1-2-3 Sports! Week of March 25, 2016

The Diplomacy Exhibition

Listen, I don’t know nearly enough to form an educated opinion on whether or not President Obama should have been the first U.S. president in 90 years to visit Cuba. The trip was centered on an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team. Some will contend it is an initial step to begin engagement with Cuba; while others will see it as him embracing a murderous dictator. At the very least, we should take a moment to take read Dan Le Batard’s column on the matter. For him and his Cuban exile parents, this is very much a personal story. When I try to put myself in his shoes, I just don’t know how I would feel any other way but the same as him. Here’s a snippet below, but be sure to read the entire column. – PAL

“I’ve never known anything but freedom. My grandparents and parents made sure that was so. Now my grandparents are dead, and my parents are old, and the Cuban regime that strangled them somehow lives on … lives on to play a baseball game with our country this week. America extends its hand toward a dictator who has the blood of my people on his own hands. And now my parents, old exiles, have to watch Obama and Jeter and ESPN throw a happy party on land that was stolen from my family — as the rest of America celebrates it, no less. That’s going to hurt, no matter how you feel about the politics.”

Source: Historic’ game in Cuba ignores the pain so many people endured, Dan Le Batard, ESPN (03/21/2016)

TOB: I get LeBatard’s emotion. But I can’t see how lifting the embargo will be anything but a good first step. The embargo has caused so many innocent people to suffer. Hopefully tourism, at the very least, will bring an influx of cash to Cubans who desperately need it. However, I must say this: I watched the pregame ceremonies and the first few innings. ESPN needed to chill out a bit on the Baseball (and by extension ESPN) as Savior thing. I mean, my goodness. That was some overwrought, jingoistic crap. I liked this quick read by Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown on the subject.


Steve Kerr Offers a Little Love for Cal Basketball, Which Badly Needs It

It is not hyperbole to say that Cal basketball endured one of the worst weeks a college basketball program can ever suffer, absent a tragedy. A quick recap: On Sunday, March 13th they were given a 4-seed in the tournament, the highest ever for Cal. The next day, Monday, it was announced that assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel was fired, effective immediately. On Tuesday, it was announced that he was fired for sexually harassing a female reporter. On Wednesday, the report was released and it was bad. Also on Wednesday, Tyrone Wallace, the team’s senior starting point guard broke his hand in practice. On Friday, moments before their opening round game against Hawaii, starting shooting guard Jabari Bird was ruled out due to a back injury. Cal then went out and lost to Hawaii. If you thought that was the end, you’re wrong. By Friday, rumors swirled that head coach Cuonzo Martin was under investigation for his response to complaints by the reporter about Hufnagel. And then over the weekend, Tyson Jolly, a 4-star recruit set to enroll at Cal in the fall, asked and received a release from his Letter of Intent (Jolly was close with Hufnagel). That was exhausting to type.

So, damnit, I am taking this opportunity to highlight what a nice thing Warriors head coach Steve Kerr did this week. Kerr’s son, Nick, played basketball at Cal this year as a 5th year graduate transfer (he had previously played at USD). Kerr tweeted some kind words about Coach Martin and the Cal program. And when asked about his tweet, Kerr said:

“My son was a walk-on there this year. He had an incredible experience with his teammates, with the coaching staff, with Cuonzo. I wanted to say thanks for the season that Cal had and for the experience that my son had. All I wanted to vouch for was his character. He’s been an incredible mentor for my son, phenomenal coach, and I just wanted to say thanks for that. I know that the program is going through some turmoil with the issue that’s happening. … I just know from my son and getting to know Cuonzo what kind of person he is, and I wanted to support him.”

