First Monday Musings Of 2021

Thanks to everyone who read Disaffected Musings yesterday, which saw the most views in the history of this blog for a day without a post. Actually, a year ago I would have been happy with yesterday’s number of views for a day with a post, but things change.

Human beings almost never judge events by objective reality, but against expectations and the status quo. If the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers each have an 8-8 record next year, for the Bengals it would be a successful season while for the Steelers it would be a failure even though it’s the same record.

Speaking of sports and football…It’s a badge of American manhood to think you know a lot about sports, but it’s often not a merit badge. On a related thought, fantasy football is well-named because it bears little or no resemblance to the real thing. Actually, the same thing is true about all fantasy sports.

When I was Director of Baseball Operations for a major league team, one of my “responsibilities” was to hobnob with wealthy season-ticket holders. I can’t count how many of them said something like, “I could run a major league team. I finished second in my fantasy league last year.”

I would bite my tongue hard and then ask them a question or two about running a team or evaluating players. I am still waiting for my first correct answer.

Long way ’round…in this post I showed a table of NFL quarterbacks ranked by something called TOTSC. This metric uses the two individual stats that matter most in passing performance: yards per attempt and interceptions. With the regular season over, I thought I would show the final rankings and make some comments including the fact that the guy at the top of the charts is not going to win the MVP award:


Deshaun Watson HOU   1 3.28
Aaron Rodgers GB   2 2.82
Patrick Mahomes KC   3 2.57
Ryan Tannehill TEN   4 1.78
Derek Carr LV   5 1.36
Josh Allen BUF   6 1.36
Drew Brees NO   7 1.12
Matthew Stafford DET   8 0.87
Kirk Cousins MIN   9 0.68
Baker Mayfield CLE   10 0.68
Philip Rivers IND   11 0.60
Tom Brady TB   12 0.57
Justin Herbert LAC   13 0.57
Matt Ryan ATL   14 0.50
Joe Burrow CIN   15 0.34
Gardner Minshew JAX   16 0.27
Teddy Bridgewater CAR   17 0.17
Russell Wilson SEA   18 -0.02
Kyler Murray ARI   19 -0.35
Lamar Jackson BAL   20 -0.40
Jared Goff LAR   21 -0.58
Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA   22 -0.60
Ben Roethlisberger PIT   23 -0.78
Tua Tagavailoa MIA   24 -0.90
Can Newton NE   25 -1.02
Daniel Jones NYG   26 -1.21
Mitchell Trubisky CHI   27 -1.40
Andy Dalton DAL   28 -1.53
Nick Mullens SF   29 -2.07
Nick Foles CHI   30 -2.55
Drew Lock DEN   31 -2.80
Alex Smith WSH   32 -2.96
Dwayne Haskins WSH   33 -2.99
Sam Darnold NYJ   34 -3.03
Carson Wentz PHI   35 -3.72


Coming into this season, I had always thought that DeShaun Watson was a tad overrated, that he was a good quarterback who was thought by most to be great. One season does not a career make, but in light of everything that happened to that franchise, including the trade of their best receiver, I think his performance was great in 2020.

Along the lines of one season does not…, but still giving a player his due, I never thought Josh Allen could play at this level. Despite his obvious physical skills, he was a mediocre player in a non-Power Five conference in college. College is not more difficult than the NFL. Give Allen credit for his tremendous work ethic and give the Bills’ coaching staff tremendous credit for ironing out his flaws. I will also give Tom Brady his due as he played much better than I thought he would at age 43.

It is interesting to note that the two quarterbacks at the bottom were both drafted among the top three players overall in their respective draft years and that their futures with their current teams are less than clear. It’s also interesting to note that the two best running quarterbacks in the league, and two of the best of all-time, ranked a middling 19th and 20th with one team in the post season and one team out. Oh, the disclaimer: TOTSC does not pretend to measure leadership, the ability to audible to a better play, running capability or anything else except passing productivity. This metric is not adjusted for strength of schedule, although it could be. The quality of talent surrounding the quarterback and his system fit are not measured, either.

The biggest drawback to TOTSC, in my opinion, is that a player’s rating will almost certainly change even if he isn’t playing, say because of an injury. That could be partly mitigated by using more than one season as the basis for comparison. The current NFL system is flawed because it is no longer possible to really compare passing performance across different seasons, which was one of the reasons the system was developed.

The theoretical average in the NFL system is 66.7. The current system is based on data from 1960 to 1972. For 2020, the average passer rating for all qualified quarterbacks was 95.3. A quarterback with a 95.3 rating in 1970 was an effective passer, not an average one.

