Week of November 25, 2016

‘Light’ week here, folks, but we wanted to give you something to mull over as you prep those leftover turkey sandwiches balances precariously in that dinner roll.


Infamous Pitches

To paraphrase Victor Mather, Hitters remembered for one swing are remembered as heros; pitchers remembered for one pitch are goats. It doesn’t matter whether the mistake is one low point in an otherwise stalwart career, or if that pitch pales in comparison to otherwise terrible acts, that pitch will be referenced in the obituary.

Ralph Branca died this past week. He was the pitcher who gave up Bobby Thompson’s famed ‘Shot Hear Round the World’. In addition to providing a more in-depth look of his life after the 1954 loss to the New York Giants, Mather runs down a list of other pitchers remembered for a losing moment. – PAL

Source: “Ralph Branca Wasn’t the Only One Branded by a Single Pitch”, Victor Mather, The New York Times (11/23/16)


Video of the Week: 

Song of the Week: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “The Tracks Of My Tears”




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“Mini cupcakes? As in the mini version of a regular cupcake, which is already the mine version of a cake? Honestly, where does it end with you people?

-K. Malone

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Week of November 18, 2016

Beat Stanford.


Inactivism: Kaepernick didn’t vote

Colin Kaepernick has been protesting oppression of minorities by choosing to first sit, then later kneel during the National Anthem before NFL games. In case you’ve been on a spaceship for the past few months, this has been a big deal. Kaepernick, who in my opinion has been thoughtful throughout, offered this explanation:  

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Whether or not you agree with Kaepernick’s point of view, his ongoing protest is in response in part to a string of highly publicized tragedies involving police killings of black people. There have also been highly publicized tragedies involving police officers being targeted and killed. All this came to a head while our first black president was in office, and it continues as we await the inauguration of Donald Trump, whose past and campaign are littered with examples of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny.  

Either racial and discriminatory tension has resurfaced with a violent fervor, or the recent tragedies won’t let us ignore it any longer. All of this is to say that I understand why Colin Kaepernick is protesting, and I support him in doing so.

Then I read he didn’t vote. His reason:

“You know, I think it would be hypocritical of me to vote. I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression. I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.”

Again, I would classify this as a thoughtful response, i.e., he had a reason and constructed a logic around that reason, but I strongly agree with Kevin Blackistone’s  critique of Kaepernick:

“To be sure, the very issue that drove Kaepernick to silently protest the national anthem was likely affected, and drastically, by Tuesday’s result. Black boys and men should expect to be at greater peril under the administration of Trump, who long has been dismissive of police brutality claims and ran on a law-and-order platform aligned with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Both are advocates of stop-and-frisk policing, which studies showed didn’t impact crime and, more disturbingly, targeted black males. The later finding landed New York City in court, where the policy was found to be discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

Let’s put the presidential election aside for a moment. While I don’t know where Kaepernick lives, I would assume he lives in California and he does support local causes in Oakland. There were several local and state propositions and measures that impact the communities he feels are oppressed. And while he can vote or not vote if he wants, a protest is a show of support – an action to bring about change. He took no action on 11/8, and he missed an opportunity to help the very people he feels are in need. Here are just a few propositions and measures that he could’ve taken action on through voting:

Prop 57 (passed): Increase parole opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and juvenile trials

Prop 62 (did not pass): Death penalty repeal

Prop 63 (passed): Background checks for ammunition purchases and large capacity magazine ban

Prop 54: (passed): Conditions under which legislative bills can be passed

Measure HH (Alameda, passed): To provide affordable local housing and prevent displacement of vulnerable populations

Measure LL (City of Oakland, passed): Shall Oakland’s City Charter be amended to establish: (1) a Police Commission of civilian commissioners to oversee the Police Department by reviewing and proposing changes to Department policies and procedures, requiring the Mayor to appoint any new Chief of Police from a list of candidates provided by the Commission, and having the authority to terminate the Chief of Police for cause; and (2) a Community Police Review Agency to investigate complaints of police misconduct and recommend discipline?

