberger actually gets a freer pass than all of his peers who earned “legend” points.28. (Tie) Peyton Manning, Broncos, Andrew Luck, Colts (-1). It is fitting to see these two once again tied together, although they come by their negative-hassle ratings in totally different ways. Peyton’s status as a champion and a legend are offset by his overexposure and the old “Manningface” saw. There is still a noisy chorus of lunatics who insist he is an average quarterback who compiled great stats but choked in the playoffs until he got lucky once, though all but the most dedicated tinfoil hatters are capitulating in the face of common sense.Luck does not quite get the same pass Wilson got because he was the first pick overall, raising expectations. Think of his draft status as a time bomb: It is no big deal now, but if other Class of 2012 quarterbacks win Super Bowls in the next three or four years, watch out.25. (Tie) Jake Locker, Titans; Christian Ponder, Vikings; Brandon Weeden, Browns (zero). Three small-market semi-prospects who have not done enough good to be noteworthy or enough bad to become a punchline.23. (Tie) Drew Brees, Saints; Joe Flacco, Ravens. The QNI gives Brees points for being overpaid and overexposed, but not many people really begrudge his contract or get worked up about his soda and cough syrup commercials. A Super Bowl win and Brees’ emergent “legend” status take most of those points away. Brees could conceivably rank 32nd — he exists in a Phil Mickelson Goldilocks Zone, spending years as the likeable alternative to designated superstars — but the system is not designed to recognize this, and there are probably some Brees Haters living under a bridge somewhere.So the system fails a bit on Brees. To see how it succeeds on Flacco, let’s say he: a) lost the playoff game to the Broncos (without any special pratfalls) and b) still signed a huge contract with the Ravens. This AlternaFlacco would be dinged for No Super Bowl, lack of playoff success, being overpaid (which he gets anyway), the Five Year Linger in a city with no ring, and extracurriculars, because his 2012 “elite” comment would be used against him. He would earn 19 points, ranking him second overall on the nonsense scale. A few playoff wins later, and he must still deal with the criticism that he ruptured the Ravens salary cap, but most of the national nonsense peddlers see a fresh Super Bowl ring and move on to the next village.20. (Tie) Sam Bradford, Rams; Robert Griffin III, Redskins; Eli Manning, Giants (2 points). What an eclectic group! Bradford is a former #1 pick overall just coming off scholarship. If he does not accomplish anything this season, he will get lumped into the No Super Bowl category and shoot up the charts. Griffin is almost universally beloved, but he is an overexposed big-market player, so the potential for a sudden backlash is enormous.Manning was in both Bradford’s and Griffin’s shoes in the past, but a pair of Super Bowls have allowed him to slide down the nonsense scale after years of bouncing around near the top of the list. New York intensity and his “dopey baby brother” persona still make him a potential potshot target. So we have one quarterback just starting his climb of Mount Babble, one descending from the summit, and one still trying on his hiking boots.18. (Tie) Matt Flynn, Raiders; Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars (3 points). Flynn and Gabbert rank ahead of the Locker-Ponder-Weeden troupe because Flynn is in a big market, Gabbert gets “appearance” points for his bumbling surfer dude persona, and neither has anything good to counterbalance these minor nonsense catalysts. Gabbert’s two seasons of flailing and Flynn’s sojourn as the free agent no one settled for and C3PO to Russell Wilson’s Luke Skywalker make them better snark-criticism targets than the other bantamweight prospects.17. Tom Brady, Patriots (4 points). The nonsense deflector shields activated early in Brady’s career, but no one can be as famous and successful as long as Brady has been without a few barnacles attaching to the hull. He is in a big, sports-obsessed market, gets the TMZ treatment because of his model wife and California pleasuredome, carries a pretty boy label because, well, he is a pretty boy, and counts as overexposed because of the commercials and iridescent fame. Brady does not get “overpaid” points because his current contract is so sensible, but even so, his legendary status can only overcome so much. You may think this is too high, but if you want to pour a gallon of “Brady lost the will to win a Super Bowl after (Gisele, GQ, Belichick stopped spying, etc.),” you can get a lot of sports-talk mileage.14. (Tie) Andy Dalton, Bengals; Josh Freeman, Buccaneers; Kevin Kolb, Bills (5 points). Five Nonsense Points are the Mendoza Line for a quarterback having to justify his existence on a show like Around the Horn. Below five points, a quarterback is either too great, too new, or too boring to be dragged around for no good reason except a slow news day. Only one person above five points has a Super Bowl ring, and most have some other laundry on the line, so they are fair game. Five points is the threshold. Dalton and Freeman have arrived, Dalton because he has been successful enough to rack up some playoff losses, Freeman because he has been around long enough to start accumulating blame for his lack of success. Kolb has also been a starter (or a guy who was supposed to have been a starter) long enough to wear the “no ring” label. Kolb could also earn points for being overpaid as a holdover from his crazy Cardinals contract, and a hot-of-the-presses Extracurricular could be applied for getting hurt by (tee-hee) slipping on a mat in training camp. But there is no reason to pick on the guy: Kolb is headed for backup oblivion. Dalton and Freeman are either headed for success or a trip to the QNI hot seat.13. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (5.1 points). Rodgers actually tied Dalton and the others, but he is a category unto himself. Offsetting his championship are: the Overpaid label, a discount doublecheck Overexposed label, and some Extracurriculars. We had the Greg Jennings flare-up, Skip Bayless’ assertions that Rodgers is arrogant (pot … kettle) and the unforgettable Rodgers hates sick children because he did not sign the proper number of autographs saga. The tenth of a point can be justified by the fact that Rodgers still has to play nice-nice with Brett Favre. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL right now, which makes him easier to shoot paintballs at: the Brady Bunch have become unassailable, the Griffin Gang are too young and fun, but Rodgers is too squarely in the crosshairs for one Super Bowl ring to fully protect him.12. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (7 points). Kaepernick is in a different category from guys like Griffin and Luck, even though the QNI gives him Up and Comer points. The tattoos and hats are more like symptoms than an illness: in just a few months of fame, Kaepernick has attracted irrationality that the Griffin Gang easily deflects. The suddenness of that fame may be the culprit: we had months to prepare for the 2012 rookies, but Kaepernick got sprung on the football world in November, forcing unprepared opinion-mongers to fall back to their dependable trenches (tattoos are bad!). A large market and Super Bowl-caliber attention also works against Kaepernick. This likeable, talented kid only has one rung to climb up and a million miles to slide down. He is in the unfortunate position of being an 8-8 season and a few out-of-context sound bites away from becoming the next big thing in the nonsense industry.11. Carson Palmer, Cardinals (8 points). Does not compute! The system sees a veteran with no rings who just left a major media market. Fans see a hard-luck journeyman whose career was derailed by injuries, bad teams and the T. Ocho Show. Talk-show producers see a guy whose sizzle cooled off in 2010 or so. The close thing football has to baseball’s mid-rotation inning eaters, Palmer fouls up the system a bit, but a system with no odd results is a system with thumbprints all over its scales.10. Cam Newton, Panthers (9 points). Now we are getting to the good stuff. Newton has overexposure, Extracurriculars, recent first-overall draft status and towel-covered appearance issues to make him a favorite nonsense chew toy. His small market and relative youth have kept the kettle from boiling over thus far. Newton makes a fine cautionary tale for all of the younger stars who appear to be coated with Teflon right now: all it takes is a losing streak, some bad body language and a few snipes from teammates or family members to get the QNI meter bouncing. Related ArticlesAn Exclusive Essay by the Tattoo Inspector I’m Detective Stanley Wojciehowicz and I will be proudly serving as the NFL’s new rookie tattoo inspector. An…More»Mandatory Monday: Same Old Jets? The Jets are awash in storylines as camp opened. But, unlike last year, most of them are refreshingly…More»Menace to the Cowboys? Everything you know about Tony Romo is wrong. And that’s before you start listening to the rumors about his work…More»Mandatory Monday: Lost Highways An NFL training camp tour can take you to the most interesting places, but teams don’t make it easy to share the…More»9. Alex Smith, Chiefs (10 points). Safely tucked away in Kansas City, Smith may appear to be too high on this list. But remember how much mileage he provided from his rookie season through his benching. Smith was a former first-overall pick forever mired in quarterback controversies in a big market; had Jim Harbaugh never switched quarterbacks and brought both to camp this year, Smith-versus-Kaepernick would be a daily ESPN talking point. Instead, Smith is destined to slide down the nonsense hill as expectations dwindle and his days as a top prospect fade from memory.7. (tie) Philip Rivers, Chargers; Matthew Stafford, Lions (12 points). Stafford is #7 with a bullet: his new contract and fourth year in the NFL have placed him in “overpaid guy who never wins” territory, and he is a former #1 pick to boot. Another ho-hum season will add the Five Year Linger to his resume; an early playoff exit will add Playoff Failure. Rivers would have been run out of New York in a garbage scowl by about 2011, but San Diego is a friendly little market where his mouthy demeanor goes mostly unnoticed and the team’s troubles were tied to the outgoing coaching regime. Rivers’ ranking seems a little high; like Carson Palmer, he deflects a lot of nonsense by visibly working hard for bad-to-awful teams.6. Matt Schaub, Texans (15 points). To reach the upper echelons of nonsense, a quarterback must have a handful of playoff losses under his belt. Schaub only has one, but he also has a messy win against the Bengals, and the industry-leading nonsense-perpetrators have likely forgotten that he was hurt during the 2011 playoff run. Schaub is “on the hot seat,” “must win now,” “hasn’t proven he can take that step,” and on and on. A lack of national exposure or personality ticks keeps him out of the top five.5. Mark Sanchez, Jets (17 points). Sanchez does not get hit with Playoff Failure because he was more successful than anyone could reasonably expect in the playoffs. He is also not dinged for Appearance Issues; the butt fumble is classified as an Extracurricular (when Adam Sandler is making jokes about you …). Sanchez is overpaid, overexposed, ringless and trapped in New York. His saving grace is that the joke has gotten old: nothing can be wrung from Sanchez in 2013 that wasn’t squeezed dry in 2012.3. (tie) Matt Ryan, Falcons; Michael Vick, Eagles (19 points). Ryan is a rising star in the QNI field now that he has a new contract and has been in Atlanta for five years with no Super Bowl and limited playoff success (because it is his job to cover receivers, of course). Ryan provides an easy “Flacco did it, now Ryan must” storyline, and we get to enjoy a full season of wondering whether he has found the magical ingredients to the winner sauce recipe. Since Ryan has no more “next steps” until he reaches the Super Bowl, the debate can continue through mid-January. Hooray!Vick, meanwhile, has no rings, a bad playoff record, a high salary, a big market and a whole college application’s worth of Extracurriculars on his slate. Even with memories of jail and dogfights fading, Vick keeps on giving as an overpaid albatross stuck in a weird quarterback controversy on a rebuilding team. He would rank higher if the system awarded bonus points for crazy relatives on Twitter. Maybe version 2.0…2. Jay Cutler, Bears (20 points). No ring, little playoff success, a Noted Playoff Stumble (the ankle injury against the Packers; no one said nonsense was fair), a smokin’ Extracurricular meme and high-profile personal life, a big market and a face that contorts all-too-naturally into a sneer make Cutler fun fodder, even for those of us who should know better. Cutler enjoyed some blowback to the blowback after the Smokin’ Jay meme got out of control: the guy played hard behind a bad line, and he really does care. Cutler could win a Super Bowl, he could fade away and join Palmer and Rivers on the road out of the spotlight, or he could smirk his way into the #1 spot. Only the Super Bowl can get him quickly out of the QNI top ten. 1. Tony Romo (30 points). What more could you ask for? Romo rings every bell in the system except Recent First Pick Overall. Even Jerry Jones has gotten into the business of measuring the value of Romo’s soul. I recently wrote a blog post about how misunderstood Romo’s on-field record has become, but the nuts-and-bolts of Romo’s usually-solid Sundays are lost in a sea of playoff bumbles and high-profile romances.Romo may be the most nonsense-laden regular starting quarterback in history. He trumps the late-Eagles career Donovan McNabb (who maxes at 23 points around 2008; McNabb is used to test all nonsense tolerances), and I am terrified my computer will freeze if I run the numbers for Brett Favre. More than a nonsense accumulator, Romo has been a nonsense trailblazer, gaining overexposure early in his career, generating bloopers that presaged the invention of the GIF and creating fodder for football and entertainment blogs from the moment there were football and entertainment blogs.Ah, but what about Tim Tebow nonsense, you ask? There is no software in the world that can handle that.

