Week of June 24, 2016

Mozgov

He makes that bottle of Cristal look like a bottle of MGD Light.


Requiem for a Great Team

Hoo, boy. The Warriors. What the hell happened? Did they tire themselves out going for 73? Maybe. But if so, I support it. They have a title already. Go for history. So what was it? Was Curry injured? He seemed good at points, but he definitely had a tougher time creating space with his dribble (see that last possession where Kevin Love defended him) and had an even tougher time getting to the rim and finishing (see that last possession where Kevin Love defended him; also see what seemed like 1,000 times he got swatted at the rim in the series against OKC and Cleveland). Did someone actually castrate Harrison Barnes? Did teams figure simply figure them out? They could have easily lost 3 or 4 against Portland; probably should have lost to OKC; and did love to Cleveland. So, maybe. Or…was there something more at work? Karma, perhaps? Back in early April, the Warriors were 68-7. They weren’t playing quite as well as they had in November and December, but damn. 68-7. And then owner Joe Lacob opened up his conceited rich venture capitalist asshole mouth in the New York Times. If you haven’t read it, you should. It was hilarious and dumb and widely mocked at the time. After the Warriors lost, it’s even better. The most important passage was this:

“He boasted that the Warriors are playing in a far more sophisticated fashion than the rest of the league. ‘We’ve crushed them on the basketball court, and we’re going to for years because of the way we’ve built this team,” he said. But what really set the franchise apart, he said, was the way it operated as a business. “We’re light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we’re going to go about things,”he said.

What an asshole. There are actually insightful moments, but there are way too many moments where you think, “God, what a rich prick.”

Ok, so. 68-7. Lacob opens his big mouth. And the Warriors record since then? 20-11. That’s a solid record! But that’s not an all-time great team’s record. So, the Warriors lost game 7 to the Cavs. You might think Lacob would, you know, tone it down.You might think that, if you don’t know rich pricks. Lacob spoke this week (less than 4 days after the Warriors lost the Finals) at Stanford University (OF FRIGGIN COURSE). And he said more dumb things. Dumber things, even:

“We drove this idea of small ball, and it’s a different style of play,” he said. “Having said that, I think it’s important to know that whenever everyone else starts doing things, it’s time to start doing what’s next. We’re on to the next idea — How can we iterate to evolve to get an advantage? I can assure you we’re very forward thinking in that regard.”

Oh, REALLY, Joe? You’re moving on from small ball. How are you going to do that? Are you going to trade Curry? Draymond? Both? Sign a bunch of 7’2 centers? GTFOOH. I’m tired of you. You make it quite easy to be glad the Warriors didn’t win another title. -TOB

Source: Shut Up, Joe Lacob”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (06/22/2016)

PAL: Hot take alert! Hot take alert! Here’s my real take away from the NBA Finals: I’m not a true fan of basketball or the Warriors. I say that relishing and thoroughly enjoying this season. I love it! And yet, when they lost game 7 I slept like a baby. I’m a baseball fan. I love the Minnesota Twins, and I like the San Francisco Giants. I would be sick if the Twins lost a game 7 after being up 3-1. Sick and mean. When LeBron blocked Iggy my reaction was not “NO!”; rather, “Damn, that’s impressive.”

As far as owners go – the hell with ‘em. No one cares about you, Mr. Lacob. Your recognition comes in the form of tremendous wealth and court side seats. Enjoy, because that’s all you get. You can’t buy admiration or credit.


My Problem With LeBron James

I have a problem with LeBron James. On paper, he is nothing but extraordinary – the rarest of athletes that exceeds expectation on the court and avoiding any semblance of trouble off of it. He’s a superstar of the highest order, yet perhaps his signature move is a pure hustle play – the chase-down block. He hasn’t forgotten where he’s from, and he puts his money where his mouth is in terms of charitable work (He’s committed to donating $41M – forty-one million – to send kids to college, for starters).

So why does he rub me the wrong way? For no good reason.

