By Soren Petro
The Royals do have one big advantage over the rest of the teams fighting for a playoff spot in the American League… at least the teams not names the Athletics and Angels.
I’ve taken the liberty to assume the A’s and Halos are not going to be caught by any team in the American League. Oakland sits at 68-43, the Angels at 67-44. One will win the AL West, the other is going to be the top Wild Card. That leaves three races to be won… the AL East, AL Central, and the final Wild Card.
What advantage do the Royals have over the Tigers, Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Mariners? Schedule.
The Royals have the most games against sub-.500 teams, and by a wide margin in most cases. Here is the breakdown of each team’s remaining schedule.
Teams vs. Sub .500 Teams vs .500 or Better Teams
Royals 29 23
Indians 27 23
Orioles 23 28
Mariners 23 28
Tigers 22 31
Blue Jays 21 28
Yankees 21 30
The Royals are 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race as I write this. The only two teams they are chasing, the Blue Jays and Yankees, have eight more games apiece against winning teams.
It should be pointed out that the Cincinnati Reds are a .500 club right now and could slip to the other side of the table giving the Orioles and Indians three more games each versus losing teams.
The White Sox are just three games under .500 and the Rays four. In a week they could be above .500 and skew the numbers the other way. However with the Rays trade of David Price that would seem unlikely for Tampa and the White Sox look to me like an overachiever right now.
Alex Smith vs. The Super Bowl Winners
How does Alex Smith compare to the Super Bowl winning quarterbacks? Better than you might think.
As the Chiefs work on a contract extension for Smith it is important to know exactly what the Chiefs are getting as well as what it takes from your quarterback to win a championship. Here is a look at the Super Bowl seasons of the last 12 Super Bowl winning QB’s.
Super Bowl Winning Season for QB’s 2002-2013
Year Quarterback % Yards TD INT
2013 Russell Wilson 63.1 3,357 26 9
2012 Joe Flacco 59.7 3,817 22 10
2011 Eli Manning 61.0 4,933 29 16
2010 Aaron Rodgers 65.7 3,922 28 11
2009 Drew Brees 70.6 4,388 34 11
2008 Ben Roethlisberger 59.9 3,301 17 15
2007 Eli Manning 56.1 3,336 23 20
2006 Peyton Manning 65.0 4,397 31 9
2005 Ben Roethlisberger 62.7 2,385 17 9
2004 Tom Brady 60.8 3,692 28 14
2003 Tom Brady 60.2 3,620 23 12
2002 Brad Johnson 62.3 3,049 22 6
Average Super Bowl Winner 62.1 3,683 25 12
2013 Alex Smith 60.6 3,313 23 7
Alex Smith 2013 + Playoff Game 61.0 3,691 27 7
It is clear that Smith’s season last year was good enough to win a championship, especially when you throw in his playoff game. The start in Indianapolis was actually his 16th start of the season, making for a perfect 16 game total. There is no doubt the 378 yards and four TD’s with no INT’s pumped up his stats, but there is also no doubt coming up big in the playoffs is what counts most and Smith certainly did.
Only three of the 12 QB’s topped four thousand yards passing and only two topped 30 TD’s. For all of the records that have been set by the big name QB’s over the last 10 years, they have been exclusively set during seasons that did not end in a championship.
To be fair, Brady’s 50 touchdown, 2007 season ended with a Super Bowl loss, as did Manning’s 5,500 and 55 touchdown season last year. But the fact that no team has won the Super Bowl with a QB posting a monster season can’t be discounted.
Smith is clearly good enough to win a Super Bowl if the Chief can put a good enough team around him the way the Seahawks and Ravens have the last two years. The bigger question becomes whether the Chiefs can build a strong enough team if Smith signs a contract so big that it handcuffs the team under the salary cap. See the Ravens in 2013 as they cut up the roster to make room for Joe Flacco’s mega deal.