*sniff sniff* That is why I can’t quit you, Steve. -TOB

Source: Warriors Coach Steve Kerr Tweets Support to Cal Coach Cuonzo Martin”, ESPN.com (03/23/2016)


The $14 Billion Bench Player

How do Davids slay Goliaths? Something extraordinary happens. Something transcendent occurs, and a strength becomes a weakness. I don’t care who makes the shoes Steph Curry wears (Under Armour), but the circumstances that led to him choosing UA over Nike says a lot about how the game is changing, the dream Nike has sold us for decades, and how Curry is very much like Michael Jordan when it comes to his place in pop culture.  While this story has a funky structure, it’s an enthralling look behind the scenes of a multi-billion dollar sports heist.  of the century. This is the story of how Nike, which holds 95.5 percent of the basketball sneaker market (2014) lost out to a company with less than 1 percent market share on the next transcendent talent in basketball, and the pivotal role a 10-day contract player had in pulling it off. Some of my favorite nuggets below. – PAL

  • The (Nike) pitch meeting, according to Steph’s father Dell, who was present, kicked off with one Nike official accidentally addressing Stephen as ‘Steph-on,’ the moniker, of course, of Steve Urkel’s alter ego in Family Matters…It got worse from there. A PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant‘s name, presumably left on by accident, presumably residue from repurposed materials.
  • As someone familiar with Nike’s marketing operation says, in regard to Curry: ‘Everything that makes him human and cuddly and an unlikely monster is anathema to Nike. They like studs with tight haircuts and muscles.’ This, then, is the paradox of Steph Curry: The reason he was ignored is the reason he’s so popular. Nike looked past him for the very reason so many fans now can’t look anywhere else.
  • “Your primary employer is who pays you the most money,” ESPN’s Bomani Jones says. “LeBron was Team Nike before he was a Cleveland Cavalier or a member of the Miami Heat or any of those things. We contextualize guys around the teams they play for because that’s the relevant variable for the kind of work that we do.”
  • This is how it came into the orbit of one Kent Bazemore. As an undrafted rookie on the Warriors, sneaker companies had little reason to throw money Bazemore’s way. Hell, there was no guarantee Bazemore would even make the team. His agent, Austin Walton, had an idea, though. He contacted Under Armour. “I sold them on having a guy on the West Coast, having a presence there,” Walton says. “I sold the fact that they had a couple other guys with shoe deals up, Klay and Steph, that maybe, you know, he can get some other guys on board if he makes the team.”
  • It wasn’t a thankless effort for Bazemore, either. Now, three years later, he makes six figures annually with Under Armour, according to Walton, an unusually high figure for a player of his profile. “That was signed before last summer when he signed with the Hawks,” Walton says. For context, Bazemore averaged 6.0 points the season before inking that lucrative shoe deal.
  • Perhaps this is how Nike missed. Years of promoting Michael Jordan descendents made them oblivious to a player who shot the ball over that whole paradigm. It left them vulnerable to Kent Bazemore, and a company with less than 1 percent of the sneaker market.

Source: How Nike lost Stephen Curry to Under Armour”, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN (03/23/2016)

TOB: With all those excerpts, Phil somehow missed my favorite part of the Bazemore story. Bazemore was an undrafted rookie without a guaranteed contract. So, to get Curry’s attention, they lavished Bazemore with shoes and gear. Bazemore got so much stuff he was giving it away to staff. Curry noticed how well UnderArmour was treating an undrafted rookie and that is how UnderArmour got its foot in the door.

The other amazing thing, after Nike bungled its pitch meeting to retain Curry after the 2013 season was that Nike had the right to match UA’s deal with Steph. For only $4.5 million. Yes, they have lost billions of dollars to UA because they didn’t want to match Curry at $4.5 million, thinking that they didn’t want anyone in their stable that didn’t want to be there. Pride cometh before the fall, Nike.


The Continuous Evolution of Sabermetrics

PAL: I typed in “SABR nerd”, and this is what came up. Perfection.

