Week of August 25, 2014

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Jerry Jones Has a Great Life.

This profile on Jerry Jones is incredibly long, and you probably don’t have time to read it all. Which is why we’re here, with the best tidbits from a really good read:

  1. Jerry Jones is 6 feet, ½ inch tall. I always thought he was like 6’4.
  2. Jerry Jones played college football.
  3. George Strait fans really love George Strait. $1000 for parking spots?!
  4. Jerry claims he spent all the money he had at the time ($150M) buying the Cowboys. Forbes now values the team at $3.2B. Billion! Seems like a wise investment.
  5. Sports radio guys are idiots. I did not learn that from this story. But I did learn that one of the dumbest is in Dallas, who stated in this story that being GM of the Cowboys is maybe one of the most important jobs in the world. The world. Ugh.
  6. Jerry Jones uses a flip phone. For the record, I love flip phones.
  7. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were teammates in college?!
  8. Romo talking about how Jones is all about substance and not style, and that is why he passed on Johnny Manziel, right after reading how angry Jones was that they did not take Manziel, is really funny.
  9. Romo drinks Miller Lite. Of course.
  10. While the reporter was there, Adrian Peterson called Jerry Jones and told him he’d like to play for the Cowboys. Jones expressed that the interest is mutual. I can’t wait to see what the Vikings’ response is to this.
  11. Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were ROOMMATES in college??
  12. With outside financial backing, Jerry Jones almost bought the San Diego Chargers when he was just 23 years old. His father talked him out of it. That is wild.
  13. Years ago, Jones gave up alcohol to lose weight. But his own mother convinced his wife to get Jones drinking again, because he was too much of an asshole sober.
  14. God I wish I was rich: “He and Jones were drinking heavily in Austin one night and stumbled into a dance club at 2:30 a.m. when the bartender told them that last call had long passed. “Either you start servin’ drinks,” Jones said, “or I buy the bar and you’re the first son of a bitch I get rid of.” Ten minutes later, Jones tells Hansen, “Go to the bathroom.” Inside, Hansen discovered a bartender sitting behind a hastily assembled but fully stocked bar; Jones, Hansen and another 10 pals enjoyed mixed drinks until 5 a.m. Hansen was shipwrecked with a hangover until late the following afternoon. “Jones was on ‘Good Morning America’ at 7 a.m.,” Hansen says in awe.)”

As I said, Jerry Jones has a great life. -TOB

Source: Jerry Football”, by Don Van Natta, Jr., ESPN The Magazine (08/28/14)

Note: Jerry Jones is one of the primary reasons I love sports. When it all comes down to it, we want characters. Give me more weirdos, drunks, oddballs; give me a second helping of Mark Cuban, Dennis Rodman, and Lawrence Taylor. While of course I want the Twins* to win the World Series, it’s not happening more than 5 times in my life (stop laughing – a guy can dream – they’re 40% of the way there already). At some point we all recalibrate our definition of ‘hero,’ and Kirby Puckett, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, etc. are replaced with mom, dad, brother, and teacher. It’s a liberating moment, actually. What we really want from sports is characters – characters we like, characters we hate, and characters we like to hate/hate to like. Keep on keepin’ on, Jerry. More strippers. More plastic surgury, you dirty ol’ man.  – PAL

* I want the Giants to win, too. There – I said it. I like – no, I’m a fan – of the San Francisco Giants. If the Twins aren’t in it, then I’m rooting for the Giants. They’re my sidepiece.


Inner. Inner City. Inner City Pressure.

How will the recent Little League World Series, where an all-black team from inner-city Chicago and a diverse team from inner-city Philadelphia dominated the headlines, change the way MLB approaches baseball in major U.S. cities? One idea in this article is that MLB teams should start baseball academies in their city to promote the game and develop talent who might not otherwise have a chance to play. The article suggests one issue is that teams would not want to develop a talented player, only to have him be drafted by another team. Of course, an obvious solution, one I first heard suggested right here by our own Phil Lang, is that MLB teams should follow the MLS rule – teams who develop a player in their academy should be able to select him before anyone else has the chance. Do it, MLB. My son is 2 months old. I can’t wait to send him to the San Francisco Jr. Giants Academy that does not yet exist. -TOB

