Week of October 28, 2016

A historic matchup indeed. 


The Tragedy of Jennifer Frey

Jennifer Frey was, by all accounts, a prodigious sportswriter. Multiple people in the newspaper industry went as far as to characterize her as a genius.

Jennifer Frey was also an addict. On March 26, 2016 Frey died of multiple organ failure. She was 47.

You likely haven’t heard of her. I hadn’t until Thursday. But to many involved in college and professional sports in the 90s, Frey was known as the most talented of writers and a joyful force of nature. She was the rising star.

You might be asking yourself why Dave McKenna’s exceptionally written profile/remembrance was posted on October 27 when she died back in March. I think you’ll find your answer if you read this story (I urge you to do so). McKenna retracks Frey’s career – from her first high school internship at the Olean Times, to the New York Times (at age 24), to the Washington Post in its heyday of sportswriting (Kornheiser, Wilbon, John Feinstein), and ultimately to her unremarkable last byline. He speaks with several writers, editors, and friends from every chapter of her life.

The story is heartbreaking because McKenna takes his time capturing just how incandescent Frey was before alcoholism pinned her down. And while she was the ‘life of the party’, she was also revered as a gracious friend and co-worker, as someone crisscrossing the globe not only for the next great story but also for a spontaneous trip when she learned her friend had been to every state but Alaska. Yes, she was passionate about her job, but McKenna finds the real point that matters: Frey was passionate about life!

This snapshot, which serves as a sort of bookend to the story, captured her success, ambition, and appreciation (remember, Frey’s 24 at the time, working for The New York Times):

Mike Wise says Frey, new as she was to New York, acted like she owned the city. He recalls sitting with Frey in her apartment in Brooklyn Heights after she’d thrown a party, and just being really happy. “We’re looking out the window at the Statue of Liberty, just this amazing view,” says Wise. “And Jennifer said, ‘It’s a pretty good life isn’t it?’ It was.”

Frey’s downfall is terrible – in all the ways you would expect, and in some ways that you might not. The star fades. She mistreats people she loved. The people who loved her run out of stamina. They reconnect when hope is gone but she’s still there. The blame and anger so insignificant in the wake of a sorrow that trails the rarest of people whose greatness was enthusiastic.

You gotta read this story. -PAL

Source: The Writer Who Was Too Strong To Live”, Dave McKenna, Deadspin (10/27/16)

TOB: Phil did a really nice job capturing what made this story so great. As with Phil, I had never heard of Jennifer Frey, but damn if it doesn’t now feel like I did. Great writing by McKenna. And if you think you might need help, ask, before it’s too late.


Andrew Miller Was A Bust

Perhaps the biggest difference maker in the World Series wasn’t built for this. Cleveland’s reliever extraordinaire Andrew Miller was the 6th pick in the 2006 draft. He was on the big league roster 90 days after that, and he was, as writer Howard Bryant puts it, “[T]he new prototype emerging in baseball: the basketball-sized power arm.” He was a starter through and through.

So what happened in the years that followed? Why did Miller go from first round draft pick to trade bait to, as Miller himself puts it, “the worst player on my Double-A team” in 2010? Miller sums it up best:

“It just isn’t easy. I think we get sidetracked when you see the players who are the superstars, the Kris Bryants of the world, the Francisco Lindors, the guys who are young and having success and don’t look like they’re ever going to look back. I think that’s not normal. Everybody else has to go through a grind, through the ups and downs. Those guys have slumps that last a week. I’ve had slumps that lasted years.”

Spoiler alert: Miller’s broken out of his slump, and he just might be the key to a second Cleveland championship in 2016. – PAL

Source: How Andrew Miller became the most important reliever in baseball”, Howard Bryant, ESPN (10/28/16)


A History of Badass Women in Sports

Without recognition, “women lose their history,” Ms. Guthrie, the racer, said. “They do these extraordinary things, and then they are forgotten and denied ever to have existed, so women keep on reinventing the wheel.”

