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Only 33 of baseball's 249 free agents have signed and a half dozen big names are on the trading block this week.
2017 Winter Meetings Preview
Only 33 of baseball's 249 free agents have signed and a half dozen big names are on the trading block this week.
Only 33 of baseball's 249 free agents have signed and a half dozen big names are on the trading block this week.
2017 Winter Meetings Preview
Only 33 of baseball's 249 free agents have signed and a half dozen big names are on the trading block this week.
Only 33 of baseball's 249 free agents have signed and a half dozen big names are on the trading block this week.
2017 Winter Meetings Preview
Only 33 of baseball's 249 free agents have signed and a half dozen big names are on the trading block this week.
(AP)
Winter Meetings Baseball
(AP)
<p>1. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 14:</p><p>a. I will never understand how the Seahawks thought Alex Collins was not good enough to make their team this summer.</p><p>b. One of the coolest drives of the year: The Colts drove 19 plays, 77 yards in 9:53 in a blizzard, and then used a 43-yard PAT from Adam Vinatieri to tie the game in Buffalo. That’s the most interesting drive and PAT of the year. Easy.</p><p>c. Underrated player of the year: Since Arizona acquired Chandler Jones in a spring 2016 trade with New England, he leads the NFL in sacks (25.0) and tackles behind the line of scrimmage (39).</p><p>d. Speaking of pressure, Case Keenum will be seeing Kawann Short in his sleep for a couple nights.</p><p>e. The 27-yard T.J. Yates touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins had to be the greatest throw of Yates’ NFL life, abbreviated as it is.</p><p>f. Manti Te’o, 10 tackles. That’s a good career rebound for Te’o, now a Saint.</p><p>g. That was one terrible interception thrown by Matthew Stafford in Tampa.</p><p>h. I know it’s only two Niner starts, but Jimmy Garoppolo (2-0, 8.9 yards per attempt) is the goods.</p><p>i. Davis Webb inactive. Bizarre. Good line from our Conor Orr at the Meadowlands, about the Giants’ approach to quarterback play in this meaningless last month: “This felt like a logjam of competing interests.”</p><p>j. Ask yourselves this question, all ye who love the Giants: What purpose does it serve to play Eli Manning in the last three games instead of playing the third-round rookie, Davis Webb, to be able to add info to your 2018 first-round draft decision?</p><p>k. The NFL has to explain some of these ridiculous calls, dating back to the Monday nighter last week in Cincinnati. Phantom calls. All over the place. Antonio Brown’s invisible 15-yard unnecessary roughness call against the Ravens last night. I concur with Sean Payton about the Sheldon Rankins roughing-the-passer call Thursday night; so marginal. </p><p>l. Not a good day for Marcus Mariota in the 12-7 loss at Arizona. Just 159 passing yards, 11 rushing yards, no touchdowns, two picks. He’s just not been the dynamic player this year we all thought he’d be in year three.</p><p>m. The Bears took Jordan Howard in the 2016 fifth round. He’s given them rushing seasons of 1,313 yards and—with three games left this year—1,032 yards. On a losing team. Nice pick, Ryan Pace.</p><p>n. Oakland, 6-7. That’s something I didn’t see coming.</p><p>o. Brett Hundley told me last week one of his goals was to be sure the Pack was still in contention by the time Aaron Rodgers returns. Kudos to him—particularly for coming back from 14 down in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland in overtime Sunday. Now Green Bay’s 7-6, a game out of the last wild-card spot in the NFC with a tough slate (at Carolina, Minnesota, at Detroit) and Rodgers almost ready to return.</p><p>p. Deshaun Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins is going to be fun to watch for six or eight years. Really fun.</p><p>2. I think I hope for the sake of the franchise, the Giants consider all candidates for the GM job, and don’t have David Gettleman’s name in pen. Not that I don’t like Gettleman; he did a very good job in Carolina. But he’ll be 67 in February. The Giants’ GM job has been sort of what the Steelers’ coaching job is. New York’s had three GMs since 1979, and none has lasted less than nine seasons; Pittsburgh’s had three head coaches since 1969. Maybe Gettleman’s the best guy out there, even if you can’t count on him for more than four or five years. But I’d rather survey the field of GM candidates than pick Gettleman now and let the rest of the field go.</p><p>3. I think the combination of Nick Caserio and Josh McDaniels would be a heck of a catch for any team, by the way.</p><p>4. I think NFL teams will not have learned very much (surprise!) if Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is the fifth quarterback taken in the April draft. Or fourth. Mayfield is about 6-0 ¼, and scouts worry about his size. Let’s go back to 2012. Fourth QB picked: Brandon Weeden. Fifth QB picked: Brock Osweiler. Sixth QB picked: Russell (5-10 ¾ ) Wilson. Height, schmeight. Watch the games.</p><p>5. I think—thanks to Deadline.com<em>, </em>and relayed by Pro Football Talk—we’re now seeing what may be part of the future of the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles. The Rams are really good, obviously. The Chargers might be good enough to win the AFC West this year. On Sunday, the matchup between the 9-3 Rams and the 10-2 Eagles at the L.A. Coliseum was the game of the day in the NFL—and, obviously, FOX feared a laconic reaction when its pregame show, FOX NFL Sunday, went to the game site. Now, the pregame show would air from 9-10 a.m. West Coast time, for the 1:25 p.m. ballgame. When ESPN sends its College GameDay show to college campus sites, and the show is on hours before the game, crowds gather at the appointed time. But FOX, obviously, feared this would not happen long before the Rams games. <a href="http://deadline.com/2017/12/fox-sports-solicits-la-rams-fans-for-nfl-on-fox-pre-game-hoopla-sunday-1202223528/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:So FOX put out a notice" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">So FOX put out a notice</a> on Project Casting, where aspiring actors go to look for work. “Calling all LA Rams fans!… To audition for a role in the upcoming NFL Sunday pre-game show, check out the casting call breakdown below. . . . Come out, bring your spirit, your best NFL gear &#38; join us for NFL on FOX THIS Sunday!” More and more, I sense the NFL is going to have to resort to things like this to try to rev up the market.</p><p>6. I think the NFL and the NFLPA need to investigate—the same way I hope the Russell Wilson head-trauma examination from five weeks ago is being thoroughly investigated—the circumstances surrounding the 49ers’ brutal hit on Houston quarterback Tom Savage, and Savage’s reaction to it. Savage appeared to be twitching after the original hit and came out of the game to be looked at by the unaffiliated neurological consultant on the sidelines. Savage was permitted to re-enter the game for one series. Then he was looked at and pulled from the game, prompting an angry reaction from Savage. Bottom line: It’s good he was pulled, but should he have been in the game for the series between the hit and his re-entry? This is a vital part of the NFL’s efforts to be sure no player ever plays with a concussion or symptoms of one. The program has to strive for perfection, and this didn’t look perfect. </p><p>7. I think Jerry Jones is not happy over the Roger Goodell contract. (Not that he would be.) But I just wonder what he’s got up his sleeve for the NFL meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. I bet it’s something.</p><p>8. I think the NFL would be making a mistake if it adopted the college targeting rule, which would provide for an ejection if officials judge that a defensive player targeted a defenseless player&#39;s head or neck area with an excessive hit, and would be subject to officiating interpretation. Read those last six words again: <em>Would be subject to officiating interpretation. </em>Often, a hit that looks way over the top happens (as did the George Iloka hit on Antonio Brown last Monday night in the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game) when a defensive player looks to dislodge the ball from a ballcarrier. It&#39;s a tough call. Often, the defender could be aiming for a foe&#39;s midsection, but the offensive player could duck or lunge, and then the hit could be helmet-to-helmet. It may not have been the defender&#39;s intent, but it just happens. I want to protect players as much as anyone. I&#39;m not saying this is a bad rule. But this rule, if enacted, should be used only on obviously excessive hits.</p><p>9. I think, whether you like it or not, I’m taking you into the mind of Andy Benoit right now. Andy’s our NFL tape nerd and true football guru—an incredibly valued and valuable member of The MMQB team. He’s got a fun and interesting life out in Idaho, and he’s opinionated about a lot of things. In his weekly midweek column, you see the other side of Andy. This side:</p><p>• “I have always loved holiday lights. If everyone in every neighborhood did even just a little bit of illuminated decorating, 90 percent of our country’s problems would go away. But one caveat: no giant inflatable decorations. They’re tacky and lazy. And, if you live near them, surprisingly loud. (They hum as they stay inflated.) A giant inflatable yard decoration is better than no decorations, but a single wreath (even unlit) is better than a giant inflatable yard decoration.”</p><p>• “There are two types of people: clean freaks and slobs. When forced to live together, a clean freak’s and a slob’s most common battleground becomes the kitchen. Clean freaks do the dishes right after eating, while slobs sit around and wait for food scraps to stick to the plates. This one isn’t a matter of personal preference—there’s a right and wrong. The clean freaks are right and the slobs are wrong, and here’s why: If a dirty dish is to ever be used again, it must eventually be washed. Which makes washing that dish an inevitability. You maximize the value of that dish if you recognize that inevitability and clean it right away. Maybe you don’t need that dish until tomorrow night, but by washing it immediately after tonight’s dinner, you have 24 hours of that dish’s cleanliness. That’s 24 hours that the dish isn’t sitting in the back of your mind, yelling <em>Wash Me!</em> It’s 24 hours where the dish is available to be used on a whim. If you wait until, say, the morning to wash it, you get only 12 hours with that peace of mind. All for the same dish-washing effort. Or, actually, for less effort if you wash it up front, since fresh food scraps are easier to remove than old food scraps. If a dish didn’t have to be cleaned, then maybe the slobs would have an argument. But it does, and so they don’t.”</p><p>I believe you’ll all join me in pleading: MORE OF THAT, ANDY BENOIT.</p><p>10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:</p><p>a. Coffeenerdness: Three hours after putting the espresso roast (new for the week) into <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VKLOJL4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&#38;tag=sportsillustrated0f--20&#38;camp=1789&#38;creative=9325&#38;linkCode=as2&#38;creativeASIN=B00VKLOJL4&#38;linkId=596fe17a63fbeb127422e89b19a7f32b" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:my 12-ounce Hydro Flask" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">my 12-ounce Hydro Flask</a>, it’s still hot. What great inventions—the coffee and the vessel.</p><p>b. Beernerdness: Beer nerds will hate me for this, but when I opened the refrigerator Friday for a pre-dinner beer (or two), I didn’t want one of the Colorado craft brews in there, or the Gray Sail wheat beer, or the Allagash White. I had a hankering for a Heineken. Still a good standard when you want a couple of lighter, crisp ones.</p><p>c. <a href="https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/nfl/bengals/2017/12/07/tim-krumrie-brain-trauma-wont-settle-sad-fate/905801001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Football story of the week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Football story of the week</a>: by Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer<em>, </em>on the fascinating and new protocol to treat brain trauma, the kind of treatment that could help a legion of former football players.</p><p>d. I can’t wait to see Shohei Ohtani.</p><p>e. You’re off to a heck of a start with the Marlins, Jeter.</p><p>f. Opening day against the Dunedin Blue Jays is only four months away. See if you can build up your roster with some more minor-leaguers.</p><p>g. Heresy to say for a follower of the Boston Red Sox, but I really admire the job Yankees GM Brian Cashman does. He has the benefit of having the Yankee jillions behind him, and of getting players to waive no-trade clauses to play in New York. But he’s still got to put a team on the field to compete with other excellent teams, and he does it—albeit with those big advantages—every year. Did he need Giancarlo Stanton? No. Will Stanton’s gigantic contract eventually cost Cashman one of his young mega-stars? Maybe. Does another right-handed power-hitter fit his lineup? No. But tell me: If you could get a 28-year-old MVP for peanuts, and that 28-year-old MVP is coming off a 58-home-run year, and he doesn’t appear to have many major flaws except an injury concern (he’s played 120 or more games in one of the past three years), you’d get him …</p><p>h. … Even if it makes Jacoby Ellsbury a $23-million-a-year fifth outfielder (Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks, Ellsbury would seem to be the Yankees outfield depth chart, barring a trade).</p><p>i. You exist in the world you’re given. Cashman excels in his. It’s easier to excel when you have Cashman’s advantages, obviously. But you’ve still go to do it.</p><p>j. So what do the Red Sox do? My advice: pray. And, I guess, overpay for Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez. But the Yankees are 12 wins better than Boston, even with one of them on the Sox.</p><p>k. If I were the world champs in Houston today, I’d focus on one starting pitcher, and one top bullpen arm. Then it’d be a great ALCS: Yanks versus Astros.</p><p>l. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-jerome-crowe-20171205-story.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Obituary of the Week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Obituary of the Week</a>: from the Los Angeles Times<em>, </em>word comes that the inventor of the SWAT team (and the ransom-deliverer in the Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping) has died. Now that’s an interesting life.</p><p>m. <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2017/12/05/plot-twist-for-bookstores/7U6qgeWtbw18iIBOSHoUdO/story.html?p1=Article_Trending_Most_Viewed" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Story of the Week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Story of the Week</a>, by James Sullivan of the Boston Globe, on bookstores making a comeback (yay): “We don’t think of them as booksellers anymore — they’re literary entrepreneurs.” Cool look at people enjoying books around New England.</p><p>n. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-ohtani-angels-hernandez-20171208-story.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Baseball Story of the Week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Baseball Story of the Week</a>: from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times<em>, </em>on just who and what Shohei Ohtani is. The Japanese pitcher/hitter signed with the Angels on Friday, and he could be one of the great stories in baseball history.</p><p>o. One more baseball note: Tracy Stallard, 80, died Wednesday in Tennessee. Not much of a reason for you to remember him; he went 30-57 in a seven-year major-league career. But he did have one moment in the sun: He gave up Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season—a line drive low into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium, the only run in a 1-0 Yankees’ win, played in 1 hour, 57 minutes. “I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Stallard said after the game. He pitched a great game against the eventual World Series champs. The Yanks won 109 games that regular season. That’s what I loved about Stallard’s reaction. He pitched well, Maris hit a good pitch (they both said), and that’s all Stallard gave up. No sense crying about it. I like it when competitors (you hear this out of cornerbacks a lot, when they give up huge plays even when they had good coverage) say, essentially, <em>I’ll get ‘em next time.</em></p><p>p. Happy 24th birthday, Jacoby Brissett. Lotta football left.</p><p>q. Happy 47th birthday, Errict Rhett.</p><p>r. Sprint, don’t run, to “<a href="http://focusfeatures.com/darkesthour" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Darkest Hour" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Darkest Hour</a>,” the new Winston Churchill movie. There have been so many World War II movies out, many from the British perspective, and so I understand if you’re fed up with the genre. But this one takes a month in the walkup to the war, and in particular Churchill’s monumental decision about whether to negotiate a truce and settlement with Hitler as Germany is on the verge of invading England, or whether he and his country should fight to the death over their freedom. It’s so interesting how everything and everyone in his war cabinet pointed toward appeasement and making a deal with Hitler … but how stubborn Churchill was in holding out. Gary Oldman is outstanding as the prime minister.</p><p>s. So Tonya Harding (Google her, kids) got a standing ovation at the Hollywood premier of the movie about her, “I, Tonya.” So … to the people who stood and cheered: You do know that a goon hired by Harding’s then-husband and her bodyguard tried to break main rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg with a metal pipe before the ’94 Olympics, and that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and didn’t stop it. A standing O. Wow.</p><p>t. Save the Boston Herald.</p><h3>Who I Like Tonight</h3><p><strong>New England 29, Miami 9. </strong>The Patriots have won 15 straight away from Foxboro. They’ve won their last three meetings with the Dolphins by 7, 21 and 18. Miami’s 1-5 in its last six, and the five losses have been by a total of 95 points. You’ll be able to watch your local news tonight, folks. And, with a Pats’ win, you’ll look forward to the game of the year: New England (11-2) at Pittsburgh (11-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field.?</p><h3>The Adieu Haiku</h3><p>The kid had it all.<br>Supe dreams: Wentz versus Brady.<br>North Dakota weeps.</p><p><strong><em>• We have a newsletter, and you can subscribe, and it’s free</em></strong>. Get “The Morning Huddle” delivered to your inbox first thing each weekday, by <a href="https://www.si.com/static/newsletter/signup" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:going here and checking The MMQB newsletter box." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>going here and checking The MMQB newsletter box.</em></a> Start your day with the best of the NFL, from The MMQB.</p><p><strong>• <em>Question or comment? Story idea?</em></strong> Email us at <span><em>talkback@themmqb.com</em></span>.</p>
Ten Things I Think I Think: On the Coolest Drive of the Year, the Giants’ GM Job and Baker Mayfield

1. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 14:

a. I will never understand how the Seahawks thought Alex Collins was not good enough to make their team this summer.

b. One of the coolest drives of the year: The Colts drove 19 plays, 77 yards in 9:53 in a blizzard, and then used a 43-yard PAT from Adam Vinatieri to tie the game in Buffalo. That’s the most interesting drive and PAT of the year. Easy.

c. Underrated player of the year: Since Arizona acquired Chandler Jones in a spring 2016 trade with New England, he leads the NFL in sacks (25.0) and tackles behind the line of scrimmage (39).

d. Speaking of pressure, Case Keenum will be seeing Kawann Short in his sleep for a couple nights.

e. The 27-yard T.J. Yates touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins had to be the greatest throw of Yates’ NFL life, abbreviated as it is.

f. Manti Te’o, 10 tackles. That’s a good career rebound for Te’o, now a Saint.

g. That was one terrible interception thrown by Matthew Stafford in Tampa.

h. I know it’s only two Niner starts, but Jimmy Garoppolo (2-0, 8.9 yards per attempt) is the goods.

i. Davis Webb inactive. Bizarre. Good line from our Conor Orr at the Meadowlands, about the Giants’ approach to quarterback play in this meaningless last month: “This felt like a logjam of competing interests.”

j. Ask yourselves this question, all ye who love the Giants: What purpose does it serve to play Eli Manning in the last three games instead of playing the third-round rookie, Davis Webb, to be able to add info to your 2018 first-round draft decision?

k. The NFL has to explain some of these ridiculous calls, dating back to the Monday nighter last week in Cincinnati. Phantom calls. All over the place. Antonio Brown’s invisible 15-yard unnecessary roughness call against the Ravens last night. I concur with Sean Payton about the Sheldon Rankins roughing-the-passer call Thursday night; so marginal.

l. Not a good day for Marcus Mariota in the 12-7 loss at Arizona. Just 159 passing yards, 11 rushing yards, no touchdowns, two picks. He’s just not been the dynamic player this year we all thought he’d be in year three.

m. The Bears took Jordan Howard in the 2016 fifth round. He’s given them rushing seasons of 1,313 yards and—with three games left this year—1,032 yards. On a losing team. Nice pick, Ryan Pace.

n. Oakland, 6-7. That’s something I didn’t see coming.

o. Brett Hundley told me last week one of his goals was to be sure the Pack was still in contention by the time Aaron Rodgers returns. Kudos to him—particularly for coming back from 14 down in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland in overtime Sunday. Now Green Bay’s 7-6, a game out of the last wild-card spot in the NFC with a tough slate (at Carolina, Minnesota, at Detroit) and Rodgers almost ready to return.

p. Deshaun Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins is going to be fun to watch for six or eight years. Really fun.

2. I think I hope for the sake of the franchise, the Giants consider all candidates for the GM job, and don’t have David Gettleman’s name in pen. Not that I don’t like Gettleman; he did a very good job in Carolina. But he’ll be 67 in February. The Giants’ GM job has been sort of what the Steelers’ coaching job is. New York’s had three GMs since 1979, and none has lasted less than nine seasons; Pittsburgh’s had three head coaches since 1969. Maybe Gettleman’s the best guy out there, even if you can’t count on him for more than four or five years. But I’d rather survey the field of GM candidates than pick Gettleman now and let the rest of the field go.

3. I think the combination of Nick Caserio and Josh McDaniels would be a heck of a catch for any team, by the way.

4. I think NFL teams will not have learned very much (surprise!) if Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is the fifth quarterback taken in the April draft. Or fourth. Mayfield is about 6-0 ¼, and scouts worry about his size. Let’s go back to 2012. Fourth QB picked: Brandon Weeden. Fifth QB picked: Brock Osweiler. Sixth QB picked: Russell (5-10 ¾ ) Wilson. Height, schmeight. Watch the games.