Source: “A Catalyst for Change”, by Anthony Castrovince, Sports on Earth (08/21/14)

Note: Steve Bandura articulates it perfectly. I’ve been circling around this point, but I couldn’t flesh it out. Let’s get past the soundbite (the number of African Americans playing in the MLB is dwindling) and talk about the cause so we can explore possible solutions. “The African-American kids in the suburbs play,” Bandura said. “So what, if they go inside a certain boundary, all of a sudden they’re not interested in the game? None of those stereotypes make any sense. A six-year-old kid is not saying, ‘Well, I’m not going to play baseball because there are more scholarships in football for college.’ It doesn’t make any sense, and I’m tired of people running out those stereotypes.” – PAL


Everybody Seems to Be Coming Around…

Since I was a kid, I have rooted against the darlings of the sports media. So, I never liked Peyton Manning. When he was in college, I did not want him to win the Heisman, and I was really excited when Charles Woodson beat him for it. I have reveled in Peyton’s playoff failures over the years. I have no idea why, looking back. He seems like a decent guy. Part of it is because I’ve been reading/seeing the same stories marveling at how much film he watches for two decades now, and it gets old. On the other hand, I also really enjoy players continuing to excel far beyond an age when they should. I also like improbable comeback stories. Peyton’s comeback from the neck surgeries, at this age, is pretty remarkable. So I decided to read this profile, and I’m glad he did. He’s a strange dude, but I am actually beginning to like him.

Source: Inside Manning”, Dan Pompei, Sports on Earth (08/25/14)

Note: Peyton Manning can work as hard as he wants – it will never make up for the $40 he cost me on the halftime score of the Super Bowl last year. Jerk. What the hell is this OCD nutcase going to do after he retires? If there’s any poetic justice left in the world, for the love of god, please let Manning’s son love soccer. Also, he owns 21 Papa John’s in Colorado. Papa John’s pizza stinks.


“Mama, If That’s Movin’ Up, Then I’m Movin’ Out”

While reading this story, I couldn’t help but think of Todd Marinovich (if you haven’t seen this 30 for 30, do yourself a favor and watch it soon). It lacks the angle of the parent maniacally engineering a star athlete, but it is a fascinating look, not often seen, into the mind of a once promising athlete who didn’t quite make it, and how he has adjusted to the fact that he will not be a star. Many people think how great it would be to be a professional athlete – but what happens when an athlete falls a little short of riches and fame, and his sport becomes a job? -TOB

Source:The Making and Unmaking of Preston Zimmerman, American Soccer Player”, Brian Blickenstaff, originally published in XI Quarterly (Fall 2012)


 

Track & Field Has a Great Idea

When do you care about Track & Field? Every 4 years, just like the rest of us. How exciting is it to watch? I love it. This article brings to light a new approach to Track & Field that makes a lot of sense, and it’s based off of the following take: “Track is a sport crippled by two evils: the stopwatch and the Olympics. The stopwatch tries to find validation in the thousandth of a second, and the Olympics wants to have one big hoopla every four years. Both are complete crap.” Quick read. Fresh opinion. Good idea.

Source: “Jenny Simpson Is Better Than Any Gold Medal Or World Record”, Jon Gugala, Fittish (8/29/14)


VIDEO OF THE WEEK:


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“Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is… maybe he didn’t.”

-Eli Cash

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Week of August 18, 2014

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But How Old Are They In Dog Years?

A follow-up to the 30 for 30 short on Almonte. This is a must-read, if for no other reason that it introduced me to this amazing video, of Tom Verducci confronting Miguel Tejada with his real birth certificate, revealing that he was two years older than thought. -TOB
Source: “After Almonte: Sports and the Age Fraud Menace“,  Katie Baker, Grantland (08/15/14)

Note: I know this makes very little sense, but I like a good fake birth certificate story (at least the ones when they are doctoring their age to make them younger). The chances of a MLB player playing long enough for a 2-year discrepancy to matter is slim. So Miguel Tejada earned more money on his second or third contract. He also grew up in extreme poverty, and every single one of us would do the same if we were put in similar circumstances. However, misrepresenting an age to make an athlete appear older (see: China’s gymnastics team) is different. Putting a 13 year-old on a stage like the Olympics is messed up. Love Katie Baker’s story. – PAL