I could try to write a better lead, but former race car driver Janet Guthrie nails it right there, doesn’t she? It should go without saying that women athletes are critical to the history of athletics, and I’m sure it comes as no surprise that they are underrepresented in said history, which is why this review of Molly Shiot’s new photo-essay book caught my eye.

The women, photographs, and stories featured are more than compelling, but even the inception of the book speaks volumes as well.

Shiot, an established director whose work includes a 30 for 30 documentary about the Boston Bruins enforcer John Wensink, pitched several concepts featuring female athletes. They were all given the thumbs down. Frustrated, she started an Instagram account featuring photos of badass women in sports. However, when she looked to dig deeper for researching her book, she found limited resources:

Ms. Schiot discovered her story in a public library, where she started her research for “Game Changers.” “I would pull these books out that were like, ‘She’s Got Balls,’ or ‘She’s Going to Knock You Out’ — they were so funny but so offensive,” she said. Eventually she found the LA84 Foundation, which houses a sports archive, and womenSports, a magazine published by Billie Jean King in the 1970s, which chronicled some of the people in “Game Changers.”

Two quick observations:

  1. What the hell is Billie Jean King doing publishing a women’s sports magazine in the 70s?
  2. Reason number 1 million proving King is a kick-ass pioneer and national treasure.

While you and I may check in on women’s athletics when the Olympics roll around, and while you and I aren’t exactly rushing home to watch the WNBA playoffs, this matters. It matters on a generational level, and it matters on a human level – far more than how many championships LeBron James wins.

Also, the photos are just awesome. – PAL

Source: Too Good to be Ignored”, Melena Ryzik, The New York Times (10/24/16)

TOB: The photos are indeed bad ass. In my opinion, Title IX is not perfect, but then I read something like this:

Before Title IX, “girls were encouraged to have pompoms and be cheerleaders for their brothers’ baseball or football teams,” said Lynn Hill, a pioneering rock climber. “Now it’s so different that it’s hard to imagine.”

In the 1970-71 school year, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in varsity sports, Dr. Snyder said. In 2013-14, more than 3.25 million did — a record, and an increase for the 25th consecutive year.

It really is hard to imagine, and then you see those numbers – and it’s incredible. The U.S. population has increased about 50% since 1971, but the participation of female varsity athletes has increased 1,000%. That is quite the legacy.


Why Hard and Fast Rules on Domestic Violence Make (Some) Situations Worse

The NFL headlines have been dominated this week by the news about Giants kicker Josh Brown’s repeated physical and psychological abuse of his wife, Molly. The allegations are awful. But I implore you to read this story by Diana Moskovitz about how “zero tolerance” policies on domestic violence (not just in the NFL), make things so much worse for victims of domestic violence, including increasing the risk they will be killed by their partners. The problems stems from the fact that, like Molly Brown, many victims of domestic violence are financially dependent on their abusive partners. If they know their abuser will be fired, victims are less likely to report domestic violence, and thus continue to suffe. It’s a complicated situation that requires far more nuance than any one-size-fits-all, zero-tolerance policy can possibly offer. Good luck getting Roger Goodell to show any nuance. -TOB

Source: Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence Will Only Make It Worse“, Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin (10/24/2016)


Video of the Week: 

Song of the Week: Wilco – “California Stars”




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“Maaaaaan, fuck Stanford.”

-M. Lynch

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Week of October 21, 2016

There’s another team that hasn’t won in a really long time…and they went 7-1 against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Watch out, National League. 


Don’t Sweat the Technique (?)

Draymond Green is very good at basketball, but more importantly his skill set of defense, rebounding, passing, scoring, and general “eff you” brashness is absolutely necessary on a Warriors team with 3 of the top 12 NBA scorers (2015-16 PPG) in the starting lineup. He’s a “heart and soul” guy, but not in the Rudy sort of way. He’s one of the best all around players in the league. He gives a team of finesse players a nasty streak. Whether or not you like it, this is a good thing.

