J.V. Club is Drew Toal’s roundup of recent games, controversies, triumphs, mishaps, and other amusements in the world of sports.
Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns reportedly spent $100,000 commissioning an “advanced study” of what makes a good quarterback. I don’t know how to say this gently, Cleveland, so I’m just going to say it: You got bamboozled. I would’ve happily shared the results of the much-superior J.V. Club Advanced Quarterback Scouting Metrics Advanced System for Player Advancement with GM Ray Farmer for a mere 50k.
After running the numbers and subjecting the data to rigorous analysis, our computers spit out an archetype for the perfect Browns signal caller. Without getting into the statistical and metaphysical weeds, I can tell you that this Hundred Thousand Dollar Man would have the following qualities:
- The placekicking ability and aplomb of a Milt Plum
- The spatial integrity of a Bernie Kosar
- The soft yet masculine hands of a Brady Quinn
- The showy stoicism of a Seneca Wallace
- The huddle metrics of a Kelly Holcomb
Is Johnny Manziel that man? It’s too early to tell, but the J.V. Club would like to congratulate the new Browns QB, who was chosen after Cleveland traded up for the 22nd pick—the same draft position at which the Browns selected eventual washouts Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden. We’d hasten to remind Manziel that when the bar is set low enough, you can never really fail.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are tied at two games apiece in their series against the L.A. Clippers after the Clips mounted a late comeback to steal Sunday’s game. And the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook remains one of the most polarizing figures in the NBA. Few can match his talent, but it’s doubtful he’s ever been accused of being the smartest player on the floor. He has Kevin Durant on his team, one of the most natural and efficient scorers in NBA history, yet on some nights Russ insists on jacking contested threes and dribbling around until the shot clock expires while Durant fantasizes about playing with Chris Paul instead of against him. But then again, on nights Westbrook is on, his game is a thing of beauty.
What I like most about Westbrook are the same things that must haunt the dreams of Thunder coach Scott Brooks—his unpredictability and immunity to criticism. Westbrook’s team could be down by 30, and he could be 1-for-15, but suddenly he’ll make a three, and he’ll be blowing smoke off his finger guns like he’s Craig Hodges at a three-point contest.
That devil-may-care disregard for the “smart” approach to his craft resonates with us here at the J.V. Club. That’s why we are officially declaring ourselves now and forevermore to be on Team Russ, long may he reign.
I have seen some horrendous baseball over the years, but this weekend’s series between the Phillies and the Mets was a historically painful sports-viewing experience. Clocking in among the least well-spent four hours and 39 minutes I’ve endured, Friday’s interminable game finally ended when Marlon Byrd doubled in the eventual winning run and earned some of the $8 million a year the Phillies are paying him for some reason.
The relativists among us might point to the Mets having ended their 23-inning scoreless streak as a sliver of good news among the wreckage. To these people, I would say this: You know how everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when some horrible tragedy occurs? Yeah, this game.
The saddest part is that this comedy of errors isn’t an outlier—it’s exactly who these two teams are. And there are a lot of games left in the season. And I’m out of beer.
When the Phillies needed a clutch hit late in this contest, it occurred to me that the team must have regretted sending infielder Freddy Galvis down to the minors the day before, a player whose Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) at the time of his demotion was a robust .065, and whose Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was an understated 0.9. Manager Ryne Sandberg really could’ve used that bat in the lineup. That I’m not actually joking when I say this is beyond depressing.
After the inaugural J.V. Club column ran last week, there was some good-natured (I hope) grumbling among the readers about the relative lack of hockey coverage. And I want to let you all know that I hear you loud and clear. The J.V. Club has not yet hired its Senior Hockey Analyst, so I recruited my friend James to help sort out the playoffs for those of us who prefer spending our television dime on the NBA. Think of him as sort of an Asian John Buccigross.
J.V. Club: Hi, James. Thanks for being with us today.
James: Hello, my mainstream friend, with your touchdowns and your three-pointers. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this and reaching out to your token fan of the great game of ice hockey.
J.V. Club: I haven’t really been paying attention to the playoffs, but I noticed your Red Wings are no longer in the mix. What gives?
James: How dare you bring that up. I’ll tell you what gives: Me giving you a two-hander at your unmentionables, just like Lucic.
J.V. Club: Dynamite analysis, James. Now give me a good reason why I should get back into hockey.
James: The intensity is at such a high level that if the game goes into double overtime, the players begin using smelling salts—because of the risk of a nervous-system shutdown.
J.V. Club: That is intense! I already feel unmanned by your talk of sacks and nervous systems. So what’s your favorite hockey fight of all time?
James: Easy: It wouldn’t be just one hockey fight but the game nicknamed the “Brawl In Hockeytown.” I was there in the stands on March 26, 1997. It was the Detroit Red Wings versus the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals. The year prior, Claude Lemieux had checked Kris Draper into the boards and shattered his cheek and orbital bone, which required him to get facial reconstructive surgery. On this day of vengeance, Lemieux was pummeled, a few heavyweights squared off, and at center ice the goalies fought. Forty-six penalties were called, and I barely sat in my seat all night.
J.V. Club: Holy shit! Hockey really is awesome, apparently! Let’s get to some predictions. Who do you like between the Canadiens of Montreal and the Bruins of Boston? [Note: This conversation took place on May 10—the past—and the Canadiens/Bruins series may have since been resolved due to time’s inexorable advance.]
James: I think Boston is going to close, as much as I would love to see the shattering of the hearts of the bigoted Boston fans that tweeted out racist shit at the superb P.K. Subban. But the Bruins are the Cup favorites for a reason: They’re deep in talent, playoff-tested, and Zambonis on ice. Hell, their captain is 6-foot-9. If you want to see what a tree with ice skates looks like, this is the time to tune in.
J.V. Club: Anaheim versus L.A.?
James: While I would love to see the 43-year-old Teemu Selanne finish his career with a Cup, the neighboring Kings will squeak out of this series. They dismantled the San Jose Sharks, coming back from a 0-3 deficit, and don’t show signs of taking the foot off the gas pedal. It’s been some great inter-Californian competition. Too bad most of the state couldn’t care less.
J.V. Club: I’m living proof of that. How about Pittsburgh and the Rangers?
James: Mother’s Day heroics from Martin St. Louis aside, Pittsburgh will survive this one.
J.V. Club: How about the Wild and Blackhawks?
James: Minnesotans will watch anything that is performed on an ice surface, be it hockey or curling, but the Wild will not repeat their beginner’s luck 2002-2003 season, when they reached the Conference Finals. It’s going to take more than that to defeat the defending 2013 champs.
Tune in next week when we join A.V. Club contributor and lifelong Mets fan Kenny Herzog for the David Wright Suicide Watch®.