If you like baseball, this is an article you should read. At this year’s SABR Analytics Meetings, Sabermetricians discussed how new advanced measurement tools (notably Statcast, which we here at 123 Sports love) have unlocked a whole new treasure trove of baseball data. One such advance is the ability to record the “exit velocity” of a batted ball, and how that affects how Sabermetricians value a pitcher. As the article notes, FIP has long been a sacred cow for Sabermetricians. And while I like sabermetrics, FIP has never sat well with me. FIP is pretty simple. It stands for Fielding Independent Pitching and it measures a pitcher’s at bats that end in a strikeout, a walk, or a home run. That’s it. All other batted balls are not valued. The theory is that once a ball is in play, the outcome of that play is dependent on the pitcher’s defense, not on the pitcher, and they are hoping to isolate a pitcher’s true abilities vs clouding that data based on how good the defense is behind him. FIP never sat well with me because…if I’m throwing up meatballs that the offense is turning into line drives, that’s a lot more difficult to field than a pop fly or a grounder. And shouldn’t that be my fault as the pitcher? As the article discusses…yes. Now that they can reliably measure the exit velocity of each batted ball, they can understand better what batted balls were a lot more difficult to field. So, don’t get too attached to FIP. It might not be around too much longer. -TOB

Source: How Baseball’s New Data is Changing Sabermetrics” Rob Arthur, FiveThirtyEight (03/17/2016)

PAL: I’m worried, folks. My last social media app was Twitter, and now I fear I’m becoming a baseball fan who hates new stats. FIP? Exit velocity? What the crap, man. Back in my day–dammit! See, it’s happening, and I can’t control it.

TOB: Exit velocity is pretty straightforward, Phil! Btw, the wife and I watched a truly excellent episode of HBO Real Sports this week, and I highly recommend it. All three stories were great – the sexual harassment/assault allegations over the years against Kevin Johnson, Mavericks, and Craig Sager’s ongoing battle against cancer. Find it and watch it. I mention this here because Bryant Gumbel closed the episode with an old man rant against sabermetrics that even had the wife rolling her eyes. Don’t be like Gumbel, Phil.


Video of the Week

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vgn1pjbYlw


PAL Song of the Week: A Tribe Called Quest – “Steve Biko (Stir It Up)

Check out all of the weekly picks here. It’s all over the place.




“Nuh uh. Superman does good. You’re doing well. You need to study your grammar, son.”

– Tracy Jordan

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Week of March 18, 2016

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Exhibit A for why you should always wear an undershirt.


The Quiet Man

From media reports, Kawhi Leonard has long seemed like a different kind of dude. For one, he’s insanely quiet. He’s not the Bobby Bonds-type, though, who just doesn’t talk to the media because he was burned early in his career. Leonard is the kind of quiet that is not often seen in a celebrity or quasi-celebrity – Leonard is famous, though he would prefer not to be. But Kahwi is even quiet with teammates and friends. He just loves basketball. He doesn’t showboat on the court, he doesn’t get vocal with teammates or coaches. As his coach Greg Popovich says:

“When Kawhi makes a mistake, he’s almost apologetic….he doesn’t want to disappoint anybody. There are times he does something well, and I have to tell him, ‘That was super. That was fantastic. That was a helluva job. You can smile now. You can feel great about yourself….If I bring him out too early, for example, he’ll go like this”: Popovich curls up one side of his lip. “What he’s saying is, ‘Pop, why the f— are you bringing me out so early?’ but he’d never actually say that. So I tell him, ‘I’ll get back to you,’ and he nods and sits down.”

That’s rare for a player who has quickly become a superstar. Kawhi seems like a good dude. And thanks to 123 reader Jamie Morganstern for the anonymous submission. -TOB

Source: The Island of Kawhi”, Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated (03/14/2016)

PAL: Sure, he wants to be great and doesn’t care about being a star. Sure he lives in a 2-bedroom apartment with his mom even though he just signed a $96M contract. All that good stuff. My favorite part of the story: He drives a 1997 Tahoe and freaks out when he misplaces his Wingstop coupons.