I tackle the issue of how much Smith is going to get and why he is going to get it in this year’s 810 Football Preview magazine which will hit the newsstands soon. Look for it.
By Soren Petro
Houston… We Have a Problem
It’s tough to talk about the Chiefs right now and not mention Alex Smith and his contract. No doubt it’s the biggest issue the Chiefs have to deal with this offseason, but close behind it is the contract of Justin Houston.
Like Smith, Houston has just one year left on his deal, but unlike Smith ($8-million in salary and bonuses), Houston is set to earn only $1.4-million in 2014. While there has been a lot of conversation on what the deal for Smith should look like, very little has been said about what Houston’s contract needs to be. Well… let’s begin.
First, let’s take a look at where Houston ranks in sacks over the last three seasons, and what the contracts for those players look like.
NFL’S BEST PASS RUSHERS 2011-2013
32 M (4 YR)
14,383,996 (4 YR)
36 M (4 YR)
30 M (3 YR)
11, 237,498 (4 YR)
21,000,380 (4 YR)
9,436,053 (4 YR)
48,200,000 (4 YR)
57,500,000 (5 YR)
33,200,000 (5 YR)
4,600,000 (2 YR)
26 M (5 YR)
26 M (3 YR)
96 M (6 YR)
17,500,000 (4 YR)
66 M (5 YR)
2,786,248 (4 YR)
28,500,000 (5 YR)
16,084,000 (5 YR)
10 M (2 YR)
From the list above, the other outside linebackers (at least at the time they signed their contract) are Aldon Smith, DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, Tamba Hali, Cameron Wake, Elvis Dumervil and Clay Mathews. Only three of those players are playing on their second contract… Hali, Wake, and Mathews. Miller is still on his rookie deal, and the rest are older veterans that have been around the contract block a few times.
While you can draw the closest comparisons to the three OLB’s identified above, it certainly doesn’t mean they are the only three contracts that apply to Houston. They are simply the three closest comparisons to be made.
Scott Pioli signed Hali to a five year $57.5-million deal, the Dolphins locked up Wake for 5 years and $33.2-million, and the Packers broke the bank by giving Mathews $66-million over 5 years.
Let’s take a look at the accomplishments of each player leading up to signing their current deal.
Hali was five years in, had 41.5 career sacks, missed only one game, and was coming off his best season with 14.5 sacks. Houston has played only 3 seasons but has averaged slightly more sacks per year… 8.8 for Houston to 8.3 for Hali. You can make a case that because Houston missed 5 games last year his numbers would be even better, which they probably would. However missing 5 games is certainly not a positive. Teams want players that they know they can count on each week.
Like Houston is looking to do now, Wake signed his deal after three NFL seasons. The difference was after being undrafted and cut by the Giants, Wake went to Canada, recorded 39 sacks in two seasons, while being named “Most Outstanding Defensive Player” both years. Wake posted 28 sacks his first three years (an average of 9.3/year) in Miami, just 1.5 more sacks than Houston.
Finally there is Mathews. After four seasons Mathews had 39.5 sacks, good for an average of 9.9 per season. In addition to putting up the best stats in his first deal, Mathews did it with a flowing mane of hair and impressive “Predator” sack celebration that made him a multi-media star right out of the gate… not to mention the Packers went to the playoffs all four seasons and won Super Bowl XLV.
Mathews had the most production among the three and with it the biggest total dollar figure, however don’t think that means Houston will begin his contract demands South of Mathews. With the new TV money coming into the league, the cap takes a major step forward this year and will continue to grow steadily for the foreseeable future. This means the price for top shelf players will only go up.
Wake’s deal is the one the Chiefs will use to try and bring down the demands. Hali’s contract is probably a pretty good landing spot, except for the $35-million in guaranteed money. That is by far the biggest number of the three, trumping the $17-million guaranteed for Wake and $20-million for Mathews. It will be difficult for Houston to get to the Hali guaranteed dollars, but I’m sure he’ll try.