Measure KK (City of Oakland, passed): To improve public safety and invest in neighborhoods throughout

Oakland Measure C1 (Alameda-Contra Costa): To preserve essential local public transportation services, including those for youth, commuters, seniors, and people with disabilities, while keeping fares reasonable

Does one need to vote in order to bring about change? Not absolutely…but – damn, dude – back up your words at the polling place. – PAL

Source: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to vote undermines his message”, Kevin Blackistone, The Washington Post (11/12/16)

TOB: I don’t agree with Kaepernick that it’d be hypocritical of him to vote. As you note, there’s so much more to vote for than the President, even if it’s difficult to know whether the President affects the issue Kaepernick is kneeling for (police violence against people of color). I note Kaep is wearing a Malcolm X hat up top – I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of Malcolm X’s voting philosophy, but I have read “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, and I imagine Kaepernick has, too. Particularly, this passage:

“When you take your case to Washington, D.C., you’re taking it to the criminal who’s responsible; it’s like running from the wolf to the fox. They’re all in cahoots together. They all work political chicanery and make you look like a chump before the eyes of the world.”

But Malcolm also strongly advocates for voting, especially at the local level, so that Black people can control the politics in their own communities. You don’t just vote for President. You vote for the heads of your local law enforcement, the district attorney, and judges. These people directly affect Kaepernick’s issue. And that is why he should have voted.


The NCAA Hypocrisy, Summed Up Neatly by a Whining Multi-Millionaire

This week, Oklahoma’s star defensive tackle Charles Walker announced he was leaving the team to prepare for the NFL Draft. Yes, the Sooners are ranked in the Top 10, and facing #14 West Virginia this weekend, and they have 2-3 more games to play after that. So why is Walker leaving? Walker suffered a concussion on October 1st, and it was severe enough to keep him from playing since. It’s also at least the third of his career. So, he should obviously be very concerned about his long term health and thus earning power. Even moreso because he’s a father:

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-7-47-26-am

By leaving the team, he can get financial help – get an agent, seek the best medical care, and the best training for the combine. Good for him, I say. But what does his coach say…

“Quitting on your teammates is hard to take, as a coach,” Mike Stoops said. “That’s everything we stand for — our commitment to one another and, for whatever reason, that wasn’t there for him. He thought this was a better avenue so you would have to ask him for those [answers].”

Let’s be clear about a couple things: Mike Stoops, the former head coach for Arizona, makes $900,000 per year as the Oklahoma defensive coordinator. When he was the coach at Arizona, he made $1.5 million per year. His brother makes $5.55 million this year. I don’t see Bob and Mike loudly supporting their players’ right to make a fair wage. Do you? I don’t see Bob Stoops publicly offering to give up half his salary for his players. Or more – how much money do you need living in Norman, Oklahoma anyways? But you’re so committed to your players, Mike. And this guy who has worked his butt off for your massive salaries is the disloyal guy quitting on his teammates? Go pop another vein out of your head. -TOB


Herb Brooks’s Local Legacy  

Herb Brooks became a legend to all of the U.S. when he coached the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team to victory over the USSR in what many consider the greatest upset in sports history (the team went on to win gold over Sweden). Brooks, born in St. Paul, is as close to a deity the hockey-crazed state of Minnesota has, so I was surprised to learn a new chapter to his career.

After winning 3 National titles with the University of Minnesota, which, at the time was one of only two Division-I hockey programs in the state, he went on to coach the legendary 1980 Olympic Team, then on to Switzerland before coaching the NY Rangers from 1981-1985. In 1987 he was back in the NHL, where he would coach and scout until his death (car accident) in 2003.

But in 1986 – that year in between his stints with the Rangers and the North Stars – that year might be when Brooks made his biggest impact on hockey in the state of Minnesota. In 1986 the legendary coach went from the New York Rangers to D-III St. Cloud State. He made $23,000, or 1/9 his salary as coach for the Rangers. Prodigal son returns – sure – but why St. Cloud State? It’s not like he grew up in St. Cloud.

“Brooks stayed for only the 1986-87 season, leading the Huskies to their first N.C.A.A. Division III tournament berth (and a third-place national finish) and then returning to the N.H.L. with the Minnesota North Stars. Before leaving, though, Brooks and university officials successfully lobbied the State Legislature to fund a campus hockey arena. St. Cloud State jumped to Division I ahead of schedule in 1987. That encouraged Minnesota State, then known as Mankato State, to make the move in 1996, and Bemidji State in 1999.”