  140. November 18, 2012The Professor: Chaos ReignsCommentsNotre Dame’s Manti T’eo (right) celebrates with Kapron Lewis-Moore after a win that, by the end of the day, made the Irish No. 1. (Getty Images)The Essay Question: The National Championship RaceIt’s really happening. Notre Dame controls its own destiny, leaving much of America to root for Lane Kiffin.Nobody paid much attention to Notre Dame throughout the afternoon on Saturday. The Fighting Irish quickly dispelled the notion that a home date with 5-5 Wake Forest was a trap before heading to USC. They jumped out to a big lead, and finished off a 38-0 demolition of the Demon Deacons. In five other home wins, Notre Dame had won by atotalof 23 points. This time ND was up by 31 before halftime. Everything went right.So nobody thought much of it, or watched much of it, with more entertaining games going on elsewhere. Yet here we are, the clock struck midnight, and Notre Dame was set to become the No. 1 team in the land, the nation’s only eligible unbeaten, thanks to a disastrous performance by Kansas State at Baylor and a lousy offensive game by Oregon against Stanford. The Fighting Irish left Notre Dame Stadium as the nation’s No. 3 team. By the end of the night of chaos, they were No. 1. For weeks, it appeared that an undefeated Notre Dame team could get left out of the championship game. Instead, Notre Dame is in full control, one game against USC for a spot in Miami and a run at all the glory.A Notre Dame win against the floundering Trojans presents the simplest national title scenario. The Irish have been brilliant defensively, and they’ve already played their best game on the road against a good team, beating Oklahoma. To make the outlook even grimmer for USC — and, thus, Oregon, Kansas State, Florida and Florida State — QB Matt Barkleywas seen in a slingafter the Trojans’ loss to UCLA, although he wouldn’t discuss his injury. With Barkley, USC certainly presents the biggest challenge Notre Dame’s defense has seen all season, with a skill group that also includes Marqise Lee, Robert Woods, Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd, among others. But a Barkley injury combined with a demoralized four-loss USC team, a flustered Lane Kiffin and a Monte Kiffin-led defense on its heels makes the outlook appear good for Notre Dame at the Coliseum.So, that whole rooting for Lane Kiffin thing that nobody ever wants to do … Oregon fans will be doing it. So will Kansas State. So will Florida State and Florida, depending on the outcome of their game. And so will many, many Americans who have no interest in more than a month of Notre Dame in the national championship game hype and drama in this age of 24-hour coverage.What the losses ofbothKansas State and Oregon did do was all but ensure the SEC will have a chance to extend its six-year national title streak after all. Left for dead by Alabama’s loss to newcomer Texas A&M, the conference has new life, backing its way into an SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia that will essentially act as a national semifinal, with the one-loss winner heading to Miami (assuming Georgia beats Georgia Tech and Alabama beats Auburn, the latter of which is the safest assumption this column could ever make). An Alabama-Notre Dame national championship would be the biggest win for traditionalists in years, as, not only would it be historically great programs, but two teams who win with elite defenses. Want to see Chip Kelly attempt to get his Oregon offense going again vs. Nick Saban? Well, sorry, you have to root for Lane Kiffin.It won’t be easy, but it could be a whole lot of fun. Notre Dame? At USC? National title spot on the line? Teams from every other region rooting against the Fighting Irish? For all its flaws, this sport can’t help but reel everyone in with some good-old-fashioned chaos and drama.BCS ProjectionsNational Championship: Notre Dame vs. AlabamaRose Bowl: Oregon vs. NebraskaFiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs. ClemsonSugar Bowl: Georgia vs. OklahomaOrange Bowl: Florida State vs. LouisvilleMost of this is self-explanatory. If Notre Dame loses, then things get even crazier, but for now ND-Alabama is the obvious choice. Kansas State falls to the Fiesta Bowl as Big 12 Champs, Georgia gets the edge as the replacement for Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Florida State automatically goes to the Orange, likely against the Big East champ (Louisville or Rutgers). Clemson and Oklahoma get at-large bids. Then there’s the Rose Bowl, with Nebraska the favorite to win the Big Ten. Oregon’s path is murkier. If Stanford beats UCLA next week, the Cardinal win the Pac-12 North, and then have a rematch with UCLA in the conference title game with a Rose Bowl bid on the line. The early bet here is that Stanford loses, sending Oregon to the title game for that Rose Bowl bid.Lessons LearnedThe monopoly is actually over. Those trust-busting UCLA Bruins finally did it, with Jim Mora doing what Rick Neuheisel failed to do despitesuggesting otherwise. In a year in which USC opened the season as the AP’s No. 1 team with Matt Barkley returning for what he believed would be a post-ineligibility championship season, UCLA ended up establishing itself as the best team in Los Angeles and the Pac-12 South. The Bruins jumped out to a 24-0 lead, ceded three straight TDs to the Trojans and then held on to win 38-28, getting three total TDs from QB Brett Hundley and 171 yards and two TDs from RB Johnathan Franklin. Lane Kiffin may actually need to ask his father, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, to leave, whileathletic director Pat Haden insiststhat Lane will return to coach the Trojans in 2013. Mora and Hundley likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon either.Touché, SEC. At the beginning of the day Saturday,I complainedabout the SEC’s reverse scheduling. In other words, while other conferences beat up on FCS teams in September, the SEC dives right into conference play and saves many of its cupcakes for November. College football’s incredibly flawed polling system results in teams getting punished for losing late in the season, so the SEC finds a way to try to avoid that. Alabama, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia all entered the week in the top 10 of the BCS, and all played FCS opponents, with varying degrees of success. Alabama and Texas A&M won in blowouts, while South Carolina was tied 7-7 with Wofford after three quarters despite the fact that Wofford completed one pass in the entire game. (Said Steve Spurrierafter the game: “It’s a difficult game. I think I would like to trade with Alabama and play the team they played this week, Western Carolina. They are struggling a little bit, and Wofford is a conference champion.” Right.) But, here we are, and the SEC’s plan works out perfectly. Oregon and Kansas State lost. Alabama and Georgia can step right up into the national title race, with Florida even still in the picture. The SEC, as always, knows exactly what it’s doing.Ohio State could win the AP national championship. The Buckeyes survived yet again, going on the road to Madison and overcoming a subpar offensive day and 191 yards from Montee Ball to win 21-14 against Wisconsin. Urban Meyer is now 11-0 in his first season, Braxton Miller remains in the Heisman discussion and all that’s left for an undefeated season is a home showdown with Michigan. So how can Ohio State earn a split national title? If Notre Dame loses to USC or in the BCS National Championship, the Buckeyes can be the nation’s only undefeated team. Many AP voters would surely vote an undefeated Ohio State team No. 1. The question is: Would enough of them spring for the ineligible Buckeyes over a BCS champion Alabama team?Oklahoma-West Virginia lived up to previous expectations anyway. West Virginia’s season has turned into a disaster, as Geno Smith’s Heisman campaign and the team’s Big 12 title hopes ran off the rails despite a 5-0 