At the end of the day the Wake deal looks like a bad one for him, and should probably cost his agent his job. Hali’s contract looks a little bloated on guaranteed money. Mathews simply looks like a superior player that has been a big part of team that has done nothing but win.
I’m sure Houston will look to top the deal of Hali, but he would probably be wise to settle for the same total deal with less guaranteed money. The fact that he tested positive for marijuana coming out of college and missed five games last year makes him appear to be a slightly larger risk (I’m aware of Hali’s suspension) at the time of negotiations.
A five year $55-million deal with $25-million would probably get it done, but we’ve seen John Dorsey go to the wire on Dwayne Bowe’s contract negotiation and slap the franchise tag on Brandon Albert. I don’t think there is any reason to think the negotiations with Houston will go any differently.
I look forward to the contract questions flying around St. Joe in a couple months.
My email was filled with reaction to my opinions on the coverage of Michael Sam’s reaction to being drafted, but I’ve chosen to look at an email that was less emotional.
However, it was amazing to me how many people were willing to sit in judgment of Sam’s life choices through email rather than call the show. That is usually the case when someone wants to condemn someone else. It is much easier to email and not face a response than it is to have a public discussion on the radio. Better to fire your shots and shut it down than face a rebuttal. I think that speaks for itself.
Instead I chose Dan’s email. It forced me to think… and forced us to figure out a way to get a link to old interviews on the website. But why would we, a radio station, be able to easily link to our product on the website? It was also fun thinking about what was in the books. Many other good books went unmentioned, but what are you going to do?
Subject: 8 Easy One's
Listen to your show daily as I put in serious windshield time driving around the Metro.
Okay here we go 8 easy one's for you. Tell me the top thing that pops into your mind for each question.
What are your top 4 interviews/podcast so I can go back and listen?
What are your top 4 books relating to sports or life that you have ever read?
Wow! That’s a tough one… or two.
Let’s start with the interviews. Many ways to go with that… importance of the person being interviewed, breaking news, entertainment value, etc. I tend to be partial the ones that are very informative and give insight to how things work in the sports world. Whether that is getting into the mind of the manager and understanding how he puts together his lineup and bullpen, the GM's approach to building a team, or the thoughts of a quarterback as a play is developing or breaking down.
Here are a few that come to mind.
Before this 2014 season
We talked early in the 2014 Spring Training. I was able to talk to him about the persona that has developed around him in Kansas City. He let his guard down a little and actually joked around. I think it showed that there is a human being in the Royals dugout and not just a crusty movie impression of a baseball manager.
In studio after the playoff loss to the Colts
Reid talked about a difficult playoff loss to the Colts when it was only a couple days old. He talked about the quick decision to bring Bob Sutton back as the Defensive Coordinator. Reid broke down why at the end of the game he called the 4th down play he did and why it didn’t quite work.
At his 5-year anniversary
When Dayton was hired I said fans wouldn’t be able to really evaluate the job he had done until he had been on the job for 5 years. At the five year mark (maybe even to the day), Dayton joined us in studio and helped break down what had been accomplished to that point and what was still at hand.
Going into the bye week last year with a 9-0 mark
The Chiefs were flying high at 9-0 and heading to a vacation. Smith was relaxed and gave a very candid look at a play that had broken down in the last game. It gave some great insight into how the QB thinks under fire.
The day he was fired by the Royals
Kevin was clearly very disappointed and hurt by the decision. He was as honest as maybe any person I’ve ever interviewed in a situation like that. Seitzer detailed how Ned Yost had asked him to change the team’s hitting approach to one that tried to hit homeruns midseason. He talked about the struggles of trying to get Eric Hosmer turned around and why he thought it wasn’t working. It was must listen to radio.
As I look at the list, there are a few things that jump out at me.
First, each person held a position of real significance in the Kansas City sports scene. It’s clear to me that the best interviews come from the people that either have or can affect change in a major way.
