Week of January 8, 2016

Ken Griffey Jr. as a rookie in 1987. : " I'M HAPPY BEING ME AND IF I'M HAPPY EVERYTHING SHOULD GO WELL," SAYS MARINER ROOKIE KEN GRIFFEY JR. 8/4/87 (Harley Soltes / The Seattle Times)

The Kid: Hall of Famer

Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week. Few athletes in my lifetime have captured the collective imagination and adoration of the nation’s sports-loving youth like Ken Griffey, Jr. did in the 1990s. It’s not hard to understand why: Griffey was cool as hell.

It was that swing.

It was the defense. Look at this GD catch.

It was the backwards hat at the Home Run Derby (and did I mention that swing?). Picture Perfect Swing - Imgur

It was the awesome commercials:

Like I said, he was cool as hell. Griffey had perhaps the best first 10 years of any MLB player of all time – as good as Willie Mays. And then…he started to get older. He started to get hurt. There was no late-career surge like many of his contemporaries enjoyed. But he still ended up with 630 home runs, and by all accounts was able to do so naturally. For this, Griffey was rewarded with admission to the Hall of Fame, in his first year on the ballot, with the highest vote percentage of all-time – Griffey appeared on 437 of 440 ballots – 99.3%. Griffey making the Hall of Fame makes me feel old, but also happy. In honor of The Kid, here are the two best Griffey-related articles I read this week. The first is a very personal story by a sportswriter about how Griffey helped the writer, and his family, when they needed it most. The second is a statistical look at Griffey’s amazing career. Enjoy. -TOB

Source: A Different Kind of Ken Griffey Jr. Story“, C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati.com (01/06/2016); Griffey In His Prime Was the Second Coming of Willie Mays“, Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight (01/06/2016)

Why Daily Fantasy Sites Need You to Lose

Jay Caspian Kang, formerly of Grantland, does a great deep dive into Daily Fantasy Sports, from its origins, arising out of the ashes of the now-illegal online poker industry, to its current predicament, facing legal death. Kang outlines the biggest problem with the industry – DFS are completely unfair to small-time players, who serve as virtual ATMs for the sharks. Kang expertly breaks down the key conflict for the DFS sites: The DFS sites are competing for users. To attract users, they must set big jackpots with small entry fees. If you, as a user, can pay $20 to enter a game for $1,000,000 – that sounds great. If a competing DFS site has a similar game for $20 but the jackpot is $2,000,000 – that sounds even better. To be able to pay these jackpots off low entry fees, the DFS sites need users – lots of them. But instead of needing 100,000 users to pay a $2,000,000 jackpot (not to mention prizes for runners-up), the DFS site can accomplish this much easier by not limiting how many entries each player can submit. One player submitting 100 entries gets the DFS company into the black much quicker. So the DFS sites come to rely on these sharks who enter lots of games – so dependent that they have begun changing rules to appease them (as casinos do for whales). Do the sharks want to be able to use third-party software to play hundreds or thousands of entries a night? Sure. Do the whales want to use scripts to allow them to make roster changes to all those hundreds and thousands of entries quickly, just before the deadline to set rosters? Have at it. Because if you don’t let them, they’ll take their money to a competitor who surely will. As Daily Fantasy commentator  Gabe Harber says in the article:

“I believe the major sites are fully aware of these competitive issues, yet they continue to do nothing about them because of the high amount of rake the power users are bringing in for them. As long as they can spend advertising money to bring fresh meat to the table, the power users will eat up the new players extremely fast by using their competitive advantages. No one is saying that better players should not win money off worse players, but it should not be at this rate and it should not be with misleading advertisements that prey on consumer confidence. Everyone does not have an equal chance, and everyone is not playing on the same field.”

There were a few moments back in September, during the deluge of DFS advertising at the start of the NFL season, where I kicked around the idea of trying it out. I’m quite glad I did not. -TOB

Source: How the Daily Fantasy Sports Industry Turns Fans Into Suckers”, Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times (01/06/2016)

Credit Card Saves Dabo’s Day

Solid feel good story leading into the college football national title game. Clemson Head Coach, Dabo Swinney was a redshirt freshman receiver at Alabama in 1989 (Clemson’s opponent next week). He was late on rent and on tuition, and he was out of options until he went sifting through pizza coupons in the mail. He found a small miracle, with interest of course, that might have changed the course of his life forever. – PAL

Source: Two Checks, One Path Altered: How A Timely Discover Card Envelope Changed Dabo Swinney’s Life”, Andy Staples, Campus Rush (01/05/2016)

TOB: Dabo Swinney has been on the national scene for nearly a decade now, and his name still makes me laugh. This story finally gave me the motivation to find answers to questions I have: Is Dabo his real name? If so, what the hell? If not, what is his name? And what the hell does Dabo mean? So I checked. Wikipedia shows that his real name is William Christopher Swinney and does give the story behind “Dabo”: “He was nicknamed Dabo as an infant by his parents when his then-18-month-old brother would try to enunciate “that boy” when referring to Swinney.” Da bo! Well, if that’s just not the cutest damn thing ever. Also, watch the man dance.

Dan Haren: Straight Talk

One of the funnier things to read is when former athletes reveal secrets about what went on behind the scenes – something fans never get to see. Recently-retired Dan Haren provided just such an inside view this week, with a series of tweets about what life is sometimes like as an MLB pitcher. The highlights:

Also, solid twitter handle, Danny. -TOB

Source: Dan Haren Opens Up About Pitching, Bowel Movements, and All Those Dingers“, Samer Kalaf, Deadspin (01/04/2016)

PAL: I didn’t know wine makes it harder to go #2. A lot of great tweets from Haren in here. My favorite: 

Story Update: Short-Shorts Trickling…Down.

Back in November, we brought you a story about LeBron James’ transition to shorter shorts than have been worn in the NBA in about 20 years. I wondered how long it would take short-shorts to take hold. Well, it didn’t take long. This week, this photo popped up in my Twitter timeline:


On the left is Ira Lee, a Top-50 ranked high school basketball player for the Class of 2017. And look at those shorts! Those are a few inches above the knee, and that’s with a downward-looking camera angle. The trend has been set. And as I said in November, 1-2-3’s own Phil Lang was ahead of the curve:

.Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 10.29.09 PM


PAL: Let’s be clear – I’m wearing a climbing harness in the picture above, which causes the shorts to ride higher. I’m not walking around in shorts 12 inches above the knee, folks.

Video of the Week:

PAL Song of the Week: Rakim – “It’s Been A Long Time

Tap for a playlist featuring all of our weekly picks.

Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or:

Email: 123sportslist@gmail.com

Twitter: @123sportsdigest


“I’m happy being me, and if I’m happy, everything should go well.”

-Ken Griffey, Jr., as a rookie in 1987


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