Five things I believe, independent of the garbage, spin or nonsense people are spewing:
1. With all due respect to Peyton Manning, his arm is shot. Manning made some better throws against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, but he has had days like this in the recent past. The Broncos hadn’t played in two weeks, the conditions were perfect and the Green Bay Packers were downright stupid.
“How do I say this without hurting anyone’s feelings?” Manning told reporters Sunday night. “I just don’t give what you all say a lot of merit. So I don’t look at this like an ‘I told you so’ moment, because I don’t listen to what you say in the first place.”
Right back at ya, big fella. I don’t care what you say, either. My eyes tell me everything I need to know. The Green Bay Packers allowed Manning to throw in the middle of the field all night (only nine of his 29 throws went to the sidelines) and Manning still lacks the arm strength to throw outside the numbers and deep on a consistent basis. Sure, he can make those throws from time to time. But he can’t make them consistently anymore, which is the point.
In the NFL, you can’t depend on something that’s not consistent.
Can Denver win it all with Manning facing these limitations? We’ll see. A meeting with the Patriots and Bill Belichick looms in Week 12. And Belichick won’t make the same mistake that the Packers and head coach Mike McCarthy did. He’ll make Manning throw the ball outside.
2. The New York Mets weren’t as good as we all thought they were, a reality that we must attribute to the inevitable hype that comes with all New York teams. Starting pitching? Oh, the Mets have that, for sure. But the more you watched them play during the World Series, the more you couldn’t help but conclude that the Mets were a marginal offensive club with a suspect relief corps and a shaky defense.
Seriously, how many plays did the Mets botch in this series, from the very first at-bat? Yoenis Cespedes is not a big-league center fielder. Lucas Duda looks clumsy at first base. Travis D’Arnaud delivers the ball more slowly than Peyton Manning does. Daniel Murphy and David Wright made simple plays look difficult. The Mets were a good story in 2015, but in retrospect, them reaching the playoffs had more to do with the ineptitude of the Washington Nationals than anything else.
In the end, the Mets were a pretty good team. Not a great one. Maybe not even a good one. As soon as the Kansas City Royals put pressure on them, the Mets cracked like a carton of his eggs.
And we didn’t even get to the manager.
3. For the hockey folk: The Tyler Seguin trade could go down as one of the worst trades in hockey history. It will haunt the Boston Bruins for the next decade at least.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft behind Taylor Hall, Seguin was 19 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011. He played two more years before the Bruins dealt him to Dallas for a package of players that included Loui Erikkson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow. Erikkson is now approaching free agency while Smith and Fraser are with other organizations, leaving defenseman Morrow as perhaps the only real long-term asset from the trade.
Short of the Herschel Walker deal, can anyone else name a true horse-for-ponies trade that actually worked? (I’ll take suggestions.)
On Tuesday, Seguin scored a hat trick in Dallas’s 5-2 win at Boston. He now looks like one of the three or four best players in the league. The Bruins privately cited a number of off-ice issues when Seguin was in Boston, but there are certain talents in sports that require extra patience and tolerance when it comes to immature behavior. I mean, the Chicago Blackhawks tolerate Patrick Kane, don’t they?
The Bruins, of course, have a history with talented, skilled players who aren’t quite as tough as they would like: Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel, Seguin, even Dougie Hamilton. Unless (or until) Seguin does something that gives the Bruins license to wag a finger at everyone, they look like a team intent on having 20 players who will go into the corners.
Has anyone mentioned that the Bruins have won one Stanley Cup in 43 years?
4. The firing of Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has some people suggesting that Hamilton is a scapegoat. But the truth is that Hamilton got what was inevitably coming to him. Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano are likely next in line to be dismissed because quarterback Andrew Luck is indispensable in a league increasingly built around the quarterback.
Which brings us back to Hamilton. What exactly is it that the Colts have been trying to do?
Some of us have been saying this for weeks: the Colts’ passing offense seems entirely predicated on getting the ball downfield, requiring Luck to take deep drops behind a suspect offensive line. And so first, unsurprisingly, Luck has been getting killed. Second, the Indy passing attack has been inefficient, to say the least. Most every successful passing attack in the NFL is predicated on short passes, some variation of the West Coast offense. The Colts seem to routinely run plays in which there are no short options for the quarterback.
Last time I checked, the OC’s job was to implement a system that maximized the team’s abilities. It certainly feels like Hamilton has done the opposite. And that makes him a scapegoat?
5. There is certainly more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, but the Kansas City Royals must have some baseball stat geeks running for cover, right? The Royals ranked 29th in baseball in walks (last in the American League) and 24th in home runs (15th in the AL). They also struck out the least. The Royals generally swung the bat, put the ball in play and made things happen. They played great defense and had a killer bullpen.
Compare with this with, say, the Chicago Cubs, who are favored to win the 2016 World Series. Seems wildly contradictory, right?
Here’s the point: I still don’t understand why people fail to draw a link between “Moneyball” and steroids, which gave birth to OPS. Somewhere in there, it became desirable for a player to strike out a lot and walk a ton so long as he could hit bombs. We ended up with a succession of softball players like Adam Dunn, who put up some good numbers and represented some sort of good value.
Now, I look at Kyle Schwarber and wonder if the game has passed him by. If Schwarber doesn’t hit home runs, what exactly does he give you? Post-steroids, it certainly feels like baseball has gone back to the game it was intended to be. The Cubs will be a good test.
Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.