Riley Curry: The Real MVP
Drink the Tears of the “Best Fans In Baseball”
Baseball was beginning to hit the summer doldrums. The biggest story heading into this week was the fact that the Royals might get EIGHT starters in the All-Star game due to KC fans stuffing the ballot (which is ludicrous – e.g., Omar Infante is awful and has no business being at the All-Star game, even if he buys a ticket). And then on Tuesday a mostly-forgotten story got new life: Last summer, someone anonymously posted trade chatter from the Houston Astros’ internal computer system to the internet. There was no information on who posted it or why and the story died pretty quickly, but it was amusing to get a little inside information on how teams valued their players, and what teams talk about when they discuss trades (You can read it all here).
That story was revived this week when news broke that the FBI investigated the leak and traced the hack to St. Louis Cardinals front office employees. The Cardinal Way, apparently, involves hacking and cheating, which is amusing coming from such a sanctimonious team/fanbase. The story got even funnier as details began to emerge: The Astros GM, Jeff Luhnow, was previously an executive with the Cardinals. While there, he created an internal database for scouting, etc., that he called Redbird. When he was hired away by the Astros, he took some employees with him and re-built/ported the system over, calling it Mission Control. Clever. But he didn’t change his password! Some Cardinals employees “hacked” the Astros’ system by simply logging in with the same password Luhnow had used in St. Louis. They’re now in deep doodoo, looking at potential prison time, and Luhnow looks like an idiot (though he sure does seem to know how to build a baseball team. Also, on Thursday, Luhnow denied he could be so stupid and fail to change his password, but the story is much funnier as originally reported). It is unclear if the “hackers” were high or low level Cardinals employees, but either way – someone is going down. As noted, my favorite part of this story is that it involves the Cardinals. The teams that Does Things the Right Way. The Best Fans in Baseball. Etc. It is excellent schadenfreude and I cannot recommend reading about it enough. -TOB
Source: “Cardinals Investigated for Hacking Into Astros’ Database”, Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times (06/16/2015)
PAL: Now that I’ve updated my passwords, I feel comfortable talking junk about this horse crap. I can’t believe it’s taken this long for a hack in professional sports. No – really – I don’t believe it, as in, this has happened dozens of times already but the perps weren’t so stupid as to leave a trail back to their house. Dumb, dumb, dumb. The Cardinals can sit on a tac as far as I’m concerned, but come on, Luhnow! Never underestimate the destructive potential of a person who can’t remember his passwords and therefore uses the same one for years. Do you think Mike Matheny will write a letter to parents about the merits of password protection?
Take a Step Back To Appreciate The Warriors
The most fascinating element of the NBA Finals was rooted in the tremendous stylistic differences represented by the two teams. While the Cavaliers were forced to a LeBron offense after Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving went down earlier in the playoffs, it was a sight to behold watching the best player on the planet put in a position where he must do it himself…and not disappoint.
I’ll get to the Warriors, but before I do I got to take a moment to talk about Tommy’s crush, LeBron James. James is so much better than everyone else that I found myself disappointed whenever he seemed deferential, even when I know that no one has ever logged the minutes he’s logged over the past 5 years (5 straight Finals appearances + 2012 Olympics). Even when he’s historically great, I think there’s more there. Maybe that’s what happens when we label someone as having infinite potential…how do you know when he’s met it?
So we had the best player against the best team. The Warriors were better on both sides of the ball (the top defense and offense in the league) than everyone in the league, and a singular talent was at the center of it all. As Tom Ziller puts it, “Other players have some of those skills. Kyle Korver has the trigger and the aim, Kyrie Irving can dribble as deftly, Chris Paul has the vision and J.J. Redick can sprint around screens for 40 minutes without clawing for air. But no one puts all together like Steph.” In a time when tanking is the way of future success in the NBA, the Warriors won with a roster of mid-to-late first round picks and veterans who experienced enough to put a special team’s interests in front of their own. Much like LeBron, the Warriors were so great this season that I wondered if the team demonstrated their best…while they coasted (in the last 2 games) to a championship.
Rather than focusing on the the events of the finals, Ziller dissects the team, how it was put together, and why it’s unique. – PAL
Source: “Do not try to mimic the Warriors”, Tom Ziller, SB Nation (6/17/15)
TOB: Apparently acknowledging that LeBron is the best basketball player in the league means you have a crush. #hater
PAL: HOT TAKE ALERT: LeBron James is the best basketball player in the NBA! I wouldn’t have considered that, but now that you mention it…LeBron just doesn’t get enough damn credit.
TOB: Ooooh, Phil has a cruuuuuuush.
In Defense of Bandwagon Fans
In the wake of the Warriors’ win, 1-2-3 Sports! favorite Grant Brisbee defends bandwagon fans, and I could not agree more. There’s nothing wrong with a little civic pride/solidarity. I am not a Warriors fan, but I have enjoyed their playoff runs the last few years. The team is entirely too likeable, and there’s nothing like experiencing a title run for a team from your city, so I’ve been on the bandwagon for a couple years now. But that does bring me to an interesting dynamic at play over the last two months: The Warriors are almost certainly moving back to San Francisco in 2017, after 40 years in Oakland. East Bay Warriors fans are understandably upset about that fact, and more interestingly I sense a seething rage from East Bay Warriors fans against SF Warriors fans, especially the SF bandwagon fans. The feeling seems to be, “This is (still) OUR team. GTFO.” -TOB
Source: “There’s Nothing Wrong With Being a Bandwagon Fan”, Grant Brisbee, SB Nation (06/17/2015)
PAL: I have lived in San Francisco for 11 years now. I have worked in Oakland for just under 3 months. I love living in San Francisco, but this city is an embarrassment of riches in nearly every way, and Oakland isn’t. While – yes – the Warriors have a history in San Francisco, I think it’s great that the Warriors won this as an Oakland-based team, and I wish they’d stay over there. While the team is revered throughout the Bay Area, its address is in Oakland, and that means something.
The Agony of Constant Defeat When There is Never Victory
Sports can be cruel. Last Fall, Cal football got off to a hot start and seemed well on their way to a rout of eventual Pac-12 South champ Arizona, on the road, leading 45-30 with under 4 minutes to play. Arizona scored three touchdowns, capped off by a Hail Mary as time expired, to win 49-45. Heartbreak. I went to bed and wondered why the hell I watch sports, why I care so much, and why the hell would I subject my children to it. A few weeks later the Giants won another World Series and I was why. But it’s an interesting question that many sports fans have pondered. After watching his Cavaliers lose in the NBA Finals, Cleveland sports fan Geoffrey Redick wrote about the cruelty of raising his kids to be Cleveland sports fans, and whether he is being a bad parent by doing so. -TOB
Source: “Raising Your Kids to be Cleveland Sports Fans is an Act of Cruelty”, Geoffrey Redick, Deadspin (06/17/2015)
Videos of the Week
-This poor old guy had a tough time getting his poncho on.
Tom Brady’s sweet, drunken dance moves.
Audio of the Week
This is pretty fantastic. I highly recommend you listen, but note that the language is NSFW. I will defend this guy for a second: If Phil and I had a softball/baseball team and Phil tried to move me from the infield to the outfield, he’d hear way worse from me.
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“I don’t like jump shooting teams. I don’t think you can win the championship beating good teams shooting jumpers.”
-Charles Barkley on the Warriors, 5 months ago