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Archive for February, 2010

Eli Manning

Lock up your daughters!

When looking at who is mediocre I can’t help but consider a player’s value, especially when dealing with active players.  For example, in the NBA, Carl Landry is not the best player in the league, but he’s a bargain.  Meanwhile, Tracy McGrady is still a decent player, but he’s not worth half of what he’s being paid.  Catch my drift?  In a lot of ways, Eli Manning is Tracy McGrady.

Don’t get me wrong, Eli Manning is a fine quarterback.  I just happen to think that he’s roughly league-average.  Now, having a league-average QB is perfectly fine.   But, did you know that Manning (Eli, NOT Peyton) was the 3rd highest paid player in the NFL in 2009 (trailing Jay Cutler and Phil Rivers).

Fans of Manning will make this argument: “Hey, the guy won a Super Bowl and engineered one hell of a comeback agains the undefeated Patriots, he cannot possibly be an average QB.”  That’s all fine and dandy, but that was one game.  Let me lay some facts on you about young Eli:

  • Of all quarterbacks to start at least 50 games since 2004 (when Eli entered the league), he ranks DEAD LAST in QB rating.  There is not a player on the list that ranks lower.  He trails QB legends such as David Carr and Marc Bulger.
  • Looking again at the same group of QB’s, he ranks DEAD LAST again in completion percentage.

That’s looking at Manning’s entire career and Manning fans will probably point out that it’s not totally fair to throw a QBs rookie season in there against grizzled veterans.  Fine.  I’ll buy that.  They’ll probably also say that Manning has really been great the last two seasons.  I think that’s cherry-picking, but I’ll indulge you.  Over the last two seasons, here is how Eli compares to other starting QBs:

  • 12th in passer rating.
  • 17th in completion percentage.
  • 9th in TDs
  • 12th in yards per game
  • 15th in completions

That looks pretty middle of the road to me.  No matter what passing statistic you want to pick, Manning looks just about average.  Again, that’s all fine and dandy, but the guy rakes in tons of cash and is often lauded as one of the premier QBs in the sport.

Please, someone out there, prove that I am wrong.  Eli Manning is completely mediocre.

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Scott Mitchell

I think he might be crying.

Scott Mitchell had an absolute rifle for an arm.  He was imposing on the field, standing 6’6″ and weighing in at 240 pounds.  Many of his opponents insisted that he was actually closer to 6’9″, 280.  Mitchell cut his teeth learning the ropes at QB from the immortal Dan Marino while both were members of the Dolphins in the early 90’s.

In 1994, Mitchell signed a big-time free agent deal with the habitually mediocre Detroit Lions.  The Lions needed a big-time arm to pair with their dynamic receiving duo of Brett Perriman and Herman Moore and their all-world running back, Barry Sanders.

Scott “The Mule” Mitchell came out as a gun-slinger in his first season in Detroit, but struggled with injuries and as a result his performance suffered.  Luckily for the Lions, they had wily veteran Dave Krieg who stepped in and led the Lions to a 9 win season.

Refreshed after a long off-season, Mitchell came back like a bat out of hell in 1995 and did his best Marino impression.  That season, Mitchell threw for a career high, 4,338 yards and 32 scores.  Finally, his performance matched his body size:  BIG.  Scotty saved his best game of that season for Thanksgiving Day and a nationally televised audience.  Against their division rival Minnesota Vikings, Mitchell outdueled Hall of Fame QB, Warren Moon.  Mitchell hung 410 yards on the Vikings secondary that day, threw 4 touchdowns, and still found time to scramble for one yard in the Lions 44-38 victory.

Sadly, Mitchell completely imploded in the Lions playoff game in Philadelphia.  He threw 4 first half picks and the Lions fell behind 51-7, including a 38-7 halftime deficit.

The wheels fell off the following season as Mitchell guided the Lions to a 4-10 record before losing his job to one-time Pro Bowler, Don Majkowski.  He finished the season with 14 TDs and 14 picks.

In 1997, Mitchell and the Lions rebounded.  No longer possessing his cannon of an arm, Mitchell became more of a Trent Dilfer-type QB, throwing for fewer yards and scores, but leading the Lions to a 9-7 record.  This was just good enough for the Lions to lose yet another first round matchup, this time at the hands of Tampa Bay.

Scott Mitchell is remembered by Detroit fans for being the only QB in the last 20 years to give them at least one better than mediocre season.  That 1995 season seemed like a dream, but it was a dream surrounded by mediocrity and fist clenching failures.