It’s Called Common Sense, Adam LaRoche

After a 12-year career, Adam LaRoche is retiring from baseball, and not because he hit .207 last year as an aging vet. He’s retiring – and walking away from $13M  – because the White Sox asked him to maybe not bring his son to the field every single day. No, seriously, every day. Who has to ask an employee to not bring the kids around work every day? You won’t read anything about it, but I bet my next paycheck there are a bunch of players at White Sox spring training thanking management. Also, this picture is so stupid. “Okay, LaRoche guys,” the photographer says. “Let’s get one with you walking under the passion, pride, and tradition bullshit. Yeah, perfect.” – PAL

Source: Adam LaRoche Retired Because The White Sox Wouldn’t Let His Kid Hang Out In The Clubhouse Every Day”, Samer Kalef, Deadspin (03/16/2016)

TOB: I was really, really, really hoping Phil would have the opposite reaction to this story so that we could have had a really nasty debate. The best part is that I’m sure that White Sox management are high-fiving this week. They don’t have to pay a terrible, old baseball player $13M to hit below the Mendoza Line simply because they asked him to act like a professional and leave his child at home half the time. This was GM Kenny Williams this week:

And as usual, Grant Brisbee comes with a funny take.


The Seed (64.0)

This is hilarious. The head coach of every team in the NCAA Tournament was asked to name his favorite band/musical artist. Some of the results are hilarious. I don’t think I ever would have imagined Kansas’ Bill Self grooving to Luther Vandross. But now I cannot get that image out of my head. John Mayer? I knew you sucked, Sean Miller. Tad Boyle (Colorado) – MY MAN. My favorite, though, might be this:

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John Calipari’s favorite band is Train. It would have taken me at least 6 hours to guess that, and I would have been desperate. How does a man whose favorite band is Train recruit young basketball players as well as Calipari does? Tip of the hat, Coach Cal. You’re one hell of a salesman. -TOB

Source: Musical March Madness: Every NCAA Tournament Coach’s Favorite Band”, Matt Norlander, CBS Sports (03/14/2016)

PAL:  I heard Dave Grohl say on Marc Maron’s podcast that he doesn’t believe in guilty pleasures when it comes to music. I’m editing here, but the gist of it goes something like this – if you like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt…I would agree with this, except for the following instance: Vanderbilt’s coach Kevin Stallings listed Vince Gill as his favorite. GUILTY of horrible music taste. Unforgivable.


Drew Brees is Peddling Good, Wholesome, Nutritious B.S.

Ever heard of “multi-level marketing”? It’s when the sales force is not only compensated for sales, but also for the sales of the other folks they recruit. Amway is built on multi-level marketing, and so is AdvoCare, a company which utilizes several athlete endorsements and boasts a workforce of over 640,000 employees, none more central than Drew Brees. The issue: Many multi-level marketing business models straddle the line of a pyramid scheme, which is illegal. This breakdown reminded me of this incredible This American Life episode about a similar company. The odd thing about some of these companies is how they mimic, well, cults, and oftentimes have a strong religious component at its core, never mind the fact that IT’S A SCAM.

Also at its core is the fact the the vast majority of money comes from recruiting new members and not from selling the products. The sporting connection – AdvoCare really jumped on the athlete endorsement train early. My problem is that, unlike endorsing shoes or a soda, Brees lends his the face of something that misleads folks in a way that can have devastating financial results. Some of the more interesting nuggets below. – PAL

  • When the economy collapsed, millions of Americans were either out of work or looking for extra cash; AdvoCare’s message — work from home, make more money, design your own life — glimmered like an oasis.
  • The basic concept is that the distributor should deflect questions about the company by replying, “Well, I don’t know about (X), but what I do know is” — and then referencing specific athletes or doctors who have vouched for AdvoCare.
  • Of AdvoCare’s 517,666 salespeople in 2014, only 0.54 percent made $10,000 from the company and just 0.06 percent exceeded $100,000.