start. In the preseason, this looked like a potential Big 12 championship game, a raucous prime-time atmosphere in Morgantown welcoming one of the best programs in college football. Well, four straight WVU losses dampened the mood and made this sort of an afterthought, especially in a TV lineup featuring upset losses by undefeated Kansas State and Oregon. But those who flipped to Fox were treated to another ridiculous offensive explosion. West Virginia put up 778 yards. Wide receiver Tavon Austinrushedfor 344 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Stedman Bailey caught 13 passes for 205 yards and four touchdowns. The catch? West VirginiaLOSTthe game. Only West Virginia could put up 778 yards against what had been a good Oklahoma defense and lose. Trailing late, Landry Jones (554 yards, six touchdowns) hit Kenny Stills for a five-yard TD pass to give Oklahoma the 50-49 win. The Sooners can still win the Big 12 if they win out and Kansas State loses to Texas.Grading the Rest of the WeekendA+: Utah StateLouisiana Tech was the assumed favorite all year in the final season of WAC football, but it’s actually a three-team league, with Utah State and San Jose State both pulling off strong seasons. Saturday night, Utah State took things a step further by withstanding a furious Bulldogs rally and winning in overtime to take hold of first place in the conference. The Aggies jumped out to a commanding 41-17 lead, only to see Louisiana Tech’s high-powered offense battle back and kick a game-tying field goal as time expired. However, the Aggies held the Bulldogs off in overtime and escaped with a dramatic 48-41 win.A: Oregon StateCalifornia has essentially given up at this point, but the Beavers still put together quite a show for the late-night Pac-12 Network crowd. In their biggest scoring output of the year, the Beavers beat the Golden Bears 62-14, with QB Sean Mannion returning to the lineup to throw for 325 yards and four touchdowns heading into next Saturday’s Civil War.A-: Florida StateWhile Maryland was a hot topic Saturday afternoon, it wasn’t because of its play on the field. The Terps were routed by the Seminoles, who locked up the ACC Atlantic with a 41-14 win in which Maryland managed 170 total yards. Florida State has given up more than 22 points only once all season. Maryland hasn’t scored more than 18 since Oct. 13. There you have it.B+: Mississippi StateAfter their hot 7-0 start against inferior competition, the Bulldogs went through an SEC West gauntlet and were put in their place by Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU in back-to-back-to-back crushing blowouts. But after a slow start, Mississippi State bounced back and turned the tables to blow out Arkansas, winning 45-14 to guarantee that Arkansas will not go bowling and has only one game left in the John L. Smith era.B: RutgersThe Scarlet Knights sure looked like a Big Ten team Saturday. They scored only 10 points, but they still won the biggest game of their season so far, going on the road to Cincinnati and escaping with a 10-3 victory. Kyle Flood’s destiny appears to be coaching 9-8 games against Kirk Ferentz. Rutgers is the only unbeaten team in conference play in the Big East, and the finale against Louisville will likely be for the conference title.B-: ClemsonDo you like offense? This a question frequently asked in the 2012 college football season, and, strangely, the ACC has provided some of the biggest offensive fireworks. Last week, Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 68-50 in the highest-scoring ACC game ever. This week, Clemson beat N.C. State 62-48 and goteight total touchdownsfrom QB Tajh Boyd. The Tigers had two 100-yard rushers, two 100-yard receivers and a 400-yard passer, while also giving up 597 yards to the Wolfpack.C+: LSUThis grade was going to be no better than a “C,” given that LSU trailed Ole Miss much of the way at home and needed an 89-yardOdell Beckham punt returnand a one-yard Jeremy Hill TD run in the fourth quarter to win 41-35. But the Tigers get the plus for one reason: Les Miles. Seriously, if you haven’t, watchMiles’ post-game press conference. Watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again. The complete randomness, the absurd swing in emotions,this move. Watch it.C: Colorado being ColoradoIn the midst of another embarrassing loss, 38-3 to Washington this time, Colorado managed to at least make people laugh. The Buffaloes actually picked up a first down, then didn’t realize they got the first down and ran a QB sneak with Jordan Webb. “They originally had it as third down, so we signaled him quarterback sneak,”coach Jon Embree said. “Then they gave him the first down and he didn’t get the signal what the play was supposed to be.” We’ll give Colorado an “A” for magically getting a first down and an “F” for failing to realize it. Balances out to a “C,” right?C-: Virginia TechThe Hokies had been remarkably consistent, perhaps the most consistent program in college football since the turn of the century. They’d won at least 10 games in eight straight seasons, dominating the new-look ACC. They entered 2012 ranked 16thin the AP Top 25. Then they flopped for the worst season in 20 years. Saturday, the Hokies need a win to keep bowl hopes alive, and somehow they needed a last-minute field goal and overtime to beat a two-win Boston College team, 23-20. The Hokies now have a 19-year bowl streak on the line in the Commonwealth Cup against Virginia.D+: Texas TechAll looked so bright in Lubbock a month ago. The Red Raiders had lost to Oklahoma but won their other six games, including a 49-14 dismantling of then-unbeaten West Virginia. But since a 56-53 triple-overtime win over TCU, Texas Tech has lost three games to ranked opponents and needed overtime to beat lowly Kansas in a game in which Tommy Tubervillegot himself in trouble. This week, the Red Raiders were blown off the field at Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys raced to a 35-7 lead, rushed for 256 yards and won 59-21 with the help of three Texas Tech turnovers.D: TennesseeThe tough thing about handing out these grades is not giving credit to the other side. In this case, Vanderbilt absolutely deserves an “A,” but, of course, we have to talk about Tennessee — which finally pulled the plug on coach Derek Dooley. The Vols went to Nashville and lost to their rivals-only-by-geography for the first time on the road since 1982, and they did it in embarrassing fashion. Pretty much every game for the last month has seemingly gotten Dooley fired, but this time it finally happened. Tennessee lost 41-18, and it will be home for the holidays for the third time in five seasons.F: Kansas StateWe can at least rationalize the Oregon loss. The Ducks played poorly, but they did it against a pretty good team. Kansas State? There’s an excuse for giving up some points to one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. But the Wildcats’ offense came up extremely small against a Baylor defense that ranked in or near triple-digits nationally in just about everything. The team that made the fewest mistakes all year played a completely uncharacteristic game in Waco and likely torpedoed its national title dreams.Honor RollDri Archer, Everything, Kent State: Archer continues to justify his weekly inclusion in The Professor. For the first time ever, Kent State clinched the MAC East title, beating Bowling Green 31-24 to move to 10-1. Once again, Archer led the way. He ran 17 times for 241 yards with two touchdowns of 79 and an absurd74 yards. For the season, he has 14 rushing TDs, four receiving TDs, three return TDs and a passing TD.Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia: Landry Jones, Stedman Bailey and Geno Smith could all be included here from the ridiculous OU-WVU game, but the spot on the Honor Roll is reserved for Austin. Austin, who is about to notch his second straight 100-catch, 1,000-yard season, caught four passes for 82 yards against the Sooners. But that’s not why he’s here. No, Dana Holgorsen decided to get him the ball as arunner, and all he did was rush 21 times for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Oh, he also had 146 return yards, giving him 572 all-purpose yards. In one game.Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: All wasn’t good for Ball on Saturday. The Badgers lost in overtime, and he coughed up the ball while trying to tie the game and break the NCAA’s all-time touchdown record on a fourth down near the goal line. Still, Ball did tied Travis Prentice’s record, rushing 39 times for 191 yards and a touchdown against a very good run defense. He’ll have a chance to break the record by scoring a 79thtime at Penn State.Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: Statistics wise, this was an all-time great day for Boyd against N.C. State, the same Wolfpack team that somehow beat Florida State. Boyd completed 30-of-44 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns (with two picks) and also ran 18 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns as Clemson won 62-48. It was the first 100-yard rushing and second 400-yard passing game of his career.Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan: Still nursing an elbow injury, Denard Robinson couldn’t play quarterback, so instead he played a bunch of snaps at running back and rushed 13 times for 98 yards with Fitzgerald Toussaint out because of a scary leg injury. With Robinson banged up, Gardner got another start at QB and did something Robinson has never done: account for six touchdowns in a game. Not only did Gardner throw for 314 yards and three touchdowns, but he also chipped in 37 yards and three touchdowns on the ground against a disinterested Iowa defense.Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois: It’s amazing that Dri Archer might not be the most impressive MAC player this year. Lynch has also been amazing in his first year replacing Chandler Harnish, and he had yet another enormous output as Northern Illinois clinched the MAC West with a 31-24 midweek win over Toledo. Lynch threw for 407 yards and three TDs and ran 30 times for 162 yards. For the season, he’s thrown for 2,582 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for 1,504 yards and 16 TDs.Miami’s passing game: In a 40-3 blowout of another disappointing South Florida team, Stephen Morris re-emerged from a quiet stretch by throwing for 413 yards and three touchdowns. He had THREE receivers surpass the 100-yard mark, including TE Clive Walford and WRs Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett.Montel Harris, RB, Temple: After getting dismissed from Boston College, Harris had been inconsistent most of the season for the Owls. Then he faced Army (a team that beat BC). In a 63-32 rout, Harris ran 36 times for 351 yards and seven touchdowns. Temple attempted four passes in this game, and its first two touchdowns were rushing TDs scored not by Harris, but by the fantastically named Matt Brown.Allen Robinson, WR, and Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State: Trivia question: Who holds Penn State’s records for most career passing TDs and most single-season passing yards? Matt McGloin! Not Kerry Collins, not Todd Blackledge, not Chuck Fusina. Records are falling everywhere due to various changes in college football, including the number of games and higher scoring, but still, McGloin’s 2012 progress under Bill O’Brien is remarkable. In a 45-22 win against Indiana, McGloin threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns, while Robinson had a huge day with 10 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns, all three of which were of the highlight-reel variety. Robinson broke Penn State’s single-season record for catches.Honorary inclusion:Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State: For how great of a Saturday in college football it was, there were also some sickening injuries, from Fitz Toussaint’s leg injury at Michigan to yet another knee injury for Mauti. Mauti has been the face of the Penn State players who opted to stay in the wake of the NCAA sanctions, in addition to being one of the best linebackers in college football. But for the third time in his Penn State career, the senior was taken off the field Saturday with what’s apparently a serious knee injury, prompting teammate John Urschel tocompare him to Odysseus, and defensive coordinator Ted Roof tochoke upwhile talking about him.Student of the YearIf I had a Heisman ballot …1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: We could be on the verge of history. It wasn’t until 2007 that a sophomore won the Heisman, when Tim Tebow took home the trophy. Now Manziel could become the first freshman. Thanks to Collin Klein and Kansas State getting blown out by Baylor, Manziel clearly moves to the front of the pack. Against Sam Houston State, he threw for 267 yards and three TDs and ran 16 times for 100 yards and two TDs, giving him 17 passing TDs and 17 rushing TDs as he continues to lead the SEC in rushing. He’s now broken NCAA records for freshman QB rushing yards and freshman total offense, and Kevin Sumlin even let him attempt an extra point Saturday (he missed).2. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame: The signature player for the No. 1 team in the nation and a brilliant defense. Te’o has played great football all season, leading the team in tackles just about every week and also intercepting six passes. He’ll surely draw an invite to New York.3. Marqise Lee, WR, USC: I hate to drop Collin Klein off completely, but he’s had a couple rough games and may have no chance now that K-State was embarrassed by Baylor. So let’s go with Lee, who had huge numbers again this week against UCLA, catching nine passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Despite USC’s struggles, he’s been unstoppable, with 107 catches for 1,605 yards and 14 TDs, plus success in the return game.Next in line: Kansas State QB Collin Klein, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, Oregon RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon QB Marcus MariotaBowl Eligibility TrackerThere are 35 bowls, which means 70 bowl spots. The last thing we want is for college football to come up short, forcing it to dip into the pool of sub-.500 teams. Eligible teams (six wins) as of Oct. 27:64*: Air Force, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas State, Ball State, Boise State, Bowling Green, BYU, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kent State, LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Middle Tennessee, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Navy, Nebraska, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Toledo, Tulsa, UCF, UCLA, USC, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Washington, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin*North Carolina, Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for postseason play.On the Syllabus for Week 13The final full week of college football action before the conference championship games. TCU plays at Texas on Thanksgiving, and Black Friday is filled with games, but the biggest action is saved for Saturday. Of course, the biggest game is now a prime-time showdown in Los Angeles as USC tries to ruin Notre Dame’s championship dreams. Also, Ohio State looks to finish undefeated against archrival Michigan; Florida, amazingly, attempts to stay in the national title hunt at Florida State; Oregon and Oregon State will play the Civil War; Stanford and UCLA meet in a possible preview of the next week’s Pac-12 title game; Montee Ball goes for the touchdown record as Wisconsin plays at Penn State; South Carolina plays at Clemson with a BCS at-large big possibly on the line for the Tigers; Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet in the Bedlam game; and Alabama, once again national title favorites, does its best to embarrass Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Clear your post-Thanksgiving schedule.

