Mailbag time and it's all Jack Edwards this week.
Kidding. We actually do get to Jack at the end (this is my first 'bag since I fired him on-air, a move that I later learned I did not have the authority to do), but first we get some feedback from Toronto fans who weren't real happy with my thoughts on Jose Bautista and delve a little deeper into the Larry Bird/Dirk Nowitzki debate. Plus you get the usual arcane movie references (C. Thomas Howell WILL be heard from, dammit) and I come to the realization I'm no Tommy Hearns.
So to the 'bag we go (and feel free to email with anything to firstname.lastname@example.org) ...
I'm sorry, it's hard for me to read this article and not come to the conclusion that you're a total Douche.
Total reader McCarthyism I understand but this is the real world and facts are facts: there is no physical or circumstantial evidence beyond his numbers of any PED usage and the one PED that can't be tested has no performance benefit aside from getting you back on the field quicker.
A: Yeah, Blue Jay nation (and what a hardcore group they are -- packed a whopping 12,902 into the Rogers Centre on Monday to watch Bautista take on the team with the best record in the American League) wasn't thrilled that I had the audacity to throw out the idea that it might not be, you know, totally crazy to at least have a moment of pause when looking at Jose Bautista's numbers. Again, I don't have the first clue if he's putting any kind of PED's in his body. No idea. I hope he's clean, I really do. But I have serious doubts. The leg-kick adjustment explanation isn't going to make all the doubts go away either. And that's the reality of the world post-Balco. Don't know about you, but I cringe when I read ass-kissing profiles of Bautista and Pujols and Ryan Howard. Makes me very nervous. Isn't this is same of sort of stuff we were fed about McGwire, Sosa and the rest of the crew a decade or so ago?
You wrote: "This is the real world."
You're right, this is the real world. And thankfully, in the real world we have science and objective data to back up our theories. Please show me anything other than anecdotal evidence that proves that steroids turn bench players into MVPs.
A: Yep, and in the real world we have athletes who might -- might -- be willing to spend a couple of bucks to hire the kind of guys who might -- might -- be able to feed them the kind of stuff that isn't yet detected in current MLB testing. One more time, I don't have a single shred of evidence that points to Bautista doing anything like that. But to pretend that passing MLB doping tests means that a player is absolutely clean is at best a stretch and at worst the kind of close your eyes and really, really hope everything's OK kind of thinking we saw in 1998, right?
Bautista is the best hitter in baseball. Your list is ridiculous for two reasons: you fail to actually list the best current hitter in baseball (by a longshot) as No. 1, and you accuse that same hitter of taking magical baseball skill enhancing drugs yet still list him as No. 4 on the list. Your priorities here are pretty messed up and I hardly think you are anywhere near qualified to begin to accuse any player of "something else going on".
I know Man-Ram and Big Papi are still fresh in your mind but get over the goddamn steroid mentality already. Moron.
Meat and Potatoes
A: No accusations made. My eyes are open is all. And when a guy hits a million more homers than anyone else over the last 14 months I think it's disingenuous and almost offensive to pretend that we aren't skeptical. What is past can sometimes be prologue (stole that from JFK, which remains my all-time favorite movie that features both a presidential assassination and a gay sex scene with Kevin Bacon and Tommy Lee Jones). And a year and change from Bautista isn't nearly enough to call him a better hitter than Albert Pujols. Come on.
Jeez, Bautista's been tested like three times this season alone. Are you slow? How do you summon the balls to call yourself a professional journalist?
Bautista isn't on steroids, dimwit. If he was playing for the Sox, the thought wouldn't even cross your mind. Thanks for perpetuating the notion that Boston writers are all clueless homers.
A: Two hundred and twenty-six slices of pizza consumed in the Gillette Stadium press box in 2010 makes me a professional journalist. That's all the bona fides I'll ever need.
First of all, if the national notion is really that Boston writers are clueless homers I really have to object. Unless you consider Toucher and Rich writers. I've said it before and it still seems plenty true to me: If you hit Howard Stern in the head 100 times with a baseball bat and then split him in half you'd get Toucher and Rich. But I get it, they talk to drunk guys after games. I'm briefed.
Oh, and if Jose Bautista had never hit more than 16 home runs in his first five MLB seasons with the Red Sox and then hit 74 in the next 207 games I'm fairly confident there would be lots and lots of steroid talk going on. The Pink Hats would be morally offended -- like the panting fan boys who have been ripping me in Toronto -- just as they were whenever anyone even dared to raise the possibility that Manny or Ortiz could be juicing. And some folks in the media would duck and avoid if the topic came up. But it would be a story, no question about it.
Another dumb lap sitting article....Youkilis? Really? Why are you allowed to write?
A: Ranking Youkilis as the ninth-best hitter in baseball seemed to be the smoking gun for the Bautista crowd that really cemented me as a Boston homer. Forgetting for a moment that I have spent the last two months being called literally every name in the book for "attacking" (and we'll get to it later) the most popular homer in the city, why would a Red Sox homer even care about Jose Bautista? Trust me, he's a non-factor in the day-to-day life of Sox fans. It's swell that -- as a power hitter -- he's gone from Kelly Clarkson to Kelly Leak but no one counts the Jays as any kind of threat around here. Could be that's misguided thinking, but that is the mindset. Until Toronto actually is in the AL East mix in September Bautista might as well be in San Diego.
