My head is spinning from two days of the Red Sox annihilating Yankee pitching and prolonged exposure to Mel Kiper, Jr., so all I can muster right now is a post that is intended to make you go “wow” and then move on with your life. Along with 712,261 other people, I’ve come upon footage of former San Jose State defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert jumping out of a swimming pool. A real swimming pool. That is filled with water. I think I’d stub my toe trying to jump out of my bathtub (I promise I’ll put that on YouTube, should I elect to try it). Anyway, here’s the newly-minted Chicago Bear in our second installment of impressive vertical leaps.
I apologize for the posting drought. Between work, my Baseball Prospectus Idol submission, and baseball season itself, I’ve been somewhat neglecting the blog. That ends tonight, with a very brief but very curious inconsistency from Pardon The Interruption‘s Michael Wilbon.
Wilbon and co-host Tony Kornheiser were debating the merits of a London-based Super Bowl sometime in the forthcoming years. Kornheiser staunchly opposed the idea, citing its status as a great American event as a factor that would limit its international appeal. This is fine. Then, this exchange happened (closely paraphrased):
KORNHEISER: Also, no one is going to London to see the Super Bowl. It’s the great American event, and people aren’t going to spend the money to go over there and…
WILBON (interrupting): No, no, no, come on Tony, people can afford to go.
The segment continued until the commercial break, after which our argumentative hosts began discussing the Detroit Pistons’ offering cheap tickets to Cleveland Cavaliers fans in an effort to maximize revenue. Wilbon offered his opinion on this unusual development, which included this nugget:
Tony, I don’t blame Pistons fans one bit for not spending money on these tickets in this economic climate. Not one bit.
I suppose these situations are not exactly comparable. The Super Bowl is a bigger event than an NBA Playoff game, which might make people more likely to splurge on a trans-Atlantic trip. But I do think there is something fundamentally inconsistent about Wilbon’s comments. It makes little sense for him to defiantly state that NFL fans can afford an expensive trip to London, and then say that Pistons fans are prudent to forego luxury goods in a time of economic turmoil. I’m not hugely riled up about this, but I do hope that Wilbon thought about what he said at some point after the cameras stopped rolling.
The NFL Draft is tomorrow, which means we are mere days away from Mel Kiper, Jr. telling us that everyone had an okay draft. Good luck to your team, unless that team is the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Rams, Bears, Packers, Vikings, Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Buccaneers, Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Texans, Colts, Jaguars or Titans. All three omissions were intentional.
As I wrote almost exactly one year ago today, NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. has high standards. After last year’s draft, Kiper (henceforth I omit the “junior”) gave each team’s draft a grade. Of particular note was the fact that every team received a grade between a C- and a B+. One year later, I still find this funny.
Kiper just barely avoided a repeat performance in 2008. His lowest grade given was again a C-, and his typical high was again a B+. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Chiefs ruined all the fun by earning a presumably impossible A. Boo Kansas City.
Just for fun, let’s compare Kiper’s grade distribution in 2006, 2007 and 2008:
- C- : 0
- C : 11
- C+ : 7
- B- : 2
- B : 9
- B+ : 3
- C- : 4
- C : 7
- C+ : 4
- B- : 4
- B : 9
- B+ : 3
- C- : 1
- C : 3
- C+ : 11
- B- : 5
- B : 9
- B+ : 3
- A : 1
For the fellow nerds interested, 2006 yielded an average grade right between a C+ and a B-. 2007 was about the same, although slightly closer to a B-. 2008 was almost exactly a B-. Removing the A – a clear outlier – has negligible effect in 2008; the average grade remains a B-.
2008’s grades are a bit funny because they indicate a shift even further to general mediocrity. While the average grade gets marginally higher as the years go on, the distribution changes a little. At least in 2007, Kiper handed out a bunch of C-‘s and C’s, which are essentially the worst grades possible under his ridiculous system. But in 2008, the range narrowed almost exclusively to C+ to B. In 2006, 56.2% of grades fell within that range; in 2007, 46.8%; 2008, 78.1%. In other words, Kiper’s already less-than-revealing grading system has become even more ambiguous with 78% of teams doing essentially “pretty well.”