 

For generations, there was one dream shared by everyone who played hockey: Play for “the U” (yes, that’s what we refer to University of Minnesota – it’s hilarious to anyone who didn’t grow up there, as I suppose it ought to be). In fact, there was a large chunk of Gopher history where coaches recruited exclusively within the state. While that remains a dream, the “U” version of it is less ubiquitous. There are more choices, more Minnesota dreams fulfilled, and – more importantly – those choices are really good programs.

“This season, for the first time, all five have appeared in the USCHO.com national poll. Duluth is No. 2 this week, with Minnesota at No. 7, St. Cloud State No. 12, Bemidji State No. 13 and Minnesota State No. 15.” Note: There are 60 D I hockey program in the country.

At some point, it seems likely these schools would’ve eventually made the transition, but it’s unlikely anyone but Brooks could’ve made such an impact in such a short amount of time. By taking on the coaching gig at St. Cloud State and lending his hero’s momentum, he helped lead the way for the other schools.

As current Gophers coach Don Lucia puts it, “The stronger hockey is in our state, the better it is, not just for the collegiate programs but all the way down to youth hockey. They have something to look forward to.”

What’s more, I think Brooks coaching at St. Cloud State could be a key data point in tracking when hockey went from a state passion to an institution. Witnessing my nieces and nephews as each set out on his or her birthright hockey odyssey of county arenas and summer skating camps and club teams and select teams and local association teams and tryouts and tournaments and parental politics, and on and on. The absurdity of it all is it’s not a dream anymore; it’s a step-by-step plan.

And while the best of the best now either play Juniors in Canada during their high school years and/or treat the University of Minnesota like the Kentucky/Duke for basketball (one and done) – the dream of playing D I hockey began to spread when the great Herb Brooks took a coaching job for a D III school in St. Cloud, Minnesota. – PAL

Source: Herb Brooks’s Miracle in Minnesota: Spreading Division I HockeyPat Borzi, The New York Times (11/16/16)


Video of the Week

Bonus Video of the Week

DOUBLE Bonus Video of the Week


PAL Song of the Week: Neil Young – “Walk On”




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“I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”

– S. Goodman

Week of November 11, 2016

STICK TO SPORTS!

Like many people in this country, we’re a little stunned here this week. On Tuesday night, as it was becoming clear that Trump was going to win, I put my sleeping 2-year old to bed and became a little overwhelmed…

Oh, god. Deep breaths. 

One interesting thing has been to follow the reaction of the sports world. As we’ve covered here over the last few months, athletes are finally speaking out and taking a stand on social issues. Deadspin did a good job of rounding up many NBA players’ reactions to the election results. A lot of intelligent and well-reasoned thoughts in that link. Quite refreshing.

One aspect I took interest in, though, is the verrrrry different reactions of NBA coaches and NFL coaches. Warning, there will be some generalizations here. One the one hand, we have Bill Belichick sending a handwritten love letter to Donald Trump on the eve of the election:

“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have to help with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully. You have proven to be the ultimate competitor fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you for the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election, the results will give the opportunity to make America great again.

Best wishes for great results tomorrow,

Bill Belichick”

And Belichick is supposed to be one of the smartest NFL coaches. Trump was also supported by other NFL coaches, like Rex Ryan. Many of Ryan’s players were reportedly not happy with his ringing Trump endorsement. Many of the unhappy players were black. As one of Rex’s players says in that article:

“Rex is such an open-minded guy, a really good person,” said the player, who asked not to be identified, fearing repercussions from the Bills. “But the fact he could back someone as closed-minded as Trump genuinely shocked me.”

He’s right. For an NFL coach, Rex Ryan is seen as intelligent and open-minded, though that’s an incredibly low bar to clear. On the other hand, we have NBA coaches. Many NBA coaches in the last decade have shown themselves to be smart, thoughtful, progressive, and conscientious. Take Spurs coach Greg Popovich, reacting here to the news Trump had won the New Hampshire primary back in February:

This week, at least two coaches were very outspoken in their disappointment with the election results. First, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy came with the hot fire in his pre-game press conference Wednesday:

http://on.freep.com/2fgU1Gs

“We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody.

