Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama In "The Bubble."

First he offends the British, then he offends Duke (who cares?), now he offends the developmentally disabled.


For me, there were two "silver linings" to an Obama presidency.

(1) He will definitely get us of Iraq. Right? Well, yes he will, but only to the same extent that the Bush Administration promised to sort of get us out of Iraq eventually.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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(2) He will not be unsophisticated dumbass. Oh-fer-two. We have another rube in the White House.

The Special Olympics comment is just mind-boggling.

I like to apply the "could that happen to me" test when criticising another's gaffe. If it could happen to me, I cut the person a break. Garbled English? A slip of the tongue? That could easily happen t0 me. Cut the guy a break.

This was not just a garbling of his English or a slip of the tongue. I can't fathom "accidentally" saying on television. It was Biden-esque inability to distinguish television cameras from a series of other inanimate objects and understand that those cameras will convert your image and words into electronic signals that will be shot out around the world and converted back into images and audio in millions of peoples' "television sets." Some of those people are going to be offended by your comments.

We could debate whether the developmentally disabled and their advocates are "too sensitive" but does it really freaking matter even if it were true? Was it such a hilarious joke that it was worth stirring the pot a little?

I think we understand why his handlers keep him attached to his teleprompter.

Obama's supposed intelligence has been dramtically oversold. How could it happen? He was the president of the Harvard Law Review for crying out loud. He can't be an air head.

A very (very!) timely episode of 30 Rock explains it all: Obama has lived his whole life in "the bubble."

That's the only possible explanantion.

Don't let him drive a motorcycle.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are the Patriots Still the NFL's Standard Bearers?

Silverstein went on another one of his soapbox rants about how Bill Belichick loves over-the-hill veterans and Thompson should, too.  Aaron at CHTV does an excellent job picking apart Silverstein's post, but there is bigger question to raise.

As I pointed out back in January, back when New England was actually winning Super Bowls, they weren't out signing over the hill free agents:

Go ahead and look at New England's Super Bowl winning rosters . . . .  You can find examples of older players on the roster, but color me underwhelmed.  Now, in recent years you can find a lot more examples of oldtimers on Belichick's teams, for example the aforementioned Seau and Harrison.  But you know what you won't find on those teams?  A championship.

Maybe Belichick is a genius for signing all these over-the-hill players, but he has yet to prove that it works.

Moreover, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls since the last time the Patriot have won one. Maybe the Steelers should be considered the model franchise at this point.  For those that are curious, you can see all the Steeler's (and other teams') free agent transactions here.  

Bonus Rage.

In 2002, the Packers were looking to upgrade their defense, and they went shopping for new personnel.  So they went out and signed the best player that the Packers could find.  Two-time probowler Joe Johnson.

Defensive linemen come at a steep price, and Johnson had other suitors.  So the Packers put together a nice package to lure him to Green Bay.  The deal included quite a bit guaranteed money, including $4.75 Million upfront.  The deal also included a roster bonus (which given the cap accounting rules was for all practical purposed guaranteed) to be paid in 2003.

Joe Johnson was injured and horrible in 2002.  The Packers (who had just received a huge some of taxpayer money to renovate Lambeau Field) still paid him his $1.75 Million bonus in 2003.

Why would they do such a thing?  Why would they reward failure?  How could the Packers fork over this money to Johnson and then expect a handout from the taxpayers?

Did Johnson "deserve" this ridiculous bonus based on his 2002 performance?  

That is a completely irrelevant question.

When the Packers sat across the bargaining table they promised Johnson a $1.75 Million bonus.  Johnson "deserved" whatever his contract said he deserved. The Packers could have insisted on a performance based bonus, but they didn't.  If they would have done that, Johnson probably would have signed somewhere else.  Or, maybe the Johnson would have accepted a performance based bonus in exchange for some other concessions from the Packers such as a higher base salary or higher signing bonus.  

