Week of July 28, 2016

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It’s that time again…

Walk Up Songs: A Far More Serious Study Than I Expected

Walk-up songs matter. They give 45,000 strangers a little window into who you are. But there might just be more to it, statistically speaking. Wanna drop bombs? Then you might want to listen to Sinatra. How about a high batting average? Electronic might be the best genre for you. Walk-up songs comes up as a topic of conversation during every baseball game I attend. Does my love of Buster Posey suffer just a little because he walks up to the god-awful “Hell On Wheels” by Brantley Gilbert? Yes. Yes, it does.

Although it’s a year old, this page breaks down everything you could possibly want to know about walk up songs and the corresponding stats. Seriously, this is a comprehensive study. We’re talking graphs, charts, and a tool to search every big league player’s walk up song.

I’ve just burned 20 minutes poking around this site. The ultimate question – and we’d love to hear from you! – is what would your walk-up song be? While moods change, I think I’d go with “Showdown”, by Electric Light Orchestra:

Imagine that blaring during a playoff game with the strings just sizzling on that intro while I sauntered up to the plate with a couple ducks on the pond late in the game. It’s not about smacking people across the face with a heavy metal…it’s about the attitude. I’d like to have the place grooving. Calm, cool. Collected. A Song with swagger. The place would lose its collective mind!

Best all-time walk-up is a no-brainer – Sergio Romo & “El Mechon,” by Banda MS:

And if I were commissioner, I’d hand out the 1-2-3 Sports! Playlist at the rookie symposium, because a good portion of the player song selections are not so good.   – PAL

Source: MLB Walk-Up Songs“, Fanatics (no date given)

TOB: I can’t get over how thorough this is. Or how out of touch I am. For example, WTF is Jason Aldean? I also can’t get over the author saying that Major League gets lost in the pantheon of great baseball movies. As Phil would say: What the what!? That movie is great and everybody knows that. As for our own walk-up songs, Showdown is a good one. Nice call, Phil. I think I’d be the type to change it up often, perhaps even multiple songs per day. Like, for the first game of a road trip? Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again. Coming up with runners in scoring position? Maybe Run to Your Mama by Goat (big ups to the 1-2-3 playlist!) or Refused’s New Noise. Stuck in a slump? Lil Troy’s Wanna Be a Baller. And as Phil says, the best ever is Romo with El Mechon. I’d throw that in there when I’m leading off the 9th down a couple runs.

Scientists to Olympic Marathon Swimmers: Close Your Mouths

Ugh, gross. Remember a few weeks back when I expressed a boy-who-cried-wolf feeling about the Rio Olympics? About that:

“Foreign athletes will literally be swimming in human crap, and they risk getting sick from all those microorganisms,” said Dr. Daniel Becker, a local pediatrician who works in poor neighborhoods. “It’s sad but also worrisome.”

Turns out, with the games right around the corner, the waters are worse than expected, filled with rotaviruses that cause diarrhea and vomiting and drug-resistant “superbacteria” that can be fatal. So keep your mouth shut when you swim, ladies and gents. The oceans are no better, with disease causing viruses at 1.7 million times the level of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach. IOC and city officials tried to minimize that risk by noting that athletes competing in sailing and windsurfing events have “minimal” contact with water. I guess they’ve never watched windsurfers, who falls into the water plenty. And as a Dutch sailor said, “We just have to keep our mouths closed when the water sprays up.” Ew. -TOB

Source: Aquatic Olympians Face a Toxic Stew in Rio”, Andrew Jacobs, New York Times (07/26/2016)

PAL: I tried to tell you, but you just wouldn’t listen, would you? Seriously, tell me one thing more frightening than whatever image you conjure up when you hear the word “superbacteria”.

Finally, All Those Whiffle Ball Games Pay Off!

When playing the 20th whiffle ball game in a day as a kid, you go to a different place. Specifically, you start emulating big league batting stances . About 12 people in the world find this interesting, or are there more of us? The New Yorker would suggest I’m not alone. Here’s a fun quiz. I expect no less than 5 out 6 correct answers from baseball fans. I’ll give you a hint: One of the stances comes from a player with almost as many stances as games played. I registered 6 correct answers for the 6 questions. TOB may have passed the Bar, but his 4 out of 6 barely registers over 65%. I’m not upset. I’m just disappointed.

It’s a slow sports week, folks. Just saying.  – PAL

Source: Quiz: Name That Batting Stance”, Zach Schonbrun, The New York Times (7/21/16)

TOB: In my defense, I don’t remember ever seeing one of those guys play, and as Phil said: another changed his stance so many times, it’s impossible to remember. And in conclusion, may I please remind you it does not say R.S.V.P. on the Statue of Liberty!