“It’s embarrassing. I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today. Until today. We all have to find our way to move forward, but that was — and I’m not even trying to make a political statement. To me, that’s beyond politics.

“You don’t get to come out and talk about people like that, and then lead our country and have millions of Americans embrace you. I’m having a hard time being with people. I’m going to walk into this arena tonight and realize that — especially in this state — most of these people voted for the guy. Like, (expletive), I don’t have any respect for that. I don’t.”

Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr followed Stan Van’s lead:

Why is it that the coaches of one sport seem like such incredibly well-rounded and decent people, and the coaches of another sport seem like such singular-focused assholes? I think part of it is simply the nature of the sport they’ve dedicated their lives to. Basketball has been described as jazz. And it’s true. It’s free flowing and creative, while football is barbaric and punishing.

But I think there’s something rather symbolic here, too. NBA coaches, for the most part, have lived their entire lives playing with and then coaching players from all different races, in small, tight-knit teams. Players and coaches look each other in the eye, day in and day out, and really get to know each other. They are forced to get to know people from very different walks of life. There’s nowhere to hide. Some cliques form, but for the most part you get to know your teammates. And when you do that you start to realize that we are not all that different. Sure, there are some differences – but for the most part we are just human beings trying to survive and thrive. The fear of “different” falls away.

In contrast, football teams are huge. College football teams have 100+ players. NFL teams have 53 on the active roster, and another couple dozen on the practice squad. Each NFL team has around twenty coaches. As in life, it is very easy on an NFL team to find a clique of like-minded individuals and hunker down with them – in the locker room and out. Players form smaller groups: the white guys from the south with the white guys from the south. The black guys from the west with the black guys from the west. And on and on. And the coaches don’t have time to get to know the players on any meaningful level.

This is true in life, too. When I see the electoral maps showing, county by county, how the country voted in this Presidential election, it is astonishing to me how the cities overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and everything outside the cities vote Republican.

I was in a bar the night before the election, awaiting my bus home. And I heard a Trump supporter loudly say some abhorrent things. For example, he defended Trump’s proposal to keep all Muslims from entering the U.S. because, and I quote, “Fourteen people got on a plane on September Eleventh, Two Thousand and One!” It was disgusting.

But this week, when I thought about this difference between NBA coaches and NFL coaches and who they supported in this election, I realized that guy from the bar is just scared. He probably doesn’t know too many Muslims. And the ones he’s seen in the media are bad. They did 9/11! He also mentioned the attacks in Boston and San Bernardino.

If we keep ourselves in a bubble, and don’t get to know each other, it’s hard to understand that while people may have differences, we are all human beings, and we will remain fearful of the unknown. I am trying to be hopeful about the next four years. Perhaps Trump’ ugliness will shine a mirror in front of those who voted for him. Or maybe the gravity of the situation will cause him to rise above anything he’s ever been. Short of nuclear holocaust, the country will survive. And now, back to sports. -TOB

Edit: We don’t normally do this, but Friday, after publish, Greg Popovich finally had the opportunity to speak on the election. He’s just the best. Please listen.

PAL: Dammit, TOB. I’m still stuck in denial, and there you go making a well-constructed observation with a legit sports angle. The map above paints the picture pretty clearly at this moment. It’s hard to negotiate with myself that the red doesn’t mean people who voted for Trump believe everything he’s said and done while knowing that each one of those votes condones what he’s said and done. That’s a tough pill to get down. 

I’m sure there are NFL coaches who feel the same as Stan Van Gundy, and I’m sure there’s NBA coaches who feel the same as Rex Ryan. I hope so, at least. 

Finally, do you think it’s hit Trump that he actually has to do this now? The reality show (the campaign) is over, and I wonder how petrified he is right at this moment.


