Week of April 30, 2022

Draft Day suits live forever.

Free Run

What I like about this story is right there in the subhead: 

Markelle Taylor started running as an antidote to despair. This week he ran the Boston Marathon as a free man, with a time of 2:52:00.

One of the coolest aspects of a marathon is how the dude running a 5-hour marathon is on the same “field” as the guy who wins the damn thing. A wide spectrum of abilities all gather in the corrals before the starting line, and inside everyone is a story of how they got there. Taylor’s story is unlike any I’ve heard. It includes almost 18 years at San Quentin Prison here in the Bay Area. 

This isn’t just a story about a guy who found running as a way to heal and cope – it’s a story about a guy who found running as a way to heal and cope, and then became incredibly great at it relatively late in his life. 

Brown doesn’t belabor the point on what earned Taylor a 15-life sentence. One paragraph made of two sentences: one details his crimes, which are pretty terrible, and the other details his troubled childhood. 

Being locked up helped him get sober. Another inmate’s suicide, which had followed his fifth denial of parole, inspired Taylor to run. The friend was a part of the running club at San Quentin. Taylor became the fastest runner, earning the nickname “Markelle the Gazelle”. In 2019, he ran a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, a notoriously difficult race to qualify for, by running 104 and ½ loops around the prison yard. 

Last year, Taylor ran his first sub-three-hour marathon at the Avenue of Giants up northern California, a race I’ve run. Not many people have a sub-three hour marathon in them (his pace at Boston this year: 6:33/mile); again, Taylor is an exceptional distance runner. As the name of the race suggests, the entire route is nestled at the base of redwood trees that have been there for thousands of years. I can’t imagine a setting more different than his 104 and ½ loops around San Quentin. 

Life hasn’t been easy for Taylor since leaving San Quintin – jobs aren’t easy to come by when you have a record like his – and he sees the metaphor in his running.

“Running is humbling,” he said. “Sometimes you have to start from the back, just like I’m doing now with minimum wage. It’s like trying to go up that hill after 18-plus miles — sometimes you can get cramps and stuff like that. That’s like being rejected from a job you want because they asked for fingerprints.”

A story worth reading. – PAL 

Source: He Ran Marathons in Prison. Boston’s Was Easier.Patricia Leigh Brown, The New York Times (04/23/22)


Draymond vs. Jokic

Because our friend, Rowe, is married to a very exceptional and generous woman, I was able to watch game 2 of the Warriors-Nuggets series from absurdly close seats. We’re talking third row. I’ve never had better seats to a playoff game of any kind. 

All of the NBA guys are so tall, so young, and obviously in incredible shape. Even Draymond Green, who can look a little hefty on tv, is far from it; up close, the guy looks like he could run a marathon tomorrow.

Which brings me to the single most impressive take-away from watching that game up close. It wasn’t Steph scoring 34 points in 23 minutes. It wasn’t Nilola Jokic being essentially a 7-foot point guard that did everything for an overmatched Nuggets team. It was Draymond Green. 

Per Steve Kerr: 

What Draymond does, it’s hard to quantify. The stats never do him justice. I just feel like he’s built for the playoffs. This is what he’s all about. … The regular season is kind of hard for him because the games are not as meaningful, and he’s at his best when the games are the most important.

On defensive side, the way he defended Jokic was incredible. Giving up 5 inches and about 50 pounds, Green was up in Jokic. He didn’t stop him; but he made everything hard for the reigning MVP. He had to be; Jokic is not only bigger than Green but also extremely talented. Green was always leaning, always swiping, always with a forearm in Jokic. Joker finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks, but none of it came easy. 

And then on the offensive side, Draymond is the conductor. It’s so clear in person. The passes that look so obvious on TV are anticipated. Like a QB throwing to the open space, Draymond passes guys open. He’s making sure everyone’s in the right position, he’s crashing the boards, he’s initiating the fast break. Watching on TV, sometimes I can get frustrated with his antics, but it’s pretty clear that Green has to play that way. He’s the spiritual leader of this team – that much was plain to see in person. 

So it makes sense when, after it was all done and the Dubs completed the gentleman’s sweep of the undermanned Nuggets (the fact that Jokic dragged this roster to a 6-seed is incredible), Jokic had this to say about the guy he battled for much of the series. 

“I mean, give the guy credit,” Jokic said. “I think, to be honest, he’s stopped much better offensive players than me through his career, through his playing, whatever. I really appreciate whatever he’s doing for them because that’s a tough position. He needs to do everything. He’s really accepting the role and really being the best that he can be in that role. He’s a big part of their rings, their championships. I think that’s really hard to do. … I really, really appreciate our matchup.”