5. I think—thanks to Deadline.com, and relayed by Pro Football Talk—we’re now seeing what may be part of the future of the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles. The Rams are really good, obviously. The Chargers might be good enough to win the AFC West this year. On Sunday, the matchup between the 9-3 Rams and the 10-2 Eagles at the L.A. Coliseum was the game of the day in the NFL—and, obviously, FOX feared a laconic reaction when its pregame show, FOX NFL Sunday, went to the game site. Now, the pregame show would air from 9-10 a.m. West Coast time, for the 1:25 p.m. ballgame. When ESPN sends its College GameDay show to college campus sites, and the show is on hours before the game, crowds gather at the appointed time. But FOX, obviously, feared this would not happen long before the Rams games. So FOX put out a notice on Project Casting, where aspiring actors go to look for work. “Calling all LA Rams fans!… To audition for a role in the upcoming NFL Sunday pre-game show, check out the casting call breakdown below. . . . Come out, bring your spirit, your best NFL gear & join us for NFL on FOX THIS Sunday!” More and more, I sense the NFL is going to have to resort to things like this to try to rev up the market.

6. I think the NFL and the NFLPA need to investigate—the same way I hope the Russell Wilson head-trauma examination from five weeks ago is being thoroughly investigated—the circumstances surrounding the 49ers’ brutal hit on Houston quarterback Tom Savage, and Savage’s reaction to it. Savage appeared to be twitching after the original hit and came out of the game to be looked at by the unaffiliated neurological consultant on the sidelines. Savage was permitted to re-enter the game for one series. Then he was looked at and pulled from the game, prompting an angry reaction from Savage. Bottom line: It’s good he was pulled, but should he have been in the game for the series between the hit and his re-entry? This is a vital part of the NFL’s efforts to be sure no player ever plays with a concussion or symptoms of one. The program has to strive for perfection, and this didn’t look perfect.

7. I think Jerry Jones is not happy over the Roger Goodell contract. (Not that he would be.) But I just wonder what he’s got up his sleeve for the NFL meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. I bet it’s something.

8. I think the NFL would be making a mistake if it adopted the college targeting rule, which would provide for an ejection if officials judge that a defensive player targeted a defenseless player's head or neck area with an excessive hit, and would be subject to officiating interpretation. Read those last six words again: Would be subject to officiating interpretation. Often, a hit that looks way over the top happens (as did the George Iloka hit on Antonio Brown last Monday night in the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game) when a defensive player looks to dislodge the ball from a ballcarrier. It's a tough call. Often, the defender could be aiming for a foe's midsection, but the offensive player could duck or lunge, and then the hit could be helmet-to-helmet. It may not have been the defender's intent, but it just happens. I want to protect players as much as anyone. I'm not saying this is a bad rule. But this rule, if enacted, should be used only on obviously excessive hits.

9. I think, whether you like it or not, I’m taking you into the mind of Andy Benoit right now. Andy’s our NFL tape nerd and true football guru—an incredibly valued and valuable member of The MMQB team. He’s got a fun and interesting life out in Idaho, and he’s opinionated about a lot of things. In his weekly midweek column, you see the other side of Andy. This side:

• “I have always loved holiday lights. If everyone in every neighborhood did even just a little bit of illuminated decorating, 90 percent of our country’s problems would go away. But one caveat: no giant inflatable decorations. They’re tacky and lazy. And, if you live near them, surprisingly loud. (They hum as they stay inflated.) A giant inflatable yard decoration is better than no decorations, but a single wreath (even unlit) is better than a giant inflatable yard decoration.”

• “There are two types of people: clean freaks and slobs. When forced to live together, a clean freak’s and a slob’s most common battleground becomes the kitchen. Clean freaks do the dishes right after eating, while slobs sit around and wait for food scraps to stick to the plates. This one isn’t a matter of personal preference—there’s a right and wrong. The clean freaks are right and the slobs are wrong, and here’s why: If a dirty dish is to ever be used again, it must eventually be washed. Which makes washing that dish an inevitability. You maximize the value of that dish if you recognize that inevitability and clean it right away. Maybe you don’t need that dish until tomorrow night, but by washing it immediately after tonight’s dinner, you have 24 hours of that dish’s cleanliness. That’s 24 hours that the dish isn’t sitting in the back of your mind, yelling Wash Me! It’s 24 hours where the dish is available to be used on a whim. If you wait until, say, the morning to wash it, you get only 12 hours with that peace of mind. All for the same dish-washing effort. Or, actually, for less effort if you wash it up front, since fresh food scraps are easier to remove than old food scraps. If a dish didn’t have to be cleaned, then maybe the slobs would have an argument. But it does, and so they don’t.”

I believe you’ll all join me in pleading: MORE OF THAT, ANDY BENOIT.

10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Coffeenerdness: Three hours after putting the espresso roast (new for the week) into my 12-ounce Hydro Flask, it’s still hot. What great inventions—the coffee and the vessel.

b. Beernerdness: Beer nerds will hate me for this, but when I opened the refrigerator Friday for a pre-dinner beer (or two), I didn’t want one of the Colorado craft brews in there, or the Gray Sail wheat beer, or the Allagash White. I had a hankering for a Heineken. Still a good standard when you want a couple of lighter, crisp ones.

c. Football story of the week: by Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, on the fascinating and new protocol to treat brain trauma, the kind of treatment that could help a legion of former football players.

d. I can’t wait to see Shohei Ohtani.

e. You’re off to a heck of a start with the Marlins, Jeter.

f. Opening day against the Dunedin Blue Jays is only four months away. See if you can build up your roster with some more minor-leaguers.

g. Heresy to say for a follower of the Boston Red Sox, but I really admire the job Yankees GM Brian Cashman does. He has the benefit of having the Yankee jillions behind him, and of getting players to waive no-trade clauses to play in New York. But he’s still got to put a team on the field to compete with other excellent teams, and he does it—albeit with those big advantages—every year. Did he need Giancarlo Stanton? No. Will Stanton’s gigantic contract eventually cost Cashman one of his young mega-stars? Maybe. Does another right-handed power-hitter fit his lineup? No. But tell me: If you could get a 28-year-old MVP for peanuts, and that 28-year-old MVP is coming off a 58-home-run year, and he doesn’t appear to have many major flaws except an injury concern (he’s played 120 or more games in one of the past three years), you’d get him …

h. … Even if it makes Jacoby Ellsbury a $23-million-a-year fifth outfielder (Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks, Ellsbury would seem to be the Yankees outfield depth chart, barring a trade).

i. You exist in the world you’re given. Cashman excels in his. It’s easier to excel when you have Cashman’s advantages, obviously. But you’ve still go to do it.

j. So what do the Red Sox do? My advice: pray. And, I guess, overpay for Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez. But the Yankees are 12 wins better than Boston, even with one of them on the Sox.

k. If I were the world champs in Houston today, I’d focus on one starting pitcher, and one top bullpen arm. Then it’d be a great ALCS: Yanks versus Astros.

l. Obituary of the Week: from the Los Angeles Times, word comes that the inventor of the SWAT team (and the ransom-deliverer in the Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping) has died. Now that’s an interesting life.

m. Story of the Week, by James Sullivan of the Boston Globe, on bookstores making a comeback (yay): “We don’t think of them as booksellers anymore — they’re literary entrepreneurs.” Cool look at people enjoying books around New England.

n. Baseball Story of the Week: from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, on just who and what Shohei Ohtani is. The Japanese pitcher/hitter signed with the Angels on Friday, and he could be one of the great stories in baseball history.

o. One more baseball note: Tracy Stallard, 80, died Wednesday in Tennessee. Not much of a reason for you to remember him; he went 30-57 in a seven-year major-league career. But he did have one moment in the sun: He gave up Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season—a line drive low into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium, the only run in a 1-0 Yankees’ win, played in 1 hour, 57 minutes. “I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Stallard said after the game. He pitched a great game against the eventual World Series champs. The Yanks won 109 games that regular season. That’s what I loved about Stallard’s reaction. He pitched well, Maris hit a good pitch (they both said), and that’s all Stallard gave up. No sense crying about it. I like it when competitors (you hear this out of cornerbacks a lot, when they give up huge plays even when they had good coverage) say, essentially, I’ll get ‘em next time.

p. Happy 24th birthday, Jacoby Brissett. Lotta football left.

q. Happy 47th birthday, Errict Rhett.

r. Sprint, don’t run, to “Darkest Hour,” the new Winston Churchill movie. There have been so many World War II movies out, many from the British perspective, and so I understand if you’re fed up with the genre. But this one takes a month in the walkup to the war, and in particular Churchill’s monumental decision about whether to negotiate a truce and settlement with Hitler as Germany is on the verge of invading England, or whether he and his country should fight to the death over their freedom. It’s so interesting how everything and everyone in his war cabinet pointed toward appeasement and making a deal with Hitler … but how stubborn Churchill was in holding out. Gary Oldman is outstanding as the prime minister.

s. So Tonya Harding (Google her, kids) got a standing ovation at the Hollywood premier of the movie about her, “I, Tonya.” So … to the people who stood and cheered: You do know that a goon hired by Harding’s then-husband and her bodyguard tried to break main rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg with a metal pipe before the ’94 Olympics, and that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and didn’t stop it. A standing O. Wow.

t. Save the Boston Herald.

Who I Like Tonight

New England 29, Miami 9. The Patriots have won 15 straight away from Foxboro. They’ve won their last three meetings with the Dolphins by 7, 21 and 18. Miami’s 1-5 in its last six, and the five losses have been by a total of 95 points. You’ll be able to watch your local news tonight, folks. And, with a Pats’ win, you’ll look forward to the game of the year: New England (11-2) at Pittsburgh (11-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field.?

The Adieu Haiku

The kid had it all.
Supe dreams: Wentz versus Brady.
North Dakota weeps.

