Week of May 26, 2014

No wonder Pedro Martinez had such nasty movement.

No wonder Pedro Martinez had nasty movement.


A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To…Whom?

Late last week, coach Jürgen Klinsmann finalized his 23-man roster for next month’s World Cup. The greatest U.S. soccer player ever was not on that list. The decision was not without controversy. No matter how the team does in Brazil, we’ll never be sure if it was the right one. But his international career is, effectively, over. While it had its ups and downs, Landon will go down as our best, producing some of the most thrilling moments in American soccer history, and it sure is fun to look back. -TOB

Story Link: “Landon Donovan Was Our Savior All Along”, Greg Howard, Deadspin (05/23/14)


Alex Honnald just might be the best (and most insane) athlete in the world.

Old story, but worth the read, since this dude is (incredibly) still alive. Alex Honnald is a dopey kid from Sacramento. You’ve probably never heard of him, but he’s better at his sport than LeBron James is at basketball. His sport: Free soloing. He climbs massive cliffs without a rope. The chances are likely that he’ll die in the near future…or is he just that good? What kind of person gets into a sport like this? A really unassuming kid doing things that have never been done . – PAL

Story Link: No Strings Attached”, David Roberts, Outside (4/11/11)


Anyone want to host the Olympics? Nope.

It seems cities are wizening up to the economic land mine that is hosting the Olympics. The host of the 2022 Winter Games will be announced within a year, and the majority of the finalist cities have already pulled out, because–really–who the hell wants to build a bobsled course? Mostly, these cities have found little to no public support when it comes to sinking $50 billion into a two week event, but overthrown governments have factored in, as well (I’m looking at you, Ukraine). Who’s ready to go back to China? – PAL

Story Link: “Nobody Wants To Host The 2022 Olympics”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (5/29/14)

TOB Note: I wonder what they’d do if no viable city bid. Antartica 2022!


Pay No Attention To That Man Behind the Curtain!

Actually, pay attention. Pedro Martinez provides insight into how he approached the art of the game. A rare look into the internal workings of a pitching wizard.

Story Link: “Pedro Martinez on the Art and Science of Pitching”, Dave Laurila, Fangraphs (05/23/14) – TOB

PAL Note: It’s all about that one quote (you’ll find it). Also, he has alien fingers. 


Chris Bosh Is Better Than You Think He Is.

In Toronto, Chris Bosh was a star on a bad team – he put up big numbers and set himself up for a max contract, but his team lost – a lot. Instead of being content to be the big fish in the little pond, he took less money and less touches in order to win championships. As Miami looks headed for their fourth straight NBA Finals, and possibly their third straight title, Bosh looks back at the sacrifices he has made, and the ways his game has evolved, to make it all happen. Also, he once campaigned to make the All-Star team with this video. -TOB

Story Link: “Best Supporting Actor”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (05/28/14)

PAL Note: I love his honesty when asked why his shooting percentage is so high near the rim – With LeBron and Wade driving to the hoop, “I’m wide open most of the time.”


Video of the Week:

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“Your hand and the ball is a marriage that should never end. The pitcher and the ball should be married forever. Hands, fingers, the ball – they should be married forever.”

– Pedro Martinez
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Week of May 18, 2014

The Western Conference Finals.

 


What Exactly Does a Pitching Coach Do? More Than You Might Think.

I’m a huge baseball fan. But sometimes I wonder, what exactly does a good pitching coach do? What does it mean to be a good pitching coach? Why do some seem to have such good reputations in the media? Doesn’t the staff’s success have more to do with talent, and the organizations ability to discover it? 123 favorite Jonah Keri explores why the Cardinals staff has been so good for so long, no matter the names: the foundation laid by former pitching coach Dave Duncan is the reason why. -TOB

Story Link: “The Duncan Way”, Jonah Keri, Grantland (05/21/14)


“I’ve been waiting 20 years for someone to knock him on his ass.”

Refs might not decide the outcome of a game, but they sure as hell influence it. Part 5/5 of a series examining NBA officiating and its lack of public accountability includes the story of Tim Donaghy–the ref busted for betting on games back in 2007–knocking out Joey Crawford (the bald ref that everyone hates, especially the Spurs). -PAL

Story Link: “Punching out Joey Crawford, and the issues on NBA officiating”, John Canzano, The Oregonian (05/16/14)


When’s the right time to call up a stud baseball prospect? Follow the money.