Source: Drew Brees Has A Dream He’d Like To Sell You”, Mina Kimes, ESPN (03/15/2016)


Undermining Corporate Bloat is Fun

Halfway through CBS’ bloated, 2-hour NCAA Tournament Selection show on Sunday night, a leaked, complete bracket began circulating on Twitter. Multiple coaches said that they learned their team’s fate from text messages and Twitter upwards of an hour before CBS officially announced the matchup on TV. Oh, the glory of the modern age. For kicks, here’s a look back at an article from 2014 (B123E – Before the 1-2-3 Sports Era) on how the NCAA is so gosh darn effective at preventing such a leak. It’s actually pretty intense, with the Selection Committee members being sequestered on one floor of a hotel for 5 days, with no cell phones, all meals served in a conference room, etc., and outsiders not allowed to enter that floor. -TOB

Source: How the NCAA Prevents Bracket Details From Being Leaked Before the Selection Show Airs”, Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo! Sports (03/12/2014)


Video of the Week

One hero recreates 13 iconic March Madness shots.


PAL Song of the Week: Crooked Fingers – “Went To The City

Check out all of the weekly picks here. It’s like 100 million Shining Moments


My New Year’s resolution? Meet a loose woman.

-Dwight Schrute

Week of March 11, 2016

 

 


Victoria: The Original Sports Catfish

Before “Catfishing” was a well-known term, before Manti Teo and his fake girlfriend, there was “Victoria”, likely the best student section prank in college basketball history. Cal student Steven Kenyon loved Cal basketball, and especially loved trying to get into opponents’ heads during games. Late in the 2006 season, with Cal needing to sweep UCLA and USC to close the season, Kenyon took things a step further. The week before the games, Kenyon created an AIM account – “SexyBruinBabe” – and instant messaged USC guard Gabe Pruitt (Kenyon had previously messaged UCLA guard Jordan Farmar, but was rebuffed). SexyBruinBabe, going by the name “Victoria” flirted with Pruitt, sending him pictures of a female Cal athlete, and asked if they could meet up when Pruitt and his teammates returned from their Bay Area road trip. Pruitt was quite eager, agreeing to meet with “Victoria” and giving her his cell phone number.

PRUITT

Kenyon distributed transcripts of the AIM conversation to the entire student section. The trap was set. Before the games, as the teams lined up for the National Anthem, students held up signs spelling C-A-L-L G-A-B-E, and listing his phone number. The students chanted “VICTORIA”. Immediately, Pruitt knew what had happened. Pruitt was rattled, went on to have a terrible game, and Cal emerged victorious. The “Victoria” prank is legendary among Cal fans. Now over ten years later, the main characters finally speak out – and it is a great read. -TOB

Source: The Inside Story of Cal’s Catfishing Prank, Ten Years Later”, Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo! Sports (03/03/2016)

PAL: Mr. Kenyon was a visionary – no doubt about it. What a perfectly executed prank. Let’s be honest and give Pruitt some leeway – there are more than a few among us who would’ve fallen for the same trap in 2006. Fun story that’s worth the read.


Bryce Harper and the Case Against Baseball’s Unwritten Rules

Man, Tim Keown always brings it. This time he tackles Bryce Harper, and it’s a great read. As Keown notes, many think Harper is a “douche”. Keown’s take? Nope. Harper is just really good, and he’s honest. There’s a lot of great stuff here (about Harper as a kid, coming up through the minors, and some great trash talk with a Giants fan during Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS, a game Phil and I attended).

But the most interesting part, especially in light of MLB Hall of Famer Goose Gossage railing against Jose Bautista this week for his bat toss in last year’s playoffs, is Harper’s vocal attempts to bring baseball into the 21st Century. Harper rails against the “unwritten rules”, and I could not agree more.

“Baseball’s tired,” he says. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun. Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah … if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot … I mean — sorry.” He stops, looks around. The hell with it, he’s all in. “If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun.