Baseball Players Are Dumb, Fun

Baseball players have a lot of time on their hands, and as with any cross-section of life, it seems there are a lot of dumb ones. Hence, the Detroit Tigers killing time by playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, best two out of three, with the winner getting to bonk the loser on the head with an empty water cooler bottle:

God damn, I wish I played professional baseball. -TOB

Source: Don’t Play Rock-Paper-Scissors With the Tigers”, Hannah Keyser, Deadspin (07/27/2016)

PAL Song of the Week: Oh Pep! – “Doctor Doctor”

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Before you make those kinds of demands you should put a note on your door that says, “Do not come into my room and read my diary and wear my clothes.”

– Gil

Week of July 22, 2016

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No Stars in North Carolina

The NBA did a good thing Thursday. It announced the 2017 NBA All-Star Game will no longer be in North Carolina. This is In response to North Carolina’s recent passing of what is referred to as “House Bill 2” into law, which eliminates anti-discrimination protection to the LGBTQ community by only allowing people to use restrooms in government buildings that align with the individual’s birth gender as listed on a birth certificate.

The NBA isn’t the first to show North Carolina the cost of stupidity. Several musicians have cancelled shows, including Ringo Starr and Bruce Springsteen. Additionally Deutsche Bank and PayPal have cancelled expansions in North Carolina. We’re not talking about a couple million dollars and a dozens of jobs here – we’re talking hundreds of millions and thousands of jobs.

The response from those in support of HB2 is misguided at best. Governor Pat McCrory had the following response: “American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process.”

Wrong, Governor. They are not imposing political will, you moron. They are showing you the economic, public relations, and cultural ramifications of passing laws that promote discrimination, bigotry.

As for the sports angle here, it’s nice to see a sports league unafraid to take a stance on a civil rights issue. Good work, NBA. – PAL.

Source: N.B.A. to Move All-Star Game From North Carolina”, Scott Cacciola & Alan Blinder, The New York Times (07/21/2016)

TOB: Good stuff, Phil. The question now is: will other leagues follow the NBA’s lead?

Ichiro: An Under-Appreciated All-Time Great


Really interesting career retrospective on Ichiro here. For an all-timer, I didn’t know much about him outside of his legendary batting practice exhibitions of power. Oh, and that he’s a hit machine. Just a reminder, he’s about to collect his 3,000th hit in in MLB, which he joined at age 27 (he had 1278 hits in Japan)! Definitely worth the read. Some of my favorite nuggets:

  • Ichiro more or less speaks fluent English, but continues to use a translator out of fear of being misunderstood
  • In what had become an All-Star tradition (at least during his 10 All-Star appearance), Ichiro would give a expletive-laden pre-game pep talk. This is so funny to think about, considering he largely communicates to the US media through his translator. 
  • After Seattle acquired his rights from his Japanese team, Ichiro started spring training dribbling grounders to third base. Lou Piniella, wondering what the hell the spent $27M on, told him to pull the ball. The next at-bat Ichiro launched a home run to right and asked Piniella, “Happy now?” Ichiro was dribbling the ball to third base to get a feel for the outside edge of the strike zone, as he had always during spring training.
  • He has a life-size picture of Snoop Dogg in his house. Big Snoop fan
  • Although the exact number isn’t known, Ichiro made the biggest donation to the Negro League Baseball Museum by any active player. He and the now-deceased Buck O’Neil had a real kinship.

Congrats, Ichiro. As this story points out, he carried the weight of Japanese baseball on his shoulders when he came to the bigs. While Hideo Nomo came over before him, Ichiro was the first touted position player to try to make the jump. As the “Jordan of Japan”, Ichiro had a nation watching, and he delivered. That’s legendary stuff. – PAL

Source: Ichiro Suzuki, Still Connecting”, Tommy Tomlinson, ESPN (07/19/2016)

TOB: I get that we can’t count his hits in Japan and declare him the MLB’s Hit King, but I want to offer a couple thoughts to those who think those hits mean nothing because they think the Japanese league is not as competitive as MLB. First, Ichiro averaged about 177 hits per year in his 7 full seasons in Japan (they play less games). He batting average was .353. But his numbers were as good or better in MLB. In his first year in here, he collected 242 (!!) hits and batted .350. He won the Rookie of the Year AND the MVP. In 2004, he set an all-time record with 262 (!!!) hits in a season and batted .372 (he was just 20 hits shy of batting .400). He had at least 200 hits (and usually way more) in each of his first TEN seasons in MLB (no other player has more than eight for their entire career). His career batting average is .314, and it would have been .337 if he had retired at age 37, when he left Seattle. Oh, and he won TEN Gold Gloves by making insane plays like this:

This is not a guy who destroyed the Japanese league and then came over here and was not as good. Ichiro destroyed EVERY league. I’ll also point out that in the only three World Baseball Classics, Japan has 2 gold medals and one bronze. The United States has ZERO. So, you might not want to credit Ichiro’s 1,278 hits from Japan, and that’s fine. Pete Rose is still the MLB all-time hit king. But drop the Americentric crap, because Japanese baseball is very good, and Ichiro has always been great. And he has the most hits of any professional baseball player, thanks.