  • 23. Dude, get your own number if you want your own legacy. Kobe didn’t even wear 23.
  • The Announcement
    • Why I hated it: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.”
      • Who in this world says “I’m taking my talents…” anywhere. What a turd.
      • Who breaks his home state’s collective heart on national TV.
      • Me, me, me.
    •  Why I’m wrong:
      • He was 26 year-old who didn’t go to college and never left home…I made much worse mistakes at 26 – I can assure you of that.
      • Do we really care that ESPN milked his free agency for all that it was worth?
      • The telecast raised $6M for charities.
  • The Miami Pep Rally
    • Why I hated it: When his coronation took place in Miami, James’ response to coming to Miami to win championships was “Not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7…”
    • Why I’m wrong: It was a goddamn party. He’s having fun and getting the crowd going. Upon re-watching, he’s really just going with the moment and feeding off the crowd.
  •  LeBron isn’t cooland he really wants to be: You know what made Jordan cool? Me! Upon reflection, was his McDonald’s ad cool? No. Was his “Be Like Mike” commercial cool? NO! Corny crap. The 10 year-old version of myself made him cool, and that shit seeps into our adult head, and we call it nostalgia. He was cool because there was some mystery to him. All we saw was panel group tested campaigns, which is the exact opposite of cool. MJ in his prime on Instagram would have absolutely lowered his cool factor. We consider Jordan cool because he didn’t to try to be cool, and that’s wrong; he was cool because all we knew about him is that he won and the spoonfed message Nike, McDonald’s, Gatorade, and Hanes allowed us to gobble up. He was also cool because he won. And yet what made him a winner is that he was (and remains) a cold-blooded, obsessive-compulsive, single-minded m-effer on the court. Know anyone like this in your life? They are not cool!
  • LeBron is immature and passive aggressiveAgain – and, god how I hate this argument, but…social media was built upon passive-aggressive behavior. So Kevin Love wasn’t in the team photo…and neither were 7 other dudes on the team. Besides, why is that on LeBron anymore than it’s on Kevin Love? And why must 14 adult males who work together all hangout together at all times?
  • He’s contrived and self aware. Sure, but find me a superstar that plays harder than him (you won’t). Find me a superstar that actively involves his teammates and at his core is more of a team player (you won’t). 

  • His hair. No joke. LeBron would get so much love if he shaved his head tomorrow and said, “I fought the good fight. It’s over. I can bring championships to Cleveland, but I can’t bring my hair back, no matter how hard I try.” It drives me nuts that someone who has so much make a pathetic attempt at controlling the one thing – literally the only thing God didn’t give him. What does that say about his personality? It says he’s like just about every thirty something who’s losing his hair: It sucks, and he’s trying to hold on. There’s nothing that makes him more human to those that don’t know him than his attempt to hold onto a lost cause.
  • He has more influence on a sports team than any other athlete. Stop getting coaches fired, and stop demanding trades, LeBron. You aren’t the GM. Just ball.
    • Yet no one – no one person – directly contributes to the competitive and financial success of the franchise more than LeBron James. With only 5 players on the court, no other team sport is dictated by the talent more than basketball, and LeBron might be the most talented player we’ve ever seen. By all accounts, he’s a brilliant basketball mind, and the team rides or dies with him anyway…you could do much worse than LeBron as a GM, not to mention he isn’t thinking about the long-term future of the Cavs, which fans should love right now!
    • Why wouldn’t I support more power to the working force? The more power and influence LeBron has, the more earning potential the mid-level player has. While the new TV deal would have been big even if LeBron never existed, he’s not a bad cherry on top either.

I still don’t like LeBron James, but I don’t know him either. If the worst thing he’s done is be somewhat of a harmless tool who is exceptionally talented and who tries really hard, well…then I just need to let it go, because there are a lot of athletes much less talented and less accomplished than LeBron that are so very much worse than he is. All that said, he’s a Yankees-Cowboys fan…so I retract everything that I’ve written. Only the rarest of tools claim both of those teams. – PAL

Source: LeBron James dazzles hometown crowd in Akron title party”, Dave McMenimen, ESPN (06/23/2016)

TOB: You seem to have mostly talked yourself into LeBron, welcome to the light. Everything is great here. You get to root for the best player in basketball, and will get to tell your kids you saw one of the two greatest basketball players ever play the game. But a few pointed retorts:

“Taking my talents…” – I did not know this, and NO one seems to remember, but I saw this recently:

Kobe used that dumb phrase first! Which is not really a vote in LeBron’s favor because Kobe is the absolute worst. But LeBron got a ton of crap for that line, and as it turns out, he was just copying Kobe. Copying Kobe is never a good thing. I think LeBron has learned his lesson.

Jordan and “Cool” – You hit the nail on the head there. No one cool would EVER dress like this:

jordan 1

Or this:

jordan 2

MJ was great at basketball. That is about it.

LeBron’s influence on team decisions: This is as old as sports. Nothing new. Magic got a coach fired in his second year, for example. He’s the best player of his generation and his legacy will be determined by how many championships he wins. Damn right he deserves a say (he of course cannot blame his supporting cast if he chooses them). We also don’t know how much influence he actually has. We just have rank speculation that he does.