Second is the person being interviewed is passionate about what they do. They are committed to how they do things and are not afraid to talk about it. Doesn’t mean the fans (or myself) necessarily agree with their methods, but they believe 100% in what they are doing and that makes them an entertaining listen. Their devotion makes an impact on the listener (and me).
Finally, they are all people in a position to be questioned and second-guessed by the media, and more importantly, the fans. I think the fact that their job performances are an open book, and measured in wins and losses, makes the insight into what they do (or did) and why they do it that much more interesting.
I know you asked for four and that’s five, but you said first though. I had five of them.
Now the books… I’m not a really fast reader but I’m always slugging my way through at least one book. I’ve got a stack of books I want to get through at all times. Not enough time in the day.
Here’s what popped into my mind… after I went downstairs and looked through the shelves.
It’s a classic. I read it when it first came out. I’ve been told it might be even better reading it today because you can see how everything turned out. The fabled “Moneyball Draft” is in its 30’s and you can see how it turned out in the long run. I would offer up what the author Michael Lewis told me about the book. “It’s not about on base percentage, it’s about Billy Beane’s ability to find value where others don’t see it.”
You’re Missing a Great Game
It you are a baseball fan it would be a good back to back read with Moneyball. Published in 2000 before much of the statistical revolution became mainstream in baseball it is a informative and entertaining look at baseball from one of the great managers in the game. Herzog’s irreverent humor and musings make for a fun read, but his experience and knowledge earned over a lifetime in baseball make it very insightful as well.
When Pride Still Mattered
This is a great biography detailing the life and death of Vince Lombardi. It doesn’t just focus on Lombardi’s time as head coach but gives great background into the younger life that shaped him into the consensus greatest coach that ever lived. His time as an overachieving standout at Fordham is great stuff, as is the detailing of his time as a fellow assistant coach on the Giants staff with Tom Landry.
Rozelle: Czar of the NFL
This is a great look at the man who at the very least stood watch on the growth of the most powerful sport in America. The book details the rise of Rozelle and the numerous decisions he made while shaping the league into what it is today.
The Book of Basketball
The name of the book should probably be “The Book of Pro Basketball” because there is no mention of college anywhere. There are references to the ABA here and there but Simmons passion for the NBA is clear. It looks like it is about 1,000 pages and while it’s not, that number can be seen from its finish. Using the same entertaining style he uses in his blogs, Simmons weaves many funny stories from his own life into a complete analysis of the NBA.
Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN
James A. Miller
This is a tell-all behind the scenes history of the “World Wide Leader in Sports.” That pretty mush says it all.
I know you only asked for four… but what can I say? I over-delivered. I figured there was a chance you had read some of the books or wouldn’t be a big fan of one of the sports, so you can pick the four you think would be the best read. I expect a book report on each in the coming weeks.
Thanks for listening,
Below are the annual predictions by The Program and Rany Jazayerli:
By Soren Petro
Below are Soren Petro's ballot for All-American teams, Player and Coach of the Year, and the final regular season Top 25 for the Associated Press:
F Doug McDermott - Creighton
F Jabari Parker - Duke
F Melvin Ejim - Iowa St.
G Russ Smith - Louisville
G Nik Stauskas - Michigan
C Joel Embiid - Kansas
F Julius Randle - Kentucky
F Andrew Wiggins - Kansas
G Tyler Ennis - Syracuse
G Nick Johnson - Arizona
F Cameron Bairstow - New Mexico
F T.J. Warren - NC St.
G Sean Kilpatrick - Cincinnati
G Fred VanVleet - Wichita St.
G Shabazz Napier - Connecticut
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Doug McDermott - Creighton
COACH OF THE YEAR
Billy Donovan - Florida
2. Wichita St.
8. Michigan St.
10. Iowa St.
15. Ohio St.
17. San Diego St.
21. North Carolina
25. New Mexico