It is also interesting to note that in each year, he gave out exactly 9 B’s and 3 B+’s. This probably means nothing.
I will now write a math-free paragraph. The point of all this is that, well, Kiper should maybe take a stand on something for once. I understand that it’s hard for a team to be an abject failure, which would necessitate an F. I also understand that it’s hard for a team to be perfect, necessitating an A. And forgive my informality for a moment, but dude, lighten up. You spend all year dissecting players and forming strong opinions about each one. Shouldn’t the aggregate of 252 strong opinions at least yield some D’s and A’s? It’s okay to grade teams relative to their competition instead of on some perfect, absolute scale. I do not like being yelled and screamed every year for two days in April about these players, and then checking your grades later and seeing nothing but C’s and B’s. Show me that all your sound and fury signifies something.
Your system is already as unscientific as all hell, so take a stand. The world will not end. You can do this. Until next year.
If you’re ever looking for indiscriminate, blanket, shameless abuse of the English language, I would highly recommend reading Mel Kiper, Jr.’s chats on ESPN.com. I occasionally find myself reading them, and it is abundantly clear that this guy has no idea how to express himself clearly or concisely. Someone needs to sit him down and say “look Mel, all you need is a subject, verb and a direct object. That’s really it.” If that happened, we would be spared answers like this one:
He’s one of those guys. He’s a late first, early second rounder. Maybe to San Francisco.
The masochist in me wishes he had just stopped at “he’s one of those guys.” Oh well. The rest of the answer isn’t terrible, I guess. But really, the first sentence is “he’s one of those guys.” Come on. Anyway, there’s also this:
He’s coming out in a year that’s not strong on LBs. I don’t think there will be a LB off the board in the first round. The problem is that in the ILB position, there is Jerod Mayo that came out early.
I have no idea what that last sentence means. Next, someone asks if the Cowboys have a chance to get Darren McFadden in the first round. Mel’s first sentence says:
To have that happen there is they pick in the late first – 22 and 28.
Total gibberish. Epic failure. Mel, just try “they pick too late in the first round to have any chance.” Another question is about Erik Ainge. Mel says:
When you watch him play, he makes all the throws. He rarely gets sacked. He doesn’t have great mobility so to not get sacked much is good. He’s not the kind of guy that doesn’t have a great arm, but you put him in the game and he moves the ball.
Sentence-by-sentence: (1) But when you don’t watch him play, he can barely throw the ball two yards? Just say he makes the throws he should. (2) This is fine. (3) Ehh, okay. (4) Catastrophe. Next, someone asks how Dan Connor fared at the Senior Bowl and if he shed the “overrated” label:
People always talk about who is overrated and underrated prematurely. It’s hard to say going in, but we have to do that. Your ratings determine who is over/under rated. Those O/U lists are overrated. They change from analyst to analyst. I have some lists and it also depends on where a guy goes in the draft. If a guy goes in the first round, he might be overrated, but if he goes in the third, it’s a solid pick.
So Dan Connor did…well? Poorly?
In closing, I look forward to more chats with Mel. I think there could be something special brewing here.
I consider myself an NFL fan and a loyal supporter of the New York Giants, but I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about college football. That’s Mel Kiper, Jr’s job. So when I read his NFL Draft grades on ESPN.com, I was quickly reminded of his perenially lofty expectations for each team’s haul.
I’m not sure if you can access the web page, since it’s an Insider article. In any case, Mel’s lowest grade is a C- and his highest grade is a B+. No As, no Fs. Not even a D. Is this arbitary? Sure. Is it with getting worked up about? Nope. But damn, Mel, lighten up a little. According to you, every team in the NFL did either “okay” or “pretty good” in the draft. The Cleveland Browns got freaking Joe Thomas AND Brady Quinn (grade: B+).
Not everyone can be a draft-master guru like you, Mel.