I’ll admit it; I’ve never completely understood the facts of team control over their baseball draft picks. This article lays it out nicely and explains the possible routes a team can take to promote (or delay) a stud minor leaguer to the bigs. Are teams putting playoff births at risk in the interest of staving off arbitration for one more year? How many divisions or wildcards have been won by a game? -PAL

Story Link: “The Polanco Problem…” Ben Lindburgh, Grantland (05/19/14)


Ever Wish You Had Grown Up Playing Sports With a Future Star? This Guy Actually Did.

Growing up, everyone probably had one or two people they played sports with, or against, that you were sure would be a future star. Usually, it never happens. This is a fun story about how a guy, about to graduate from Georgetown Law School played on a team with Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. Yes, Beasley was always kind of weird. -TOB

Story Link: “The Lawyer Who Blocked Kevin Durant”, Dave McKenna, Grantland (05/16/14)


Sleeping With the Enemy

When my team is knocked out, I rarely root for a division/conference rival to do well. Did I want Stanford to win the Rose Bowl after my Cal Bears went 1-11 last year? Hell no. Did I cheer when they lost that game to Michigan State? Hell yes. Screw them. But that’s not the case for many Canadian hockey fans, a country that hasn’t seen the Stanley Cup return home to Canada in 21 years. They wrap themselves in the flag and root for their otherwise bitter enemies. -TOB

Story Link:  “Canada First: Why I Root for Teams I Hate”, Eva Holland, Grantland (05/22/14)


Video of the Week:


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“And just remember, fans, in the airport of life, sports is just the baggage.”

-A.C. Slater

Week of May 11, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 10.03.23 PM

Where Have All the Aces Gone? Gone to Dr. James Andrews, Every One. Source: Michael Baumann, An Elbow Injury for Jose Fernandez, and Surgery for Baseball Fans’ Broken Hearts; Grantland (05/13/14); Earlier this week, news broke that the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez would likely undergo Tommy John surgery, and is thus unlikely to return to pitching until 2016. That is so far away that, by that point, flying cars and hover boards will be ubiquitous. Fernandez joins a long list of young, exciting pitchers who have been lost to Tommy John surgery since the start of 2013. What the hell is going on? -TOB

Further Reading: Tom Ley, “Jose Fernandez Is Hurt, And We Aren’t Allowed to Love Anymore,” Deadspin.com (05/13/14); Tom Verducci, “As Fernandez Goes Down, Here’s a Solution to Arm Injury Epidemic” (05/13/14); Tom Verducci, “How Tiny Tim Became a Pitching Giants,” Sports Illustrated (07/07/08).

PAL Note: Grantland needs to pump its breaks on the metaphors –  “…[C]omposed variations on the ‘slow, with late break’ theme the way Mozart might have written a suite for a woodwind quartet…” Easy, fellas. 


Was Mark Jackson Fired Because of His Race? Yes. And No. Source: Marcus Thompson, “Warriors, Mark Jackson, and the Question of Race”; San Jose Mercury News (05/08/14); The SJ Merc’s Marcus Thompson explores the reasons that the Warriors fired Mark Jackson. Was race involved? Kinda. -TOB

Further Reading: David Aldridge, “Split Between Jackson, Warriors a Complicated, Messy Affair”; NBA.com (05/12/14)

PAL Note: The Tom Thibodeau comp is the most intriguing (Thibs – great defense + suspect offense = great coach; Jackson – great shooters + improved defense = motivator).


Yasiel Puig’s defection from Cuba is way more incredible than his arm. Source: Jesse Katz,“Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig’s Untold Journey to the Dodger”; Los Angeles Magazine (4/13/13); Murder, informants, drug cartels, and a whole lot of dirty money at stake. Defecting from Cuba doesn’t end when someone like Yasiel Puig puts on an MLB uniform. Whether you love him or hate him, his story is extraordinary. – PAL


The World Cup in Brazil could prove to be a really, really bad idea. Source: James Masters, “World Cup 2014: Can the FBI help stop Brazil’s World Cup protesters?; CNN (5/13/14) For all we know this could be your typical, “there will be some real problems” story like the ones we saw leading up to  Sochi or the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. However, there is ongoing unrest throughout Brazil, and large-scale protests have turned violent over the government spending billions of dollars in the midst of a very fragile economic period. The Confederations Cup (essentially a warm-up tournament for the World Cup) was a mess with protests, and let’s not forget where the 2016 Summer Olympics will be held. -PAL

TOB Note: A good roundup of the potential issues in Brazil this summer, with some truly great/haunting images. Also, this terrifying warning from police.