Mo’ne is Money

There’s a lot to love about Mo’ne Davis. In case you missed it, she is the first girl to be the winning pitcher in a Little League World Series (it was a shutout, too). It’s nice to read a genuinely feel-good story. The best part of the story is how she seems to be handling it. There are some folks out there who have been critical of SI putting her on the cover, but I’m not one of them. While I think putting her story in the context of the unrest in Ferguson, MO is a stretch, Davis is far and away the best sports story going at time when football (NFL and college football) hasn’t begun, MLB is not quite into the playoff push, and NBA and the NHL aren’t playing. Let’s all just agree that she’s a badass and enjoy. -PAL
Source: “Mo’ne Davis’ success works ‘to uplift us at a time of great sorrow'”, John Timpane, Philly.com (8/20/14)

Note: I was bummed to see Mo’ne get knocked around a bit on Wednesday, and then eliminated on Thursday. It was fun to watch, especially coming off the heels of an argument my dad and I had with my wife and my mom a couple weeks back, about whether it is appropriate/realistic or inappropriate/sexist to teach my son (currently just 8 weeks old) how to not “throw like a girl” when he gets older. If he throws like Mo’ne, I’m ok with that. I also enjoyed this read about how/whether Mo’ne should monetize her popularity right now, as well as this article about how interesting it is that she pitches as well as she does. -TOB


Rule 4.12 (a) (3)

On June 16, 1986 the Pittsburgh Pirates won a protest of a MLB game. The next time it happened: August 19, 2014. In other words, protests are never won, until the San Francisco Giants did it this week. Why does this matter? The Giants are in the thick of a division race, and with a second Wild Card team added to each league, a game can make all of the difference. The best part of the story is why the grounds crew at Wrigley might of had issues – “Sources said the Cubs ordered grounds-crew staffing reductions this week to cover recent ‘overages’ in hours by the crew.” Some manager just gambled on a safe bet (there’s not going to be rain tonight) and lost big. – PAL
Source: “Staffing issue may have been responsible for Cubs ‘tarp gate’”, Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times (8/20/14)

Note: As we now know, the Giants ended up losing this game on Thursday, after another rain delay. They nearly pulled it off, but did not. That’s ok, though. I might be crazy, but I feel a different mojo with the team already. I am hoping the Giants (presently just two games back in the loss column) use this quirky occurrence to rally together and streak to the division title. Also, I like the implication in this story, that there was no malfunction and that the Giants, the Cubs, and MLB worked to find a way to resume the game. A little shenanigans may have been at play. Why would the Cubs cooperate? The Giants are in the Wild Card race with the Cubs’ division rival Cardinals. It’s always fun to screw over a rival. If only they’d coughed up the game, too. -TOB


Video of the Week:

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“O God, ease our suffering in this, our moment of great despair. Yea, admit this kind and decent woman into thy arms of thine heavenly area, up there. And Moab, he lay us upon the band of the Canaanites, and yea, though the Hindus speak of karma, I implore you: give her a break.”

– Clark W. Griswold

Week of August 11, 2014

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Click on the pic to get the joke.


The Tiger Effect: Overrated?

“Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.” – Earl Woods. I didn’t buy that even when I was 14, but I did buy into the notion that Tiger Woods was one of the very few transformative athletes. While his impact can’t be summarized by the almighty $, Matt Brennan’s examination of Tiger’s financial, social, and cultural impact on the game is revelatory. This could be one of the best original pieces I’ve read on Deadspin. -PAL

Source: “What Happens To Golf After Tiger?”, by Matt Brennan, Deadspin (8/14/14)

TOB: I have always liked Tiger Woods. But whenever I think of how Tiger’s career has fallen apart over the last five years, I think of this. At the 2009 Big Game, a game that underdog Cal would win over Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck, Stanford honored Tiger Woods. As Tiger tried to give his speech, the Cal fans that had taken over Stanford Stadium began to boo him mercilessly. And the look on Tiger’s face is priceless. He is a true Stanford Man – smarmy and entitled – and he had no idea how to react to a negative reception, even some good-natured ribbing like this. Cal fans rightfully take credit for jinxing his career.