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<p>1. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 14:</p><p>a. I will never understand how the Seahawks thought Alex Collins was not good enough to make their team this summer.</p><p>b. One of the coolest drives of the year: The Colts drove 19 plays, 77 yards in 9:53 in a blizzard, and then used a 43-yard PAT from Adam Vinatieri to tie the game in Buffalo. That’s the most interesting drive and PAT of the year. Easy.</p><p>c. Underrated player of the year: Since Arizona acquired Chandler Jones in a spring 2016 trade with New England, he leads the NFL in sacks (25.0) and tackles behind the line of scrimmage (39).</p><p>d. Speaking of pressure, Case Keenum will be seeing Kawann Short in his sleep for a couple nights.</p><p>e. The 27-yard T.J. Yates touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins had to be the greatest throw of Yates’ NFL life, abbreviated as it is.</p><p>f. Manti Te’o, 10 tackles. That’s a good career rebound for Te’o, now a Saint.</p><p>g. That was one terrible interception thrown by Matthew Stafford in Tampa.</p><p>h. I know it’s only two Niner starts, but Jimmy Garoppolo (2-0, 8.9 yards per attempt) is the goods.</p><p>i. Davis Webb inactive. Bizarre. Good line from our Conor Orr at the Meadowlands, about the Giants’ approach to quarterback play in this meaningless last month: “This felt like a logjam of competing interests.”</p><p>j. Ask yourselves this question, all ye who love the Giants: What purpose does it serve to play Eli Manning in the last three games instead of playing the third-round rookie, Davis Webb, to be able to add info to your 2018 first-round draft decision?</p><p>k. The NFL has to explain some of these ridiculous calls, dating back to the Monday nighter last week in Cincinnati. Phantom calls. All over the place. Antonio Brown’s invisible 15-yard unnecessary roughness call against the Ravens last night. I concur with Sean Payton about the Sheldon Rankins roughing-the-passer call Thursday night; so marginal. </p><p>l. Not a good day for Marcus Mariota in the 12-7 loss at Arizona. Just 159 passing yards, 11 rushing yards, no touchdowns, two picks. He’s just not been the dynamic player this year we all thought he’d be in year three.</p><p>m. The Bears took Jordan Howard in the 2016 fifth round. He’s given them rushing seasons of 1,313 yards and—with three games left this year—1,032 yards. On a losing team. Nice pick, Ryan Pace.</p><p>n. Oakland, 6-7. That’s something I didn’t see coming.</p><p>o. Brett Hundley told me last week one of his goals was to be sure the Pack was still in contention by the time Aaron Rodgers returns. Kudos to him—particularly for coming back from 14 down in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland in overtime Sunday. Now Green Bay’s 7-6, a game out of the last wild-card spot in the NFC with a tough slate (at Carolina, Minnesota, at Detroit) and Rodgers almost ready to return.</p><p>p. Deshaun Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins is going to be fun to watch for six or eight years. Really fun.</p><p>2. I think I hope for the sake of the franchise, the Giants consider all candidates for the GM job, and don’t have David Gettleman’s name in pen. Not that I don’t like Gettleman; he did a very good job in Carolina. But he’ll be 67 in February. The Giants’ GM job has been sort of what the Steelers’ coaching job is. New York’s had three GMs since 1979, and none has lasted less than nine seasons; Pittsburgh’s had three head coaches since 1969. Maybe Gettleman’s the best guy out there, even if you can’t count on him for more than four or five years. But I’d rather survey the field of GM candidates than pick Gettleman now and let the rest of the field go.</p><p>3. I think the combination of Nick Caserio and Josh McDaniels would be a heck of a catch for any team, by the way.</p><p>4. I think NFL teams will not have learned very much (surprise!) if Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is the fifth quarterback taken in the April draft. Or fourth. Mayfield is about 6-0 ¼, and scouts worry about his size. Let’s go back to 2012. Fourth QB picked: Brandon Weeden. Fifth QB picked: Brock Osweiler. Sixth QB picked: Russell (5-10 ¾ ) Wilson. Height, schmeight. Watch the games.</p><p>5. I think—thanks to Deadline.com<em>, </em>and relayed by Pro Football Talk—we’re now seeing what may be part of the future of the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles. The Rams are really good, obviously. The Chargers might be good enough to win the AFC West this year. On Sunday, the matchup between the 9-3 Rams and the 10-2 Eagles at the L.A. Coliseum was the game of the day in the NFL—and, obviously, FOX feared a laconic reaction when its pregame show, FOX NFL Sunday, went to the game site. Now, the pregame show would air from 9-10 a.m. West Coast time, for the 1:25 p.m. ballgame. When ESPN sends its College GameDay show to college campus sites, and the show is on hours before the game, crowds gather at the appointed time. But FOX, obviously, feared this would not happen long before the Rams games. <a href="http://deadline.com/2017/12/fox-sports-solicits-la-rams-fans-for-nfl-on-fox-pre-game-hoopla-sunday-1202223528/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:So FOX put out a notice" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">So FOX put out a notice</a> on Project Casting, where aspiring actors go to look for work. “Calling all LA Rams fans!… To audition for a role in the upcoming NFL Sunday pre-game show, check out the casting call breakdown below. . . . Come out, bring your spirit, your best NFL gear &#38; join us for NFL on FOX THIS Sunday!” More and more, I sense the NFL is going to have to resort to things like this to try to rev up the market.</p><p>6. I think the NFL and the NFLPA need to investigate—the same way I hope the Russell Wilson head-trauma examination from five weeks ago is being thoroughly investigated—the circumstances surrounding the 49ers’ brutal hit on Houston quarterback Tom Savage, and Savage’s reaction to it. Savage appeared to be twitching after the original hit and came out of the game to be looked at by the unaffiliated neurological consultant on the sidelines. Savage was permitted to re-enter the game for one series. Then he was looked at and pulled from the game, prompting an angry reaction from Savage. Bottom line: It’s good he was pulled, but should he have been in the game for the series between the hit and his re-entry? This is a vital part of the NFL’s efforts to be sure no player ever plays with a concussion or symptoms of one. The program has to strive for perfection, and this didn’t look perfect. </p><p>7. I think Jerry Jones is not happy over the Roger Goodell contract. (Not that he would be.) But I just wonder what he’s got up his sleeve for the NFL meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. I bet it’s something.</p><p>8. I think the NFL would be making a mistake if it adopted the college targeting rule, which would provide for an ejection if officials judge that a defensive player targeted a defenseless player&#39;s head or neck area with an excessive hit, and would be subject to officiating interpretation. Read those last six words again: <em>Would be subject to officiating interpretation. </em>Often, a hit that looks way over the top happens (as did the George Iloka hit on Antonio Brown last Monday night in the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game) when a defensive player looks to dislodge the ball from a ballcarrier. It&#39;s a tough call. Often, the defender could be aiming for a foe&#39;s midsection, but the offensive player could duck or lunge, and then the hit could be helmet-to-helmet. It may not have been the defender&#39;s intent, but it just happens. I want to protect players as much as anyone. I&#39;m not saying this is a bad rule. But this rule, if enacted, should be used only on obviously excessive hits.</p><p>9. I think, whether you like it or not, I’m taking you into the mind of Andy Benoit right now. Andy’s our NFL tape nerd and true football guru—an incredibly valued and valuable member of The MMQB team. He’s got a fun and interesting life out in Idaho, and he’s opinionated about a lot of things. In his weekly midweek column, you see the other side of Andy. This side:</p><p>• “I have always loved holiday lights. If everyone in every neighborhood did even just a little bit of illuminated decorating, 90 percent of our country’s problems would go away. But one caveat: no giant inflatable decorations. They’re tacky and lazy. And, if you live near them, surprisingly loud. (They hum as they stay inflated.) A giant inflatable yard decoration is better than no decorations, but a single wreath (even unlit) is better than a giant inflatable yard decoration.”</p><p>• “There are two types of people: clean freaks and slobs. When forced to live together, a clean freak’s and a slob’s most common battleground becomes the kitchen. Clean freaks do the dishes right after eating, while slobs sit around and wait for food scraps to stick to the plates. This one isn’t a matter of personal preference—there’s a right and wrong. The clean freaks are right and the slobs are wrong, and here’s why: If a dirty dish is to ever be used again, it must eventually be washed. Which makes washing that dish an inevitability. You maximize the value of that dish if you recognize that inevitability and clean it right away. Maybe you don’t need that dish until tomorrow night, but by washing it immediately after tonight’s dinner, you have 24 hours of that dish’s cleanliness. That’s 24 hours that the dish isn’t sitting in the back of your mind, yelling <em>Wash Me!</em> It’s 24 hours where the dish is available to be used on a whim. If you wait until, say, the morning to wash it, you get only 12 hours with that peace of mind. All for the same dish-washing effort. Or, actually, for less effort if you wash it up front, since fresh food scraps are easier to remove than old food scraps. If a dish didn’t have to be cleaned, then maybe the slobs would have an argument. But it does, and so they don’t.”</p><p>I believe you’ll all join me in pleading: MORE OF THAT, ANDY BENOIT.</p><p>10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:</p><p>a. Coffeenerdness: Three hours after putting the espresso roast (new for the week) into <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00VKLOJL4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&#38;tag=sportsillustrated0f--20&#38;camp=1789&#38;creative=9325&#38;linkCode=as2&#38;creativeASIN=B00VKLOJL4&#38;linkId=596fe17a63fbeb127422e89b19a7f32b" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:my 12-ounce Hydro Flask" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">my 12-ounce Hydro Flask</a>, it’s still hot. What great inventions—the coffee and the vessel.</p><p>b. Beernerdness: Beer nerds will hate me for this, but when I opened the refrigerator Friday for a pre-dinner beer (or two), I didn’t want one of the Colorado craft brews in there, or the Gray Sail wheat beer, or the Allagash White. I had a hankering for a Heineken. Still a good standard when you want a couple of lighter, crisp ones.</p><p>c. <a href="https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/nfl/bengals/2017/12/07/tim-krumrie-brain-trauma-wont-settle-sad-fate/905801001/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Football story of the week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Football story of the week</a>: by Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer<em>, </em>on the fascinating and new protocol to treat brain trauma, the kind of treatment that could help a legion of former football players.</p><p>d. I can’t wait to see Shohei Ohtani.</p><p>e. You’re off to a heck of a start with the Marlins, Jeter.</p><p>f. Opening day against the Dunedin Blue Jays is only four months away. See if you can build up your roster with some more minor-leaguers.</p><p>g. Heresy to say for a follower of the Boston Red Sox, but I really admire the job Yankees GM Brian Cashman does. He has the benefit of having the Yankee jillions behind him, and of getting players to waive no-trade clauses to play in New York. But he’s still got to put a team on the field to compete with other excellent teams, and he does it—albeit with those big advantages—every year. Did he need Giancarlo Stanton? No. Will Stanton’s gigantic contract eventually cost Cashman one of his young mega-stars? Maybe. Does another right-handed power-hitter fit his lineup? No. But tell me: If you could get a 28-year-old MVP for peanuts, and that 28-year-old MVP is coming off a 58-home-run year, and he doesn’t appear to have many major flaws except an injury concern (he’s played 120 or more games in one of the past three years), you’d get him …</p><p>h. … Even if it makes Jacoby Ellsbury a $23-million-a-year fifth outfielder (Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks, Ellsbury would seem to be the Yankees outfield depth chart, barring a trade).</p><p>i. You exist in the world you’re given. Cashman excels in his. It’s easier to excel when you have Cashman’s advantages, obviously. But you’ve still go to do it.</p><p>j. So what do the Red Sox do? My advice: pray. And, I guess, overpay for Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez. But the Yankees are 12 wins better than Boston, even with one of them on the Sox.</p><p>k. If I were the world champs in Houston today, I’d focus on one starting pitcher, and one top bullpen arm. Then it’d be a great ALCS: Yanks versus Astros.</p><p>l. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-jerome-crowe-20171205-story.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Obituary of the Week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Obituary of the Week</a>: from the Los Angeles Times<em>, </em>word comes that the inventor of the SWAT team (and the ransom-deliverer in the Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping) has died. Now that’s an interesting life.</p><p>m. <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/2017/12/05/plot-twist-for-bookstores/7U6qgeWtbw18iIBOSHoUdO/story.html?p1=Article_Trending_Most_Viewed" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Story of the Week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Story of the Week</a>, by James Sullivan of the Boston Globe, on bookstores making a comeback (yay): “We don’t think of them as booksellers anymore — they’re literary entrepreneurs.” Cool look at people enjoying books around New England.</p><p>n. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-ohtani-angels-hernandez-20171208-story.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Baseball Story of the Week" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Baseball Story of the Week</a>: from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times<em>, </em>on just who and what Shohei Ohtani is. The Japanese pitcher/hitter signed with the Angels on Friday, and he could be one of the great stories in baseball history.</p><p>o. One more baseball note: Tracy Stallard, 80, died Wednesday in Tennessee. Not much of a reason for you to remember him; he went 30-57 in a seven-year major-league career. But he did have one moment in the sun: He gave up Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season—a line drive low into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium, the only run in a 1-0 Yankees’ win, played in 1 hour, 57 minutes. “I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Stallard said after the game. He pitched a great game against the eventual World Series champs. The Yanks won 109 games that regular season. That’s what I loved about Stallard’s reaction. He pitched well, Maris hit a good pitch (they both said), and that’s all Stallard gave up. No sense crying about it. I like it when competitors (you hear this out of cornerbacks a lot, when they give up huge plays even when they had good coverage) say, essentially, <em>I’ll get ‘em next time.</em></p><p>p. Happy 24th birthday, Jacoby Brissett. Lotta football left.</p><p>q. Happy 47th birthday, Errict Rhett.</p><p>r. Sprint, don’t run, to “<a href="http://focusfeatures.com/darkesthour" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Darkest Hour" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Darkest Hour</a>,” the new Winston Churchill movie. There have been so many World War II movies out, many from the British perspective, and so I understand if you’re fed up with the genre. But this one takes a month in the walkup to the war, and in particular Churchill’s monumental decision about whether to negotiate a truce and settlement with Hitler as Germany is on the verge of invading England, or whether he and his country should fight to the death over their freedom. It’s so interesting how everything and everyone in his war cabinet pointed toward appeasement and making a deal with Hitler … but how stubborn Churchill was in holding out. Gary Oldman is outstanding as the prime minister.</p><p>s. So Tonya Harding (Google her, kids) got a standing ovation at the Hollywood premier of the movie about her, “I, Tonya.” So … to the people who stood and cheered: You do know that a goon hired by Harding’s then-husband and her bodyguard tried to break main rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg with a metal pipe before the ’94 Olympics, and that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and didn’t stop it. A standing O. Wow.</p><p>t. Save the Boston Herald.</p><h3>Who I Like Tonight</h3><p><strong>New England 29, Miami 9. </strong>The Patriots have won 15 straight away from Foxboro. They’ve won their last three meetings with the Dolphins by 7, 21 and 18. Miami’s 1-5 in its last six, and the five losses have been by a total of 95 points. You’ll be able to watch your local news tonight, folks. And, with a Pats’ win, you’ll look forward to the game of the year: New England (11-2) at Pittsburgh (11-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field.?</p><h3>The Adieu Haiku</h3><p>The kid had it all.<br>Supe dreams: Wentz versus Brady.<br>North Dakota weeps.</p><p><strong><em>• We have a newsletter, and you can subscribe, and it’s free</em></strong>. Get “The Morning Huddle” delivered to your inbox first thing each weekday, by <a href="https://www.si.com/static/newsletter/signup" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:going here and checking The MMQB newsletter box." class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>going here and checking The MMQB newsletter box.</em></a> Start your day with the best of the NFL, from The MMQB.</p><p><strong>• <em>Question or comment? Story idea?</em></strong> Email us at <span><em>talkback@themmqb.com</em></span>.</p>
Ten Things I Think I Think: On the Coolest Drive of the Year, the Giants’ GM Job and Baker Mayfield

1. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 14:

a. I will never understand how the Seahawks thought Alex Collins was not good enough to make their team this summer.

b. One of the coolest drives of the year: The Colts drove 19 plays, 77 yards in 9:53 in a blizzard, and then used a 43-yard PAT from Adam Vinatieri to tie the game in Buffalo. That’s the most interesting drive and PAT of the year. Easy.

c. Underrated player of the year: Since Arizona acquired Chandler Jones in a spring 2016 trade with New England, he leads the NFL in sacks (25.0) and tackles behind the line of scrimmage (39).

d. Speaking of pressure, Case Keenum will be seeing Kawann Short in his sleep for a couple nights.

e. The 27-yard T.J. Yates touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins had to be the greatest throw of Yates’ NFL life, abbreviated as it is.

f. Manti Te’o, 10 tackles. That’s a good career rebound for Te’o, now a Saint.

g. That was one terrible interception thrown by Matthew Stafford in Tampa.

h. I know it’s only two Niner starts, but Jimmy Garoppolo (2-0, 8.9 yards per attempt) is the goods.

i. Davis Webb inactive. Bizarre. Good line from our Conor Orr at the Meadowlands, about the Giants’ approach to quarterback play in this meaningless last month: “This felt like a logjam of competing interests.”

j. Ask yourselves this question, all ye who love the Giants: What purpose does it serve to play Eli Manning in the last three games instead of playing the third-round rookie, Davis Webb, to be able to add info to your 2018 first-round draft decision?

k. The NFL has to explain some of these ridiculous calls, dating back to the Monday nighter last week in Cincinnati. Phantom calls. All over the place. Antonio Brown’s invisible 15-yard unnecessary roughness call against the Ravens last night. I concur with Sean Payton about the Sheldon Rankins roughing-the-passer call Thursday night; so marginal.

l. Not a good day for Marcus Mariota in the 12-7 loss at Arizona. Just 159 passing yards, 11 rushing yards, no touchdowns, two picks. He’s just not been the dynamic player this year we all thought he’d be in year three.

m. The Bears took Jordan Howard in the 2016 fifth round. He’s given them rushing seasons of 1,313 yards and—with three games left this year—1,032 yards. On a losing team. Nice pick, Ryan Pace.

n. Oakland, 6-7. That’s something I didn’t see coming.

o. Brett Hundley told me last week one of his goals was to be sure the Pack was still in contention by the time Aaron Rodgers returns. Kudos to him—particularly for coming back from 14 down in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland in overtime Sunday. Now Green Bay’s 7-6, a game out of the last wild-card spot in the NFC with a tough slate (at Carolina, Minnesota, at Detroit) and Rodgers almost ready to return.

p. Deshaun Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins is going to be fun to watch for six or eight years. Really fun.

2. I think I hope for the sake of the franchise, the Giants consider all candidates for the GM job, and don’t have David Gettleman’s name in pen. Not that I don’t like Gettleman; he did a very good job in Carolina. But he’ll be 67 in February. The Giants’ GM job has been sort of what the Steelers’ coaching job is. New York’s had three GMs since 1979, and none has lasted less than nine seasons; Pittsburgh’s had three head coaches since 1969. Maybe Gettleman’s the best guy out there, even if you can’t count on him for more than four or five years. But I’d rather survey the field of GM candidates than pick Gettleman now and let the rest of the field go.

3. I think the combination of Nick Caserio and Josh McDaniels would be a heck of a catch for any team, by the way.

4. I think NFL teams will not have learned very much (surprise!) if Heisman winner Baker Mayfield is the fifth quarterback taken in the April draft. Or fourth. Mayfield is about 6-0 ¼, and scouts worry about his size. Let’s go back to 2012. Fourth QB picked: Brandon Weeden. Fifth QB picked: Brock Osweiler. Sixth QB picked: Russell (5-10 ¾ ) Wilson. Height, schmeight. Watch the games.

5. I think—thanks to Deadline.com, and relayed by Pro Football Talk—we’re now seeing what may be part of the future of the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles. The Rams are really good, obviously. The Chargers might be good enough to win the AFC West this year. On Sunday, the matchup between the 9-3 Rams and the 10-2 Eagles at the L.A. Coliseum was the game of the day in the NFL—and, obviously, FOX feared a laconic reaction when its pregame show, FOX NFL Sunday, went to the game site. Now, the pregame show would air from 9-10 a.m. West Coast time, for the 1:25 p.m. ballgame. When ESPN sends its College GameDay show to college campus sites, and the show is on hours before the game, crowds gather at the appointed time. But FOX, obviously, feared this would not happen long before the Rams games. So FOX put out a notice on Project Casting, where aspiring actors go to look for work. “Calling all LA Rams fans!… To audition for a role in the upcoming NFL Sunday pre-game show, check out the casting call breakdown below. . . . Come out, bring your spirit, your best NFL gear & join us for NFL on FOX THIS Sunday!” More and more, I sense the NFL is going to have to resort to things like this to try to rev up the market.

6. I think the NFL and the NFLPA need to investigate—the same way I hope the Russell Wilson head-trauma examination from five weeks ago is being thoroughly investigated—the circumstances surrounding the 49ers’ brutal hit on Houston quarterback Tom Savage, and Savage’s reaction to it. Savage appeared to be twitching after the original hit and came out of the game to be looked at by the unaffiliated neurological consultant on the sidelines. Savage was permitted to re-enter the game for one series. Then he was looked at and pulled from the game, prompting an angry reaction from Savage. Bottom line: It’s good he was pulled, but should he have been in the game for the series between the hit and his re-entry? This is a vital part of the NFL’s efforts to be sure no player ever plays with a concussion or symptoms of one. The program has to strive for perfection, and this didn’t look perfect.

7. I think Jerry Jones is not happy over the Roger Goodell contract. (Not that he would be.) But I just wonder what he’s got up his sleeve for the NFL meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. I bet it’s something.