Take this quote from a team official: “The guys might be frustrated by his antics, but they had an opportunity to prove themselves without him in Game 5 [of the NBA Finals] and they played like a bunch of [cowards].”

Draymond is also an a-hole, and he doesn’t seem to know how to shut that part of himself down after the final horn sounds.

ESPN’s Ethan Strauss positions it as a pattern. We know of the Finals suspension, and we know of the lewd photograph, and we know of the arrest for smacking a lippy fan in East Lansing. To be honest, on their own, none of these incidents seem too alarming to me. Put them together, add an organizational divide and some legit run-ins with coach Steve Kerr, and there’s some definite meat to this story. Long story to be sure, but it gets us behind the scenes of a historically loaded team and the player who might very well dictate whether or not the Warriors realize its potential by joining the Mount Rushmore of all-time great NBA teams -PAL

Source: Golden State’s Draymond Green problem”, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN (10/19/16)

TOB: Lots of great, behind-the-scenes stuff here (for example, it sure sounds like the Lakers will be disappointed with Head Coach Luke Walton). I love Draymond – he’s a character on a team of guys who are pretty vanilla. He’s a guy you don’t want to battle against, and you absolutely want to go to battle with. He took a lot of heat for his Finals suspension, but as Mo Speights says in the article:

“If somebody put they balls on your head, what are you supposed to do?”

dray

The man has a point. But do you know what REALLY caught my eye in this article? This passage:

IT’S FEB. 27 in Oklahoma City, during halftime of a nationally televised game, and Green is losing his holy mind. Inside the visitors locker room, he’s hollering “I am not a robot!” at Kerr. When Kerr tells him to sit down, Green screams, “Motherf—er, come sit me down!” When he goes after Kerr, his teammates, including Curry and Thompson, step in to stave off disaster

Minutes later, in her report following halftime, ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters will recite a portion of Green’s explosion: “I am not a robot! I know I can play! You have me messed up right now! If you don’t want me to shoot, I won’t shoot the rest of the game!”

“I’m standing outside the locker room with the Oklahoma City police, which are always stationed outside of every locker room,” Salters will later recall. “They kind of moved me aside, and the officer just kind of stood by the door, with his hand on his weapon like he was trying to determine what he should do. It was clear that something bad was about to happen in this locker room. We’ve never heard anything like this before.”

Phil and I try pretty hard to avoid cursing on this blog, but when I read that I said, “MOTHERFUCKER.” THIS is what is wrong with police training in this country. Hey, officer, why is your hand on your gun? Even if you make the inappropriate decision to enter the locker room, WHY IS YOUR HAND ON YOUR GUN??? It’s not necessary. Your weapon should only be used to protect your life or the life of another. I don’t care what was being said in there, I promise no one’s life was in danger. This makes me so furious. Now that this article has been published and this incident is public, the Oklahoma City Police Department should investigate and suspend that guy. Maybe get him a psych eval to see if he’s fit to be an officer. An officer who even considers drawing his weapon in such a scenario is a ticking time bomb.


Kaminsky Keeping It Real

Frank Kaminsky was an excellent college basketball player and is now an average NBA player at best (7.4 PPG, 4 RPG), but that is not the point. Frank is a White Sox fan, and as everyone is climbing over each other to root for the goddamn lovable Cubbies to finally break through to win a World Series for the first time since 1908 (and appear in a World Series since ‘45), Frank is no sheep.

Dude wore a Steve Bartman Cubs jersey the other night in Chicago. I hate the White Sox, but I respect the hell out of Frank Kaminsky. Gold star to you, sir. – PAL

Source: White Sox Fan Frank Kaminsky Owns The Cubs”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (10/17/16)

TOB: I wish he was on the Bulls. Between the Cubs and the White Sox, the Cubs are so far and away the favorite team in Chicago.  It would be interesting to see how Bulls fans would react at the first game of the year if a Bulls player had done this. Oh well. Still funny.


