The Jets

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Head Coach Todd Bowles has, unsurprisingly, been fired and the replacement rumor mill is already starting.

I am really surprised that General Manager Mike Maccagnan sounds pretty secure. Maccagnan’s draft whiffs are legendary–only 10 of 28 of his picks are on the roster. The consensus in New York sports media is he is getting another chance solely because he drafted Sam Darnold, but why? Maccagnan wanted Kirk Cousins, an overpaid veteran who only beat one team with a winning record this year. Darnold was his second choice and even Darnold was not a particularly inspired pick–if you had to go for a quarterback in the draft because you lost out on free agency, Darnold was the clear safe choice relative to Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson. It is not even obvious that Darnold was the right choice, in retrospect, given Mayfield’s hot start for Cleveland (Cleveland drafted first, but Darnold was higher on the Jets draft board). And while free-agent decisions always look bad in retrospect, the biggest misses were ill-advised at the time (Darrelle Revis, Trumaine Johnson).

At the same time, the piece that most pundits miss is that GMs can grow. It is easy for us to think of GMs as springing fully-formed from Athena’s head, but you expect growing pains the first few years. There is a reason we promote our analysts after three years–analysts get better over time. There is a limit to this (I suspect personnel search may be the next target for NFL analytics, if in fact it is not already), but remember that Maccagnan’s last job was director of college scouting.

Separately, I do not really understand what the Jets beat writers think should happen next. The consensus is they should hire “the next Sean McVay,” a coach generally described as young, fresh, exciting, and innovative on offense. And then we hear the Jets should hire… 26-year-veteran Mike McCarthy? 21-year-veteran John Harbaugh? McVay was a surprise–if you want another McVay, you need to swing for the fences and go with someone unproven.

Finally, I wonder how Christopher Johnson impacts the search. Woody Johnson was reputed as one of the worst owners in the league (the Tim Tebow debacle was one of the clearest illustrations) and insiders seem to really like Christopher. Does he bring a more level-headed decision-making process?

Cody Bellinger is happy to let Lonzo Ball have the LA sports spotlight

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Cody Bellinger is happy to let Lonzo Ball have the LA sports spotlight

What pitchers think about being credited with wins and losses

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What pitchers think about being credited with wins and losses

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Baseball is the greatest sport for the very reason its detractors so often cite when knocking it: pace. Hockey and basketball are played at a smooth flow, and football progresses in a lurching march. Baseball conducts itself novelistically, scenes building into chapters building into multilayered epics. The moments when the ball is in play are for the men on the field, but the moments in between are for the fans. After each at-bat and before every pitch, we are allowed the space to imagine all the scenarios that could ensue. From the moment Cleveland’s Rajai Davis stepped into the batter’s box to face the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman in Game 7 of this year’s World Series, fans had just under three minutes to run through the possibilities. A home run was doubtless among the first images that popped into our heads, but that dream was quickly shoved aside by everyone over the age of 13, too wise or too cynical to dream that the light-hitting Davis (55 homers in an 11-year career as he dug in in the bottom of the eighth) might park one against the fearsome Chapman. A bounce-out or a strikeout? Sure. A single? Many of us would have taken it. But when Davis reached down and golfed a screamer just inside the foul pole in left field to tie the game? When that was the play that landed on the roulette wheel of fretful guesswork that spun around in our heads? It was jarring in the way only baseball can be. The Cubs would end up winning the game and the championship, but it was the Indians and Davis who would solidify Game 7 as the best we’ve ever seen.

AP Sports is using “robot” reporters to cover Minor League Baseball

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AP Sports is using “robot” reporters to cover Minor League Baseball