Mike Trout: Still Really Good

The Angels suck, so you don’t hear much about him anymore, but make no mistake: Mike Trout is still stupid good. Historically good. If he keeps up his current pace this season, he will finish the year with the highest Wins Above-Replacement (WAR) in MLB history for any player through age 24, passing Ty Cobb. So far this year, he’s first in the AL in WAR, second in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging, and second in OPS+. Plus, he’s once again stealing bases at an elite level and still plays great outfield defense.

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout makes a catch on a ball hit by Seattle Mariners' Jesus Montero during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) ANS109

But…the Angels really suck. And there are rumors that Trout could be trade bait this deadline, which seems unfathomable, but you never know, if someone offers an absolute blockbuster of elite prospects and young, proven talent…

So FiveThirtyEight looked at what the Angels would need to get back for fair value for Mike Trout. The short of it? It’s not possible. His value is double that of an ENTIRE top-ranked farm system. So, unless two teams can convince Commissioner Manfred to allow them to use Mike Trout as a timeshare, the Angels would be idiotic to trade him. They can’t possibly get enough value back.

Source: Mike Trout’s Teammates Don’t Deserve Mike Trout”, Neil Payne, FiveThirtyEight (07/18/2016)

PAL: He’s 24. The Angels would be trading the best young talent for what – more young, less talented players? Yeah, that makes no sense.

And the Raffle Winner Is…Us. All of Us.

God damn this is funny. A third-tier English soccer team “held” a raffle to raise some money, with the prize being one lucky winner accompanying the team on a trip to Hungary. The deadline for the raffle came and went with no word, so some fans inquired and they announced the name of the winner, James Higgins. The team leaves for the trip, and there’s no word or sign of James. Fans inquire. The team then announces James was too sick to make the trip. Then the team offers a refund to everyone who bought a raffle ticket. Why would you offer a refund just because the winner couldn’t make the trip? Click the link to see the whole story unravel. -TOB

Source: Nobody Enters League One Team’s Raffle; Team Makes Up Fake Winner, Gets Caught, Tom Ley, Deadspin (07/19/2016)

PAL: Jesus, 1-2-3 could have a more successful raffle than this team. Love the cover-up. I imagine it went something like this:

Intern: Ah, sir, no one’s bought raffle tickets

Marketing Director: They’re still coming in. How many do we have?

Intern: 4 raffle tickets.

Marketing Director: Ha-ha. Very funny. For real, how many?

Intern: 4

Marketing Director (collecting his thoughts and assessing how his career has come to this): I have an idea. It’s a little risky, but it’s not like anyone pays any attention…

When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect


Why do taller players typically and historically suck at free throws? This (very good) article suggests it boils down to players getting what sports fans know as the yips – in other words, it’s psychological. It’s a pretty compelling argument:

“When was the last time you drank from a cup?” Dr. Christian Marquardt is on the phone, and he almost makes me spit, because surely he can’t know that I have taken a sip of coffee that instant. He’s a leading sports psychologist studying the neurological causes of the yips at the Science and Motion facility in Munich, Germany.

I tell him that I literally just took a sip of my coffee.

“Did you put any attention on it, or any thought? Or did you just drink it?”

No thought.

“Now, imagine it was completely filled up with hot liquid. You don’t want to spill it. All of a sudden, you will act very differently.”

He’s right. Thoughts about how tightly I’m gripping the handle, the precise twist of my arm, the angle of the cup to my mouth …

“Because,” he explains, “you start thinking about the consequences of failure.”

You should really read this article. It’s a fascinating look into how the psyche affects physical performance. -TOB

Source:Drowning In a Sea of Bricks: Why NBA Bigs Struggle at the Line – And Always Will”, Tom Haberstroh, ESPN (03/21/2016)

Video of the Week

Baseball’s special mud.