It’s probably for the best that the Timberpups didn’t make it past Memphis after coughing up not one but two games. Draymond might have permanently destroyed Karl-Anthony Towns into retirement. He would’ve dominated the bigger, more talented player physically and mentally. – PAL 

Source: How Warriors’ Draymond Green endured five intense rounds with Nikola Jokic,” C. J. Holmes, San Francisco Chronicle (04/28/22)

TOB: Especially in person, you could see that Draymond fouls Jokic almost every trip. He’s doing the Seahawks Gamble: foul them every time because the refs don’t want to call that many fouls. But it’s not hacking. He’s fouling with his body in smart ways that are less obvious, and easier for a referee to ignore. Jokic was frustrated, and even got ejected in Game 1. So, I saw that Jokic said that, and I thought it was very cool. I also saw Draymond had similar compliments for Jokic:

But, I love Draymond getting this kind of appreciation. I was an early-adopter, to to speak, of Draymond’s game. But two years ago, I thought he was toast. Too many years of pounding bigger guys in the paint and doing the dirty work. Suddenly, he looked old and slow. What a run, I thought! A meteor – bright, but short-lived. Man, was I wrong. Draymond was not toast. He just didn’t want to kill himself for a Warriors team that was without Klay and Steph that went 15-50. For a guy like him, that makes sense.


Perhaps the Most Little League Ending to an MLB Game, Ever

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I don’t associate with people who blame the world for their problems.

Megan

Week of April 22, 2022


An Inside Look at an MLB Draft

Andrew Baggarly had an interesting article this week on the Giants’ top pitching prospect, Kyle Harrison. The Giants drafted Harrison in 2020, having seen him pitch only once in his senior season at De La Salle. But they liked what they saw.  

What I like about this article is an inside look at how the MLB Draft works. Harrison had committed to pitch at UCLA. His agent, Scott Boras, made it clear he would not go pro unless he was given a signing bonus of $2.5M. But MLB now has draft slot value. Each draft pick is given a value – and the team holding that pick cannot spend over 5% more on its draft picks in a season than they have slot value to spend. 

(Does that make sense? Here’s a simple example: Pretend a team has the first pick in round 1 and the first pick in round 2, and no other picks. The first pick of round 1 has a $8.5M slot value. The first pick of round 2 has a $2M slot value. That team cannot spend more than $10.5M to sign those two picks. 

This article delves into why Harrison, a first round value, dropped to the third round but signed for first round value.

“They weren’t locked into that plan. If there was an obvious player who slipped to them who would require an over-slot bonus, someone they liked even better, they would’ve taken him. The draft could have unfolded in any number of ways. But in each of their first four selections, the Giants found players they liked who might give them the opportunity to save a little money from their bonus pool. They had to get lucky and hope Harrison would still be there in the third round, too.

They were, and he was.

Harrison had fielded offers from several other clubs on draft day and turned them all down. Still, a team could have bit the bullet and taken him at the back of the first round, or within the first few picks of the second round. Nobody did.

Getting him signed was more like playing Twister. The Giants had a pre-arranged deal with their preferred first-round pick, North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey, who signed for $400,000 below his $4.2 million slot value. Their second-rounder, San Diego State third baseman Casey Schmitt, signed for $360,000 under his $1.51 million slot value. The Giants gave back some of their savings with the first of their two supplemental second-round picks when they signed North Carolina State left-hander Nick Swiney for $1.2 million, a bonus that was $223,300 over slot. But their next supplemental-round choice, Dallas Baptist infielder Jimmy Glowenke, was a consensus overdraft who signed for just less than $600,000 and allowed them to set aside $355,600 more. Fourth-rounder R.J. Dabovich, a reliever from Arizona State that they had seen a ton while scouting former first-rounder Hunter Bishop, agreed to a $197,500 bonus that was well below the $507,400 recommendation.”

That’s pretty fascinating. Risky play by the Giants, but it seems to have paid off:

Longtime Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti lives in San Jose and watched plenty of Harrison last season. Asked for an impression, he considered the kid’s competitiveness and his durable frame. And he offered one hell of a comp.

“He’s like a left-handed Matt Cain, for me,” Righetti said.

Yeah, that’ll play. -TOB

Source: Behind the Giants’ Risk to Draft Kyle Harrison, Now Their Best Pitching Prospect Since Madison Bumgarner,” Andrew Baggarly, The Athletic (04/18/2022)

PAL: There’s the slotting element and the strategy around that, but I also found it interesting how scouting can shift. It used to be find a pitcher that can light up the radar gun, and a team will teach him how to pitch. But with Harrison they found a kid who knew how to pitch, and they developed more velocity. The high schooler who threw 87-92 is now topping out a 97.

Per Bags:

The mantra used to be that you couldn’t teach velocity. Now, with new technology and training methods, the velo might be easier to teach than everything else. And because the Giants ascribe so much player value to K/BB ratio, it makes sense that they would be at the forefront of a turn back to command over pure power.