Preach, Bryce. -TOB

Source: Sorry, Not Sorry”, Tim Keown, ESPN the Magazine (03/10/2016)

PAL: “Is false modesty any less distasteful than outward self-assurance?” Really interesting read that essentially comes down to that question. I find myself coming back to this internal tug-of-war when it comes to polarizing athletes. Why do I care if Harper is a d-bag? Why do I want this completely misguided assurance that I would like the guy when all I really want is to see great talents do their thing? For all I know, Hunter Pence could be a jerk to family and friends, but he’s the consummate team player, and that would be more than enough for me. The likable illusion still matters to me in most cases, and applying any logic to it falls apart in about five seconds. I think is has to do less with self-assurance and more to do with self-awareness. Russell Wilson is self-aware; Tim Lincecum (in his glory days) was self-assured.


A Mullet for All Seasons

We have two sports hair videos this week, and one sports hair story. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I’m borderline fascinated with athlete flair, and there’s no flair quite like sports hair. The MN high school BMOC’s – hockey players – lead off for us. Make sure to check out the video below.

“In all honesty, I was just looking for honorable mention and I got number two.” Humble words from a high school athlete participating in the legendary Minnesota State Hockey Tournament. Was he talking about his team’s finish? Nope – he’s talking about the ultimate honor – a place on All Minnesota Hockey Hair team. This now annual tradition (5 years running) has become legit viral now – so much so that there are stories being written about the players who find themselves featured in the video below. There are so many great nuggets written by my college buddy Louie Opatz, but my favorite detail of them all is this: “Jones had received a pregame haircut from Roxie at Wal-Mart’s SmartStyle Hair Salon that the senior described as, ‘a Vanilla Ice/Kenny Powers look — something crazy.'”

Let’s get Minnesota with it.

Source: Jones just goes with the flow, Louie Opatz, Litchfield Independent Review (3/9/16)

Now let’s move to another sport that attracts odd-balls: College Wrassling (not wrestling). There is nothing I can write that is better than what Big 10 Champ, Sammy Brooks (god, what a perfect name) says, so let’s just get to it:

“I think these fans just respond really well to a good haircut, so that’s what I was working on coming in here, making sure I had it fluffed and feathered the right way. I think the fans saw my hard work.

“I gain trust every time my hair grows a little more, and a little more I trust in myself and my mullet, so it’s a process, you know. You can’t grow a great mullet in a day. You can’t win a Big Ten title in a day.”

For cryin’ out loud, check out his video below, too, would ya? – PAL

Source: Iowa Wrestler Only Talks About His Mullet After Winning A Match“, Samer Kalef, Deadspin (3/7/16)


It’s Back: Hockey Hair 2016.

Yessssssss. You know it, you love it. Enjoy the 2016 edition of the Minnesota State High School All-Hockey Hair Team. Though it’s a video, it deserves its own post. -TOB


Video of the Week


PAL Song of the Week: Little Barrie – “Better Call Saul Main Title Theme”

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You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen.

Vizzini

 

 

Week of March 4, 2016

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Uhh, can you tell that baseball is back? Yes, 1-2-3 Sports is excited. Photo c/o Dottie Blue


The Science Behind the Sweetest Sound in Sports

Every baseball fan knows and loves the crack of the bat. Even when an opponent does it to your team, when you hear that pure sound of a ball crushed by the sweet spot of the bat, you know you’ve witnessed something pretty amazing.

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So, why, exactly, does the sweet spot create that crack, while a ball off the end or the handle creates completely different noises? SCIENCE is here to help. -TOB

Source: An Ode to the Crack of a Bat, The Most Satisfying Sound in Sports”, Carrie Hunt and the Spoonerisms, Deadspin (03/01/2016)

PAL: “Watching baseball is an exercise in craving that sound as a sort of near-Pavlovian stimuli. Our brain is constantly receiving hundreds of messages from our sensory system, and our sense of sound is a big part of filling in the gaps of what we see.” What a great article. Applying science, psychology, and even neurology to a feeling so absolutely perfect only adds to my appreciation for one of my favorite sounds. That and my buddy Matt Scanlan just made me a wooden fungo bat – he friggin’ made it. I mean, look at that beauty in the photo up top. Hot damn! I’ve been looking forward to hitting fungos this Saturday morning for the last 24 hours. 