5-Year Old Misses Game, Calls Team to Apologize

celtic

God, this is too funny. That is 5-year old Louis Kayes, a fan of Celtic FC in Glasgow, Scotland. Louis’ parents got him season tickets to see Celtic this year, but Louis missed last Saturday’s game because he went to a birthday party. The party was “good”, but Louis felt guilty for missing his favorite team, so he called up the club and asked to speak to the manager and his favorite player in order to apologize. As his mother said:

“He wanted to let both of them know he’d missed it in case they were looking for him.”

Damn, that’s adorable. Louis promised he would be at this Wednesday’s game, and his mom doesn’t think he’ll be missing any more any time soon.

Source: Celtic Fan, 5, Apologises to Club After Missing Match“, BBC News (10/19/2016)


Video of the Week: 


Song of the Week: Curtis Mayfield – “Pusherman”




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“I’ll be the number-two guy here in Scranton in six weeks. How? Name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake. I’m always thinking one step ahead. Like a carpenter…that makes stairs.

– A. Bernard

Week of October 14, 2016

bone

Of course this guy commented on porn on Reddit. His name is Ken Bone, for chrissakes.


Still Ballin After All These Years

office

I have a regular, Sunday morning pickup basketball game I play in. It’s just up the street. The age range varies, but I’m on the younger end. Some of the guys have been playing there together on Sunday mornings for 30+ years, which is incredible. They still bust each other’s balls, and reminisce about the guys who used to play there, or how good this guy or that guy was when he was younger, or how they used to destroy one of the younger guys there when he started playing in the game at age 12. This article, a wistful ode to the weekly basketball game, is a few years old. I shared it on Facebook pre-1-2-3 Sports!, and it popped up in my “Memories” this week. It’s as good now as it was then. Even better, actually. I am getting older and feeling the effects of playing basketball 3-4 times a week for 2 hours each throughout my 20s: I don’t move laterally as well as I used to, my first step is a half step slower, and my game is played much closer to the ground than it used to be – all of which has made me a fairly mediocre defender. But I can still shoot – heck, I am much better now than I used to be – and I can still pass, and that’s all you really need to contribute for years. I hope I’m still playing there 30 years from now, telling some young buck about the guys I used to play with – right before I drill an 18-footer in his face to close out the day. -TOB

Source: The Game Never Stops Calling, Even When Your Body Won’t Answer”, Mike Sager, Deadspin (10/10/2013)

PAL: I think it’s time for a little field trip, followers of 1-2-3. With the Giants season over, and the Niners season…well…over, we can tailgate at one of TOB’s Sunday games. Seriously. I’ll provide the grub and the brews. Toss the ball around, then head into the gym and heckle the players.

TOB: I ask you to come play all the time! Come this Sunday. And make sure your peoples is there to see it. You might get embarrassed.

PAL: I can’t shoot, I’m short, and I foul often. Sounds like a great time.

prince


The Silver Lining of ‘Locker Room Talk’

By now we’ve all recoiled after listening to Donald Trump on a hot mic with little Billy Bush talking about non-consensual contact with a women. Political leanings aside (I’m still not ruling out 10 point Clinton landslide, as the Trump train feels like – maybe, perhaps, could be – finally be coming off the tracks), we can all agree that he’s a grade A moron, right? Right. This isn’t about Trump being, as Colin Powell put it, “[A] national disgrace and an international pariah.” For this humble sports blog, the angle here is about athletes speaking up.

Before I continue, and to state the obvious, Trump’s explanation was bullshit. His history seems to confirm that.

We all talked about it. I was on a plane during the debate, and it was quite a scene to watch unfold as everyone onboard turned on their phones and responded to the debate (not much for screens and Wifi on the el cheapo flights). Athletes spoke up, too. Here are a handful from Bill Pennington’s NYTimes article on 10/10:

“Have I been in every locker room?” Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley wrote on his Twitter account. “No. But the guys I know and respect don’t talk like that. They talk about girls but not like that. Period.”

Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle said on Twitter, “As an athlete, I’ve been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that’s not locker-room talk.”

But Atlanta Falcons tight end Jacob Tamme may have had the last word, and spoke for many.