  141. July 30, 2013Don’t Chase the PastCommentsChase Utley may be the Phillies greatest second baseman, but at 34 with his history of injury problems, he’s a risk to lock into a long-term deal.You have to hand it to Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.: he certainly sticks to his plan.As long as the Phillies were winning — and they did a ton of that, capturing five straight National League East crowns, two NL pennants and the 2008 World Series — Amaro’s plan to keep his team’s offensive core together, supplement them with as much pitching as his farm system could be dealt for, and hope for the best looked like the work of a genius.But for nearly two full seasons now, Amaro has been faced with incontrovertible evidence that his strategy is no longer working. Ryan Howard was extended in 2010, and his contract has been rightly ridiculed ever since. Jimmy Rollins was brought back on an expensive three-year deal signed in December of 2011, and has aged as most shortstops do. So the core hasn’t been particularly reliable.Nor have the results continued at the once-grand pace of 2007-2011. The Phillies finished 81-81 last year, and after hovering around the very edges of playoff contention for much of 2013, they’ve lost eight in a row, sit 11.5 games back of NL East leaders Atlanta, and 9.5 back of the final wild card, Cincinnati.Most teams would be looking to sell. Instead, the Phillies went out and paid nearly $50 million in guaranteed money for Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban pitcher sought by many. This makes sense, given Gonzalez’s talent, his youth (just 26), and that this loophole is basically the only way to leverage money into adding young talent.But this other idea, which is to lock up Chase Utley forever, is admirable in its pursuit of an idea to its logical extreme. But man, does it seem like a mistake.Let me be clear: Utley, 34, has been an incredible player. During his peak, from 2005-2009, exactly one player earned more wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference, than Chase Utley, and that was Albert Pujols. No one else came particularly close; Alex Rodriguez finished five wins behind Utley over those five years.Had Utley been allowed to take the second base job a few years earlier, or stayed healthy a few years later, we’d be talking about Utley as not just the finest second baseman in Phillies history by far, but as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.But about that staying healthy part: Utley just hasn’t, not for years. He’s played in 115, 103 and 83 games in the 2010-2012 seasons. He’s at 76 now, and there’s no guarantee he’ll stay healthy for the rest of this season.But as Jon Heyman reported: “Some have suggested Carlos Beltran’s $26 million, two-year deal is a reasonable template for Utley considering their status as stars who’ve had knee issues, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro’s comments that he’d like to make Utley a ‘Phillie for life’ suggest he may be considering at least three years.”I mean, that’s just adorable. Amaro has said, multiple times, that he intends to make Utley a Phillie for life. But what does that mean, really? Just how long will he keep rolling Utley out there, keeping the band of Utley, Rollins and Howard together? Jimmy Rollins has an OPS+ of 84, but he recently refused to consider a trade on the grounds of trying to climb the Phillies’ all-time leaderboard. He’s signed through next year, and has a 2015 vesting option, and, right, a full no-trade clause. Howard is signed through 2016, for enough money to make him essentially untradeable, too.And a three-year deal for Utley would keep him a Phillie through 2016 as well. At Beltran annual money, that’s three years, $39 million. What can the Phillies hope to get for their loyalty? Related ArticlesCatch it on Cape Cod The Cape Cod Baseball League has high stakes, serving as a crucible for elite amateur talent. It’s also a big…More»Should He Stay or Should He Go? It’s hard to think of the Atlanta Braves without Brian McCann as a middle-of-the-order presence, calling games…More»Well, consider that Utley will begin his next contract in his age-35 season. That age and beyond has not been kind to second basemen. Eight second basemen, ever, have put up at least 10 WAR from their age-35 seasons on. Eight.Three of the top four were Eddie Collins, Nap Lajoie and Charlie Gehringer, so the only two since World War II in the top five were Joe Morgan and Jeff Kent, and they each needed five seasons to log that much value. The other three: Lou Whitaker, Mark Grudzielanek, and Randy Velarde. Whitaker is an obvious oversight for the Hall of Fame, great until the end. If the Phillies get latter-career Grudzielanek or Velarde, they’re not going to be thrilled.But the larger point is that while these eight, spread over the past 100 years, provided good, though probably not 3/39 value, they are the exceptions. And the rule is: every other second baseman ever.Also worth pointing out: none of the eight had missed extended time in four consecutive seasons right before putting up that reasonably solid post-35 value.The strangest part of this is that teams don’t even need to employ their once-great players into dotage to get that sentimental moment. Just days ago, the Yankees held a lavish ceremony for Hideki Matsui, who signed a one-day contract and retired as a Yankee. He wasn’t a Yankee for life, though: after winning the World Series MVP in 2009, the Yankees rightly determined he was out of gas, and jettisoned him. Matsui put up a reasonably good 2010, and then he was finished. No one, especially Matsui himself, thinks of Hideki Matsui as a Tampa Bay Ray, or Oakland Athletic, or Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim.”This moment will be a moment that I will never forget,” Matsui said Sunday. “To be able to retire as a member of the team that I aspired to and looked up to, I think there is nothing more fulfilling.”Amaro seems to disagree. And if he gets his way, we’ll get to see exactly how that version of events looks. If history is any guide, it won’t be pretty.