Self-awareness: Yes, he’s a little contrived and hyper-self-aware. But he’s been under the national spotlight since probably his junior year of HIGH SCHOOL when he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And in those 15 years, he has never had one iota of trouble. His self-awareness has allowed him to do things like commit to send 3,200 kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio to college, and unlike someone else we all love, LeBron will actually follow through.

mr-scott

Passive Aggression in Social Media to Teammates: How would YOU like to play with lazy a-s Kevin Love? If you’ve got to call out a teammate who is supposed to be an All-Star, then that’s on him.

The hair: Yeah, ok. Shave that shit.


The Texas Rangers: Forcing Me to Publicly Agree with Bill Simmons (ugh)

You’ve probably seen those incessant TV ads for Bill Simmons’ new HBO show, Any Given Wednesday, where he takes a page from Crash Davis and lists the things he believes in.

For example, Simmons, ever the dork, thinks soup is the perfect food. Ok, buddy. (Though the worst is the Kanye one), He closes with the only thing he says worth saying: billionaires should pay for their own fucking stadiums.

We’ve covered that before, but there’s an especially egregious situation in Texas, where they have decided for some reason that the 22-year old Ballpark at Arlington (seriously, it opened in 1994) isn’t good enough anymore, and so they’re building a new one. The new stadium will cost $900M to build, it is being pitched as the costs are being split equally between the city and the team. Cool, cool. Fine. Not great. No city should spend $450M on a stadium. But it could be worse and I’m really jaded about these deals. But…as it turns out, the 50/50 split is a load of bull. You see, this deal included an “admissions and parking tax” for people who use the stadium. In most cases, this money is what the city uses to raise its share of the cost of the stadium. But not here. In this deal, the Rangers get that money themselves. It is expected to be about $300M over the 30 year financing of the deal. Which means that the city is turning tax revenue over to the team and is thus really paying closer to 80%. That is outrageous. I don’t live there, but shouldn’t those people be outraged? Why aren’t they outraged? Why aren’t they picketing? This is the side of sports that can make you so cynical. Phil, I hope you have something happier for us this week. -TOB

Source: “‘Unprecedented’ Clause in Rangers Ballpark Deal Will Sneakily Cost Taxpayers a Few More Hundred Million Dollars”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (06/22/2016)

PAL: You know what else these bullshit stadium deal-with-the-devil scams do? In the spirit of not raising (or minimizing) tax increases, they pull from a general fund. This is money set aside for – you know, public schools and parks – and that fund can be depleted in the name of not raising a stadium tax. Here’s a little excerpt about the new Atlanta Braves stadium (its current stadium was built for the 1996 Olympics, by the way):

“Every time a city or county funds a stadium through hotel taxes or by dipping into a general fund, local politicians and team cheerleaders proudly say that residents won’t see their own taxes go up. This is a damned lie.

“Not only does putting public money toward a stadium take away money that could actually go to the public good (SunTrust Park was approved at a time Cobb County schools were desperately slashing budgets), but the general fund is no longer there to prop up existing and future bonds, forcing taxes to be raised to pay off those debts.”

While there won’t be a stadium tax, taxes will be raised for many other things once the general fund gets wiped out covering the stadium costs. There is no sport-related issue that I’m more passionate about than the scam that is publicly funded professional stadiums.


The Best Father’s Day Gift J.R. Smith Could Give

J.R. Smith is, uh, colorful. He’s had his ups and downs, but he just played a key role in winning an NBA title, defeating the 73-win Warriors in the process. It happened to be Father’s Day. And J.R.’s dad happened to be there. During the postgame press conference, someone asked J.R. about his father, and, damn.

Is someone cutting onions in here? But don’t worry, J.R. Smith isn’t changing. That same night the Cavs flew to Vegas to celebrate (God, that does sound awesome. Why couldn’t I have been 6’6 with a 40” vertical) and ESPN reporter Arash Markazi tweeted video of J.R. pouring an entire bottle of champagne on a female server’s head. SMH. -TOB

PAL: That’s nice. I’ll be the insensitive turd here…my single favorite part of this video is the concert poster behind J.R. Smith’s dad:

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 11.35.44 PM

TOB: That’s ok. I laughed at that, too.


PAL Song of the Week: Fruit Bats – “When U Love Somebody”

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Video of the Week:


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“All I’m gonna do is write essays. I don’t know what they’re going to be. They might be erotic. I don’t know. But I’m just going to write lots of essays.”

-Richard Jefferson, retiring NBA player

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Week of June 17, 2016

bills

Losing 4 Super Bowls is fine when you have a Stanley Cup for your tears to fall into. China is an amazing place.


Since We’re All Watching O.J.: Made In America, Let’s Talk About O.J.: Made In America

And if you’re not watching it – get on it! To state the obvious takeaway from the series – the Simpson trial represented a boiling over of cultural conflicts that even surpassed the scope of a double homicide trial. The broader story is way more than I can summarize here. I just urge you to watch the series.

