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Mac Jones and the excuses of Pats fans, steroids, the awesome Acuna, and mercurial Eric Davis

Wednesday 9/27/23

It's suggestive how important it is for Patriots fans to think that Mac Jones is good, when it should be obvious to anyone watching him that he is not. I think this is attributable to two things: 1. Very few people are able to tell what anything actually is and 2. Patriots fans don't wish to deal in the reality that the team will likely not be contenders again for a while.

Personally, I can't see that happening until, as I've said, everyone you see now is gone. Belichick, Jones, Robert Kraft. Include Bill O'Brien--whose reputation is undeserved--and Jerod Mayo in there, too, because if Mayo is made the head coach, that won't work, given that you need a guy who is offense-first and offense oriented. Get rid of all the kids as well, and the chums, and the kids of chums.

Patriots fans work to provide Jones with excuses as if it were their job. Last year, the excuse was the two offensive coordinators he had. I don't know this for sure, but aren't they scoring even less this year with Bill O'Brien as the offensive coordinator? The excuse for this season is obviously that Jones is not surrounded with enough talent. He can't throw the ball. Even completions go for less yards than they often would because it takes the ball so long to arrive and defenders get that extra step, half-a-step, and that makes all the difference in the NFL with the speed in the league. It's harder to run after you catch a Mac Jones pass because the ball does not get there swiftly.

He's also a spoiled child, and I don't think you win with spoiled children who are petulant in their privilege. And he's a dirty player who regularly is kicking and grabbing guys in the testicles. The longer he stays, the longer the team won't contend.

But I see Patriots fans citing his stats, how he's in the top ten in the league in passing yards. I knew this was going to happen--the worshiping of numbers, because, again, people can't see anything for what it is, and people hate and fear words and can't use words well and therefore try and use less and less of them, so now numbers are obscuring reality.

You have all of these human lug nuts out there for whom sports is their entire life, and they have little clue what is happening, but they'll put numbers up on Twitter to make their points and their "takes." Jones is in the top ten in passing yards because he has so many attempts. They're not using these numbers with any context or qualifications. Were it not for the Jets using the worst quarterback in the leagues and anyone else instead--never mind Aaron Rodgers--the Patriots would be 0-3.

Sports fans don't understand time. They don't understand that the passage of time erodes the ability of athletes. How one cannot understand this, I don't know. They don't understand that a player now is different than he was ten years ago, never mind that he is different at the beginning of one season than he was at the end of the last.

I encountered an interesting argument last night in which a person said that Roger Clemens, due to steroids, never lost his fastball and thus never had to learn how to pitch with guile and in other ways. I'd say that's true. He certainly never lost his fastball and the difference between Clemens post-Red Sox v. during his time with them is after he left Boston the breaking ball was largely jettisoned and he became a fastball and split-finger guy. The split wasn't there in 1986, for instance--it was fastball and curve. I was surprised in re-checking his Hall of Fame voting record that he got as high as 65% of the vote on his last year. That suggests to me that he'll get in later because of some committee.

Clemens is often described as a meathead but that's because people don't like him, I think. He actually doesn't come off as a meathead.

I don't think steroids have gone away and I believe they were around before the Jose Canseco era. Kirby Puckett is a guy I was always highly suspicious of. In his rookie season of 1984, Puckett had 557 at-bats and zero home runs, then 691 at-bats the next year and 4 home runs, then he hits 31 home runs in 1986.

I also wonder about Andrew Benintendi, who has become this lite-hitting singles specialist. In 2017, he hit 20 home runs. Both last year and so far, here at the close of this season, he hit 5 home runs. He's in his twenties. Why is he only hitting 5 home runs in full seasons? He's not some black hole in the line-up, like Jackie Bradley--he gets the bat on the ball, but it goes nowhere.

Looking like Justin Turner isn't going to get his 100 RBI season, but I hope he does.

Here's a strange fact: Jim Rice hit 30 or more homers in "only" four seasons. I qualify it that way because he was for a period the most feared slugger in the entire game. His power was spoken of as though it were legendary. This helped: in three of those four seasons, he led the league in home runs. The other time he finished tied for second with teammate Fred Lynn in 1979.

Here's a strange thing to picture: the barrel-shaped Hack Wilson was a center fielder. As was--which I've mentioned before--Gorman Thomas, who, incidentally, led the American League in home runs during that 1979 season.

Whenever I see anything about the Bruins all I can think of is their playoff choke, which to me is the worst choke in hockey history. The three losses at home really cement the achievement. Achievement in reverse. The epic failure.

A prediction: Roland Acuna will win the National League MVP award unanimously, which would be all the more remarkable--while still being deserving--considering the years some of the guys in that league have had, but this Acuna season will always be memorable. What else can you say? I would add that while no one, obviously, has done what Acuna has done, there was a time when we had someone who seemed like maybe they could, were it not for injuries. I cited him before, but consider the mid-1980s version of Eric Davis, who is one of the greatest baseball talents I've ever seen. I found it really interesting, too, how low he kept his hands when hitting.

In 1986, in 132 games, Davis hit 27 homers and swiped 80 bags. The next year, in 129 games, Davis hit 37 home runs and stole 50 bases. So he was that kind of guy. 1987 was an exciting year from the great seasons standpoint. You had Andre Dawson, George Bell, Jack Clark, and Mark McGuire on the power front, and then players like Wade Boggs and Alan Trammell on the overall-outstanding-hitting front, but until the injuries set in, Davis was the biggest story that year. Just a beautiful player.


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