PAL Song of the Week

Song of the Week: Paul Simon – “Obvious Child”

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Fred Simmons: Well, I rebuilt the engine about a year ago. New tires, new brakes. Gotten this baby up to 157 on the open highway, plus there were 2,000 rpm’s left. It’s a very special car. It means a lot to me. And sure I wanna sell it, I wanna get rid of it, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna unload it on any little yahoo that comes in here off the street, thinking this car’s neat-o. I wanna check your credentials. I gotta know what kind of man you are. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Man Who Buys Car: Well, I’ve always wanted to drive a car like this, since I was a teenager. I’ve got two kids, and I’ve got debt up to my ass. My wife said she’d divorce me if I wasted my money on this. I don’t care, I want it anyway.

Fred Simmons: I hear what you’re saying. And I like it. You got yourself a deal.

Week of July 15, 2016

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Tim Duncan, you are one of a kind. You will be missed!

A Thin Blue Line Between Love and Hate

It’s been a rough couple week to be an American. The shootings last week of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and five police officers in Dallas overseeing a peaceful protest have everyone’s nerves a bit raw. Last Friday, in the wake of the shootings, Knicks guard Carmelo Anthony put out a call to athletes to take a stand and demand change, no matter the possible implications on their endorsement opportunities. Taking Carmelo up on the challenge were four players on the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx. The players wore t-shirts commemorating the lives lost, and made a statement, prior to their game Saturday night against the Dallas Wings. In response, four Minneapolis officers walked off their freelance jobs working security at the game. Lt. Bob Kroll, of the Minneapolis Police Federation (not the department, but a union) supported the officers, saying, “I commend them for it,” and adding that, “ [t]hey only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.” Man, must have been some terrible statement that the Lynx players made, huh? Let’s check:

At a pregame news conference, Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said the players were “wearing shirts to honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.”

“We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling,” said forward Maya Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP.

Players also denounced the “senseless ambush” of Dallas police.

Uh, ok. Seems pretty balanced. Well, it must have been the t-shirts. Those must have been awful.


Well, sure the front is fine. But how about the back?

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The names of Castile, Sterling, and a Dallas Police Department logo? Christ, I give up. Lt. Kroll and the four Minneapolis officers are just total dickheads. But it’s more than that. It is a microcosm of what is wrong with much of the discussion on this topic. No, not all cops are bad. And yes, they have a dangerous job that puts their lives in danger and sometimes requires them to use deadly force, and sometimes they lose their lives in the process. It sucks that as a society we have so many people willing to take someone else’s life, but that’s the reality we live in. However, the fact an officer has a dangerous job does not mean he should be given the leeway to use deadly force in all situations in which he feels some apprehension.

Let me preface this by saying we may not have all the facts at this point. But “this” story has happened so many times, whether the details we have now are complete is of no importance to the larger picture. With that said, Philando Castile was killed after reportedly trying to take out his identification after being asked by the officer to do so, and having previously volunteered to the officer that he had a concealed carry permit and was in possession of a gun.

As reported, the officer went about everything wrong from the get-go. If there was no reason to detain Castile and his girlfriend (and that poor 4-year old little girl in the backseat), then he should have sent them on their way, having given them a traffic ticket if appropriate. But if there was any reason to detain Castile, he should have called for backup before doing anything else. He should have asked Castile to slowly exit the car. He should have explained to Castile that he was doing this for both of their safety. He should have asked Castile to place his hands on the roof of the car. He should have placed Castile in handcuffs, and told him that he was not under arrest but that he was again doing this for both of their safety. He should have asked him where the gun was located. He should have explained to him that he was going to take the gun for both of their safety. He should have then slowly taken the gun, secured it, removed the handcuffs after a further pat-down search, and conducted the rest of his business. Once that was done, he should have returned the gun to Castile and sent them on their way. He should have never unholstered his weapon.

It seems he did almost exactly the opposite. He left Castile in the car where the officer has less control over the situation. He then reportedly asked him to present his identification. He then completely freaked the hell out as Castile attempted to retrieve his ID from his pocket. And he shot him Repeatedly. Then, he didn’t offer medical assistance. He could have begun attempting to put pressure on the wound and hey, maybe Castile is alive today. Instead, he stood there holding a gun in the face of a dying man, while the man’s girlfriend and little girl sat in the car and watched him bleed to death.

Which is not to suggest that this officer is a bad person. He sounds terrible at his job, because it seems he did everything wrong. But he may very well be a good person. He was certainly ill-suited for his job, either because of the wrong temperament and the inability to deal with stress, or because he got poor training, or not enough training, in how to deal with that stress. Either way, that is an institutional failure. If the officer was not personally able to deal with the stress of the job, that should be uncovered during the hiring and training process and he should not have been hired. Institutional fail. If it’s a lack of quality or quantity of training, that’s also an institutional failure.

