Friday, March 28, 2008

As an anonymous comment complained the other day, the Red Sox season is now two days old and I haven't mentioned the Red Sox in Sedition in Red Sox Nation yet. I don't really know what to say about the Sox vs. As games played in Japan, except that it was a total and complete fraud.

There is no reason why two teams should be 1-1 right now when no other team has played a game. There is no reason why teams should start the regular season and then come back to play more exhibition games. It's a shamelessly exploitative money grab, and it's beat.

If flying halfway around the world to play games in Japan were in any way, shape or form legitimate, MLB wouldn't have twisted the schedules the way they did. They might have tried something like this at the All Star break, since the All Star game has been a total fraud for years now, even though it decides home field for the World Series. But it's just another way for MLB to turn a profit off one of its two marquee teams (sorry, Dodgers and Cubs but you aren't in the same league with the Yankees and Red Sox, the pun is purely accidental and somewhat regrettable).

That said, it isn't the biggest fraud in sports at the moment. Far bigger is an ESPN panel ranking the top ten wide receivers of all time placing Randy Moss at number two. So what if he set a ton of records this season. He had plenty of time to rest up for that performance when he mailed in every single snap of his years in Oakland. That alone ought to disqualify him from the top ten.

Admittedly, I have a certain bias here, and it's a very big bias, but there is no way Moss should be ranked ahead of Terrell Owens. Moss has made a living of shining brightly in regular season nationally televised games. He has not, however, made a point of playing big in playoff games. TO, to his credit, has done exactly that.

Consider the fact that legend tells us Jason Sehorn shut Moss down in an NFC championship game because Moss was out of sorts after stadium security wouldn't allow his kids on the sideline. TO shook off an abysmal afternoon where he'd dropped four passes to make the best catch any one not named Lynn Swann ever made in a playoff game (sorry, David Tyree, even though that catch put a big smile on my face) when he caught the winning TD in triple coverage in the end zone against the Packers back in 1999.

And have we reached a decision on whether or not Moss could have caught that third down pass against the Giants this season had he but jumped? I think so, but I am biased against the player and the team. Bill Simmons thinks so, but he's kind of a whimp and has never slid into second base in his life (plus, rumor has it he bailed early on at least one world series game in 2004). Set that against the fact that TO signed a liability waiver, returned from a broken leg in six weeks, played with a pin in his shin, caught nine passes for over 100 yards against the Patriots back in Harrison's HGH days.

Check out this YouTube comparison and make your own decision.

I just wish the Moss section had included the moment from 2003 when the Vikings entered the final game in Soldier Field controlling their own destiny for the final NFC playoff berth. In the final moments, with the Vikings needing a TD to win and advance against the lowly Bears, Moss ran a fade pattern against then unknown Bears CB Charles Tillman. Tillman took the ball right from Moss' hands and the Vikings lost. Show me a 49ers, Eagles or Cowboys game that ended with TO in that situation.

So what if TO was less than pleasant to Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb. So what if we'll never know if he had a drug interaction problem or tried to kill himself in that media circus from 2007. So what if he has problems interacting with people in a normal, adult fashion from time to time. Throughout his career, TO has played with a level of toughness that has outweighed his personal inconsistencies and should command more respect than the media and too many fans have been willing to give.

That said, I found this piece on Bob Hayes' omission from the top ten wide receivers of all time interesting. I would suggest to the writer that there is ample evidence that zone defenses existed in the NFL prior to Hayes' debut (the Giants umbrella defense of the 1950s comes to mind, for one), but Hayes definitely changed the game with his speed. I think he deserved to be on the list ahead of Paul Warfield and Steve Largent.

I also think Art Monk should have made the list ahead of Largent, considering both were possession receivers and Monk beats Largent's career numbers and in single season performance as well. Plus, Largent and Monk pretty much came from the same era. I think the fact that Charley Taylor played in the 60s and 70s got him on the list, and then only on numbers. He was a rich man's Bobby Mitchell.

I don't really have anything to say against Don Hutson at number 3, how can one possibly evaluate a guy from the era before Unitas, when the only QBs I can name are guys like Baugh, Luckman, Van Brocklin, Waterfield, Graham and Connerly and none of them played with Hutson as far as I remember.

I don't think Raymond Berry should have made the top ten, but that's personal animosity from the time when he was coaching the Patriots. But he probably should have been in there ahead of Marvin Harrison. Unless you're putting together a list of people who have decided to maintain facial hair styles from adult entertainment features of two decades ago, there's no top ten list that should have Marvin Harrison on it. The only difference between him and Bill Brooks is the fact that Brooks played with bad QBs and Harrison plays with Manning.

As for Cris Carter, he's another lucky product of a pass-happy era. If a guy like Webster Slaughter had been 6 years younger, he'd have been able to produce numbers like Carter did. Perhaps Carter made the list because of the mortification Chris Berman must have felt when he learned that the Buddy Ryan "All he does is catch touchdowns" quote Boomer beat to death was really code for "I'm releasing him because I can't deal with his coked out narcissism any more."

I guess if I were making a top ten list of NFL wideouts, I'd grudgingly start with Jerry Rice because I always hated him. I'd put TO number two because he's my favorite athlete playing right now and he's a mean, nasty, cantankerous person, which is always a good thing when you hit and take hits for a living. I'd leave Hutson at number three, because I can't disprove his belonging there.

I wouldn't keep Irvin at number 4. He's another guy I always hated, and I thought he was a bit overrated because he was so charismatic and his teams were so talented. I guess I'd put Ray Berry there because of the numbers he put up, the contributions he made to those great Colts teams and because he played in a run-dominated era. And even though the Colts were an exception under Weeb Ewbank, they still had John Mackey who might be the best TE ever and Lenny Moore who was one of the best pass catching backs of all time.

I'd put Art Monk at number 5 because he was very quietly the best possession receiver of all time, light years ahead of guys like Largent. He was, after all, a huge part of the Joe Gibbs teams that won three titles with three different QBs. He caught over 900 passes on teams that are best known for the Hogs and power running games.

And before you get mad at me for ranking him ahead of Moss, think about this. If I told you that Charles Mann and Dave Butz played WR on those Redskins' team with him, could you disprove that off the top of your head? They were d-linemen on the Redskins. Guys like Downtown Charlie Brown, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders played opposite Monk, not exactly John Taylor to his Jerry Rice. Monk definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and should have made it a long time ago.

I'd put Moss at number six because he's incredibly talented but all but invisible in playoff games. I'd put Hayes at number seven because the ESPN piece convinced me and Landry was a guy whose offenses spread the ball around. I'd put Lynn Swann at number eight, even though his stats weren't there. No one was better in big games and no one had that artistic quality to his catches. I'd throw Charlie Taylor in at number nine for sheer weight of production in a running era. And put Irvin ten.

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