8. I think the NFL would be making a mistake if it adopted the college targeting rule, which would provide for an ejection if officials judge that a defensive player targeted a defenseless player's head or neck area with an excessive hit, and would be subject to officiating interpretation. Read those last six words again: Would be subject to officiating interpretation. Often, a hit that looks way over the top happens (as did the George Iloka hit on Antonio Brown last Monday night in the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game) when a defensive player looks to dislodge the ball from a ballcarrier. It's a tough call. Often, the defender could be aiming for a foe's midsection, but the offensive player could duck or lunge, and then the hit could be helmet-to-helmet. It may not have been the defender's intent, but it just happens. I want to protect players as much as anyone. I'm not saying this is a bad rule. But this rule, if enacted, should be used only on obviously excessive hits.

9. I think, whether you like it or not, I’m taking you into the mind of Andy Benoit right now. Andy’s our NFL tape nerd and true football guru—an incredibly valued and valuable member of The MMQB team. He’s got a fun and interesting life out in Idaho, and he’s opinionated about a lot of things. In his weekly midweek column, you see the other side of Andy. This side:

• “I have always loved holiday lights. If everyone in every neighborhood did even just a little bit of illuminated decorating, 90 percent of our country’s problems would go away. But one caveat: no giant inflatable decorations. They’re tacky and lazy. And, if you live near them, surprisingly loud. (They hum as they stay inflated.) A giant inflatable yard decoration is better than no decorations, but a single wreath (even unlit) is better than a giant inflatable yard decoration.”

• “There are two types of people: clean freaks and slobs. When forced to live together, a clean freak’s and a slob’s most common battleground becomes the kitchen. Clean freaks do the dishes right after eating, while slobs sit around and wait for food scraps to stick to the plates. This one isn’t a matter of personal preference—there’s a right and wrong. The clean freaks are right and the slobs are wrong, and here’s why: If a dirty dish is to ever be used again, it must eventually be washed. Which makes washing that dish an inevitability. You maximize the value of that dish if you recognize that inevitability and clean it right away. Maybe you don’t need that dish until tomorrow night, but by washing it immediately after tonight’s dinner, you have 24 hours of that dish’s cleanliness. That’s 24 hours that the dish isn’t sitting in the back of your mind, yelling Wash Me! It’s 24 hours where the dish is available to be used on a whim. If you wait until, say, the morning to wash it, you get only 12 hours with that peace of mind. All for the same dish-washing effort. Or, actually, for less effort if you wash it up front, since fresh food scraps are easier to remove than old food scraps. If a dish didn’t have to be cleaned, then maybe the slobs would have an argument. But it does, and so they don’t.”

I believe you’ll all join me in pleading: MORE OF THAT, ANDY BENOIT.

10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Coffeenerdness: Three hours after putting the espresso roast (new for the week) into my 12-ounce Hydro Flask, it’s still hot. What great inventions—the coffee and the vessel.

b. Beernerdness: Beer nerds will hate me for this, but when I opened the refrigerator Friday for a pre-dinner beer (or two), I didn’t want one of the Colorado craft brews in there, or the Gray Sail wheat beer, or the Allagash White. I had a hankering for a Heineken. Still a good standard when you want a couple of lighter, crisp ones.

c. Football story of the week: by Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer, on the fascinating and new protocol to treat brain trauma, the kind of treatment that could help a legion of former football players.

d. I can’t wait to see Shohei Ohtani.

e. You’re off to a heck of a start with the Marlins, Jeter.

f. Opening day against the Dunedin Blue Jays is only four months away. See if you can build up your roster with some more minor-leaguers.

g. Heresy to say for a follower of the Boston Red Sox, but I really admire the job Yankees GM Brian Cashman does. He has the benefit of having the Yankee jillions behind him, and of getting players to waive no-trade clauses to play in New York. But he’s still got to put a team on the field to compete with other excellent teams, and he does it—albeit with those big advantages—every year. Did he need Giancarlo Stanton? No. Will Stanton’s gigantic contract eventually cost Cashman one of his young mega-stars? Maybe. Does another right-handed power-hitter fit his lineup? No. But tell me: If you could get a 28-year-old MVP for peanuts, and that 28-year-old MVP is coming off a 58-home-run year, and he doesn’t appear to have many major flaws except an injury concern (he’s played 120 or more games in one of the past three years), you’d get him …

h. … Even if it makes Jacoby Ellsbury a $23-million-a-year fifth outfielder (Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks, Ellsbury would seem to be the Yankees outfield depth chart, barring a trade).

i. You exist in the world you’re given. Cashman excels in his. It’s easier to excel when you have Cashman’s advantages, obviously. But you’ve still go to do it.

j. So what do the Red Sox do? My advice: pray. And, I guess, overpay for Eric Hosmer or J.D. Martinez. But the Yankees are 12 wins better than Boston, even with one of them on the Sox.

k. If I were the world champs in Houston today, I’d focus on one starting pitcher, and one top bullpen arm. Then it’d be a great ALCS: Yanks versus Astros.

l. Obituary of the Week: from the Los Angeles Times, word comes that the inventor of the SWAT team (and the ransom-deliverer in the Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapping) has died. Now that’s an interesting life.

m. Story of the Week, by James Sullivan of the Boston Globe, on bookstores making a comeback (yay): “We don’t think of them as booksellers anymore — they’re literary entrepreneurs.” Cool look at people enjoying books around New England.

n. Baseball Story of the Week: from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, on just who and what Shohei Ohtani is. The Japanese pitcher/hitter signed with the Angels on Friday, and he could be one of the great stories in baseball history.

o. One more baseball note: Tracy Stallard, 80, died Wednesday in Tennessee. Not much of a reason for you to remember him; he went 30-57 in a seven-year major-league career. But he did have one moment in the sun: He gave up Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run on the final day of the 1961 season—a line drive low into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium, the only run in a 1-0 Yankees’ win, played in 1 hour, 57 minutes. “I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Stallard said after the game. He pitched a great game against the eventual World Series champs. The Yanks won 109 games that regular season. That’s what I loved about Stallard’s reaction. He pitched well, Maris hit a good pitch (they both said), and that’s all Stallard gave up. No sense crying about it. I like it when competitors (you hear this out of cornerbacks a lot, when they give up huge plays even when they had good coverage) say, essentially, I’ll get ‘em next time.

p. Happy 24th birthday, Jacoby Brissett. Lotta football left.

q. Happy 47th birthday, Errict Rhett.

r. Sprint, don’t run, to “Darkest Hour,” the new Winston Churchill movie. There have been so many World War II movies out, many from the British perspective, and so I understand if you’re fed up with the genre. But this one takes a month in the walkup to the war, and in particular Churchill’s monumental decision about whether to negotiate a truce and settlement with Hitler as Germany is on the verge of invading England, or whether he and his country should fight to the death over their freedom. It’s so interesting how everything and everyone in his war cabinet pointed toward appeasement and making a deal with Hitler … but how stubborn Churchill was in holding out. Gary Oldman is outstanding as the prime minister.

s. So Tonya Harding (Google her, kids) got a standing ovation at the Hollywood premier of the movie about her, “I, Tonya.” So … to the people who stood and cheered: You do know that a goon hired by Harding’s then-husband and her bodyguard tried to break main rival Nancy Kerrigan’s leg with a metal pipe before the ’94 Olympics, and that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and didn’t stop it. A standing O. Wow.

t. Save the Boston Herald.

Who I Like Tonight

New England 29, Miami 9. The Patriots have won 15 straight away from Foxboro. They’ve won their last three meetings with the Dolphins by 7, 21 and 18. Miami’s 1-5 in its last six, and the five losses have been by a total of 95 points. You’ll be able to watch your local news tonight, folks. And, with a Pats’ win, you’ll look forward to the game of the year: New England (11-2) at Pittsburgh (11-2) on Sunday at Heinz Field.?

The Adieu Haiku

The kid had it all.
Supe dreams: Wentz versus Brady.
North Dakota weeps.

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<p>Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright was arrested Friday and charged with domestic assault, <a href="http://www.nbcsports.com/boston/red-sox/red-sox-pitcher-steven-wright-arrested-domestic-dispute-charge" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according</a> to a statement from the Wright family released through his lawyer to NBC Sports Boston.</p><p>According to the statement, Wright and his wife Shannon had an argument in their Tennessee home Friday, and this led to police coming and arresting Wright. In the statement, it says Wright &quot;did not raise his hand&quot; and the incident was &quot;purely emotional.&quot;</p><p>&quot;On Friday night, Steven was arrested at our home following a verbal argument, and the police charged him with domestic assault,&quot; the statement from the Wright family released through lawyer Alex Little to NBC Sports Boston said. &quot;Although he said things he deeply regrets, he did not raise his hand at anyone during the incident, and the situation was purely emotional. We are working together as a family to make our relationships stronger, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we do so.&quot;</p><p>The Red Sox also issued a statement to NBC Sports Boston saying, &quot;We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this and for that reason, the club won&#39;t have any further comment at this time.&quot;</p><p>Wright was released from jail, according to NBC Sports Boston.</p><p>The righthander appeared in only five games for the Red Sox in 2017 after going 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA and making the All-Star team in 2016.</p>
Red Sox Pitcher Steven Wright Arrested For Domestic Assault

Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright was arrested Friday and charged with domestic assault, according to a statement from the Wright family released through his lawyer to NBC Sports Boston.

According to the statement, Wright and his wife Shannon had an argument in their Tennessee home Friday, and this led to police coming and arresting Wright. In the statement, it says Wright "did not raise his hand" and the incident was "purely emotional."

"On Friday night, Steven was arrested at our home following a verbal argument, and the police charged him with domestic assault," the statement from the Wright family released through lawyer Alex Little to NBC Sports Boston said. "Although he said things he deeply regrets, he did not raise his hand at anyone during the incident, and the situation was purely emotional. We are working together as a family to make our relationships stronger, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we do so."

The Red Sox also issued a statement to NBC Sports Boston saying, "We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this and for that reason, the club won't have any further comment at this time."

Wright was released from jail, according to NBC Sports Boston.

The righthander appeared in only five games for the Red Sox in 2017 after going 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA and making the All-Star team in 2016.