And on top of that, when officers do shoot someone, in my opinion as someone who has dealt with this in his profession, the law gives officers far too much leeway. Officers have what they call a Use of Force Continuum:


But too many officers jump right to the last step on the continuum: deadly force. The law then does not second-guess the officer’s decision making in hindsight: as long as they say they felt fear for their life, and there is at least some plausibility for having done so, they skate. The standard for the reasonability of their apprehension should be far higher, because we have essentially written them a blank check. And when there are no witnesses, as often happens, it’s open-and-shut. The officer’s word against nobody’s. Dead men don’t talk.

But instead of being able to have this discussion, which is what the Lynx players asked for when they demanded justice and accountability, you get police officers working a part-time job as literal rent-a-cops walking out on their job. And they didn’t just walk out on the team. They walked out on the public that they have sworn to protect and serve. That idiot Lt. Kroll might want to know that over 7,600 people attended that game. And there were apparently no officers in attendance to keep those people safe in the event something happened. Not because the players said all cops are bad. But because they offered condolences to the dead, and demanded institutional change. Sad. -TOB

Source: Minneapolis Cops Working Lynx Game Walk Out Over Player Comments, Warm-Up Jerseys”, Randy Furst, Minneapolis Star-Tribune (07/12/2016)

PAL: I don’t mean this as a copout, but I’m still processing and trying to form my opinion on a whole lot of what’s covered in this story. I’ll tell you what – I’m not sure I’m down with police moonlighting in uniform as security (the norm for a long time), which was the case for the Lynx game. I agree with TOB – you can’t walkout and endanger those in attendance at the game.

I was visiting family in Roseville, MN when Castile was killed 3.6 miles from where I grew up. The tension is palpable – no doubt. It came up within a few minutes of every conversation with friends and family. We have a race problem, we have a police problem, and it can’t be ignored a moment longer.

Joe Paterno Can Rot In Hell


The Penn State child rape story somehow got more depressing this week: Here’s the short of it: Penn State settled with all of the victims and then tried to get reimbursed by their insurance company. The insurance company balked and the two sides have been litigating. In the course of that litigation, a lot more has come out. For one, it appears Paterno knew about Sandusky raping children as early as the 1970s! For two, it appears other coaches, including former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano and current UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley knew about the rapes as far back as the early 1990s, about ten years before Mike McQueary later did. McQueary testfied in a deposition that when he told Bradley about seeing Sandusky raping a boy, Bradley told him that Schiano had seen something “similar” to McQueary in the early 90s and told Bradley. None of these bastards did anything.

Which is why it disgusts me that Penn State even still has a football program. To be clear, I don’t think Penn State should have punished more because a coach raped a child. Or even multiple children. Penn State should be punished more because a coach was raping children for decades, and for decades, people ALL THROUGHOUT the university knew – from assistant coaches, the very powerful head coach, and upwards into the administration – and did NOTHING. They even let him continue to use campus, where he continued to rape children. So many children were raped because the first time Paterno and others knew, decades before it became public, they turned the other way. And they did so to protect the football program. They chose football over raped children, and worse, over children who had not yet been raped but would be raped.

Penn State should be absolutely crushed. It honestly hasn’t been bad enough. The fact that they are still competing at the upper levels of college football proves to me they weren’t punished enough

And the reason they should be crushed into obscurity is to serve as a deterrent. Maybe the next time a Mike McQueary or Greg Schiano sees a little boy being raped in the showers they won’t just tell the head coach and when no arrests are made continue on their merry way. Maybe they’ll go to the police themselves, and the next kid and the kid after that will be spared. -TOB

Source: Mike McQueary Claims Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley Knew About Jerry Sandusky While at Penn State“, Tom Ley, Deadspin (07/12/2016)

PAL: How about this – when you see a coach, former coach, or ANYONE sexually assaulting a child, you step in and remove the child from that situation immediately. Separate from all process and procedure, those who witnessed Sandusky in the act and walked away…how do you do that? How do you not separate the two and beat the crap out of Sandusky on the spot?

There Was No Joy In Mudville, Mom and Dad Stole the Cash

This very uplifting week of 1-2-3 Sports continues… this time we have parents embezzling money from youth sports leagues all across the country. Terrific. Some of the amounts stolen are quite amazing – including this guy who stole over $200,000:


The league had been fundraising for years to buy its own fields – and this guy Kevin Baker stole it all. When he was caught, the league was in fact in debt. It did remind me of a story from my own life – when I was a kid, my mom served as our Little League’s president for a couple of years, so I have the inside scoop. For years, two people ran our league’s snack shack. And every year the snack shack lost money. Per my mom’s memory, it lost about $15,000 per year. After many years, two new people took over and suddenly the snack shack was a gold mine – it was now MAKING $15,000 a year. Because it was all cash and thus difficult to prove, no one ever went to the authorities. But it does highlight how easily this can happen. The article suggests that many leagues have moved to hiring professional bookkeepers and taking the money out of the hands of parents. Seems like a wise move. -TOB

Source: The Trusted Grown-Ups Who Steal Millions From Youth Sports”, Bill Pennington, New York Times (07/07/2016)

PAL: This week sucks. I don’t know what else to say. This story is depressing. Sometimes parents are the absolute worst part of youth sports. Makes you wonder if kids would be better off just going to the park and playing pickup games until they’re in high school.