Let’s focus on one tiny, fascinating breadcrumb leftover from the broader story here. How do we remember Simpson’s athletic accomplishments? We don’t. Jason Reid contends its white people’s anger over the acquittal that is at the root of the “ghosting” of Simpson’s athletic feats, and he sums it up like this:

“Many white people still refused to abide by a verdict they believed to be illegitimate — to see him not only freely interacting in society, but being celebrated, made the injustice that much harder to swallow…

“[P]art of the ghosting of O.J. means never, ever acknowledging his greatness on the football field.”

“Think about it: When was the last time you heard an analyst, anybody, compare and contrast a thrilling young running back to Simpson?

“Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Tony Dorsett and others are legends cited constantly to praise top backs. During the countless hours of football coverage on television all year-round, it’s not uncommon for former players to revel in sharing anecdotes about Jim Brown’s power, Walter Payton’s determination or Gayle Sayers’ elusiveness. It’s as if no one ever saw Simpson run.”

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 2: Running back O.J. Simpson #32 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball against the New York Jets during an NFL football game at November 2, 1975 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Simpson played for the Bills from 1969-77. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The documentary talks a lot about Simpon believing he transcended race. I think people’s disgust with Simpson, and the act many believe he committed, transcends race. Reid makes the argument that white anger is the root cause of our erasure of Simpson’s football greatness. I have a really hard time thinking people want to forget about him as an athlete because of his race. I think people don’t bring up his time with the Bills and USC because he murdered two people and was acquitted, then wrote a book titled If I Did It. OK, he was one of the greatest at running with a football. There. We don’t bring it up, because he’s made us not care about him as a great football player, which is next to impossible to do. – PAL

Source: The Ghosting of O.J. Simpson, Jason Reid, The Undefeated (6/13/16)

TOB: Two white guys discussing this article is dicey. BUT. In watching the documentary, there seems to be something that Jason Reid misses: white people didn’t want OJ convicted because he’s black and he married a white woman. They wanted him convicted because most people think he did that shit. Hell, the documentary spends considerable time talking about how OJ had infiltrated the white business world. Those rich, old, white dudes OJ palled around with did not care that OJ was married to a white woman. Not one bit. On the other hand, the documentary also does a fantastic job explaining the anger that black people in Los Angeles were feeling after decades of horrible treatment at the hands of the LAPD. So when I read this article it strikes me that the writer thinks that anger is a two-way street. But it’s not. Sure, there are lots of racist people out there. But the media doesn’t compare players to OJ because that’s a lightning rod that no one wants to touch. Who the hell wants to be compared to OJ? Not me. And why compare someone to OJ when Jim Brown was first and better? There’s no need to invoke OJ. White people are not out here trying to erase OJ Simpson’s football career because he’s black. They’re erasing his career because they think he butchered two people. Simple as that.


The Moment Before Sport Becomes Business: Ultimate Frisbee

Yep, I’m writing about Ultimate Frisbee. Never played it, but I’m in a weird mood after Curry fouled out on 3 bad calls in the NBA Finals. Thinking big picture here. Hang with me.

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that costs nothing to play and rewards pure athleticism (speed, leaping ability, agility). It’s a team sport that – like soccer – is in constant motion, and its highlights are about as good as anything you’ll see in football or basketball.

Let’s say CTE is an even bigger problem than we realize, and the mighty sport of football – crippled by damning medical research, lawsuits, and plunging participation at the youth level – all but disappears within a few generations. In all seriousness, I could see Ultimate Frisbee being a legitimate contender for a spot as a major sport in the US.

Which brings us back to the present. Ultimate is on the fringe, but gaining some momentum. As it straddles the line between a “pickup” game and a professional sport – with a multi-year ESPN deal –  it faces several decisions, not the least of which is whether or not the game needs referees.

For many years, the players decided if they had been fouled. But as the sport became more competitive, players were accused of taking advantage of the system. Extended disputes threatened to spoil the game for spectators and television audiences, so a debate about adding officials began.

Many big tournaments, including the world championships, have found a middle ground: They use an official known as an observer or adviser, who acts more like a mediator than a judge or executioner.

The observers are not empowered to make calls on their own, as a referee would. Rather, they can mediate if two teams cannot come to an agreement.

A mediator. No ref, but a friggin’ mediator. So simple, and fundamentally perfect! Let the players decide the outcome of the game. I love this notion. It’s like a golf ethos applied to a team sport. And yet, if the game keeps growing, i.e., becomes a bigger revenue generator, this will never, ever, ever fly for 3 reasons I can think of off of the top of my head: player salaries (not very much at this point, but who knows in the future), TV money, and gambling. It’s almost as if one could argue the factors that make a sport without an official untenable are the factors that simultaneously corrupt and evangelize the major sports we love today.