Fun With MLB Photo Day

This made me legitimately LOL a number of times. This week MLB had “Photo” day, where they take headshots (and more) of every player and coach at Spring Training. Grant Brisbee went through over 5,000 of this year’s photos and noticed that most of the photos fall into one of eleven categories. In this article, Grant lays out the eleven categories, including “Let Me Show You a Baseball”, “Fake Hitting a Home Run”, and my favorite – “Coach Swallowing a Bug:

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Yep, he definitely just swallowed a bug. Please enjoy. -TOB

Source: The 11 Genres of Baseball Photos from Photo Day”, Grant Brisbee, SB Nation (03/03/2016)

PAL: TOB, you overlooked the best category: The Class Photo. Who knows? Perhaps someone from 1-2-3 Sports! has a series of senior class pictures with a lot of hair gel, wearing a suit from Jos. A Bank, and pointing a baseball bat at the camera. Baseball players are such doofuses.


Do They Panic? Do They Flinch? NOPE.

I wanted to share these two stories on Steph Curry and the Warriors last week, but life got in the way and I didn’t have time to write them up. Lucky me. Because on Saturday night Steph and the Warriors went bananas – trailing the Thunder the entire game, only to force overtime after a crazy turnover, and then winning in OT on a 32-ish foot bomb by Curry. If you didn’t see it, crawl out from that rock you’re under because here it is:

That, by the way, tied the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game, at 12 (including 3 in OT). During the game, Curry also broke his own record for 3-pointers in a season, set last year. And there are two months left in the season! He’s incredible.

Anyhow, the first story is an ode to Curry by Bethlehem Shoals, one of the best basketball writers around, and how Steph’s supreme confidence allows him to do the previously inconceivable things that he routinely does. The second is a look at whether the Warriors should sacrifice their depth for a chance to sign Kevin Durant this summer, which to me is a tough call. The Warriors bench is so good that when the bench comes in during the 2nd quarter, they always extend the lead. Does Kevin Durant give enough to the starting unit to make up for what they’d lose in trying to get him? The Warriors would likely need to lose Barnes, Bogut, and Livingston, if not a little more. That’s a hefty price to pay. On the other hand…Curry and Durant together would be terrifying. It’s one of those nice problems to have, but also a problem I am glad I would not have to make the call on. -TOB

Source: Stephen Curry’s Essential Confidence”, Bethlehem Shoals, SB Nation (02/24/2016); Golden State’s Kevin Durant Question”, Zach Lowe, ESPN.com (02/24/2016)

PAL: It is absolutely nuts that a story about a team coming off of a championship, in the home stretch of a 70+ win season considering breaking up that team is…well, not necessarily ludicrous. That said, under no circumstances would I bring in KD and get rid of Barnes, Bogut, and Livingston to free up space for KD for 3 reasons:

  1. Ah…they are going to win 70+ games, and this team already holds the title.
  2. Name 1 team you enjoyed after they added a top 10 player to a team that already has/had a top 10 player (TOB loved Miami with LeBron and Wade…gross).
  3. Steph – you have your nucleus with Draymond and Klay. This Warriors team can win multiple championships without KD. The league is better when the alphas are leading their own crew. Also, that would be a weak move on KD’s part. 


Video of the Week

Clippers owner, and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer with an absolutely ridiculous, emasculating trampoline dunk. My favorite part, other than his hilarious face, is how he very nearly misses the trampoline.


PAL Song of the Week: Etta James – “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Check out all of our weekly picks here. Science has proven this playlist increases volume and shine in your hair.




 “Well, you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin: he’s broke, don’t do shit.”

Lawrence