You know what pisses me off, now that I’m on the subject? I loved Little League! I had great experiences in youth sports. Sure, some parents were a little intense and liked to play the politics game, but for the most part everyone kept their sh*t together. Youth sports can be the best, and stories like this make it the worst.


“The only thing I’ll remember about it is just the pain. That’s the worst part about the injury, is how much it hurt, because I tried to get up. I went down and I didn’t know what happened, because you don’t feel it in that area. It goes up to your mid-section, so I thought my appendix burst or something, because I couldn’t move. It was an unbelievable feeling. I’ll never forget it. I tried to get up and I had to crawl to the bench. I had to crawl and they were like, ‘Get up, get up.’ I was like, ‘I can’t get up.’”

And that’s what it feels like to get hit in the man region with a slapshot in hockey. An unbelievable feeling, indeed. As a catcher, I had a couple not so great moments that I’m happy to tell you about over a beer. I did have a cup break once, and then there’s the time, off of a foul tip, one of my testicals ascended up into an area where testicals should not be. I bounced my butt on home plate (I want to say a coach provided this tip earlier in the season), and it returned to its parking spot. Good times. – PAL

Source: Bruins Prospect Jake DeBrusk Had A Horrific Testicular Injury”, Samer Kalaf, Deadspin (7/13/16)

TOB: Why DOES the pain go to your midsection? I’ll need a doctor to chime in.

Video of the Week

PAL Song of the Week

Song of the Week: Steve Earle – “The Galway Girl”. Check out all of our picks below!

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“They shouldn’t throw at me. I’m the father of five or six kids.”

Tito Fuentes, Former MLB player

Week of July 8, 2016


The NBA Salary Explosion is Bonkers

Let me start by saying: I am absolutely pro-labor in all pro athlete vs. ownership battles. And so I am very happy to see the insane contracts middling players are signing (hey, Evan Turner at 4 years and SEVENTY MILLION), and the even more insane ones that good players are signing (Mike Conley. 5 years. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE MILLION – over $30M per year). The immediate cause is simple: under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players are guaranteed around 45% of “Basketball Related Income” (TV money, ticket sales, etc.). This year, the new TV deal kicks in. The new deal jumps from roughly $950 Million per year to roughly $2.3 Billion per year. That means the players are guaranteed an extra $607 Million this season (there will be even more next year, so get ready for another summer of insane contracts). So the cap went from $70 Million to $94 Million.

But as the article notes, the TV money isn’t the only thing distorting contracts for middling players like Evan Turner. The NBA is not a free market, and in addition to the soft salary cap ($94 Million this year) there’s a hard salary floor (teams MUST spend 90% of the cap, or $85 Million next year). And there are max contracts (35, 30, or 25 percent of the salary cap, depending on a player’s tenure). This means that while teams would gladly pay LeBron $50 Million per year, they can only pay him around $30 Million. That means that because many players cannot make as much as they would in a free market, and because teams must spend a lot more this year than last year, mediocre guys like Timofey Mozgov gets 4 years $64 Million and Solomon Hill gets 4 years $48 Million. It’s has to go somewhere. Maybe now Tim can stop doing those awful and hilarious local commercials, but I sure hope not. – TOB

Source: The CBA’s Distorting Effects Caused Today’s NBA Free Agency Bonanza,” Kevin Draper, Deadspin (7/1/16)

PAL: Wouldn’t eliminating max contracts and maintain a salary cap and floor help with this a bit? Allow really great players to earn what they’re worth relative to the the market. LeBron, Steph, Anthony Davis – go north of $40M per year.  I’m assuming ownership wouldn’t jump at this – being pinched with a cap and a floor while players are set free. I mean, by allowing LeBron to make what he’s worth, don’t we also prevent mid-level players from making more than they’re worth? I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but it seems like a good start…because Matthew Dellavadova and his mouthguard should not be making nearly $40M over 4 years.

TOB: Makes some sense. But who wants it? Not the rank-and-file NBA players who will suddenly make way less. And they are the majority voting bloc for the NBAPA. The owners don’t want it either. They like the max contracts because max contracts save the owners from themselves. If I offer LeBron $60 Million, then I don’t have enough money to put a good roster around him, and then the team isn’t good enough. So, I don’t see it happening.