It’s just fun to get a snapshot and think about the future of a sport in its professional infancy. – PAL

Source: A Sport Without Referees? It’s the Ultimate Debate”, Victor Mather, The New York Times (6/16/16)

TOB: I was all set to make fun of this (For example, I’m sorry, Phil but that highlight reel is not as good as anything I’ll see in football or basketball. I had a lot of “I mean, that was cool, sure…” reactions. For one, it’s a lot easier to catch and throw a frisbee than a football). But then I read the mediator thing. My god, it’s brilliant. Imagine if basketball had mediators, whose job was only to step in and make calls when players disagreed on a call. You know those games when the referees blow their whistles waaaay too much, and both sides are annoyed, and the fans are annoyed, and everyone says, “No one pays to see the refs!” That frustration would be gone. If a couple guys were going at it, they could do that without interrupting play every possession. What a great idea. I’ll still never sit down and watch a game of Ultimate Frisbee, gtfooh. But I like the thought of what they’re doing.

PAL: I’ve seen you throw a frisbee, and you’ve seen me throw a frisbee…are you sure you want to make the argument that it’s easier to do than throw a baseball?

TOB: With a little practice, anyone can throw a frisbee really far. I will never throw a ball like this:

Or this:

PAL: I’ll grant you the arm strength argument of throwing a football. But throwing a ball far is one tiny portion of what makes an professional quarterback good. There’s reading the defense, making quick decisions, elusiveness, touch, etc. – all of which are far more important than having a strong arm. Those other qualities also completely translate to Ultimate.


Let’s Check in With Curling. YES I SAID CURLING.

No, it’s not a Winter Olympic year. No, it’s not even winter. But curling, that very Canadian (read: weird) “sport” that is part shuffleboard and part cleaning your apartment after a wild party, is going through some major unrest.

curling

The short of it: someone invented a new broom (the icePad, very original and clever) that makes it much easier for the “sweepers” to direct the stone to the target. Consequently, the icePad has been banned for this season while the sport tries to figure out what the heck to do when a technology so fundamentally changes your sport. If you want to understand the physics of the icePad, read the story. It is interesting. But I really love the complaints from players (curlers?) who hate the icePad. For example, Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Hebert: “When you throw a great rock, we want you to make the shot, and when you don’t throw a great rock, I don’t think you deserve to make the shot.” Another former Gold Medalist, Brad Gushue, complained that it takes the skill away from the players and puts it in the hands of the sweepers. Isn’t sweeping part of it, fellas? Sounds to me like Hebert and Gushe don’t like their own damn sport and they’d be better off meeting me and Phil at Wreck Room where we can dominate them at tabletop shuffleboard. And I hope their people is around to see it, because they will get embarrassed! -TOB

Source: Here’s the Physics Behind the Broomgate Controversy Rocking the Sport of Curling”, Jennifer Ouellette, Gizmodo (06/12/2016)

PAL: Goddamn, this is a 1-2-3 story if I ever saw one. Good little physics lesson in it, funny names for meetings like “Sweeping Summit”, and old-timers trying to preserve the “spirit of the game” (this comes up in our story about Ultimate Frisbee, too…what an odd week). One question remains: Who’s the Chazz Michael Michaels of Curling?


Video of the Week: see above, fools!

 

PAL’s Song of the Week: Mason Jennings – “The Field”

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“One time, Bill Murray came up to me at Wendy’s, took a fry off of my tray, ate it, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Nobody’s going to believe you.’”

-Anon.

Week of June 10, 2016

Ali 1

Rest in peace, Champ.


The Man Who Shook Up The World

As we all know, Muhammad Ali passed away last Friday, at age 74. Phil and I happened to be hanging out, watching Eddie Murphy’s “Raw” on Netflix, when I glanced at my phone and read the sad news. We immediately turned on ESPN and watched the retrospectives pour in. ESPN continued the coverage late into the night, with Jeremy Schaap, who knew Muhammad Ali better than most because of Ali’s relationship with Jeremy’s dad, the great Dick Schaap, leading the way with some great anecdotes. We laughed at the clips of Ali’s best trash talk:

And his in-ring exploits (this is at the end of his career, in 1977, and he dodges 21 punches in 10 seconds!!)