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Worst Top Pick in NBA History

Get used to this Portland...

Today’s topic is draft busts.  The MLB draft is a tough nut to crack, while the NBA and NFL draft usually get most of the headlines.  I’ve never been a huge NFL guy, so I’ll focus on the NBA.  There have been some memorable draft busts over the years from Darko Milicic to Sam Bowie.  However, those guys were number two picks and the guys in the poll today are top picks, so that narrows things down.

Your duty as visitors of this fine site is to chose the worst top pick of the lottery era (since 1985).  Here’s the rundown on your choices:

  • Greg Oden (2007):  Oden went as the top pick to the Blazers and was seen as a “can’t miss” sort of prospect.  Oden missed all of his rookie season with an injury.  In 2008-09 he got another shot as a “rookie” and played in 61 games averaging 8.9 ppg a 1 block per game.  He was amongst the league leaders in fouls and averaged a staggering 6.5 fouls per 36 minutes.  This season he appeared in 21 games before going down to a season-ending injury.  Picked before: Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Aaron Brooks.
  • Kwame Brown (2001): Kwame is nearly out of chances.  The Pistons made the mistake of giving him a 2-year deal which expires in June.  That really could be it for this guy.  Brown was drafted by Washington right out of high school and had his confidence obliterated by an aging Michael Jordan.  In his four seasons in DC, he averaged 10ppg only once.  Luckily for the Wizards they were able to trade him for Caron Butler.  Picked before: Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, and Gilbert Arenas.
  • Michael Olowokandi (1998):  The Kandi Man was a disaster from the start, averaging 8 points per game on 43% shooting as a rookie for the hapless Clippers.  Kandi was highly-touted for some reason even though he played his college ball at the University of the Pacific.  In nine NBA seasons, Olowokandi averaged a pedestrian 8 points and 6 boards a game before falling out of the league in 2007.  Picked before: Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzi, Paul Pierce, and Rashard Lewis.
  • Pervis Ellison (1989): I just went over Ellison in a post the other day.  Picked before: Glen Rice, Sean Elliott, Vlade Divac, and Shawn Kemp.

Now do your civic duty and VOTE:

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Jeff Conine

Coolest nickname in Marlins history.

Jeff Conine’s page at Baseball Reference doesn’t list his nickname as Mr. Marlin, but I’m quite sure that’s the only nickname he really has.  Conine was with the Marlins from the beginning, selected by the club in the 1992 Expansion Draft after the Kansas City Royals left him unprotected.

Conine promptly made his mark in Miami, placing third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1993.  Conine made his only two All-Star Game appearances in the following two seasons.  1994 and 1995 were strike shortened seasons, yet Conine made the most of them, posting OPS+ totals of at least 130 in each season.  He was with the the Marlins all the way as they began their ascent to respectability and playoff contention.

During his time with the Marlins, Conine appeared in 6 playoff rounds.  His clubs won each round, winning World Series titles in 1997 and 2003.  He wasn’t with the Marlins the entire time as he bounced around the league a bit in-between, playing for both the Royals and the Orioles.

As he matured in his career, Conine bounced around from team to team and from position to position.  Primarily a first baseman, Conine also played left field, rightfield, and third base.  After that first run with the Marlins, Conine really moved around, often as a trade deadline trade chip.  He was involved in trades that included the following less-than-mediocre players:

  • Blaine Mull
  • Chris Fussell
  • Don Levinski
  • Denny Bautista
  • Angel Chavez
  • Brad Key
  • Javon Moran
  • Jose Castro
  • Sean Henry

Quite a collection of crap, right?  No offense to those listed above, but that should tell us a little bit about Jeff Conine.  Conine played 17 big league seasons and collected over 1,900 hits and 200 home runs.  His career highlights include those two All-Star games and two World Series rings.  In fact, Conine was named the MVP of the 1995 All Star game and was a career .304 hitter in the playoffs.   Conine ended up sticking around until he was 41 years old and was one of the more respected players in the game.  Since retiring he has working with numerous charities, done some broadcasting for the Marlins and completed triathlons.

While he was a semi-star early in his career, Conine’s body of work suggests that he was largely mediocre…and that’s part of what makes him so memorable.

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Pervis Ellison

Does this man look nervous?

Who is Pervis Ellison?  A lot of people don’t know the name.  Would you believe he was the number one overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft?  Seriously.  Ellison averaged an incredibly-mediocre 9.5 points per game for his NBA career after being a top pick.