Jack Morris had neither the statistics nor the behavior meriting inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris should not be in the Hall of Fame
Jack Morris had neither the statistics nor the behavior meriting inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris had neither the statistics nor the behavior meriting inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris should not be in the Hall of Fame
Jack Morris had neither the statistics nor the behavior meriting inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris had neither the statistics nor the behavior meriting inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jack Morris should not be in the Hall of Fame
Jack Morris had neither the statistics nor the behavior meriting inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
<p>For all of the contentious debate that surrounded Jack Morris&#39; 15-year run on the BBWAA ballot, his election to the Hall of Fame via the Modern Baseball Era Committee—whose <a href="https://baseballhall.org/news/modern-era-ballot-results-2018" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:results" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">results</a> were announced Sunday evening, from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida—was inevitable, given the history of candidates who fell just short of 75% from the writers. On the other hand, the election of Morris&#39; longtime teammate, shortstop Alan Trammell, was a pleasant surprise given the lackadaisical support he received during his ballot tenure.</p><p>Those two stars of the Tigers’ 1984 World Series-winning squad as well as their &#39;87 AL East winners were the only candidates among a 10-man slate to receive at least 75% of the vote from a 16-member committee comprised of Hall of Famers, major league executives and veteran media members. What&#39;s more, they&#39;re the first living ex-players elected to the Hall by any small-committee process since 2001, when the election of Bill Mazeroski produced such an outcry that the Hall began a seemingly endless series of overhauls to the Veterans Committee.</p><p>The election of Morris has something in common with that of Mazeroski. The latter, a longtime Pirates second baseman who was one of the best defenders ever at his position, was a substandard hitter who owed a great deal of his fame to one swing of the bat that produced a walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Yankees. The legend of that home run—the first Series-ending homer in history—papered over the flaws in Mazeroski&#39;s candidacy. Similarly, Morris&#39; 10-inning complete game shutout for the Twins opposite Hall of Famer John Smoltz and the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series overshadowed the gruff righty&#39;s 3.90 ERA, which becomes the highest among the 63 Hall of Fame starters. Morris never led his league in ERA, led only once in strikeouts, and never won a Cy Young award, with a pair of third place finishes as close as he came</p><p>The battle over Morris during his 15-year run on the ballot (2000-14)—which I chronicled for <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Cooperstown-Casebook-Baseball-Should-Plaques/dp/1250071216?tag=smarturl-20" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Cooperstown Casebook" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><em>The Cooperstown Casebook</em></a>, released this past summer (excerpt <a href="https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-cooperstown-casebook-excerpt-the-war-on-war/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">here</a>)—centered around a reevaluation of old-school statistics, and a backlash to the introduction of new-school ones that helped his contemporary, Bert Blyleven, get <a href="https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/12685/prospectus-hit-and-run-blyleven-in-11-and-other-tales-from-the-ballot/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:elected in 2011" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">elected in 2011</a>. The reactionary campaign turned into one front of the culture war that unfolded in the wake of <em>Moneyball.</em> Its emphasis on wins, gritty intangibles and insider-ism brought out the worst in many, including multiple Spink Award-winning writers who were reduced to hurling schoolyard-level insults at those questioned their authority.</p><p>While <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/11/15/jack-morris-hall-fame-modern-baseball-era" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Morris won 254 games" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Morris won 254 games</a> for the Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays and Indians in his 18-year career—the 43rd highest total in history and seventh among those outside the Hall—his win total is a reflection of the great work of his teammates. He got excellent support from his defense, which included Trammell and his longtime double play partner Lou Whitaker, in the form of a .272 batting average on balls in play, 14 points better than league average. Relative to his leagues, the offensive support he received was six percent better than average (better than 41 of the 62 other Hall starters), while his rate of run prevention was just five percent better than league average. Among Hall of Famers, his 105 ERA+ tops only those of Catfish Hunter (104) and Rube Marquard (103). By comparison, Red Ruffing, whose 3.80 ERA was previously the highest among Hall of Fame starters, had a 109 ERA+, as he pitched during a higher-scoring era (1924-47).</p><p>Via Wins Above Replacement, Morris&#39;s 44.1 career WAR is <a href="https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_P.shtml" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:149th among starting pitchers" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">149th among starting pitchers</a>, surpassing just five of the 62 enshrined starters. His seven-year peak score of 32.8 WAR ranks 186th, ahead of just one Hall starter. His 38.4 JAWS, the average of those two figures, is tied for 163rd, surpassing just four Hall starters.</p><p>Morris’s candidacy started slowly. He debuted at 22.2% of the vote in 2000, didn&#39;t reach 30% until 2005, and took another five years to break 50%. But thanks to a backlash against “the vigilante sabermetric brigade” (to use <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/madden-stingy-yanks-life-difficult-brian-article-1.1226001" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bill Madden" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bill Madden</a>’s unforgettable term) that propelled Blyleven to election, Morris gained steam, and after receiving 66.7% in 2012, his 13th year of eligibility, his election appeared inevitable. But amid a flood of controversial candidates on the 2013 ballot—Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa—he gained just three additional votes, finishing at 67.7%, then slipped to 61.5% in his final year in front of the writers.</p><p>Even then, it was clear that Morris&#39; story wasn&#39;t over. Since the BBWAA returned to annual voting in 1966, five players besides Morris aged off the ballot after receiving at least 60%, namely Nellie Fox (74.7% in 1985), Orlando Cepeda (73.5% in 1994), Enos Slaughter (68.8% in 1979), Jim Bunning (63.7% in 1991) and Gil Hodges (63.4% in 1983). All but Hodges were subsequently elected by the Veterans Committee.</p><p>That Morris has been as well is no surprise, as the panel, with a median age well above 60, was always more likely to be sympathetic to Morris’s old-school charms than the stat-savvy BBWAA minority that kept him out. This year&#39;s committee consisted of Hall of Famers George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount; major league executives Sandy Alderson (Mets), Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bob Castellini (Reds), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals) and David Glass (Royals); and veteran media members/historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark.</p><p>That Morris, who understandably expressed some bitterness at the BBWAA outcome, gets some peace is a positive. He didn’t ask to become a battlefront in a cultural war that&#39;s largely been won, as analytics has permeated every front office in baseball, and subsequent elections, such as those of Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines last year, have solidified the incorporation of advanced statistics into Hall of Fame debates. Still, his election lowers the bar for Hall of Fame pitchers and serves as a slight to numerous contemporaries such as Bret Saberhagen, Dave Stieb, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser and David Cone. Win totals aside, all have far fuller résumés than Morris from a Hall standpoint, better run prevention combined with Cy Young awards and their own shares of records and postseason heroics. They now deserve an equally thorough airing in this context, particularly in light of the scarcity of viable starting pitcher candidates in the coming years.</p><p><a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/11/14/alan-trammell-hall-fame-modern-baseball-era-committee" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:As for Trammell" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">As for Trammell</a>, a six-time All-Star who spent the entirety of his 20-year career (1977-96) with the Tigers, he was an outstanding two-way shortstop whose solid offensive numbers (2,365 hits, 185 homers, and a .285/.352/.415 line for a 110 OPS+) were overshadowed by Hall of Fame contemporaries Cal Ripken Jr. and Yount, both of whom won multiple MVP awards during their careers (the latter&#39;s second came after a shift to centerfield). Trammell himself was robbed of the 1987 AL MVP award by the Blue Jays&#39; George Bell, whose 47 homers and 134 RBIs overshadowed Trammell&#39;s .343/.402/.551 line with 28 homers and 21 steals. Bell&#39;s Blue Jays dropped the final seven games of the season, gifting the AL East to Trammell&#39;s Tigers, who despite their 98 wins fell to the 85-win Twins in the ALCS. Had Trammell won that award, and/or had the Tigers claimed a second pennant during that period, he might already be enshrined.</p><p>When Trammell reached the BBWAA ballot in 2002, he instantly became a forgotten man. While fellow shortstop Ozzie Smith breezed into Cooperstown with 91.7% of the vote, Trammell polled just 15.7%, lower than any post-1966 candidate ever elected by the BBWAA (Duke Snider’s 17.0% in 1970 is the low-water mark). Whether it was the patchiness of his late career, or his disastrous stint managing the Tigers from 2003–05—three sub-.500 seasons including a 43–119 crater in his first year—he remained below 20% until 2010, sinking as low as 13.4% in 2007, when Ripken and Tony Gwynn sailed in. Even after his minor surge to 36.4% percent in 2012, when Barry Larkin was elected on his third try, his support receded once the ballot grew more crowded, though he did finish with a high of 40.9% in 2016.</p><p>Trammell&#39;s raw numbers and his advanced ones bear a striking similarity to those of Larkin, the longtime Reds shortstop who himself was the centerpiece of a World Series winner (1990) but did win an MVP award (&#39;95). Thanks to excellent defense as well as offense, Trammell finished among the AL&#39;s top five in WAR four times, with two more in the top 10; in an 11-year stretch from 1980-90, his 59.3 WAR ranked third in the majors, behind only Rickey Henderson (80.7) and Wade Boggs (63.1), with Yount (57.6) and Ripken (57.5, albeit with just 23 games before 1982), just behind him. Trammell’s 70.4 career WAR ranks 11th among all shortstops, ahead of 14 of the 21 enshrined including Larkin (70.2). His seven-year peak total of 44.7 ranks eighth, ahead of 15 of the 21 enshrined shortstops, while his 57.0 JAWS ranks 11th, ahead of 13 of 21 inductees. He’s a worthy addition to Cooperstown.</p><p>Trammell deserved to be in years ago, and now the committee—which <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2016/07/26/baseball-hall-of-fame-era-committees-rule-changes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:meets again in two years" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">meets again in two years</a>—needs to take a long look at Whitaker, who ranks 13th in JAWS but fell off the writers’ ballot after just one year because he received less than 5% of the vote. Whitaker has never been considered in a small-committee context, in part because he didn&#39;t become eligible until after his 15-year run would have expired in 2015. Still, his omission here felt like a slight.</p><p>Of the good news to be had from among the other eight candidates, the fact that Ted Simmons, who similarly fell off the writers&#39; ballot after just one try, finished just one vote short of election, counts. A switch-hitting catcher who starred for the Cardinals, he ranks 10th in JAWS. That the voters could give him a long enough look to take him seriously in this context offers hope for candidates such as Whitaker, Bobby Grich and Kenny Lofton who similarly went one-and-done.</p><p>On the other hand, the fact that <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/11/16/marvin-miller-hall-fame-modern-baseball-ballot" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Marvin Miller" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Marvin Miller</a>, the former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, received just seven votes is inexcusable, the absolute nadir of the Hall of Fame process. Time and again, it’s been a bloc of executives, many of whom have links to labor wars past, such as the 1981 and &#39;94 strikes, who have prevented his election, though some of the blame also lies with players who benefited via free agency not advancing his cause forcefully enough. Miller, who oversaw the game&#39;s biggest change since integration by dismantling the reserve clause and therefore shifting the century-old balance of power from the owners to the players, is the candidate with the strongest case of any individual outside Cooperstown, and perhaps the strongest case of any non-player in the game&#39;s history.</p><p>Via the Hall of Fame, the other six candidates—Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Luis Tiant—each received fewer than 7 votes. Those candidates spent 15 years on the writers’ ballot, with Garvey <a href="https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/11/10/hall-fame-modern-baseball-era-committee" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:the only other one" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">the only other one</a> besides Trammell and Morris to receive more than 32% of the vote.</p>
Evaluating the Inevitable Hall of Fame Election of Jack Morris, the Pleasant Surprise of Alan Trammell and More

For all of the contentious debate that surrounded Jack Morris' 15-year run on the BBWAA ballot, his election to the Hall of Fame via the Modern Baseball Era Committee—whose results were announced Sunday evening, from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida—was inevitable, given the history of candidates who fell just short of 75% from the writers. On the other hand, the election of Morris' longtime teammate, shortstop Alan Trammell, was a pleasant surprise given the lackadaisical support he received during his ballot tenure.

