Week of December 8, 2014

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Happy Birthday to my brother, Pat! Here we are living the 1-2-3 dream, way back in 2010 at Golden Gate Fields’ Dollar Day. He’s 31 today, and still rocking those Sanuks (I think).


I Survived a Soccer Riot and I’m Luckier Than I Even Realized

In 2010, I went to Argentina with my brother, Pat, and my friend Rowe. We were determined to go to a soccer game, and at the last minute figured it’d be safer to shell out the extra cash to join a tourist group, with tickets in the tourist section, than to fend for ourselves. Part of me thought it was kinda weak, to not just go it alone. I’d been to lots of intense games before. And as the game went on, the atmosphere was intense but I didn’t feel scared – except when the tour guide took us to the ATM to get cash to pay him – the look on his face let me know that even he didn’t want to be seen with that much cash.

Still, the game ended rather uneventfully. We were walking down this grand staircase to exit the stadium. I remarked, “It wasn’t THAT crazy.” My foot hit the ground floor and suddenly the massive crowd in front of us that had already exited the stadium came rushing back in. A huge piece of asphalt went whizzing by my head. More rocks came flying in as we scampered back up the stairs to relative safety. I saw a cop get hit with a huge rock, blood rushing from his head. Cops in riot gear appeared out of nowhere and fought back the crowd. They closed the large garage-like doors and we waited for a while. I asked the tour guide if this happens every game, and he said usually. I asked if this was a particularly bad riot, and he said no. Oh.

And apparently he was right, as this article illustrates. Eleven people were murdered at Argentinean soccer games in 2010, the year I was there. And really, it’s so much more than that. So the next time you feel like complaining that some opposing fans were rude to you, just be glad you’re not an Argentinean soccer fan – where the teams are controlled by the mob. -TOB

Source: The Beautiful Game”, Patrick Symmes, Outside Magazine (10/09/12)

PAL Note: Fascinating read, definitely worth the time. The connection between money, politics, and soccer down there is shocking. Here are some of my favorite quotes and factoids:

  • “In 2009, Argentina surpassed Brazil as the world’s top producer of soccer talent, farming out 1,700 players to professional leagues abroad.”
  • “Argentina’s fan clubs, meanwhile, have become ‘not quite as violent as the Bloods and the Crips, but similar,’ says Andy Markovits, a University of Michigan political scientist specializing in soccer culture.”
  • “South American teams are private clubs, owned by their members. That leaves fan clubs, with their big voting blocs, able to make or break club officials and thereby control coaches and athletes. The barras routinely skim off players’ salaries.”
  • “A riot. Some rocks. Gas guns. It’s just background noise.”

Marshawn Lynch: ‘Beast Mode’ Isn’t Even The Half Of It

We like our athletes to be one thing, and only one thing at a time. Tiger Woods: GOAT; Tiger Woods: the scandal. Manny Ramirez: ‘Manny being Manny’; Manny Ramirez: distraction. LeBron James: Judas; LeBron James: Prodigal Son. Aren’t these examples both of their labels? Seeing as Tommy is the biggest Cal fan/apologist I’ve met, I thought it would be interesting to present my take on a Marshawn Lynch story. I like that the story is about the multiplicity of him, both as a player and as a person. He’s described as the greatest teammate by several players, and yet he’s held out for more money. He’s both charitable with his time and has had run-ins with the law. I hope that, while reading this, you’re thinking, “none of these aspects are mutually exclusive,” because that’s the entire point of the article, and I like that variance is the focal point of an athlete profile. – PAL

Source: “A Marshawn Kind of Way”, Robert Klemko, MMQB (12/9/14)

TOB Note: His college coach, Jeff Tedford, loved him like a son. His coach with the Bills, Dick Jauron, loves him. Pete Carroll loves him. I thoroughly enjoyed this article, and I hope that the Seahawks do release him, so that I can go back to expressing my unabashed love for Marshawn in public. I want his Cal-colored Beast Mode shirt so bad, but not until he leaves Seattle. Also, I loved this quote from his Seahawks teammate K.J. Wright: “He does things outside of the media that no one ever sees, and most guys do it to get on TV. But he does it from the heart. It’s real.” Ahem.


NERD ALERT, NERD ALERT: A Sport Technology Story (but, you know, a cool one)

Of course Wired brings us this story. I like the “Kiss Cam” at a ballgame, I like seeing players’ stats on the scoreboard, and the yellow first down line on TV helps out, too. Other than that, I tend to think I don’t need much razzle-dazzle connected to sporting events. Well, I just might be a liar, because these optical illusions playing out during the pregame at NBA courts and NHL rinks are pretty damn cool. Here’s a short article about how they do it and why teams are shelling out seven figures for the technology. At the very least, it’s worth clicking through to see some of these pre-game routines for the New Jersey Devils & Calgary Flames (I know the Cleveland Cavaliers have a pretty cool one, too). – PAL

Source: The Visual Trickery That Turns Hockey Rinks Into Lakes of Fire”, Tim Moynihan, Wired (12/11/14)

TOB Note: I first saw this a couple years back, I think a video from a Cavs game. So cool. Watch the videos in the story – the table hockey video in the Flames video is fantastic.


Darren Rovell Sucks, So This is Great

God, this is great. ESPN “sports business” analyst Darren Rovell is a huge tool. It’s really the perfect word to describe him. Some guy took Rovell tweets, word for word, and used them as pick-up lines on Tinder, to varying degrees of success. Hilarious. -TOB

Source: Hitting on Tinder Girls Using Only Word-For-Word Rovell Tweets”, WorldWideWob (12/07/14)

PAL Note: This guy is a comedic visionary. I have nothing more to say.


Hockey Player Has No Idea Who Nelson Mandela Was, Keeps Talking

This is kinda mean to laugh at, but I’m sorry, I can’t help it. A Toronto Maple Leaf player attended an event on the one year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela. Unfortunately for him, he was asked about Mandela. I say unfortunate because he had NO IDEA who Mandela is. This, however, does not stop him. Here’s a taste:

“Well obviously growing up, he’s one of the most known athletes in the world. A lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did, and even playing hockey, everyone knows him, right? From being the type of person that he was off the ice and on the ice. It’s unfortunate that he passed a year ago, but, he changed a lot while he was with us, and he’s a tremendous guy.”

So good. -TOB

Source: Jonathan Bernier Humiliatingly Has No Idea Who Nelson Mandela Is“, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (12/09/14)


Dude, Where’s My…

This article is short, but hilarious. A reader sent Deadspin a newspaper clipping from 1941. It’s hilarious:

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“Broooooo!” “Duuuuuuude!” -TOB

Source: Fans Were Just as Drunk and Stupid in 1941 As They Are Today”, by Tom Ley, Deadspin (12/08/14)

PAL Note: What a fantastic mistake that is all but impossible today. I’m positive these dudes had the time of their lives, and the story only highlights how little the actual game means to the fan experience.


Video of the Week


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Twitter: @123sportsnews


“My density has popped me to you.”

-George McFly

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