Ali2

We also shook our heads at how early he was obviously showing signs of Parkinson’s, and wondered aloud why he was allowed to fight as long as he did. I considered suggesting a special edition 1-2-3 Sports edition on Saturday morning, but decided against it: one of our guiding philosophies for this blog is not to bring sports news, but to bring you the best sportswriting we find, and throw our own take in for good measure. This approach also allows some perspective. Over the last week, I read a lot of words written about Muhammad Ali – almost all of them interesting. Like this old article by Roger Ebert, about watching Rocky II with Ali back in 1979, with some very funny anecdotes, observations, and insights from the Greatest. I also really enjoyed this retrospective. It touches on what made Ali great in the ring, and so beloved out of it; but it addresses his shortcomings, both in the ring and out, as well.

Aerial of Muhammad Ali victorious after his round three knockout of Cleveland Williams during the World Heavyweight Title fight at the Astrodome. Houston, Texas 11/14/1966 (Image # 1002 )

And that’s an important part of the Muhammad Ali story. The man was not a saint, and that’s ok. He can still be loved, even if he wasn’t perfect, and even if he was not really the greatest heavyweight boxer, let alone in any weight class, of all-time. Ali was so beloved because of who he was and what he did: he was generous and kind and made our world a much better place. Ali was funny. He was a great fighter. He was a man of principle. But he could be kind of a jerk, too. Truth be told, I’ve always been a Joe Frazier guy. He was tough and he was great, and he was the underdog. I was born 7 years after their last fight, but I watched plenty about it as a kid, and I could not escape the thought that Muhammad Ali was a jerk to his former friend Joe. But the world is not that black and white, either. And so I thoroughly enjoyed this old Sports Illustrated article, written about Ali and Frazier and their final fight – The Thrilla in Manila, their respective mornings after that fight, and the respect that two vicious enemies earned from each other.

“In his suite the next morning he talked quietly. “I heard somethin’ once,” (Ali) said. “When somebody asked a marathon runner what goes through his mind in the last mile or two, he said that you ask yourself why am I doin’ this. You get so tired. It takes so much out of you mentally. It changes you. It makes you go a little insane. I was thinkin’ that at the end. Why am I doin’ this? What am I doin’ here in against this beast of a man? It’s so painful. I must be crazy. I always bring out the best in the men I fight, but Joe Frazier, I’ll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I’m gonna tell ya, that’s one helluva man, and God bless him.”

I hope you read the whole thing. It is poetic and enlightening, and artfully demonstrates the reason I do enjoy boxing, as brutal and corrupt as it may be.

Source: Lawdy, Lawdy, He’s Great”, Mark Kram, Sports Illustrated (10/13/1975)

PAL: Like TOB said, you just gotta read this story. My favorite bit of writing:

“Once, so long ago, he (Ali) had been a splendidly plumed bird who wrote on the wind a singular kind of poetry of the body, but now he was down to earth, brought down by the changing shape of his body, by a sense of his own vulnerability, and by the years of excess. Dancing was for a ballroom; the ugly hunt was on. Head up and unprotected, Frazier stayed in the mouth of the cannon, and the big gun roared again and again.”


Malcolm Gladwell Has Made a Fool Out of Me

I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of it: I read a book and start spouting off factoids from said book at a bar or family gathering. I couldn’t shut up about it after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which is a study on what makes the greatest minds, business people, innovators, athletes, etc. great. I convinced my middle brother to read it. I would purposely steer bar conversations towards Bill Gates so I could casually drop in lines about how his access to  computers at an early age gave him a head start on accruing the 10,000 hours needed in order to master a skill. It took me a minute to realize every damn person had read or was reading Outliers, too, and the “10,000 Hour Rule” has lived on…and now I find that is was BS? What the what:

First, there is nothing special or magical about ten thousand hours. Gladwell could just as easily have mentioned the average amount of time the best violin students had practiced by the time they were eighteen — approximately seventy-four hundred hours — but he chose to refer to the total practice time they had accumulated by the time they were twenty, because it was a nice round number. And, either way, at eighteen or twenty, these students were nowhere near masters of the violin.

Second, the number of ten thousand hours at age twenty for the best violinists was only an average. Half of the ten violinists in that group hadn’t actually accumulated ten thousand hours at that age. Gladwell misunderstood this fact and incorrectly claimed that all the violinists in that group had accumulated over ten thousand hours.