PAL: Did you guys know that Tommy went to Cal?


Think Different

Chip Kelly is a great football coach because he doesn’t think like a typical football coach. He doesn’t do things just because that is the way they’ve always been done. He questions why things are done a certain way and whether there is a better way to do them. This method has allowed him to be extremely successful everywhere he has coached. In short, I’m glad he’s not coaching Oregon anymore (did you know I went to Cal?), and this story is why. -TOB

Source: “The Influencer”, by Chris B. Brown, Grantland (08/14/14)

PAL: I’m not the biggest NFL fan in the world, but this is a good read on innovation, especially for anyone who’s coached or thinking about coaching. My favorite part: “The practice field is not where we talk. It is where we do the skills. We want to keep the words there to a minimum. The words you do use must have meaning. [Players] do not want to hear you give a 10-minute clinic in the middle of the field.”


The Next Great American Hope

I am not exactly a soccer nut, but I do enjoy it, and I feel as though I know more about it than most American sports fans. So while my soccer knowledge is not great, it was impossible not to notice 21-year old Deandre Yedlin every time he entered the game for the U.S. at this summer’s World Cup. It was really freakin obvious – he was fast as hell, and caused havoc all over the field. The world took notice, too – and Yedlin became one of the most sought after young players to emerge from the World Cup. Since the article was published, the Seattle Sounders agreed to transfer Yedlin to the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs (former team of current Sounder Clint Dempsey) for about $4M, to begin in 2015. If you want to know what it’s like to go from being a fairly unknown athlete to being chased by some of the top teams in the world in a very short amount of time, read this. -TOB

Source: “America’s Most Wanted”, by Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (08/12/14)

PAL: This is the first time I’ve heard about the MLS Homegrown Rule, and I think we should immediately implement it in all major sports (TOB: Agreed). Also, I buy into the belief that it has/will take generations before US Soccer can legitimately compete for a World Cup. The infrastructure has been there in youth leagues for about 25 years now, and I think we’re starting to see it bear fruit on the world stage.


The guy behind ‘The Guy’.

Listen, I’m over the PED in sports stories, too, but this article is about the disposable men in illegal schemes. Does the name Yuri Sucart mean anything to you? I didn’t think so. He’s Alex Rodriguez’s cousin. He’s the guy A-Rod threw under the bus the first time he tested positive for PEDs, and Sucart was up to his elbows in the Biogenesis scandal that will more than likely end A-Rod’s career (don’t forget – A-Rod was on track midway through his career to become one of the best 5 players to ever play the game by any standard). I found this mini-profile interesting, sad, a bit pathetic, and quietly dark when you look at the facts. – PAL

Source: “Yuri Sucart Faces a Decade in Prison After Years of Doing A-Rod’s Dirty Work”, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times (8/11/14)

TOB: If you need more confirmation that Barry Bonds is great and A-Rod sucks, you have it here. Bonds’ Guy, Greg Anderson, served time in jail instead of testifying against Bonds, and I guarantee that Bonds didn’t cut the guy off. Even the mob knows (in the movies) that you take care of your loyal soldiers. A-Rod sucks.


Too good to be true. 

Grantland’s “30 for 30” shorts are admittedly hit or miss (Steve Nash’s ‘The Finish Line’ series had its moments, but any doc in which the feature is also an Executive Producer is a bit suspect). Danny Almonte captivated the Little League World Series, striking out 32 out of a possible 36 batters in the first two games. That stat turned out to be literally unbelievable. At just under 18 minutes, don’t feel the need to watch the entire thing if it doesn’t grab you, but watching the highlights of him dealing is pretty funny, especially for those of us who vaguely remember Almonte. Spoiler alert: he’s filled out. Also, parents in youth sports can be the worst. No embed available. -PAL

Source: 30 for 3o Shorts: ‘Kid Danny’, directed by Andrew Cohen, Grantland (8/13/14)


Video of the Week: 

Mike Schmidt should be number 1, for crying out loud. I’ll give TSN – a Canadian network – a pass here, but that squeal at the end is the capper.