  142. September 30, 2012Hit or Miss?CommentsManny Machado’s Orioles and Derek Jeter and the Yanks are again tied for the top spot in the AL East. (Getty Images)Staying up to date on the battles for all the various MLB playoff spots is a full-time job that requires daily attention — and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing in this space, for the rest of the season. Today we begin a bit differently.One thing that always drove me nuts about the BCS system in college football was how they would change the thing constantly to fix last year’s problems. It would get three undefeated teams, or six teams with one loss, or an undefeated team in a smaller conference and a one-loss team in a bigger one, or great teams that would lose in conference championship games that other conferences didn’t even have, and it would adjust the system accordingly. And while this sounds like the right thing to do, the truth is that the old problem never repeated itself, and new problems would emerge, and the system — which was guaranteed to be unsatisfying anyway — was always one year behind.Baseball decided that it needed to fix the problem of the insignificant pennant race. It is a worthy cause. Baseball added a wild-card team in 1995 (well, 1994, but there was that whole canceling-of-the-World Series problem). And the wild-card teams, for the most part, were accepted as full-blooded members of the baseball postseason, with all the benefits of regular members, except that they couldn’t have home-field advantage.Well, while the home-field advantage benefit is nice, it is not necessary or even necessarily pivotal when it comes to winning a postseason baseball series, and in 1997, the Florida Marlins won the World Series from the wild-card spot.In 2000, the Mets went to the World Series as a wild card (and the Yankees won their division and the World Series with just 87 wins).In 2002, the Angels won the World Series over the Giants — both wild-card teams.In 2003, the Marlins AGAIN won the World Series as a wild card.In 2004, the Red Sox won the World Series as a wild card, and there was joy across New England.In 2005, the Astros reached the World Series as a wild card and lost.In 2006, the Tigers reached the World Series as a wild card (and lost to a Cardinals team that won its division with just 83 victories).In 2007, the Rockies reached the World Series as a wild card.In 2011, the Cardinals won the World Series as a wild card.The point of all of this is that being a wild card was just fine. And if you, as a manager, found yourself in a heated race for the division title, well, it didn’t MATTER as long you had a good enough record to be in the wild-card spot anyway. This devalued one of baseball’s greatest qualities, the September pennant race.And so baseball people came up with a novel way to deal with it. Instead of getting rid of the wild card, they decided to add another wild card BUT take away full membership rights for wild-card teams. Now, wild cards have to face each other in a one-game caged match for the privilege of getting into the real postseason.While many of us have trouble with solving the too-many-playoff-teams problem by adding more teams to the playoffs, it is undeniable that this new system has its charms. Now, there is absolutely no question that if you’re in a pennant race, you will want to do everything in your power to win the division because that wild-card spot is fraught with peril. Anybody could lose a one-game playoff. Plus, even if you win the one-game playoff, you will go into the Division Series wounded, with your best pitcher burned out for three or four days. Like I say, the system has its charms.But how is it actually working in real time?In the National League, I would argue that it’s not working very well. There are clearly four teams that are better than every other. The Nationals, Reds and Giants have won their divisions without much of a race. And the Braves are seven games up for that first wild card.So, this year in the National League, the only thing the second wild card does is throw a second playoff team into the mix. I guess, that has added some excitement in St. Louis and Los Angeles, who are sort of battling it out. But it just adds a bit of contrived tension — neither of those teams has played very well over the season — and it invites another potential postseason wrecker into the party. If the Cardinals make it and beat the Braves in the one-game playoff, then somehow beat Washington in the first round, it will be fun in a March Madness sort of way … but baseball is not college basketball. It won’t be a fair reflection of the long season.In the American League, the system seems to be working amazingly well, at least at first glance. Suddenly we have four teams — New York and Baltimore, Oakland and Texas — playing for their lives (with the Angels in there as a spoiler. The Yankees and Orioles are especially fascinating. They are tied for the AL East lead, and that lead really matters this year because the loser will probably have to play Oakland in that one-game playoff just to get into the real postseason. That’s cool and significant and seemingly a lot better than the old system.But is it? What would happen if we were playing under the old system?New York and Baltimore would still be tied for the lead in the AL East. But because Oakland is just one game behind them, the loser would be in danger of missing the postseason entirely. You would have those three teams playing for only two spots in a fascinating game of musical chairs. As it stands now, all three of them will probably make the postseason in SOME form or other. I think the old way would have been more fun.It just feels to me that baseball — like the BCS — is solving last year’s problem. And I fear that it will keep happening. A clearly inferior second wild-card team will end up beating the a first wild card, and baseball will decide that one-game playoff needs to expand to a three-game playoff. That will cause other problems and fail to account for other unforeseen circumstances. Then they will fix those. Then they will try to fix the new ones that arise.It’s an endless circle. I don’t think they will ever get to the heart of it, which I think is that baseball has too long a season to keep adding teams to the playoffs.* * *American LeagueThe big news: Orioles win! Yankees lose! The American League East is tied with four games left. You really can’t get a lot better than that.The little news: Detroit wins to build its lead in the American League Central to two games. Oakland wins to cut its deficit in the West to three.Who is in: Nobody. Well, Texas, New York, Baltimore and Oakland are all probably in, though there’s no way to know yet HOW they are in … as division champions or wild cards. Detroit is looking more and more like the winner in the American League Central as the White Sox continue to fade.Quirky stat: The Orioles won another one-run game, improving their record in one-run games to an almost unbelievable 28-9. But here’s another great stat for you. The Orioles are now 72-0 in games when they are leading after seven innings.How does this rank against other contending teams?Record when leading after seven innings:Baltimore: 72-0Texas: 78-1Atlanta: 75-2Tampa Bay: 72-3San Francisco: 79-5Yankees: 76-5St. Louis: 76-5White Sox: 69-6Oakland: 69-6Los Angeles Dodgers: 66-6Washington: 80-7Cincinnati: 74-7Detroit: 70-7Los Angeles Angels: 71-8* * *The Triple CrownMiguel Cabrera went 1-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. And he’s back in Triple Crown position:Batting averageCabrera .327Mike Trout .321Joe Mauer .320Home runsCabrera 43Josh Hamilton 43Edwin Encarnacion 42RBIsCabrera 135Josh Hamilton 125The Angels and Rangers play a doubleheader on Sunday, which could play a role in the Triple Crown, since Cabrera’s biggest batting average threat might be Angels outfielder Mike Trout, and his biggest home run threat might be Texas’ Josh Hamilton.If Cabrera ties for the lead in any of these categories — home runs being the most obvious — it’s still very much a Triple Crown. A home run tie has happened twice in Triple Crown history — Yaz in 1967 tied Harmon Killebrew in homers, and Joe Medwick in 1937 tied Mel Ott in homers. In fact, because