Like the Goonies, The Spurs Will Never Die Source: Louisa Thomas, “Pop Culture: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Spurs”; Grantland (05/12/14) In the early aughts, the Spurs were boring. It seemed like their run had finally ended in 2011, when the #1 seed Spurs were destroyed by the #8 seed Grizzlies in 6 games. But then a funny thing happened: The Spurs kept their core, replaced the spare pieces, and got…better. In 2013, they came about as close as you can to winning a title without doing so. This year, I am rooting for them. They are once again the West’s #1 seed. They just destroyed the Trailblazers, with an average margin of victory of nearly 20 points, and look primed for a return to the Finals. The Spurs will not die. Long live the Spurs. – TOB


QUICK HIT: LeBron Putting Michael Jordan Into Perspective Source: Tim McGarry, USA Today (05/13/14)

Video of the Week:

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“Lose one friend, lose all friends, lose yourself.”

 

– Eric Matthews/Plays With Squirrels

Week of May 4, 2014

You'll get this if you read these articles, and you'll laugh.

You’ll get this if you read these articles, and you’ll laugh.

PAL: Where the hell did the “Shooter’s Sleeve” come from?

You’ve all seen it, and we’ve probably joked about sporting the sleeve at a pickup game, but here’s a quick history on how the elbow sleeve was born in the NBA. The “inventor” is now the LAX trainer for Villanova (obviously), and earliest versions were sewn by an old lady.

Source: Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker (5/6/14)

TOB note: Read this today and loved it. And when you say “joked” – you mean actually took a long sleeve UnderArmour shirt, cut the sleeve off, and wore it during an Adult Rec League basketball game, right? Because I did NOT do that.

 


TOB: Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That, But Uh…

If you’ve known me for a while, you know I have a theory about how hetero/homosexuality is not as black and white in other cultures as it is in the U.S. Specifically, in Arab and Latin American Cultures. This theory is based purely on anecdotal evidence (an Iranian roommate in college and some observed horseplay between Bobby Abreu and some fellow Latinos during the 2005 Home Run Derby). This article is old, but I stumbled upon it this week. It is an excerpt from a book written by a former minor league pitcher in the Angels organization (Odd Man Out). At one point the author was on a team with current major leaguers Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo. This is, apparently, a true story. I present it without further comment.

Source: Eric Stephen, SB Nation Los Angeles (07/22/2010)

PAL note: Only ketchup? Where’s the love for mustard?

 


PAL: What would Usain Bolt’s 40 time be at the NFL Combine?

Here’s an NFL Draft story that’s actually interesting. He’s the fastest dude ever, and his “splits” (if you can call them that in the 100-meter) put him at a sub 4.0 40-yard dash. That’s insane. However, the “Sultan of Dash” – the dude who’s been the official starter for the 40 at the Combine – has some interesting thoughts on why he thinks Bolt might not be that fast.

Source: Dan Hanzus, NFL.com (8/7/12)

 


 

TOB: When to Hold ‘Em, and When to Fold ‘Em

Everyone knows The San Jose Sharks choke every year. The core of the team is soft. They aren’t winners. It’s time to blow it up and begin anew. Or is it? Deadspin’s Ryan Lambert takes the stance that the Sharks have had some bad luck in playoff matchups, points out that the Sharks are one of the winningest teams over the last decade or so, and that the small sample size of the playoffs is more or less a crapshoot. Should the Sharks just roll the dice for another year? Included is a companion piece on Sharks star Joe Thornton and his label as “not a winner”.

Source: Ryan Lambert, Deadspin (05/02/14); Companion piece: Sean McIndoe, Grantland (05/05/14)

PAL note: Isn’t the fact that they are one of the winningest teams over the last decade, yet haven’t even made the finals, all the more reason to mix up the recipe? How would the opinion change if we were talking about the team a fan is most passionate about – say the Giants or the Niners?


 

Video of The Week: Brandon Crawford ground ball pimp game is stronger than most home run pimp jobs. Have a great weekend, folks.

TOB note: My favorite is the 1:12 mark. The behind the back bounce pass!

If you enjoyed this, please let us know. If you’d like off the list, too bad.


 

“But here’s my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything, but they can’t buy backbone. Don’t let them forget it. Thank you.”

 

– Herman Blume