The Packers wanted to put together the best package they could to lure Johnson into playing in Green Bay.  So, the Packers knowingly, and voluntarily took on the risk that Johnson would have a terrible season.  And the Packers did the right thing by fulfilling their contractual obligations after his terrible season.  And Joe Johnson was not a moustache-twirling villain for accepting the money that he was owed (and that he bargained for).  

A deal is a deal.  

You don't get to change your mind if the deal doesn't work out the way you intended.

By the same token, AIG sat across the bargaining table from their high level employees and struck employment agreements.  AIG structured these agreements however they needed to structure them to lure (or retain) these employees.  AIG assumed the risk of under-performance (even if you accept the far-fetched theory that all of these employees are greedy, incompetent oafs).  AIG could have insisted on a "performance-based" bonuses, but they probably would have needed to make some other concessions like higher base salaries, or risked losing its employees.  

Contrary to conventional "wisdom" I think AIG did the right thing by fulfilling its promises (and certainly did the legally required thing), just as the Packers did the right thing by honoring their promises to Joe Johnson.  


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Packer Fans Won't Have Bush to Kick Around Anymore (Maybe)

The Tennessee Titans appear to be the big winners in the Jarrett Bush asweepstakes.  The Titans signed Jarrett Bush to an offer sheet.

Of course, the Packers have one week to match the offer.

Is it wrong that part of me wants Thompson to match the offer just so I can see Packers fans' ridiculous over-reactions?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How Many Wins Must the Packers Have Next Season to Save Thompson and McCarthy's Jobs?

On a message board that I occassionally visit, someone posed an interesting question: just how many wins will it take for McCarthy and Thompson to keep their jobs?

Thompson and McCarthy are on the hot seat.  There are some that might argue with me on this point, but they are wrong.  Consider this:

  • In 1989, Lindy Infante led the Packers to a surprising 10-6 and was named NFL Coach of the Year.
  • In 1991, after two disappointing seasons both Infante and GM Tom Bratz were shown the door.
Unless the Packers start winning, the 2007 season will be a distant memory come November.   Here are my predictions based upon nothing but my gut:

  • 100% chance that the two of them will be back if the team is 9-7 or better.
  • 70% chance that the two of them will be back in the team is 8-8.
  • 30% chance that the two will be back if the team is 7-9.
  • 0% chance (or close to it) that the two will be back if the team is 6-10 or worse.

Now a lot can happen and perhaps there will be some mitigating factors that will save Thompson and McCarthy even after a poor season, but don't count on it.  "Excuses"---even pretty good excuses---may not be enough to save McCarthy and Thompson.  For example, in Infante's case, it wasn't a good enough excuse that his starting QB was on the shelf with a blown rotator cuff.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fine. I'll Say It If No One Else Will.

I often cringe at the "the Packers should sign Player X" posts.  These helpful fan suggestions almost never come to fruition, and are usually driven by name recognition and the player's long passed former glory.  This is no exception.

He's old.  

He's battled through injuries in recent years.  

But he will probably come at a reasonable price, and I think he could give the Packers some flexibility and insurance at a position that is a major question mark due to . . .  age and injury.

I think the Packers should consider Orlando Pace.

There I said it.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More on Tramon Williams

Silverstein writes:

The Packers are probably going to be faced with the choice of matching an offer sheet to Bush that will pay him much more than the $460,000 Tramon Williams is scheduled to make.

Considering Williams was a part-time starter and the nickel back last season, it could cause some problems if Bush is making three times as much as him. That would be one reason the Packers might let Bush go if an offer sheet is made.

This idea was first raised by Aaron at Cheesehead Tee Vee:

I have no doubt Williams noticed the fact that, if both players were to play 2009 on their tenders, Williams would be making $460,000 for the season while Jarrett Bush would be making $1.01million.

The key part of that statement is in bold, and that's the part that Silverstein apparently doesn't understand.  