Small Victory: San Diego Calls Bullshit on Publicly Financed Stadium

We’ve written about publicly financed stadiums – and the absolute insanity of billionaires giving some teenage ultimatum of running away unless they get free money to build stadiums. It’s a petulant, economically flawed, dickhead move. Since I need a win this week, I applaud San Diego voters for not flinching. – PAL

Source: San Diego Voters Reject Funding of New Chargers Stadium”, Ken Belson, The New York Times (11/9/2016)

TOB: Bravo, San Diego!


Dear God: Arlington Votes to Give Petulant Rangers Owner 500M in Bonds to Build a New Stadium

The current stadium for the Texas Rangers is beautiful and built in 1994. The thing was opened less than 25 years ago! Out of date. Too old. At least that what over 60% of voters said. And while proponents of the new stadium will tell you that Hotel and Car rental taxes will cover the cost (you know, visitors), keep this in mind: A portion of the $ will come from sales tax extension that is currently paying off the Cowboys’ stadium.

This is the stadium that’s just not doing it for them anymore. Clearly, it needs to be replaced:

By the way, the co-owner and CEO of the Rangers has an estimated net work of $2.4B. Another co-owner is worth $1.9B. – PAL

Source: Arlington Voters Approve Hundreds Of Millions In Public Money For New Rangers Ballpark”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (11/9/2016)

TOB: Another point: If the hotel/car rental taxes fall short of projections, then the city has to come up with the money some other way. And this, too: yes, it’s a new tax, mainly on visitors. But if they imposed that tax on visitors, it could still go elsewhere! It’s still foregoing publicly available money.


An Open Letter to Professional Sports Owners…

So these two stories have led me to pen a special edition letter:

Dear Sports Owners,

You and your sports teams aren’t as important as you think. A city is not defined by having a sports team in it. That is not critical to the vibrancy of a place. Sure, it helps – no doubt – but it does not come remotely close to defining a community. This is coming from someone as passionate about sports as you can ever hope to be rooting for your team.

In fact, a city and its people are what make a sports team matter. The people give the team meaning much more than the team gives people meaning. Without them you just have a bunch of adults in funny costumes.

You only care about the business of sport. Fans do not care about the business of sport. Entities care about the business – networks, advertisers, and ownership of other professional sports teams. It is neither the wellspring of pride nor local economic boon you like to claim when you have your manicured, supple paws out panhandling.

If all of you ceased to exist tomorrow – sure, I’d be bummed – and, yet, “when the morning light comes streaming in, I’ll get up and do it again. Amen.”

So, if you want to keeping crying wolf, then I say this: Stop talking about it and be about it. Go to Las Vegas, Seattle, Vancouver, San Antonio. It has little to no material effect on anyone but you. You have neither pride nor shame.

Sincerely,

PAL


Video of the Week: 


PAL Song of the Week: Jackson Browne – “The Pretender”




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“Yeah, that’s it. I got a student alt rock band coming on next. Mitch, I own six speaker cities. I am worth three-and-a-half-million dollars that the government knows about. I got more electronics up there than a damn KISS concert. You think I’m gonna roll out this type of red carpet for a fucking marching band? Just make sure you can see the stage.”

-Bernard “Beanie” Campbell

Week of November 4, 2016

deathstar

Just…please. Don’t let the Dodgers be next.


There Was No Curse – Just Crappy Management

In the middle of Game 7 of the World Series, with the Cubs up a few runs, my wife asked me why I am rooting for Cleveland. The reasons are two-fold: (1) to avoid a repeat of the obnoxious Red Sox fans that emerged after 2004 (you can already see it with all the crisply new Cubs hats and shirts all over SF the last month) and (2) to keep with my long standing policy to minimize happiness of a fan base other than my own. Here, Cleveland fans are fewer than Cubs fans, and many of them just got a title in the NBA, so their increased happiness would have been considerably less than Chicago’s increased happiness if the Cubs win.

She thought both reasons are ridiculous and said, “So you don’t like rooting for the underdog.” NO! NO NO NO! The Cubs are NOT the underdog and slap anyone who thinks they are (except my wife, don’t you dare lay a finger on her precious head!). First, they won 103 games this year. That’s a very good team who was absolutely the favorite to win the World Series when the playoffs began. But more importantly, as Albert Burneko delightfully points out, the Cubs are The Death Star, they’ve just really, really, really sucked at it. They are a big market team in a huge, great city. They have a massive fanbase, probably second only to the Yankees.