Having just left the locker room after his team’s victory over the Broncos in Denver on Sunday night, Tamme wrote: “I showered after our game but I feel like I need another one after watching the debate.”

He added: “The attempt to normalize it as any type of ‘talk’ is wrong. I refuse to let my son think that this is ‘just how men speak.’”

TOB has pointed this out in recent weeks in relation to the Colin Kaepernick story, and it’s worth resurfacing: I can’t remember a time in my life when athletes were this outspoken on political and social issues, and each previous, recent instance of an athlete making a statement emboldens the next. This is good. Whether you agree with the athletes’ opinions or not, I assure you this is a good thing. Granted, a response opposing Trump’s lunacy is a layup, but the point is the athletes confirmed that the BS hack’s statements were just that. More than being pitchmen of shoes made by kids in a third world country, don’t you want to know these folks have an actual conscience? I do. – PAL

Source: What Exactly Is ‘Locker Room Talk’? Let An Expert Explain”, Bill Pennington, The New York Times (10/10/16)


Non-Story: Giants Bullpen Buries Giants

No story link here, just an aside. Rowe, TOB, JOB, and I were at the Giants’ collapse on Tuesday night. Beautiful night, and for 8 innings Moore, a mid-season acquisition, was dealing. I foolishly made a comment along the lines of, Can you imagine how tight all of Chicago will be for game 5? And then the bullpen crapped itself.

Up 5-2 going into the 9th, lost 6-5.

I texted Rowe after the game: “That’s (insert expletive) tough to swallow.”

Rowe: “I want to be pissed off, but anyone who watched this team all year knew it would be the bullpen to break out hearts.”

No response required.

But there’s this to brighten everyone’s day:

Pro tip for the Giants: There’s no more blowing into the bullpen cartridge. Time for a new game. – PAL

TOB: As I said to you guys at the game – it was the perfect microcosm of the season. A great and promising start, followed by a complete collapse because the bullpen can’t get anyone out. I read this article yesterday by Grant Brisbee about what the Giants bullpen will to look like next year. It’s…promising? They need to go after two end of game arms – a true closer (Melancon?) and a very good lefty specialist. Then they let Romo, Lopez, and Casilla walk as free agents. Then you’ve got Free Agent 1, Free Agent 2 (lefty), Law, Smith, Strickland, Okert/Osich, and maybe Kontos or Gearrin (who I still like). That’s…not bad. Strickland is not bad as the 5th best guy in the pen. I think we could also use another starter. The other good news is that the Giants let third base coach Roberto Kelly (and first base coach Bill Hayes) go yesterday. Hallelujah! The base running was awful. Kelly, especially, had some crazy misfires over the last two seasons, though admittedly nothing as bad as this from last night:

3b

Look where the third base coach is; look where the ball is; look where Werth is…needless to say Werth was hosed by about 40 feet.


Video of the Week:


Song of the Week: Elvis Costello – “Miracle Man”




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“Yeah, Moe, that team sure did suck last night [Tuesday]. They just plain sucked. I’ve seen teams suck before but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.”

-H. Simpson

Week of October 7, 2016

kessel

Yes, that guy on the right is a professional athlete. No, I’m not kidding.


Life Goals.

Shortly after starting this blog, Phil and I decided one of our goals would be to get a press pass to a Giants game. So far, it has not happened – in small part because we have not tried. It was, then, with much self-interest that I read this story of a guy, back in the early-aughts, who fabricated an entire newspaper for the purpose of getting press passes to Atlanta Braves games. This story is the first time Phil Braun told his story, and it’s pretty great. After his photographer buddy sneaks him into a game with an old press pass, Phil decides he really enjoyed himself and wonders how he can get a press pass. He makes up a fake newspaper (“The Duluth Neighbor”) and inquires with the team. As it turned out, all he had to do was fax in a request, on the “paper’s” letterhead, signed by his “editor”. It was so easy it’s almost stupid, and Phil got his press pass.