How could you do this to me, Malcolm? I was pawning off your intellect for small talk during boring social gatherings for years, and I come to find you misunderstood the difference between “mean” and a minimum benchmark? Canadians…- PAL

Source: Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour” Rule Is Essentially Meaningless”, Hannah Keyser, Adequate Man (06/09/2016)

TOB: Interestingly, Gladwell appeared on the Freakanomics podcast a month or so ago and addressed this, claiming that people misunderstood his point. He claimed his thesis was that he wanted people to move away from the notion of success as something individual – that it has to do with chance, contribution of your culture, your generation, and your family. He wanted to disabuse people of the notion of the “lone genius”, which he says has very little basis in reality. He said that he was very surprised that the average takeaway of Outliers was the so-called 10,000 hour rule, and that he used the 10,000 hour rule to “perform a very specific argumentative function” – he says the point is that if it takes that long to be good, you can’t do it by yourself. If you have to play chess for ten years to be a great chess player, you can’t have a job, you can’t help take care of your kids or help around the house. He points out Jordan Spieth and notes that his parents made untold sacrifices his entire life to make Jordan Spieth such a great golfer. If it take 10,000 hours to become an elite performer, then there must be a group of people behind that person making it possible. Essentially, it takes a village. You didn’t build that. Etc. What seems clear is that, if what Malcolm is saying now is what he meant, he did a poor job making his point.

PAL: I thought a made a pretty funny joke, and then you have to ruin it with facts, updates, and – you know – information.

TOB: Lawyered. For hire!

PAL: Wait…you’re a lawyer? Since when?


Sharks Benefit From a Pittsburgh Jinx

Couch

The Sharks staved off elimination Thursday night in Pittsburgh to send the series to a 6th game. Aside from having their first lead in the entire series (their only other lead game came on an overtime winner), the Sharks have a jinx to thank:

Public Works crews began going to various parts of the city Wednesday to enforce a little-known ordinance in advance of the Penguins potentially winning the Stanley Cup Thursday night at Consol Energy Center.

Guy Costa, the city’s chief of operations, said crews are removing couches from front porches, collecting abandoned furniture and emptying trash containers before Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the San Jose Sharks.

I’ll say it – the Warriors came back from being down 3-1, and I got a feeling…oh, I got a feeling the Sharks just might do the same. And we don’t round up couches when teams win here in the Bay Area – we’re the winning idiots that burn ‘em. Pittsburgh Public Works shouldn’t have been going around taking couches off the street. And if the Sharks do end up winning The Cup, this will become my favorite jinx of them all. – PAL

Source: Pittsburgh Jinxes the Penguins, Rounds Up Couches So Hockey Fans Can’t Burn Them”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (6/9/16)

TOB: Wait, they took couches off of people’s front porches? Like, they went on to private property and took people’s personal property without prior notice? That can’t be legal. Anyways, I have less faith than Phil, every time I’ve gotten on the Sharks ‘wagon, they do me dirty. I have been watching, though. Sharks goalie Martin Jones was fantastic last night – 44 saves on 46 shots, and many of them incredible, like this one late in the third to preserve a one-goal lead:

save

It was the most saves by a goalie staving off elimination in the Cup Finals since 1968! Go Sharks!


Video of the Week


PAL Song of the Week: Bob Dylan – “Mama You Been On My Mind

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“With your face, when you attempt to be charming, it really does come off as evil.”

– President Selina Meyer

Week of June 3, 2016

Bruce-Bochy-1977

So many things to love in this photo, not the least of which is that young Bochy looks suspiciously like Hunter S. Thompson.


Despera-Joe

I don’t like Joe Buck. I don’t like him because he wants to be cool. At some point during his meteoric rise to the summit of broadcasting, he wanted to be cool, and that’s when he started driving me nuts. I don’t want a broadcaster to be cool. I want Al Michaels. A witty uncle with thin hair. Buck is a younger uncle trying to be witty and his thinning hair only makes it worse. He’s like The Eagles: Widely successful and incredibly lame.

joebuck

With all that said, here’s a story telling us we’ve got it all wrong about Joe Buck, and then the entire story only points out examples that makes me feel like I got him lined up about right: Buck’s a little bit a d-bag. Some of my favorite tidbits:

  • Buck started calling Cardinals’ games at the age of 21 (following in his father’s footsteps)
  • He’s a longtime friend of Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm
  • He took over the top NFL play-by-play spot for Fox at the age of 33
  • He married a former Broncos cheerleader and had Rich Eisen ask her for a phone number on his his behalf

But the most notable portion of this story, which – remember – is trying to show us that Buck isn’t as bad as we think and that he’s in a no-win situation as a play-by-play announcer, is the following (referencing the 2014 NLCS between the Giants and the Cardinals):

Buck finds himself in an odd position. San Francisco Giants fans think Buck is in the tank for the Cardinals. Whereas Cardinals fans, who heard Buck deliver that lousy World Series call, feel that since he left town he has worn a bogus mask of nonpartisanship. “I’m a man without a country,” Buck said. “I’m Snowden.”