But I don't see how ranking Youkilis ninth has anything to do with the fact that I happen to live in the same state where he plays professional baseball. If anything, he was slighted on the list. Since 2008 he's fifth among all players in on-base percentage and third (Pujols and Miguel Cabrera) in slugging. In the 2011 world of three trillion blogs and message boards and wall-to-freaking-wall TV coverage and fantasy sports and talk radio and podcasts and sabermetrics it's awfully hard to be underrated, I think. But Youkilis has managed to pull it off, despite being the subject of a bunch of "Why is Kevin Youkilis so underrated?" stories the last couple of years. I guess some people still need to see a .300-30-100 to sign off on a guy as a great hitter. Youkilis is usually close to all three (his average season is .292-23-97), but also gives you an OBP around .400. An immensely valuable offensive player.
Regarding Bird/Dirk, I agree overall but I have two major quibbles. First, I don't understand why it's always Bird and Nowitzki comparisons - because they're both white? Watching the OKC-Dallas series it struck me that a better comparison is Durant and Dirk. Durant better driver, Nowitzki better shooter, but both are lousy defenders and pretty good rebounders. Second quibble is on defense. I'm sorry, I never got that Larry Bird was a horrible defender a la Cedric Maxwell. I'll concede that he was a bad one on one defender against someone like Dr. J or Jordan (if he would ever even guard one of those) but as a team defender he was really quite good. Can you tell me how you average 1.7 steals a game for your career (better BTW than Maxwell and almost DOUBLE Dirk Nowitzki) and be a terrible defender? Answer: You can't. This is also why Jordan is so amazing he is the starting guard on the all-time NBA defensive team (Russell or Olajuwon at center?).
Also you forgot as far as supporting cast all the years Nowitzki played with Steve Nash in his prime. That team never went anywhere because Nash might be the worst defensive point guard ever, and Irk was a terrible defender both individually or as a team defender.
A: Listen, if Dirk Nowitzki wasn't Dirk Nowitzki but a black guy from Alabama named Darren Norwood with the same exact game there wouldn't be nearly as many Bird comparisons (why am I smelling a Soul Man remake?) We know this. But Dirk is clearly the closest among the buffet of caucasian stiffs that have been paraded around as the Next Larry Bird. This isn't Danny Ferry or Michael Smith or Adam Morrison or Keith Van Horn or Joe Alexander or Eddie Bird (OK, that was me and only me). Nowitzki is an obvious Hall of Famer, one of the top 20-25 players in history. But he's not Larry Bird. And that's OK. But I'm always surprised at the need to find the next Larry Legend. It's like finding the next Mozart, or Stallone (Sly or Frank). Ain't going to happen, ever.
(Oh, and my all-time NBA defensive team? I only count guys I've seen, so I'll go with Dennis Johnson and Jordan at guard, Hakeem in the middle and Dennis Rodman and Michael Cooper as the forwards.)
Bird had three Hall of Famers in their primes, Dirk had none. Dirk would have won at least three championships if he had played with Parish, DJ, McHale in the 1980s.
A: Pretty sure Steve Nash is going to the Hall of Fame, Kevin. Look, I agree that Dirk had less to work with, wrote just that in the column last week. But let's be fair: Bird might have needed Parish/McHale to win titles, but he did carry an Indiana State team to an NCAA final and in the very next season take a 29-win Celtics team to 61 wins (with no Parish or McHale).
You are a Tired Act, you're articles are designed specifically to rub people the wrong way and elicit a response. Stop trying to emulate (name of a guy who used to write a mailbag on this site and is now hosting a show somewhere else), he can pull it off because he actually possesses some talent. You do not.
Find a new job you unoriginal no talent DB.
Boston Sports Fans
A: I guess I could apply for color analyst position if Andy Brickley ever left NESN for a national job (which he is more than qualified for -- he's terrific). Don't need talent, just the ability to not speak for more than three seconds in any five-minute stretch and the willpower to withhold from vomiting during postgame video essays. Speaking of which …
How does it feel to be a pimple on the ass of Jack Edwards?
A: Getting more and more comfortable with it each passing day. If anything, it gives me a great view of thousands of noses of Bruins fans.
Believe me, I get it. Message received. Everyone loves Jack (that is, everyone except people in the media who told me that they don't like his act but don't want to talk publicly about it. By the way, I just coughed and said "gutless" at the same time so it kind of sounded like I said "gutless" but also kind of like I didn't. Never fails). I lost the battle and the war. We'll call it a third-round TKO (and this wasn't a Hagler-Hearns deal, where you left with plenty of admiration for the loser. Nope, this was an ass-whippin') and move on.
Now that temperatures have cooled (and the emails -- a great many of which skipped any mention of Jack and went straight to attacking my receding hairline and the size of my privates, and sadly they were pretty much dead-on about both) I stand by the column I wrote -- I think Jack makes the game about Jack first, Bruins second and calls a TV game like he's on the radio -- but the now infamous interview was flawed. Too long by at least half and way too serious in tone. Sounded like an ambush, which was my fault. So yes, as of today I suppose I am in fact merely a pimple on the ass of Mr. Jack Edwards, he of the new contract and 96 approval rating in Bruins nation.
So in Jack's honor I will take a drink from the river of Imperious Conceit and pick the Bruins tonight. Let's call it Bruins 4, Canucks 2.