PAL: Good point – Players unions are chartered to get the most amount of money, benefits, and flexibility for the most amount of players. But wouldn’t it be interesting if the system put it on LeBron and players of his stature? Yep – you can make as much as you want, super duper stars, but capping yourself will give you the best opportunity to actually field a competitive team. I just like that it puts more onus on the players to regulate themselves.

Rio’s Sh#tshow

In one of our first posts we shared a story ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Corruption, mass protests, and security forces handing out pamphlets instructing visitors how to act when robbed. Not a good look. Now the Rio Summer Olympics are fast approaching, and the situation doesn’t sound much better in Brazil. If anything, it sounds worse.

  • Antibiotic super bacteria (not the same as Zika, and has the potential to infect many more people)
  • Zika
  • Rio’s waterways are full of poop. So much poop.
  • Hospitals are running out of meds.
  • The police are disgruntled, underpaid, and telling people “Welcome to hell.”
  • Murder and robbery rates are up 15% and 25% respectively.
  • The occasional human body part washing up on the beach where competitions are being held

Add to all this the dubious notion that short-lived, global events boost the local economy, and I’m even more convinced that in most cases a limited number of host cities with the infrastructure already in place to put on the Olympics might be the best route. Consider this breakdown from Binyamin Applebaum’s 2014 article in The New York Times Magazine:

The idea that big sporting events are good for growth is relatively new. A 1956 article in this newspaper noted the curious hopes of Australian officials who were “somewhat optimistic” that visitors to the Melbourne Olympics might settle in the city, or perhaps do a little business there. “Ordinarily,” it said, “being host for the Olympic Games is unlikely to gain a nation much beyond prestige.” But as the cost of hosting rose inexorably, so did the supposed benefits. The Olympics and the World Cup are now routinely described as economic engines. Four American cities — Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington — recently announced that they were flirting with hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, and in each case a justification was economic development. In Massachusetts, a state-appointed commission led by a construction executive suggested that a Boston Olympiad could “catalyze and accelerate the economic-development and infrastructure improvements necessary to ensure that Massachusetts can compete globally now and into the future.”

Such claims are based on the idea that the Games can serve as a tourist attraction, a chance to catch the eye of global business leaders and a way to rally political support for valuable infrastructure projects. The lean and profitable 1984 Los Angeles Olympics are often invoked. So are the 1992 Barcelona Games, which amplified that city’s revival.

But there is strikingly little evidence that such events increase tourism or draw new investment. Spending lavishly on a short-lived event is, economically speaking, a dubious long-term strategy. Stadiums, which cost a lot and produce minimal economic benefits, are a particularly lousy line of business. (This is why they are usually built by taxpayers rather than by corporations.) And even though Brazil, like other recent hosts, has sought to make stadium spending more palatable by also building general infrastructure, like highways and airports, the public would derive the same benefit at far less cost if the transportation projects were built and the stadiums were not. The Los Angeles Olympics were successful, after all, because planners avoided building new stadiums. Barcelona, long neglected under the rule of Francisco Franco, was in the midst of a renaissance that would have probably occurred without the Olympics.

While it seems this story is written before every global sporting event (Beijing, Sochi, Qatar), the Rio Olympics are less than 1 month away, and I really don’t see how some of these health and safety issues are fixable in that amount of time. I’m sure the networks will show us the rose-colored version of the event, but this does seem like a recipe for very real disasters. – PAL

Source: All the Reasons the Rio Olympics are F%$#ed”, Ashley Feinberg, Gawker (7/6/16)

TOB: There’s a little boy who cried wolf thing going on for me at this point. I don’t doubt it’s an absolute economic boondoggle. Some people are getting very rich constructing all the new stadiums and infrastructure. But the health stuff? They said before Beijing that the smog would be so bad that people would have trouble breathing. It was fine. They said before Sochi that nothing would be done. And it was. As you note, NBC will show us the rose-colored version and likely ignore the real problems. But absent some real and serious health issues befalling athletes or tourists, I think this will be much ado about nothing, in the end.