“The reason the Cubs are not the Yankees of the National League is not that they can’t be or have been too honorable or sweet-natured for it; it’s that they’ve sucked at trying. They’re the Yankees, minus competence. If their myriad squanderings of all that comes with being one of America’s most profitable and popular sports franchises make them the scrappy little guy, then Billy friggin’ Bush, who likewise has done nothing much with vast undeserved advantages, is a scrappy little guy. Rooting for the Cubs to win the World Series isn’t—has never been—rooting for Charlie Brown to finally kick the football; it’s rooting for the Death Star to finally blow up the Rebel base. Congratulations! The Rebellion is in ashes now. You did it! The sun has not shined on a dog’s ass. The sun has shined on an extremely rich ballclub that spent a century pretending to be a dog’s ass to excuse the smell.”

YES. Exactly. The Cubs sucked because their management sucked. They had a huge fanbase and made more money than Scrooge McDuck, and they squandered it (or, quite possibly, didn’t give a crap if they won if winning meant spending more money).

Also, nothing has driven me more crazy over the past days and weeks than people saying Cubs fans have been waiting since 1908. Let’s be clear, there are NO Cubs fans who have been waiting since 1908. That would make that person 113 years old, if you assume they can remember 1908 if they were five at the time. Second, the majority of Cubs fans they show celebrating are in their 20s-40s. Those people have waited 15-35 years, not 108. Plenty of teams’ fanbases wait that long, and longer. The Indians, for example, who have been waiting since 1948. No one seems to care about the Indians fans, who just suffered a gut wrenching loss – blowing a 3-1 series lead, with the final two games AT HOME, even after staging an amazing comeback late in Game 7. I feel you, Cleveland, I feel you. As for the Cubs fans – those of you who cheered for Cubs fans, remember that when they are obnoxious after winning  a second or third title and become the new Yankees/Red Sox fans. It’s not your fault, but you should feel bad. -TOB

Source: The Cubs Don’t Have to Pretend to be Loveable Losers Anymore”, Albert Burneko, Deadspin (11/03/2016)

PAL: I like the heat, TOB. Burneko nails it: “Losing does not automatically bestow charm; underachievement does not make an underdog.”

You know who else nails it? The Dude:

thedude

While losing might not bestow charm, and while underachievement doesn’t make an underdog, I think those 108 are felt by a true fan that’s 30. In fact, this very sentiment seems to be at the heart of what makes another featured story this week so touching. “Sports is about family, about passing something down to the next generation.” If sports is about passing something down to the next generation, I think that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. We inherit a team and its lore.

Now, I can’t be certain, but I bet TOB will have a response to my response, so let’s delay that response with a little story.

I ate dinner next to Clint Eastwood Wednesday night on Piedmont Ave. At first there was literally an empty chair between us. Then a friend joined his group, sitting right next to me. The friend overheard me talking about Game 7, and he said, “Don’t tell me!” I thought it was my in to talk baseball with Eastwood’s friend, then Eastwood would join in, compliment my beard and baseball acumen, and give me a firm handshake. I’d squeeze his hand harder, asserting my youthful dominance.

img_1094

TOB: For Big Lebowski quotes, I’ve always preferred:

The Cubs spent 108 years getting eaten. It’s about time they grew up and ate back.


The Good Stuff That Comes with Winning

These are the kind of heartwarming stories that emerge when a team and its fans have gone lifetimes without winning anything.

Outside of Wrigley, a makeshift memorial has taken shape. Fans are writing the names of lost loved ones in chalk on a brick wall.

cubswall

“I don’t exactly know what the point is,” one fan said (in the original story Deadspin references). “But it feels good to come here today, make them a part of it.”

Sports fandom, at its best, is a worn path walked between friends and family covering distances of lifetimes. As Barry Petchesky articulates – “Sports is about family, about passing something down to the next generation. In the case of Cubs fans, that something was necessarily hope.”