Tramon Williams is not "scheduled to make" $460,000.  Right now, Williams is "scheduled to make" $0 because he doesn't have a contract.  

There is simply no indication that the Packers are going to try to force Williams to play for the tender.  I highly doubt that they do.  

RELATED TANGENT:  Just to clear one thing up, reading McGinn's piece from yesterday you might come away with the mistaken impression that the Packers tried to force Grant to play for his one-year tender but then "backed down."  

That is not true.  The Packers' very first offer to Grant was a six year deal.  The dispute was over just how big of a multi-year deal Grant deserved, not whether he deserved one.  As far as I know, Grant playing for his tender was never even on the table.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Everyone Loves Bush

There are a lot of Packer fans.  I don't know how many, but millions. 

Given that many Packer fans, there must be a handful of perverse souls that love Jarrett Bush.  It just seems that statistically there has to be.

I've just never heard of one.

Consider this.  The Titans finished last season 13-3, and earned a first round bye in the playoffs. The Titans had the seventh best defense in the league, and the second best special teams unit.

The Titans are considering whether adding Jarrett Bush will make them better.

The Ravens finished 11-5, and beat the Titans to go to the AFC Championship game.  The Ravens had the second best defense in the league.

The Ravens are also considering whether Jarrett Bush will make them better.

Maybe Bush doesn't have naked pictures of Thompson: maybe he has naked pictures of numerous NFL executives at an orgy.

Or maybe there is something there that the rest of us just aren't seeing.  It wouldn't be the first time.

Tramon Williams is Okay, Ted Thompson Is Okay.

There is a growing brouhaha about Tramon Williams's contract situation.  Some fans are already picking (predictable) sides.  I suspect that the whole controversy is premature.  In any event, both Williams and Thompson are doing exactly what each should be doing.  There is no bad guy here.

I don't begrudge Williams one bit.  

He doesn't have a contract.  

He wants one.  

He has every right to seek the biggest contract that he can get.  He is not Buddha or Jesus or Gandhi.  He is a football player.  It's okay for him to care about materials things (you know, just like the rest of us).  

I want him to be selfless on the field.  He is rube if he is selfless when he is trying to negotiate a contract.

Right now, he doesn't have much leverage.  He either plays for the Packers or not at all.  Thus, the only leverage he has is to threaten not to play.  And, if Thompson honestly expects him to play for his exclusive rights tender (more on that later) he has no choice but to threaten to sit out.

As long as Williams doesn't threaten to be a distraction to leverage a better deal or a ticket of town a la McKenzie, Walker, and Favre, I have no problem with Williams.  (And, as I argue later, the evidence is that Williams is a pretty good guy that is trying to do the right thing.)

Similarly, Thompson's job is to get the best deal that he can for the Packers.  There is, of course, a caveat: the "best deal" for the Packers in 2009 might not be the best deal in the long run.  If Thompson tries to bully Williams into playing for the tender amount in 2009, that would create animosity and Williams would almost certainly be gone in 2010.  Personally, I think that would be a mistake.

But here's the rub: there is no evidence that the Packers aren't going to work out a deal with Williams or that the Packers are trying to low-ball Williams or anything.  The two sides haven't even gotten that far.  

And that's okay.  

As even Williams's agent notes, the Packers have a lot on their plate in terms of getting contracts hammered out (not to mention free agency and the draft to worry about).  It's completely understandable why the Packers haven't started working on Tramon Williams's contract yet.  

For his part, Williams is refusing to fully participate in the OTA's.  

And that's okay, too.  

Williams is even planning on showing up (but sitting out).  To me, that is a great show of good faith on Williams's part.   In fact, I wouldn't begrudge him if he decided not to show up, but that he is showing up demonstrates that he cares about the team and is willing to do everything he can for the team within the parameters of his current contract situation.   Good for him.  Good for the Packers.

Everything is okay.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Watchmen Will Definitely Be a Letdown After This...