pass

Phil spent many games that season watching from the dugout, or the photographer’s well, snacking on free food in the press box, etc. Taking photos like this, of Chipper Jones going yard.

hit

What a goddamn dream. Then, 9/11 happened and Phil assumed security would be tightened and he’d no longer be allowed to get a press pass so easily. Technically it wasn’t so easy – Phil had to e-mail a headshot. Come on! What the hell. Phil, let’s get some press passes! We’ll start small – San Jose Sabercats or something. By 2018, we’ll be in the clubhouse as the champagne starts flowing another Giants’ even-year World Series title. Amen. -TOB

Source: I Covered the Braves for a Newspaper That Didn’t Exist”, Phil Braun, Deadspin (10/05/2016)


Joe Still Buckin’ It Up

A while back we went in on Joe Buck, and so I feel a little bad doing so again so soon. But it’s really god damn funny. You see, when you are handed everything because your dad was great and everyone liked him, and he gets you to the top of his profession without making you pay your dues and earn it, there is a tendency to have self-doubt. Do I really deserve this? Did I get this because my daddy called in some favors? Am I a fraud? Joe Buck has that in spades (For Buck, it’s been compounded because he has a punchable face and an odd sense of humor – a sense of humor many do not understand. I don’t think Joe is particularly funny, but I do think he’s a little misunderstood).

joebuck

I imagine Joe staring into the mirror every morning and asking, “Why do people hate me? Why do I hate myself? Where is my hair line going…?” And because he couldn’t answer the first two questions, or at least had no solution, Joe Buck controlled the one thing he could control – his hairline…by getting hair plugs. And more hair plugs. And more. Joe Buck says now, in fact, that he was addicted to hair plugs. As men with gloriously full heads of hair, Phil and I do not understand this. Are hair plugs not permanent? Why did he keep needing to get them? I digress. Joe’s addiction to hair plugs almost cost him career. He says that one hair plug surgery caused his vocal cords to become paralyzed, somehow. Buck was out of commission for a number of months. Imagine, the one thing Joe Buck has going for him, other than who his daddy was, is his voice, which is quite good for broadcasting. And he almost lost it for frigging hair plugs. And the best part? He hasn’ ruled out hair plugs in the future. Oof. At that point, you deserve it. -TOB

Source: Joe Buck Reveals That Hair-Plug Addiction Nearly Cost Him His Career“, Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated (10/06/2016)


Fastball In.

Look. You’re going to have to accept the fact that we will spill a lot of e-ink this month about the baseball playoffs (looking at you, Morganstern). The San Francisco Giants are in the playoffs, officially, having beaten Thor and the New York Mets, on the road, in one hell of a Wild Card Game. Bumgarner Bumgarner’d, which is about all you can say at this point. Syndegaard was great, but the Conor Freakin Gillaspie crushed a 3-run home off Familia in the 9th to propel the Giants to victory.

We, the writers/editors of 1-2-3 Sports! love baseball, and so you, the loyal readers, will be reading a lot. The first October baseball story is about how the Giants’ Will Clark changed the way teams conduct mound meetings. Nowadays, pitchers cover their mouths when they talk to their catcher or their coaches so ensure the hitter, or anyone else, can’t see what they are saying. But that wasn’t always the case, and it all changed because of Will Clark.

It was Game 1 of the 1989 NLCS and Clark was up with the bases loaded against a young Greg Maddux. Cubs manager Don Zimmer went to talk to Maddux, as Clark was already having a very good game. Clark looked out and saw Maddux, not covering his mouth, say, “Fastball in.” Clark couldn’t believe it, but trusted it, and sure enough saw a fastball in on the next pitch. Clark crushed it for a Grand Slam.

Clark’s telling of this story is great, and it’s well worth a read. -TOB

Source: Giants-Cubs playoff series conjures thrilling memories for Will Clark, the hero of ’89“, Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News (10/06/2016)


Video of the Week


PAL Song of the Week: The Velvet Underground – “I’m Waiting For The Man”




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“Conor, I appreciate the hell out of that.”

-Madison Bumgarner