Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Blizzard: these are some sort of mutant strawberries I'm eating.

Twins game
Holy Hitter, PV, and our friend Jon were at the Twins' game last night. Here's the fun thing about going to a Twins game: you can look up and see two championship banners slapped to the wall. There aren't any other pro sporting events in town where we can do that.

Jared Allen
So last year's sack leader (15.5!) is a serious possibility to join the Vikings (Access Vikings). This is more good news than a Minnesota sports fan is able to take.

Dr. Z had Allen on his 2007 All-Pro team, saying

"Battling to survive on a desperate team, the NFL's sack leader kept the heat on almost all year. No defensive player, at any position, approached the 7.0 grade I had for him."

Dr. Z also had Allen on his 2006 All-Pro team.

You may also remember Allen destroying the Vikings in a September 2007 game.

You'll also enjoy this video clip of Allen at Shutdown Corner. Man, if there's any way this guy could be on our team next season, the Vikings must make it happen.

I'm planning on going to the Viking home opener against Indianapolis. Peyton Manning is my favorite non-Viking player, and I believe he is the greatest quarterback of all-time. This is likely the only time he'll ever come to Minnesota to play in a football game. I have to take that opportunity to go watch.

Of course, I'm a Viking fan--I can never appreciate an opponent's greatness while he's playing the Vikings. Every Manning completion will make me grimace, and I'll be rooting for him to get sacked or intercepted on every play.

I feel like it's OK to pick favorite AFC players and teams--they'll only play my beloved Purple once every four years, so it's easy to see them as distant from my favorite team. But when those players do match up against the Vikes, I loathe them for three hours even if I root for them every other week.

Steve McNair
D-Wil and Ballers, Gamers, and Scoundrels talk about Steve McNair. I've never been a big fan of McNair: he was a tough, versatile quarterback, to be sure, a quarterback you'd really want leading your team. But looking at his numbers, he didn't have that many great passing seasons; 2001, 2002, and 2003 were very good, but other than that, the passing numbers are often merely OK. But Roy Johnson has a point about how a win in his Super Bowl appearance would have changed his legacy (I don't quite accept the "just one more yard" bit: one more yard would have put the game into overtime and given the Titans a 50% chance of winning). Compare McNair's numbers to Hall of Famer Troy Aikman. Aikman completed 61.5% of his passes to McNair's 60.1%: slightly better. Aikman threw 165 touchdowns and 141 interceptions; McNair threw 174 touchdowns and 119 interceptions. Here McNair is better (McNair also has three 20+ TD seasons to Aikman's one). But look at the rushing yards: after his rookie year, Aikman was a negligible runner. McNair rushed for 3,590 yards (5.4 ypa) and 37 touchdowns.

By the numbers, McNair was a comparable passing quarterback to Aikman and a far superior running quarterback. He also won a lot of games. He was widely revered for his toughness, and he's got an MVP award. We have to ask: how much are we going to use team championships to determine a quarterback's legacy? By any standard, I'd say if Aikman is a Hall of Famer, McNair is a Hall of Famer.

NBA Playoffs are Starting!
At Epic Carnival, wwtb? looks at the great point guards in the Western Conference.

At SI, Marty Burns breaks down the West.

At ESPN, John Hollinger looks at the NBA playoffs.

SLAM previews the West.

Yes, I'm virtually ignoring the Eastern Conference. I will watch games when Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, or LeBron James are playing. But mostly I'll just watch the Western Conference.

Other Links
Some good bloggers have consolidated into one blog: Sports On My Mind. I love a chance to clean up the blogroll.

Brett Favre's number will be retired week one against the Vikes (Star Tribune).

On the 22 inning baseball game last night (The Sporting Blog).

The Timberwolves are selling some cheap season tickets (TrueHoop).

Oh, man, the Timberwolves suck. But I like Kirk Snyder too (Wages of Wins).

Did the NFL try take attention away from Jackie Robinson day (The Hater Nation)?


  1. Anonymous11:47 AM

    Sports on My Mind link takes you back to your own site!