There is nothing – literally nothing – in this story that makes me like him any more. Joe Buck’s not the worst thing in the world, but he’s not underrated either. – PAL

Source: Joe Buck Is Underrated, Bryan Curtis, The Ringer (06/01/2016)

TOB: My favorite part, aside from having Rich Eisen ask his now-wife for her number for him (and, really, Rich saying the number was for someone in the press box and her saying, “Please don’t say it’s Joe Buck” is just *mwah* perfect; also, getting your first tattoo because a woman you just started dating says she likes guys with tattoos is just *so* Joe Buck), is this passage:

In 2012, Will Leitch listed the indictments against Buck: that he was “smug” (that word again), that he under-emoted — that is, he didn’t seem as excited to call the game as those of us at home were to watch it. Buck said the second gripe was occasionally true, but not for the reasons his critics thought. Before a 2006 NLCS game, the public-address system at Shea Stadium played a song by the band Toto. Buck sang along in the booth — only to have the stadium take the camera feed and put his mugging on the scoreboard. “People booed the shit out of me,” he said.

Joe. Joe, Joe, Joe. They didn’t boo you because you were having a good time. They booed you because everyone thinks you suck! If you had been just standing there, you’d have similarly been booed. The interesting thing about this story is how inside-his-own head Joe is about his own likeability, or lack thereof. Sorry, Joe. Own it. Also, he complains about people still making fun of him for his pearl-clutching-call of Randy Moss’ hilarious fake-mooning TD celebration, but he doesn’t own that, either! Own the mistake, Joe. And tell us just what the hell was your problem that day.

This article was entertaining, but as Phil notes, not for the reasons it tried to be. If this is the kind of writing we’re going to get from The Ringer, Bill Simmons may be looking for a new home sooner rather than later. Let’s hope it goes up from here. I do miss Grantland.


Donald Trump Too Big of a Risk For PGA

trump

Donald Trump likes real estate. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, Trump bet big on golf resorts, and snatched them up at basement prices. Legendary Doral in Miami was one of those courses. Doral has long been a PGA tour stop, but after this year its tournament is moving to Mexico City. Cadillac is out as a sponsor, and the PGA Tour can’t find a replacement. One of the reasons might be Trump:

“But corporations hate controversy, and they especially hate political controversy. Companies sponsor golf tournaments precisely because they offer a way to market to upscale customers in a setting where the only controversy is about who is going to win. Although there are certainly chief executives and other corporate executives who are supporting Trump, corporate entities on the whole don’t want to be associated with polarizing political positions…”

Trump’s response to the tournament moving to Mexico City: “I hope they have kidnapping insurance.”

It’s not an isolated occurrence: “In Scotland, Trump’s Turnberry resort, which he bought in 2014, has traditionally been in the rotation to host the British Open. But the R & A, which organizes the British Open, indicated last year that Turnberry was out of the rotation after Trump’s comments about Muslims.”

So, what you have here is one of the most stodgy, yuppie, white Republican sports ever has deemed Donald Trump is too much of a liability.  Your presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, everyone. – PAL
Source: They Won’t Play Ball With Donald Trump”, Joe Nocera, The New York Times (06/02/2016)


How Do You Solve a Problem Like MadBum?

Madison Bumgarner threw 7 more shutout innings, striking out 10 along the way, on Thursday. His season ERA is down to 1.92, and he’s struck out 92 in 80 innings (all three are 4th in MLB). He seems to have finally made The Leap to Ace. But Bumgarner did something else Thursday – he hit another MadBomb, this time a 2-run shot to break a scoreless tie.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 10.23.50 PM

It was Bumgarner’s 11th home run in his last 190 plate appearance. In Mike Trout and Bryce Harper’s last 190 plate appearances? Also 11 home runs. I saw that stat on Twitter and it did not seem believable. But…it is true. Bumgarner is the Unburnt, the Breaker of Chains. The Giants have to seriously be considering how to get him more at bats, which is a crazy thing to say about a pitcher, but Hunter Pence is hurt and here we are – the Giants best pitcher is also their best power hitter. -TOB

PAL: To restate, Madison Bumgarner has as many homeruns in his last 190 at-bats as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have in their last 190 at-bats. Let that marinate for a moment.

Pretty damn impressive. He is, however, hitting under .200, and obviously his at-bats are spread out over a much longer period of time because, as a pitcher, he only plays every fifth game. Look, he’s the best there is – plain and simple. Give the big, hairy American winning machine more rips, Bochy!

In all honesty, let’s get off the crazy train here, TOB. He’s got serious pop, but he’s a career .180 hitter with a slugging percentage under .300.


Video of the Week

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v762436583

Only in Oakland. Gotta love it.


PAL Song of the Week

The O’Jays – “Emotionally Yours” (Bob Dylan)

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“Oh, Elaine. The toll road of denial is a long and dangerous one. The price, your soul. Oh, by the way, you have until five to clear out your desk. You’re fired.”

-Jay Peterman