we here at Today in the Pennant Races live to serve you, here are all of the Triple Crown winners, and in parentheses you can see the gap to second place in that category.All in all, Jimmy Foxx in 1933 and Hornsby in 1922 and 1925 seem the most dominant, but you make the call:1967: Carl Yastrzemski — .326 (+15 points), 44 (tied with Harmon Killebrew), 121 (+8)1966: Frank Robinson: — .316 (+9 points), 49 (+10), 122 (+12)1956: Mickey Mantle — .353 (+8), 52 (+20), 130 (+2)1947: Ted Williams — .343 (+15), 32 (+3), 114 (+16)1942: Ted Williams — .356 (+25), 36 (+9), 137 (+23)1937: Ducky Medwick — .374 (+10), 31 (tied with Mel Ott), 154 (+39)1934: Lou Gehrig — .363 (+7), 49 (+5), 165 (+23)1933: Jimmie Foxx — .356 (+20), 48 (+14), 163 (+24)1933: Chuck Klein — .368 (+19), 28 (+1), 120 (+14)1925: Rogers Hornsby — .403 (+36), 39 (+15), 143 (+13)1922: Rogers Hornsby — .401 (+47), 42 (+16), 152 (+20)1909: Ty Cobb — .377 (+30), 9 (+2), 107 (+10)1901: Nap Lajoie — .426 (+86), 14 (+2), 125 (+100)* * *National LeagueThe big news: Cardinals lose and Dodgers win — two more homers for Matt Kemp — and so the second wild-card race tightened up a bit.The little news: Washington won to drop its magic number for winning the National League East to one.Who is in: Same. Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Atlanta and probably St. Louis.Pirates dance: Pittsburgh wins on an Andrew McCutchen walk-off homer in the ninth … the Pirates can still finish the season at .500 by winning their last four games. Pittsburgh has 19 consecutive losing seasons coming into this year.Quirky stat: I have written here before that I think Alex Gordon is the most underrated player in baseball in the truest sense of underrated — nobody seems to know, talk about or even care that he’s become a really good player.In this way, San Diego’s Chase Headley might even top Gordon. Unless you’re a Padres fan, a Padres loather or have Headley on your fantasy team, you might be completely unaware of the fact that he hit his 30th homer on Saturday, stole his 16th base and drove in his league-leading 112th run.He’s doing such things even though he plays half his games in Petco Park, which is so anti-hitting that the stadium itself actually echoes “Hey batta, batta, batta, SWING!” Headley is hitting .297/.388/.536 on the road with 18 homers and 62 RBIs. Even by raw numbers, Headley is probably having the third or fourth best offensive season in the National League (behind Buster Posey, McCutchen, Ryan Braun and, maybe, Joey Votto, who has been hurt so much of the season). Add in that he plays half his games the Hitting House of Horrors, and it’s pretty remarkable.* * *The Dodgers finally seem to be waking up, though I suspect that it’s too late for them to get into the postseason. Still, it has been fun to watch Kemp playing one-man wrecking machine again. The Dodgers have won four in a row, and in those four games, Kemp is hitting .529/.556/1.235.I love doing that every so often, by the way — putting percentages and averages up there for incredibly small sample sizes. Kemp is 9-for-17 with three homers in those four games, which is impressive. But it just feels more impressive when you say he’s hitting .529 and slugging 1.235.

  143. April 24, 2013Take the Long View, Barca FaithfulCommentsThomas Mueller and Bayern Munich may have (rightly) celebrated after defeating Barcelona, but Barca fans will be talking about the loss for a long time. (Getty Images)Four-nil … Look, let’s not get all carried away and breathless. Just because somebody just made the Team of the World of the (New) Century look disfigured and then disintegrated, and just because after a while Barcelona started looking like a bunch of guys who borrowed the shirts and ran out into Munich, inept enough that the possessions that have so befuddled the world began to look piddling, such that you might start thinking, What are they doing out there? and (deep inhale here) just because when that happened, its defense went from never-quite-legendary to frighteningly brittle, and just because the whole thing was so strange that as the players exited the pitch for halftime, you might have thought to yourself, Wait, Iniesta played that half? and …OK, OK, calm down. Four-nil. Take the long view. Don’t hopscotch to conclusions, except that in a single night, Bayern Munich took this gaudy semifinal between the German Bundesliga champion and the Spanish La Liga champion and just killed the thing, annihilated it, left it in shards; took just about the most exciting prospect of recent years in sports — a return match at Camp Nou — and rendered it just about meaningless, blase, something to watch maybe, something where you might just catch the highlights, because going home to Camp Nou down 2-0 to AC Milan in March was hard, but 4-0 to a stouter Bayern Munich is not even interesting, so the thing is dead, and …All right. We have all seen four-nils before. They do happen. There’s no sense overreacting and committing sociology over the thing, even if Bayern pretty much did epitomize the new-era German soccer, did spend a 93-minute frame demonstrating the deadness of the old, methodical approach with this fresh era still steeped in good discipline but meshed with panache, and even if, beyond that, Bayern did make the mind wander to one of its favorite sports ideas of recent times, how the German national team anymore reflects an exciting, energetic, cosmopolitan country with excellent metropolises such as the riveting capital, and …Whew. Still, still, we all must cool it. The great Lionel Messi looked like he shouldn’t have been playing. He looked like he lacked that very twitch, whatever it is, that sets him free of all others across the greenery of the world, the thing that allows his rampages that make stadiums seem to shake. Instead, he gave a dull, apt definition of “hamstrung,” one you might call decisive, but, but wait a minute, wait, this was a four-nil that looked more like a 5-0, a right mauling, a strategic pulverizing that might have been 4-1 with Messi, or 5-1, and, what’s more, one that seemed to show that if Barcelona can look like this because of a hamstrung Messi, maybe the fade so often mentioned really has come, and beyond even that … Related ArticlesEye of the Storm Muslim soccer players aren’t new to the Israeli Premier League — except for the prominent Beitar Jerusalem. But…More»Supernatural Lionel Messi, who has scored 86 goals this year, breaking Gerd Müller’s 40-year-old record, has to be seen to…More»Springtime in Europe If you could have been anywhere in the world on Monday night, you might have picked Atlanta and the Georgia Dome.…More»And beyond even that, this ruthless rout took a club renowned and adored for its elegance and saw it mutate into annoying punk-dom, so that after the fourth goal would come the moment to outlive the others, the moment already wreaking global football chatter, the one where the native Barcelonian Jordi Alba took the ball at the sideline and threw it into the face of the waiting Arjen Robben, a gesture that many a fan has wished to emulate toward Robben in some form, yet one that probably becomes the signature moment so far for the 24-year-old Alba even given all his left-fullback quality, and …And. Still. Let’s put a stop to the overreaction. It’s just one night, even though it almost certainly clinches this semifinal. Barcelona has gone down before at this juncture — to Inter Milan after the ash cloud prompted the 14-hour bus trip in 2010, to Chelsea’s 10-man heart in 2012. Barcelona will menace again beautifully in spring 2014, except that Bayern’s recent-years climb through Europe has found some compelling new tier, and savants on Twitter started yanking out terminology such as “changing of the guard” — and you know it’s momentous when savants on Twitter start yanking out “changing of the guard” — and in addition to its stoutness and its flash, Bayern Munich showed the ardor of the two-time finalist, beaten in 2010, beaten after leading on 85 minutes in 2012, but ready to atone, and … and …And next season Bayern will have former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.Man, people might cite this four-nil for the next 50 years.

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