Those two stars of the Tigers’ 1984 World Series-winning squad as well as their '87 AL East winners were the only candidates among a 10-man slate to receive at least 75% of the vote from a 16-member committee comprised of Hall of Famers, major league executives and veteran media members. What's more, they're the first living ex-players elected to the Hall by any small-committee process since 2001, when the election of Bill Mazeroski produced such an outcry that the Hall began a seemingly endless series of overhauls to the Veterans Committee.

The election of Morris has something in common with that of Mazeroski. The latter, a longtime Pirates second baseman who was one of the best defenders ever at his position, was a substandard hitter who owed a great deal of his fame to one swing of the bat that produced a walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Yankees. The legend of that home run—the first Series-ending homer in history—papered over the flaws in Mazeroski's candidacy. Similarly, Morris' 10-inning complete game shutout for the Twins opposite Hall of Famer John Smoltz and the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series overshadowed the gruff righty's 3.90 ERA, which becomes the highest among the 63 Hall of Fame starters. Morris never led his league in ERA, led only once in strikeouts, and never won a Cy Young award, with a pair of third place finishes as close as he came

The battle over Morris during his 15-year run on the ballot (2000-14)—which I chronicled for The Cooperstown Casebook, released this past summer (excerpt here)—centered around a reevaluation of old-school statistics, and a backlash to the introduction of new-school ones that helped his contemporary, Bert Blyleven, get elected in 2011. The reactionary campaign turned into one front of the culture war that unfolded in the wake of Moneyball. Its emphasis on wins, gritty intangibles and insider-ism brought out the worst in many, including multiple Spink Award-winning writers who were reduced to hurling schoolyard-level insults at those questioned their authority.

While Morris won 254 games for the Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays and Indians in his 18-year career—the 43rd highest total in history and seventh among those outside the Hall—his win total is a reflection of the great work of his teammates. He got excellent support from his defense, which included Trammell and his longtime double play partner Lou Whitaker, in the form of a .272 batting average on balls in play, 14 points better than league average. Relative to his leagues, the offensive support he received was six percent better than average (better than 41 of the 62 other Hall starters), while his rate of run prevention was just five percent better than league average. Among Hall of Famers, his 105 ERA+ tops only those of Catfish Hunter (104) and Rube Marquard (103). By comparison, Red Ruffing, whose 3.80 ERA was previously the highest among Hall of Fame starters, had a 109 ERA+, as he pitched during a higher-scoring era (1924-47).

Via Wins Above Replacement, Morris's 44.1 career WAR is 149th among starting pitchers, surpassing just five of the 62 enshrined starters. His seven-year peak score of 32.8 WAR ranks 186th, ahead of just one Hall starter. His 38.4 JAWS, the average of those two figures, is tied for 163rd, surpassing just four Hall starters.

Morris’s candidacy started slowly. He debuted at 22.2% of the vote in 2000, didn't reach 30% until 2005, and took another five years to break 50%. But thanks to a backlash against “the vigilante sabermetric brigade” (to use Bill Madden’s unforgettable term) that propelled Blyleven to election, Morris gained steam, and after receiving 66.7% in 2012, his 13th year of eligibility, his election appeared inevitable. But amid a flood of controversial candidates on the 2013 ballot—Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa—he gained just three additional votes, finishing at 67.7%, then slipped to 61.5% in his final year in front of the writers.

Even then, it was clear that Morris' story wasn't over. Since the BBWAA returned to annual voting in 1966, five players besides Morris aged off the ballot after receiving at least 60%, namely Nellie Fox (74.7% in 1985), Orlando Cepeda (73.5% in 1994), Enos Slaughter (68.8% in 1979), Jim Bunning (63.7% in 1991) and Gil Hodges (63.4% in 1983). All but Hodges were subsequently elected by the Veterans Committee.

That Morris has been as well is no surprise, as the panel, with a median age well above 60, was always more likely to be sympathetic to Morris’s old-school charms than the stat-savvy BBWAA minority that kept him out. This year's committee consisted of Hall of Famers George Brett, Rod Carew, Bobby Cox, Dennis Eckersley, John Schuerholz, Don Sutton, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount; major league executives Sandy Alderson (Mets), Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bob Castellini (Reds), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals) and David Glass (Royals); and veteran media members/historians Bob Elliott, Steve Hirdt and Jayson Stark.

That Morris, who understandably expressed some bitterness at the BBWAA outcome, gets some peace is a positive. He didn’t ask to become a battlefront in a cultural war that's largely been won, as analytics has permeated every front office in baseball, and subsequent elections, such as those of Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines last year, have solidified the incorporation of advanced statistics into Hall of Fame debates. Still, his election lowers the bar for Hall of Fame pitchers and serves as a slight to numerous contemporaries such as Bret Saberhagen, Dave Stieb, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser and David Cone. Win totals aside, all have far fuller résumés than Morris from a Hall standpoint, better run prevention combined with Cy Young awards and their own shares of records and postseason heroics. They now deserve an equally thorough airing in this context, particularly in light of the scarcity of viable starting pitcher candidates in the coming years.

As for Trammell, a six-time All-Star who spent the entirety of his 20-year career (1977-96) with the Tigers, he was an outstanding two-way shortstop whose solid offensive numbers (2,365 hits, 185 homers, and a .285/.352/.415 line for a 110 OPS+) were overshadowed by Hall of Fame contemporaries Cal Ripken Jr. and Yount, both of whom won multiple MVP awards during their careers (the latter's second came after a shift to centerfield). Trammell himself was robbed of the 1987 AL MVP award by the Blue Jays' George Bell, whose 47 homers and 134 RBIs overshadowed Trammell's .343/.402/.551 line with 28 homers and 21 steals. Bell's Blue Jays dropped the final seven games of the season, gifting the AL East to Trammell's Tigers, who despite their 98 wins fell to the 85-win Twins in the ALCS. Had Trammell won that award, and/or had the Tigers claimed a second pennant during that period, he might already be enshrined.

When Trammell reached the BBWAA ballot in 2002, he instantly became a forgotten man. While fellow shortstop Ozzie Smith breezed into Cooperstown with 91.7% of the vote, Trammell polled just 15.7%, lower than any post-1966 candidate ever elected by the BBWAA (Duke Snider’s 17.0% in 1970 is the low-water mark). Whether it was the patchiness of his late career, or his disastrous stint managing the Tigers from 2003–05—three sub-.500 seasons including a 43–119 crater in his first year—he remained below 20% until 2010, sinking as low as 13.4% in 2007, when Ripken and Tony Gwynn sailed in. Even after his minor surge to 36.4% percent in 2012, when Barry Larkin was elected on his third try, his support receded once the ballot grew more crowded, though he did finish with a high of 40.9% in 2016.

Trammell's raw numbers and his advanced ones bear a striking similarity to those of Larkin, the longtime Reds shortstop who himself was the centerpiece of a World Series winner (1990) but did win an MVP award ('95). Thanks to excellent defense as well as offense, Trammell finished among the AL's top five in WAR four times, with two more in the top 10; in an 11-year stretch from 1980-90, his 59.3 WAR ranked third in the majors, behind only Rickey Henderson (80.7) and Wade Boggs (63.1), with Yount (57.6) and Ripken (57.5, albeit with just 23 games before 1982), just behind him. Trammell’s 70.4 career WAR ranks 11th among all shortstops, ahead of 14 of the 21 enshrined including Larkin (70.2). His seven-year peak total of 44.7 ranks eighth, ahead of 15 of the 21 enshrined shortstops, while his 57.0 JAWS ranks 11th, ahead of 13 of 21 inductees. He’s a worthy addition to Cooperstown.

Trammell deserved to be in years ago, and now the committee—which meets again in two years—needs to take a long look at Whitaker, who ranks 13th in JAWS but fell off the writers’ ballot after just one year because he received less than 5% of the vote. Whitaker has never been considered in a small-committee context, in part because he didn't become eligible until after his 15-year run would have expired in 2015. Still, his omission here felt like a slight.

Of the good news to be had from among the other eight candidates, the fact that Ted Simmons, who similarly fell off the writers' ballot after just one try, finished just one vote short of election, counts. A switch-hitting catcher who starred for the Cardinals, he ranks 10th in JAWS. That the voters could give him a long enough look to take him seriously in this context offers hope for candidates such as Whitaker, Bobby Grich and Kenny Lofton who similarly went one-and-done.

On the other hand, the fact that Marvin Miller, the former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, received just seven votes is inexcusable, the absolute nadir of the Hall of Fame process. Time and again, it’s been a bloc of executives, many of whom have links to labor wars past, such as the 1981 and '94 strikes, who have prevented his election, though some of the blame also lies with players who benefited via free agency not advancing his cause forcefully enough. Miller, who oversaw the game's biggest change since integration by dismantling the reserve clause and therefore shifting the century-old balance of power from the owners to the players, is the candidate with the strongest case of any individual outside Cooperstown, and perhaps the strongest case of any non-player in the game's history.

Via the Hall of Fame, the other six candidates—Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker and Luis Tiant—each received fewer than 7 votes. Those candidates spent 15 years on the writers’ ballot, with Garvey the only other one besides Trammell and Morris to receive more than 32% of the vote.

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Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town
There&apos;s a new handsome sheriff in town
Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers
There's a new handsome sheriff in town

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