The 1989 Draft was weak, but in retrospect, the Sacramento Kings could have made a better selection with that top pick.  They missed out on Glen Rice, Sean Elliott, Tim Hardawawy and Shawn Kemp.  However, Danny Ferry went with the 2nd pick.  So, yeah, the 1989 NBA Draft’s top two picks were Pervis Ellison and Danny Ferry.  The NBA, it’s FANNNNtastic!

Back to Pervis.  Ellison was a darn good college basketball player at Louisville.  He was a freshman on the Louisville team that won the National Title in 1986 and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.  This was all as a freshman.  In many ways it was all downhill from there.  As a four-year starter at Louisville, Never Nervous Pervis averaged 15-8.  While in college he played 139 games, one of the top totals in NCAA history.

When he arrived in the NBA the problems began to pile up.  During his rookie season with the Kings, Ellison suffered through injuries and questionable play.  During his rookie season, Mr. Number One average a modest 8-6 in just 34 games.  Apparently the Kings knew what they had and traded Ellison to the Bullets once the season was done.  In return they received two white stiffs (Bob Hansen and Eric Leckner, 2 second round picks (amounting to nothing), and the 23rd pick of the first round (Anthony Bonner).  So, they essentially got nothing.  Way to go Pervis.

The following season, Ellison showed some heart.  He averaged 11 a game, primarily off the bench.  The next season, his third, Pervis won the Most Improved Player award as he poured in 20-11 a game for the 25-57 Bullets.  The following year, Ellison again struggled with injuries while averaging 17 a game.  After that Ellison never again appeared in more that 70 games in a single season.  He was released a few times in the following years and was out of the NBA by the time he was 33.

Ellison entered the league as a 6’9” 205 pound center.  However, later in his career with the Celtics and the Sonics, he was clearly much bigger, grew out some dreds, and looked tired all of the time.

Ellison ended up making over $20M as a pro athlete and currently coaches various basketball teams in Southern New Jersey.

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Otis Nixon

As a kid, I loved speed in my baseball players.  My favorite team as a kid (and now) was the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers never featured much speed, but whenever they did, that guy instantly became my favorite player.  Seriously, what’s more exciting than the stolen base or the triple?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Vince Coleman was a favorite, though Ricky Henderson never did much for me.  My absolute favorite though was Otis Nixon, then of the Atlanta Braves.  I really first was obsessed with baseball in 1991.  That season featured the stories of two perennial doormats making a run at the postseason in the Minnesota Twins and the Atlanta Braves.

Nixon led off for that Braves team and man could he fly.  He was routinely featured on highlight reels for his wall-climbing catches.  I loved those catches and all of the steals, but I also liked Otis Nixon because he looked like a walking corpse.  He did not look like a professional athlete.  Nixon was bone-skinny and I hate to think what an HDTV would have meant to this poor man’s face.  Ugh.

Anyway, Nixon stole 72 bases in 1991, placing him 2nd in the National League.  What makes that accomplishment both sad and amazing is that Nixon missed the final month-plus of the season and the postseason due to a drug suspension from Major League Baseball.  The Braves were in the midst of the penant chase and the postseason and Otis Nixon finds time to get suspended for cocaine abuse.  Classy.

Nixon got his stuff together for the following season and played in the big leagues through the 1999 season.  He finished his career with nearly 1,400 hits and 620 stolen bases, good for 16th on baseball’s all-time list.  He was also a notorious thief in the minor leagues as well, once stealing 107 bases in a season.  Speed ran in the family as Otis’ brother, Donell, once stole 144 bases in a minor league season.

Since retiring, Otis has gotten his life in order.  He is now a Christian and runs On-Track Ministries.  It should be noted that his site also runs as a means to promote his book and his playing days.  Good stuff.  He is married to a gospel singer (she turns 70 in March!) and he stays busy Keeping it Real.

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Greatest White Dunkers

This guy won a slam dunk title.

If you watched the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night you were probably disappointed and/or bored.  What a mess that thing was.  I long for the old Slam Dunk contests.  Back when the stars weren’t afraid to take part and most of the dunk attempts ended in actual dunks rather than humiliating misses.

Back in the day we had quality dunkers like Spud Webb, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter and Brent Barry.  Speaking of Brent Barry, who do you think is the greatest white dunker?  I know how I would vote…

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