  2. Thanks for the heads up--it's fixed.

  3. Don't go into the "this guy's in, so that guy should be in" line of arguments for the Hall of Fame. For any sport. There are simply too many criteria that go into a selection to take a few stats, compare them, and arrive at a simple conclusion. Not only that, but voters occasionally make mistakes (I'm not saying Aikman's necessarily one of them)and using this form of reasoning magnifies them by applying the same shoddy standard to future candidates.

    Comparing candidates to current players that are already in the hall is like comparing head-to-head results of college football games. You run the risk of concluding that Wofford was the best team in the country last year.

  4. I generally don't think different players should be compared across eras. However, Aikman and McNair were contemporaries, and the primes of each career were near each other (Aikman early '90s, McNair early '00s). Why isn't it useful to compare and contrast these players?

    The larger point is that we give too much credit to QBs if their teams won a Super Bowl. If Aikman and McNair have similar passing numbers, both won a lot of games, both were respected by contemporaries, and McNair had a strong feature that Aikman didn't (running), why isn't it useful to examine the two? You could make a good argument that McNair was a better player than Aikman (the running ability, doing more with less, etc.). I think it's reasonable to compare players, and to examine the numbers of near contemporaries. Sure, it's not as simple as "X made it so Y must make it," but it's a useful standard. It might help reduce some subjectivity (people "perceive" McNair to be inferior to Aikman, when the numbers suggest he's not).

  5. Anonymous4:14 PM

    mcnair's super bowl performance was one of the greatest examples of heart and will nearly winning a football game. Considering he played with only few pro bowl caliber skill players, and those were hardly of the upper pro bowl level, I would say he deserves the consideration. Plus, you cannot measure his intangibles. Along with Favre and Mcnabb he was the toughest QB of his generation.


  6. My main argument against that reasoning is that it isn't that simple. The way you've explained it in the comments seems reasonable, but starting down that path is still dangerous. Soon you get people arguing that Art Monk should be in the Hall of Fame, because look! at his numbers!, even though nobody who saw him play would consider him dominant or particularly memorable.

    Playing devil's advocate with this particular comparison, here are a few more reasons why these guys aren't that comparable:

    -McNair played the bulk of his career about 10 years after Aikman played the bulk of his. Passer rating leaguewide increased by a significant amount over this time, giving McNair a statistical leg up:

    -McNair had a much shorter peak than Aikman. McNair really only had 2001 and 2003 as stellar years, while Aikman played at a Pro Bowl level from 1991-96. Give me two guys with similar career stats, and I'll pick the one with the higher peak; Aikman's stats were diluted by a couple awful years at the beginning and end of his career.

    -Comparing the TD/Int ratios of these guys isn't really fair, since Aikman's TD totals were limited for most of his career by the fact that Emmitt always got the ball from the 20 on in. During his peak, Aikman threw 11, 23, 15, 13, 16, and 12 TDs, while Emmitt scored 12, 18, 9, 21, 25, and 12 TDs during those years. McNair had nobody comparable pilfering TDs; Eddie George only had 2 seasons with more than 9 TDs, and by the time McNair was lighting it up, George was pretty much done.

    I'm sure you could make similar arguments for Aikman - for instance, he played with much better WRs. I'm no Aikman apologist. My point is that, while stats are useful in comparing players, it's impossible to just compare a couple of them and draw a conclusion.

  7. I see your point and would revise my last sentence in that part to "If Troy Aikman is a HOFer, Steve McNair should be considered for the HOF." The numbers alone shouldn't dictate it (Matt Hasselbeck has better passing numbers than either of them, and I doubt he's a legitimate HOFer), but the numbers can at least suggest we should consider the player.

  8. Anonymous5:01 PM

    Here's a thought-- maybe the Vikes would agree to part with better draft picks if the Chiefs throw in Tyler Thigpen along with Jared Allen...

  9. Wow! I had no idea McNair's stats were so good. He is almost identical with Aikman. There is no reason this man could not be admitted to the HOF over time. If Aikman...a legend of QBs and the sports world in general can be can McNair. To be compared to Aikman is an honor! The man has been invited to the Bahamasas a legend for goodness sake! I hope McNair gets what he deserves. He worked hard for achieve the things he did in is career!