How To Join a Pickup Basketball Game

As with the author, I have been joining pickup basketball games for most of my adult life. I have managed to ingratiate myself into long-running games with former college basketball players/athletes, games at Mormon and non-denominational Christian churches. Games with the worst and nicest people you’d ever want to meet. This article has makes a lot of good points: Be normal (so, don’t be this guy. Actually, that’s hilarious. Be that guy), don’t talk trash, ask for the court rules, don’t call too many fouls, and do bust your butt on defense. All very good advice. I’ve got a couple tips to add, though, more related to style of play. Don’t try too hard to make a fancy pass, but if you can show that you know how to find the open man, you will be appreciated quickly. If you’re a pretty good shooter, the first couple times you play in a new game, don’t shoot too much. And if you miss your first couple shots, only shoot when wiiiide open. It might not be your day and no one wants to add a guy to their weekly game who they think can’t shoot well and shoots too much. If you’re tall, crash the boards. Basically, you want to play like Chris Bosh when he played with LeBron and Wade: Hit the open man. Crash the boards. Only shoot when wide open. And keep your mouth shut. You’ll be fine. -TOB

Source: How to Play Pickup Basketball Without Being a Pain in the Ass”, Jay Willis, Deadspin (06/27/2016)

PAL:  I only have one addition – never go full Jordan:

You Can’t Separate Sports and Politics

In a recent email panel, Sports Illustrated asked 7 sports media members their view on whether or not sports and politics mix. More specifically, they are asked whether or not the media members should impart politics into their commentary and social media posts. The extended piece is here. First off, it appears that those questioned have a different definition of politics. While some seem to define the word more narrowly (support or criticism of candidates), others identify issues are at the heart of politics. Most of those questioned come off informed and reasoned (Jemele Hill):

NEWSFLASH: Sports is political. This idea that sports is untouched by politics is bull. In both little and big ways we’re exposing our political views all the time. We just buried arguably the greatest athlete of all time in Muhammad Ali, and the majority of conversations about Ali were about his beliefs and politics. If you express open admiration for Ali because he stood up against the war, or if you’re among those that still consider him to be anti-American, aren’t you exposing a little bit about your politics? When Richard Sherman criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, my co-host Michael Smith and I took him to task, and thus exposed our politics. Congress inserted itself in the performance-enhancing drug and concussion issues. We have billion-dollar stadiums being built on taxpayer money.

Others come off like scared self-promoters without an original thought (Adam Schefter):

It does not impact how we go about our jobs. Sports figures who publicize their political viewpoints only serve to divide the audience. People are drawn to sports as an escape from politics. Even for someone like Andy Katz, who gets President Obama’s NCAA picks, Andy should not have to disclose his political views because he’s doing the interview. The focus of their interaction is basketball, not politics, as it should be. Though also allow me to say that while we’re on the topic of reporting and the White House, no President ever has invited me to make his playoff picks up to and through the Super Bowl. If whichever President is in office will have me down to Washington to do this story in January, I’m all in, Democrat, Republican, independent or any party.

Aside from the fact, as Petchesky points out, politics absolutely impacts how Schefter goes about his job, I love how Schefter uses the forum as a segue to getting a segment with the future POTUS and her NFL Playoff picks. What a turd.

I’ve never understood the notion of sports as an escape. I love watching big sporting events. Joining friends, family, and my community to rally around a playoff run is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a part of my life – not an escape from it. We are intelligent enough to have more than one truth take up real estate in our brains: Sports are enjoyable, sports are big business, and sports – like every other segment of society – struggles with issues. – PAL

Source: I Can’t Believe Adam Schefter Is Really This Naive, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (6/27/16)

TOB: Very subtle insertion of Phil’s radical politics into that one. Did you catch it? STAY YOUR LANE, PHIL! Nah, I agree. I think there is a fine line here, but no one needs to be Michael Jordan (“Republicans buy sneakers, too”). And…Schefter, such a turd.

PAL’s Song of the Week: Sam Cooke – “Bring It Home To Me”. And check out all of our weekly picks here:

Video of the Week:

That’s right, Bennet Brauer here with another commentary. Didn’t think the suits would have me back perhaps. Thought they’d have my dairy-air replaced by one of tem store mannequin well maybe I’m not “the norm”. I’m not “camera friendly”, I don’t “wear clothes that fit me”, I’m not a “heartbreaker”, I haven’t had “sex with a woman”, I don’t know “how that works”, I don’t “fall in line”, I’m not “hygienic”, I don’t “wipe properly”, I lack “style”, I don’t have “self-esteem”, I have no “charisma”, I don’t “own a toothbrush”, I don’t “let my scabs heal”, I can’t “reach all the parts of my body”, when I sleep I sweat profusely. But I guess the powers that be will keep signing my pay check until Jack and Jane K. Viewer start to go for the remote so they can get back to commentators who don’t “frighten children”, who don’t “eat their own dandruff”, who don’t “pop their whiteheads with a compass they used in high school”. Thank you, Kevin.

– Bennet Brauer

Week of July 1, 2016

TOB is working hard, and PAL is hardly working up at the cabin compound in MN. Review your MN watercraft laws before the big weekend, folks.