The Watchmen comes out at midnight tonight. Ask any nerd and they'll tell ya. For me, there is no way that The Watchmen won't be a major letdown after this amazing epic:

CORRECTION: The correct name of the film and the source material is "Watchmen" not "The Watchmen." I'm definitely going to have my nerd card yanked for that flub. To be honest (and why not be honest) I'm not a huge fan of Watchmen (the comic). I like it, but after all the build-up I was expecting something more. In contrast, I feel that Sandman (by Neil Gaiman) delivered everything that was promised and more.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Adminstration, New Memes

Out with... "Won't somebody please think of the children."

(Of course, if the adminstration really cared that much about Mexico, it could end the war on drugs, which would bring a swift end to violent bordertown drug cartels.  But I digress.)


This One Is Dedicated to Ted Thompson

It seems like every blog is up in arms about Thompson's inactivity.


That's just TT being TT.

I've often been told that you only can do what you know how to do well.

And that's be you. 

Be what you're like. 

Be like yourself.

So keep on being Thompson (but understand that Holmgren/Wolf are waiting in the wings if you screw up).


This One Is Dedicated to Johnny Jolly

Here's a great tune for Jolly to hum as he awaits his trial for driving around with too much cough syrup in his trunk:

As the song points out, President Obama marks the third consecutive president with well-known drug use in his past.  And, yet, (like the war in Iraq) the drug war rages on with no end in sight.

So be jolly, Johnny, although driving around with too much cough syrup in your trunk makes you a little less qualified to  rip some quarterback's head off, it doesn't affect your qualifications to serve as POTUS.  Too the contrary, considering that President Obama is accused of exaggerating his prior drugs use, your drug problems are probably a net positive for your eventual campaign.

Always look on the bright side of life.   


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rouse at linebacker?

Here's one that I hadn't heard before.  In his blog post about Mike Adams, Silverstein threw out  this speculation:

Though he will start out at safety, it's possible the 6-4, 233-pound Rouse could get rush opportunities as an outside linebacker.

To play that position, you've got to have good upper body strength so that you can bull rush offensive tackles, so Rouse would have to get stronger. He's got some straight-line speed so the potential for him being a decent pass rusher is there.

I'm not going to pretend like I have any idea if this is at all a possibility.  Although Rouse is bigger than I thought he was, try this: 
  • Close your eyes.
  • Try to visualize Rouse "bull rushing" an offensive tackle.  
  • Wipe that smirk off your face.
That said, I do think the Packers will be forced to be creative with their personnel this season.  I don't think its a stretch to suggest that at least 5 of the front 7 starting defensive positions are question marks.  Maybe that means giving Rouse some snaps at linebacker.  I don't know.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Two Cents On the Canty Negotiation

But first, an anecdote:

When our first son, Bratkowski, was born my wife and I had two, two-door compact cars that we each brought into our marriage.  We absolutely had to get something that was easier to get a kid and a car seat into and out of.

I wanted to go back to a dealership that I had a positive experience with the last time I needed a new car.  Which we did, but, as it turned out the dealer that had sold me my last car had moved on and we were passed off to a new guy.  The new guy was a bit slicker.

However, the balance of power in between a customer and a car dealer has completely flip-flopped now that we have the internet and cell phones.  I knew what price other dealers were offering on the car we wanted.  At some point, the Slick Dealer tried to tell me that I must be mistaken and that the other dealership must be selling some other model at that price.  

So, I pulled out my cell phone and called the other dealership to confirm their price.  At that point, Slick Dealer had no choice but to give us the car at the price the other dealership was offering.

My point is that I am skeptical that Canty had much of an interest in playing in Green Bay.  He was using Green Bay as a bargaining chip.  If he was serious about playing in Green Bay, he would have hopped on a plane to visit.

I just don't buy the whole "why don't you make me an offer over the phone while I'm across the bargaining table from somebody else" routine.