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2017-08-11 / Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Where we never fabricate, rarely recriminate, occasionally objurgate, sometimes speculate, usually obfuscate and always ameliorate.
By Brian Miller
HTF Columnist

I’d like to thank Bartolo Colon for making me feel young. If an out-of-shape 44-year-old can still play professional baseball, I’d like to think a relatively in-shape – yes, round is a shape – two-score-year-old (have fun with that one millenials) can golf 72-to-108 holes AND make it to the gym four times a week.

You hear that? That’s a challenge. Did your selective hearing catch that second part? Yeah? Just making sure.

(Talking to myself. Again. One of my special talents.)

I’m seriously digressing here. Where was I? Oh, Colon. After his seven shutout innings and a 4-0 win capped by Matt Belisle – Matt Belisle!? – striking out the side in the ninth Wednesday, the Twins are on a four-game win streak to get to 56-56, .500, just a game-and-a-half behind Seattle for the second wild card in the American League. Heady stuff for a team that lost a franchise-record 103 games a year ago.

After a rancid road trip in late July that caused the Twins’ front office to swap signs from “Help Wanted” to “For Sale” at the trade deadline, this team has responded to work their way back into the playoff conversation. Brian Dozier, whose ire was raised when the team became sellers, is getting hot, right around the same time as he did last year. Only last year, the Twins were a dumpster fire. This year, they’re just “meh,” with a hint of optimism and a dash of hope.

I went back to see what I predicted for them before the season when I wrote: “The Twins will flirt with a wild-card run in July, but fall a few games south of .500 and finally realize they need to add some power arms to the rotation and bullpen.”

I felt pretty prophetic when I read that, then realized that I really hope they prove me wrong, and with guys like Colon and Belisle (and smoke and mirrors) chase down a wild-card spot.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Yes. And a (slightly) better one than one in a million.

(I also predicted I’d be at Target Field a half-dozen times this summer. I’m batting .000 on that one so far, so I don’t really have that going for me, which isn’t nice.)

If I have to read/see one more story boohooing the fact that Colin Kaepernick has not been signed by an NFL team yet, get out of the way, because I may need to use the facilities. ESPN – which I no longer willingly watch – is befuddled, confounded, even consternated that the quarterback doesn’t have a job. He is a mighty social justice warrior after all.

But let’s face the facts: Kaepernick is not a very good quarterback. He helped the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2012, but the unquestioned strength of that team was its outstanding defense. Kaepernick’s legs were a big factor as well – especially in the playoffs; remember him slicing up the Packers? – but that was right when the read option was becoming en vogue in the league. NFL defenses soon adjusted to and took that offense away, reducing Kaepernick’s effectiveness, though his legs were still his biggest asset last year. (Maybe that’s why he knelt during the national anthem. To save his legs. I’m joking, of course. Kind of.)

How bad was his passing last year? He ranked 23rd in total quarterback rating (QBR) last season, a tenth of a point behind Brock Osweiler, the free agent bust who was so bad that the Houston Texans gave away a second-round pick just to get rid of him this offseason.

Amongst the top 30 quarterbacks in QBR, Kaepernick ranked last in clutch-weighted expected points added on passing plays. (Please don’t ask me to explain exactly how that stat is figured. I know, I know. Lies, damned lies and statistics.) Anyway, Kaepernick was a negative-0.3 in that category, by far the worst. The next-worst was (now Vikings backup) Case Keenum, who was at 10.4. By comparison, Sam Bradford, who definitely didn’t set the world on fire, though he was record-setting accurate, rated at 45.6. Leader Drew Brees came in at 84.4.

Another indication of Kaepernick’s ineffectiveness was his 1-for-5, four-yard, five-sack monumentally-awful performance against a bad Chicago Bears team last December.

I’ll say it again. Kaepernick is not a good quarterback, for if he were, someone would have signed him. NFL teams always sign guys with talent until there are too many red flags to avoid. Mike Vick had a job for many years after he was released from prison for dogfighting, for though his skills had eroded, he was still a guy capable of winning games for an NFL franchise.

But if you try smuggle a Whizzinator through an airport, or book sex cruises for you and your teammates, or get in a high-speed car chase during training camp, you’re not going to have a job in the NFL for long. And those are just offenses by former Vikings.

You’re also apparently not going to have a job if you sit during the national anthem and offend a majority of the fan base of said nation’s most popular league. Especially if your talent does not outweigh the acrimony your signing would create in the fan base of whatever team took that risk or the rift it would create in the locker room. Contempt/disrespect of the anthem and flag and those who’ve served under it – no matter your message – doesn’t play well with Middle America nor with most guys you’re expected to lead onto the field.

I’ll say it again. Colin Kaepernick is not a good quarterback. Is he better than most backups and possibly a couple of starters? Yeah. Is he worth the headache he’d bring? I’ll answer that with a statement. Jay Cutler has caused more migraines for coaches than any quarterback not named Johnny Manziel in recent years, yet he was the one the Miami Dolphins signed this week after starter Ryan Tannehill tore up his knee. (Oh yeah. Kaepernick wearing a pro-Castro – really?! – t-shirt in Cuban refugee-rich Miami might have played a part in that decision.)

Wait a minute. Someone did offer Kaepernick a contract? He turned it down? He wants to increase the injustice narrative that all these idiots are falling all over themselves to cram down throats?

Please can the faux outrage act, ESPN. It’s getting sickening. Until then, I’ll continue to tune you out.

Until next time…

Brian Miller is a longtime local writer who resides in Eveleth. He welcomes glowing accolades and scathing reviews at brianm@htfnews.us.

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