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Herman Blume: So you’ve changed your mind and you want the job.
Max Fischer: No, I’ve got an idea and I need some money.

– Rushmore

Week of August 4, 2014

123 is off this week. Sorry.

I know! But I think you’ll enjoy this: Puig vs. Pujols.

And this: Chicks Dig the Long Ball.


Video of the Week

Have a great weekend!

Week of July 28, 2014

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It’s Not That I Condone Fascism, or Any ‘ism’ for That Matter.

Our muscles are covered with a series of connective tissues called “Fascia”. Until recently, fascia has been understudied and largely ignored. For decades, it was believed to have no function at all. However, recent research has shown that fascia may be incredibly important to our health. “New Age” medicine has been onto this idea for decades, but the medical establishment had been slow to come around. And there is still push back – but as a guy in his early 30’s, still feeling sore four days after pitching three innings of stick ball, this article certainly had me fascinated. -TOB

Source: “How a Mysterious Body Part Called Fascia is Challenging Medicine”Robert T. Gonzalez, i09.com, (07/29/14)


Roger Goodell Sucks.

I have hated Roger Goodell since the beginning of his commissionership. He is heavy handed with punishments – including recently suspending the Browns’ Josh Gordon for the entire season for failing a marijuana test. Imagine the surprise, then, when the NFL announced Ray Rice’s suspension – for knocking his then-fiancee, now-wife, unconscious in a public elevator, and then dragging her unconscious body into the lobby of the casino – of only two games. It seemed preposterous. How could that be worth two games, but marijuana is worth a whole season? But details have emerged of the NFL’s investigation of the incident, which make it even worse – including the wholly inappropriate decision to interview Rice’s wife – and even worse to do so with Rice, her abuser, in the room at the time. Yes, I’m sure she felt she could answer freely, Rog. To make matters worse, the story subjected us all to the idiotic ramblings of Steven A. Smith. Twice. Thanks, Rog, you soulless human being. -TOB

Source: “Does the NFL Think Ray Rice’s Wife Deserved It?”Greg HowardDeadspin (07/30/14)

Note: I’m pretty much done with ESPN, and its coverage of this story is a perfect example as to why. They first report on the story (NFL player knocks is then fiancé out), then every ESPN personality weighs in, then ESPN makes a story of how its employees weigh in on the story. After someone says something stupid (Stephen A. Smith), a contest emerges amongst ESPN talent to see who is more offended by A) the original story, and/or B) the Smith’s reaction to the story. As for Goodell, he couldn’t have handled this any worse. What about the Baltimore Ravens (the team for which Rice plays)? They could simply make him inactive and impose a larger punishment. They didn’t. Also, you can shove your apology up your ass when you knock out a woman. Don’t tell me, “That’s not who I am,” Ray Rice. It is who you are, because you did it. – PAL


Life Imitating Art Disneyshit. 

Remember Remember the Titans  – that high school football movie that has Denzel Washington acting all Denzel while using football to solve the racial tension of 60s school integration? Aside from introducing me to Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale, folks…come on!), the only other thing the movie had going for it was the “based on a true story”. At least I could think to myself, “this really happened?” Well, as we now know, “based” is code for “some of this sorta happened at some point in time”. What’s fascinating here is Herman Boone, the coach Denzel portrays, maybe wasn’t the great guy leader of young men that the movie made him out to be. What’s more, in the wake of the movie’s success, the real Herman Boone has taken on an acting role of his own – he’s portraying (and selling) himself as the Denzel version of Herman Boone.

Source: “Remember The Titans” Is A Lie, And This Man Still Wants You To Know ItDave McKenna, Deadspin (7/29/14).

Note: Remember the Titans introduced you to Wood Harris? C’mon, Phil! Above the Rim! Motaw! Really, a stunning cast. Tupac, Marlon Wayans, Bernie Mac, Leon (aka Dereese from Cool Runnings), Eric Nies. Eric Nies. If you haven’t seen Above the Rim, or haven’t seen it in the last ten years, do so tonight. -TOB


Videos of the Week (Both of these are too good not to share):


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“Isms, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ‘ism,’ he should believe in himself.”

– Ferris Bueller