Week of February 19, 2016

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1-2-3 Sports: Killin the competition since 2014.

A Lesson in Compassion, Selflessness

Former NBA player and Pelicans head coach Monty Williams’ is beloved around the league. So the news of his wife’s death was met with exceptional sadness last week. You may remember Monty and his wife and the role they played in helping Pelicans’ star Ryan Anderson’s through grief after Anderson’s girlfriend, Gia Allemand, committed suicide. Monty’s wife was killed in a car accident when her car was struck by a woman,  Susannah Donaldson, who was driving 92 mph in a 45 mph zone. Donaldson also died. These deaths were senseless, and so avoidable. And Monty Williams is a better man than I am, because in his shoes, I would be so very angry. Instead, at his wife’s memorial, Monty Williams said this:

“Everybody is praying for me and my family, and that is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation, and that family needs prayer as well. And we have no ill will toward that family. In my house, we have a sign that says ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the lord.’ We cannot serve the lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. Life is very hard. And that was tough. But we hold no ill will towards the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well.”

An incredibly selfless and compassionate sentiment. -TOB

Source: Monty Williams Calls For Forgiveness in Powerful Speech at Wife’s Memorial Service”, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (12/18/2016)

PAL: This is one of those situations I’m grateful to have not experienced. When I think about moments of awesome compassion, bravery, or selflessness I just hope that I would be able to respond in the same way, but I seriously wonder. The grief would be so all-encompassing that there would simply be no room for compassion so soon after the tragedy. Also, if you haven’t read that Ryan Anderson story TOB linked to, you should. It will tell you all you need to know about Williams and his wife.

Capitalists for Relegation!

Relegation (and promotion) in the English Premiere league has long fascinated me. In the EPL, the three worst teams each year get demoted (relegated) to a lower division. Meanwhile, the top three teams from that lower division are promoted to the Premiere League. Relegation is supremely capitalistic. It’s hard to fathom as an American sports fan, where fortunes swing wildly from year to year, in large part due to the communist plot that is the draft. Unlike American sports, the EPL does not have a draft to help out its worst teams.

This year, storied English club Aston Villa faces nigh-sure relegation. As this article explores, the relegation/promotion system’s impacts are severe and tough to overcome for a relegated team. The financial hit is huge (at least $100M in TV money, not to mention ticket sales, etc.), and that is just the beginning. On the other hand, getting promoted is great! Leicester City is currently in first place in the EPL, just two years after being promoted (and nearly being relegated just last year). I don’t know how American sports could implement a Relegation system – but it sure would be exciting (and would end tanking once and for all). -TOB

Source: The Ignominy of Aston Villa”, Elisha Cooper, Wall Street Journal (02/18/2016)

PAL: I can’t figure out a way where this would work in any of the 4 major sports in the U.S., but on the surface I sure do love the notion of relegation. There are consequences to your team sucking, and – Tommy’s right – this would end tanking. That said, I’m passing on relegation for the following reasons:

    • I don’t need more “minor leagues” teams, because I don’t care about any minor league teams
    • Hope – or delusion – springs eternal. No matter how bad last year was, we can wipe the slate clean and start over the next season. The reset button is fundamental to being a fan. Hope. I don’t like having that being threatened.
    • One of the great pleasures of following a team is seeing the other great teams and players come through. I want to see the White Sox, the Dodgers, the Cardinals (the worst). I don’t want to see some Triple-A affiliate of said teams.

The Beginning: Baseball in the DR


I’m always a sucker for the stories about the reality side of a dream. In the Dominican Republic, the dream is ubiquitous – Baseball. Clearly, not all the prospects become the next Robinson Cano or Pedro, even the underachievers can change the trajectory of their families. The photos in this story really capture how far those dreams start from the Majors. It’s about time for baseball again, and this is the perfect first story of the year. – PAL

Source: The Republic of Baseball”, Michael Hanson, The New York Times (02/18/2016)

Bernie the Baller

Last week, just before the polls closed in the New Hampshire primary, news stations aired footage of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders shooting hoops.

As you can see, Bernie is pretty automatic. Surprising! It’s only about ten feet, but still. Impressive. This footage piqued a reporter’s interest and Les Carpenter sought out and interviewed some guys Bernie used to play with in a weekly game at a church gym back in the 1970s. The big take: Bernie was good, not great. He had a nice jumper (actually, a set shot). He was bossy and a little argumentative, but friendly, and he had sharp elbows. Sounds about right. It’s a fun read, and there’s a little nugget on how that weekly basketball game may be responsible for Sanders’ entire political career. -TOB

Source: “‘From Mid-Range He Could Kill You’: Bernie Sanders’ Basketball Days”, Les Carpenter, The Guardian (02/17/2016)

PAL: “[T]here is something about the game that reveals the truth about the person. The facades built in daily life don’t always withstand the heat of competition. As they tire, a player’s real personality always takes over.” Couldn’t agree more with this notion. But that shot is ugly, Bernie. I’m sure it was ugly when you were 30, and it’s ugly now. Just calling it like I see it.

Nothing Says Mediocre Quite Like PowerPoint

This is fantastic. University of Idaho sucks at football, so much so that its conference – The Sun Belt Conference (yes, a real conference) –  is not guaranteeing anything after 2017. So what did the Vandals do? Made a PowerPoint to show that they are…not the worst. No seriously, that’s what the PowerPoint lays out. Some of Idaho’s highlights include leading the Sun Belt Conference in the following statistical categories:

  • Completion Percentage (ok, not a terrible stat)
  • Fewest penalties (really, that’s your second bullet?)
  • Fewest penalties per game (haha)
  • Fewest penalty yards (this is the third penalty-related stat…in a PowerPoint making the case to keep the team in the conference)
  • Tackles for loss allowed

I for one am convinced. Let them remain in the conference! The Sun Belt Conference is made up of teams the teams you’ve heard of play for an easy non-conference win. The teams kind of suck, and so does this PowerPoint. In other words, Idaho is a perfect fit for the Sun Belt. – PAL

Source:The University of Idaho gave the world’s saddest PowerPoint presentation about its football team”, Mike Brown, SB Nation (02/18/2016)


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My takeaway? That’s a sorry ass conference.

Video of the Week

Current star NHL rookie Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings aka D-Boss, just a few years ago, as a fresh-faced sixteen year old. Just wearin the American flag, “snippin” wrist shots in his basement.

PAL Song of the Week: Linda Lyndell – “What A Man

Check out all of the weekly picks here. It’s super duper.

“Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

Cliff Clavin

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