Anyway…enough of this scribbling. Because this type of analysis has nothing to do with fantasy football, few football fans would be interested in reading it. It would also not be considered advanced enough for football teams to have interest. I still think, though, that similar analyses and writing WOULD be of value to companies like Barrett-Jackson or Mecum. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Speaking of cars…

On this day in 1930, and not being the best of timing, Cadillac first introduced its V-16 engine/car to the public at the New York Auto Show. The car was offered in two generations through 1940 despite that it’s likely Cadillac lost money on every car. In its first model years, depending on the exact variant, the car could have had a price as high as $9,700. One could have purchased a 1930 Chevrolet, Cadillac’s GM stablemate, for $495.



From the 2019 Elegance at Hershey is a picture I took of a 1930 Cadillac Series 452, meaning a V-16 powered car. It made an in-person impression far beyond what is conveyed in this photo.







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Throwback Thursday, Johnny U Edition

First, from this piece:

“Households headed by a ‘conservative’ give, on average, 30 percent more dollars to charity than households headed by a ‘liberal.’ This discrepancy is not an artifact of income differences.” I can’t stand when people give off the “do as I say not as I do” attitude. Charity and philanthropy are great; coercion is not.


Today is not his birthday (that’s May 7) and the fact that the NFL draft starts a week from today isn’t really relevant, but I wanted to show a picture of “the man” today:



A gift from Dr. Zal, a picture of the late, great Johnny Unitas. He and Frank Robinson were my two favorite athletes as a youngster growing up in Baltimore. Maybe it’s just that I perceive this generation to suffer from an enormous case of temporal arrogance, but it seems as though Unitas is not remembered much today. Some tidbits from my book that the Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written (sorry, John, sometimes a little bragging is OK especially if it’s about something you actually did):

– In the 17 seasons that Unitas was the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Colts they had the best record of any team in the NFL.

– A chart showing Unitas’s TD/INT ratio in 1958-59 to the other starting quarterbacks in the NFL:


Quarterback Team Pass Att TD INT
Johnny Unitas BAL 630 51 21
Ed Brown CHB 465 23 27
Charley Conerly NYG 378 24 13
King Hill CHC 190 7 13
Bobby Layne PIT 591 34 33
Eddie LeBaron WAS 318 19 21
Milt Plum CLE 455 25 19
Tobin Rote DET 419 19 29
Bart Starr GB 291 9 19
Y.A. Tittle SF 407 19 30
Norm Van Brocklin PHI 714 31 34
Billy Wade LA 602 30 39
AVERAGE, Excluding Unitas   439 22 25


OK, Hill didn’t start for the Chicago Cardinals in 1958, but he did play for them that year. Bart Starr started half of the Packers’ games in 1959 (6), but less than half in 1958 (4). The difference between Unitas and the rest of the league is just astounding.

– Unitas’ passer rating was 30 percent or more above the league average for more seasons than Joe Montana’s. Despite the fact that it is misunderstood and not a part of fantasy football (fantasy football is well-named because it bears little or no resemblance to the real thing), passer rating correlates very well with winning games. From 1991-2000, the correlation between team passer rating and team winning percentage was .62, but for completion percentage it was just .47. (I have not seen any more recent data than the study I did for the book.)

More from the book: …many people will say that Johnny Unitas’ place in football history can’t be measured with number tables and a few bullet points. Hey, I grew up in Baltimore and Unitas is my favorite football player of all time and always will be. I am very aware of his special place in history. But his numbers and accomplishments, even listed in cold black and white, are quite impressive.


I salute you, Johnny Unitas!


It’s not clear to me if Unitas was given this car after the famous sudden-death 1958 championship game against the New York Giants, but here is a picture (from of him and his first wife in a 1959 Corvette:


The 1959 Corvette did not have the louvered hood or trunk spears that were on the ’58 model, much for the better in my opinion. Corvette production for 1959 was 9,670; the first year with 10,000+ was 1960. Only 7.7% of the ’59 cars had the highest output engine, the 290 HP fuel-injected motor (RPO 579D). 56.7% of the cars were built with the base 230 HP engine; the only displacement available for 1959 was the 283 cubic-inch V-8. Imagine that sixty years later, and despite the denuding of all US car engines in the 1970s, Corvettes were available with 650 HP and 755 HP.

Of course, the Corvette has long been a symbol of athletic excellence in the US. The great Sandy Koufax was given a new Vette by Sports Illustrated after his performance in the 1965 World Series. When Joe Flacco was named MVP of Super Bowl 47 (once again, I think the roman numeral thing is dumb) he was given a new Corvette.






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