Drink it in, Cubs fans. Word of advice: Watch out for the newcomers. They’re usually wearing either pink hats or crisp “retro” jerseys. We all know the real fans rock the faded t-shirt jerseys. – PAL

Source: This One’s For All The Cubs Fans Who Didn’t Live Long Enough To See It”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (11/03/2016)

TOB: This is, indeed, a very cool thing. And I do mean that. It gave me goosebumps. But I must ask again: why are Cubs fans special? In the article, Petchesky says, “This experience, very specific to Cubs fans, has universal lessons.” NO. Why is this “very specific to Cubs fans”? After a certain amount of time, say, two generations, it’s a long ass time to root for a team and not win a title. The Indians fans have been waiting since 1948. So many Indians fans lived and died without seeing their team win a title. And unlike Cubs fans, the entire city of Cleveland went without a title, in three sports, from 1964 until 2016 – a span of 147 team seasons. That’s incredible. In that time, Chicago sports fans celebrated multiple titles for the Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks (and, even, the White Sox). What has gotten on my nerves over the last few weeks is this specific thought: that Cubs fans are somehow special; that they somehow deserve it more. As Phil’s recent dinner companion said in Unforgiven: “Deserve’s got nothin to do with it.”

But if we’re going to go soft, I prefer this Deadspin compilation of old people celebrating the Cubs finally winning the World Series. My three favorites, this sweet old guy, who is shaking he’s so excited:

And this guy drinking this Coors Banquet beer he’d kept since 1984, when the Cubs blew a 2-0 lead in the then best-of-5 NLCS to the Padres. It’s so old, the damn thing has a pull tab!

And finally, the real MVP:

Alright, fine. I’m happy for THOSE Cubs fans, and all the non-bandwagoners who sat through lousy season after lousy season. I know the feeling. And with that, can the god damn Bears win a god damn Rose Bowl before I die, so that Joe Kapp can drink some god damn tequila?


Ted Williams’ Greatest Contribution to Baseball

Last player to hit .400. .482 on base percentage…for his career (19 years). .344 career batting average. 521 home runs. Throw in WWII and Korean War fighter pilot, and Ted Williams left one hell of a legacy.  

(Read the next part in the 30 for 30 voice) But what if I told you Williams most far-reaching legacy is not what he did on the field of play or battle?

ted

In 1971 Williams’ book, The Science of Hitting, was released, and his philosophies have influenced generations of greats, including Carl Yastrzemski, Tony Gwynn, Jason Giambi, and likely 2016 NL MVP, Kris Bryant. The book, considered a second bible in Massachusetts, is considered well ahead of its time.

“The first thing you looked at with the book was that in all its simplicity, with everything hand drawn, it was incredibly complex,” Mike Bryant said (Kris Bryant’s dad, a hitting instructor in Las Vegas). “My first impression is, this is not just see it, hit it — monkey see, monkey do. It was very hard for me to understand because it was geometry and trigonometry and angles and all that stuff, and the way I was taught was very different.”

Big League hitting instructors, players, and GMs all remember drawings and charts of the book fondly, but recent technology has proven Williams’ theories correct, so this isn’t just hero worship. There’s no room for that when the difference between an All-Star, multi-million dollar player and a career minor leaguer is 5 percentage points over the course of 500 at-bats. – PAL

Source: Kris Bryant Takes Lessons From Ted Williams’s Batting Bible”, Billy Witz, New York Times (10/30/2016)

TOB: Godddd, I have been ripping the Cubs to shreds, and so this feels like piling on but I could NOT help but point out this line from pretty-faced, dumb-as-rocks, Kris-with-a-K Bryant. When asked about the book, that we just read paragraph after paragraph about how Kris-with-a-K’s dad introduced him to in order to teach him his swing, Kris-with-a-K says:

“I don’t really like to read. My dad’s the one that does the reading for me and presents the research (Ed. Note: “research” hahaha) to me when I need it. It wasn’t a book that I read; it was more of a teaching tool that my dad used. Obviously, he’s read it a jillion times.”

Oh, to be young, dumb, rich, and handsome. What a life he leads. Also, if you don’t think I didn’t just order that book on Amazon, then YOU DON’T KNOW ME, HOMEY.


Video of the Week


Song of the Week: Traveling Wilburys – “End Of The Line”




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