RIP Lon Simmons
As sports fans, we don’t often know what a star athlete or coach is really like. The same goes for sportscasters and writers. We hear from them on a daily basis, and we tend to grow very fond of them, but it’s still a very shallow relationship – a one-way street. I always find it interesting, then, to see the reaction of other media members when one of their own passes away – you can tell who the truly good ones are based on the reaction of their colleagues. That was the case last weekend, when longtime Giants announcer Lon Simmons passed away. Simmons was the voice of the Giants for the better part of 40 years, from the time the team moved to San Francisco until 2002, with some gaps in between (including a long stint with the A’s from 1981 to 1995). The outpouring of emotion and memories by the Bay Area sports media was touching, and I especially enjoyed this obituary, as written in the SF Chronicle. It shows Simmons as a great and funny guy; beloved by colleagues and athletes alike, and a huge Giants fan. One of the most interesting tidbits given is that Lon caused a major shift in how announcers are employed. In 1981, Lon got into a squabble with the station head at KNBR, leading to his departure to the A’s (where he teamed up with the also legendary Bill King). The Giants were furious that their star broadcaster was no longer calling their games and sports teams began employing the announcers directly to avoid a repeat. Rest in peace, Lon. -TOB
Source: “Lon Simmons, Beloved Bay Area Sportscaster, Dead at 91”, John Shea and Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle (04/05/2015)
In Memory of Hank Gathers, Fallen Teammate
I have never been a Jeter fan, and when he announced his website I was quite skeptical. Athletes are not sportswriters, and it seems unfair to expect them to be able to write a compelling story. Some have the ability, but not all. So when an athlete contributes a story to Jeter’s website and it’s really good, I feel compelled to share it. Hank Gathers died 25 years ago, one week before the 1990 NCAA Tournament. Hank led the nation in scoring and rebounding and Loyola-Marymount was an offensive juggernaut. In the middle of a game, Hank collapsed after an finishing an alley-oop. He died right there on the court. Hank and Bo had been friends since they were kids, and traveled to two different colleges together, so the death hit Bo harder than most. Still grieving, LMU made a run all the way to the Elite 8, with Bo paying an unforgettable tribute to his friend. Here, Bo reflects on his friendship with Hank, Hank’s death, and how the team responded. Do yourself a favor and read this. -TOB
Source: “Hank: Tales of Madness”, Bo Kimble, The Players’ Tribune (undated)
What’s In A Number?
When it comes to baseball, an iconic number is associated with an iconic name or team. It turns out, there’s a lot more in a number than legacy. In the sport most obsessed with numbers – 755, 56, 61, .406 – I don’t even have to say anything else and just based off of these numbers baseball fans know exactly who and what they represent. A record can tell us a lot about context, too. Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, you’ll enjoy this breakdown and forecast of when baseball’s most hallowed records are most likely to be broken, and the guesstimates have as much to do with context – the state of the game at the time the records were set – as they do with greatness. How’d The New York Times go about this fun probabilities challenge? By applying “extreme value theory,” which is most commonly used to predict weather. Don’t hold your breath on some of these records being broken while you’re still kicking, folks. Oh, and just as a reminder, Barry Bonds had an OBP (on base percentage) over 60% in 2004. Think about that – in a sport where “failing” (making an out) 60% of the time represents an all-star clip Bonds did the inverse. – PAL
Source: “How Many Years Until the Record Falls”, John Katz, Matthew Bloch, Larry Buchannan, and Joe Ward; The New York Times (4/3/15)
TOB: This is fun. It reminds me of an article I read as a kid in the Sacramento Bee. As I recall, they ranked the least breakable baseball records. #1 was Cy Young’s 511 wins. That’s a no-brainer. #3 was Maris’ single-season home run record. Whoops! That lasted all of two more years. But in the middle was #2 – Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. This one seems the most attainable in my lifetime, even though it’s been a long time since anyone got even remotely close. It’s also the one I’m most excited to see. The build up would be intense. It’s sort of a goofy record – but it would be so exciting. I nominate Joe Panik.
Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk ‘til You Lose Your Patience*
The Golden State Warriors are loaded with talent, and one of the most important ones in Draymond Green’s gift of gab. In other words, the dude talks a lot of sh*t on the court, and that’s exactly what this team of quiet, nice guys needs – an edge. Read about Green’s path to the NBA, and you’ll understand why the undersized forward has always been a dude with something to prove. Some of my favorite nuggets from the story included below – PAL
- “Green ended a back-and-forth with Doc Rivers by dismissing the Clippers coach with the line, ‘Cool story, Glenn.’” (Doc Rivers’ real name, which no one has called him in decades)
- “Everyone talked about how he’ll be a star. But as soon as he fails, everybody will look at me. Nobody is going to say his coach let him fail. It was me.” – Green’s mom, explaining a harsh and unpopular punishment she doled out after Green was caught cheating on a test in 9th grade.
- Green’s numbers this year: 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds, while shooting a career-high 44.2 percent from the field. He’s expected to be offered a “max deal” in the off-season (~$14.6MM)…I love Green, but are those really numbers you’d expect to demand a max deal?
Source: “The Fastest Mouth in the West”, Jonathan Abrams, Grantland (4/7/15)
*Name the song (and don’t be a dork and look it up)
A Two Act Play: Troy Tulowitzki and Pace of Play
In an effort to speed up the game, MLB has introduced new rules that force a batter to stay in the batter’s box after a pitch. No more leisurely strolls halfway back to the dugout between pitches! Sometimes. Usually? I dunno. It’s all very confusing. This article is a very humorous look at the effect of the rules as viewed through the microcosm that is Troy Tulowitzki. -TOB
Source: “What Have New Pace of Play Rules Meant for Troy Tulowitzki?” Jeff Sullivan, Fangraphs (04/09/2015)
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