“Pitchability” is what the Giants scouts and execs keep referring to it as in the story. It reminded me about a story about Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom, and other “edge cases” back in April, 2021 from Michael Baumann. They didn’t throw upper 90s in high school, so they had to learn how to pitch at an earlier age than the Gerrit Coles of the baseball world. They were taught velocity, and experts are now wondering if developing velocity in a prospect is easier than developing feel.


Joe Lacob Just Bugs Me

Photo Cred/#Humblebrag: TOB

Joe Lacob is so weird, man. There’s the time he suggested he did bedroom things with the NBA trophy. There’s…

And then this week. After the Warriors won Game 2 in another blowout over the Nuggets, Lacob was interviewed by Tim Kawakami and I cringed at least twice. 

First:

“The building’s incredible,” Lacob said. “Everyone who comes through here thinks this place is amazing. When I get on the court, that’s what I’m thinking, ‘This place is amazing.’ We’re pretty proud of it, obviously.

Ok, Joe. Look. I know that from your seat your feet technically touch the wood floor that also makes up the court. But uh, you don’t get on the court. You are not a player. 

And maybe I would have let that slide, but earlier in the interview he dropped this one:

“This is the team we paid for,” Lacob said. “We never really had the team together all year. So I’m excited to see them all play together. We never really got to see it. I think it’s exciting to see it.”

This is the team you paid for? Such an off-putting way to say that. There’s something very plantation-y about that. How about, “This is the team we were excited to see all year, and we finally got to.” No, not Joe. He’s gotta say the weirdest thing possible, every time. -TOB

Source: Kawakami: ‘This is the Team We Paid For’ — Joe Lacob on the Warriors’ 2-0 Lead and Chase Center Playoff Debut,” Tim Kawakami, The Athletic (04/19/2022)


Kayvon Thibodeaux and the Different Ways We Compete

Every year, there is at least one NFL Draft prospect who falls because of questions about his character, or his drive, or whether he loves football, or because he’s outspoken. This year’s That Guy is Kavon Thibodeaux, an edge rusher from Oregon. This article delves into Thibodeaux – what the criticisms are, whether they’re fair, and what Thibodeaux thinks about it. 

I thought the most interesting passage was this one:

There’s no Pro Football Focus metric that measures passion. In-game speed tracking can provide a glimpse of a player’s individual effort, but can’t quantify one’s internal drive. That’s where getting to personally know a player and learning what makes them tick is a crucial step for NFL teams during the draft process.

Chad Brown is the CEO and chief strategist of a software and consulting company called Profile. The company provides 20-minute behavioral assessments to players based on the DISC personality test, an exam devised to help enhance communication and team development.

Brown explained that when coaches or scouts say a player doesn’t work hard, full context needs to be considered as to why. That’s where criticism of Thibodeaux’s effort misses the mark.

Last year, the draft community praised now-Jets quarterback Zach Wilson’s hours-long drives from Utah to California to train with former NFL QB John Beck; Thibodeaux at one point made daily 80-mile commutes to high school. Top 2021 prospects such as Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons faced minimal judgment for opting out of the 2020 season; despite having been considered a highly rated prospect for years, Thibodeaux played this past season, and even returned to the field for Oregon after suffering an early-season ankle injury. Before the season started, the biggest concern surrounding Thibodeaux as a prospect was his lack of secondary pass-rush moves. Worries over his inconsistent motor weren’t raised until after the season, a good portion of which he played on a bum ankle. “I’ve always looked at college as a pit stop to kind of set up my life for the future,” Thibodeaux said last June. Even still, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that his effort wasn’t lackluster.

Competitiveness doesn’t manifest itself in the same way for every prospect. “Is competitiveness what we think it is?” Brown posited. “There’s definitely [mentalities of] ‘I want to win in checkers. I want to win in video games. I just want to win all the time.’ But what about people that want to constantly learn and develop? They listen to podcasts, they constantly study film, they’re learning from mentors.

That’s a really interesting point. Generally, when we talk about hyper-competitive players, in any sport, we hear stories about guys Michael Jordan and how we won’t stop playing a game, any game, until he beats you. So, maybe someone like Peyton Manning isn’t a “killer” as we use that term in sports. But those hours he spent in the film room? That’s competitive as hell. He is working hard before the game to beat you during the game. I never really thought of that as competitive, but it is. Good read. -TOB

Source: Kayvon Thibodeaux Is This NFL Draft’s Bad-Discourse Prospect,” Kaelen Jones, The Ringer (04/20/2022)


Jogbra

This is the origin story of the sports bra. While some version of it has been told before – Eva Longoria directed a 10-minute doc about it for ESPN a few years back – this is the real origin story, and that matters. As David Davis points out, “sanitized” and “simplified” stories of female empowerment are too common, and we have a tendency to fluff the real stories that feature more complicated characters and stakes. We should stop doing that.

Per Davis:

In her illuminating new book Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World, author Danielle Friedman detailed how the inventors overcame a “seemingly endless series of challenges” in bringing the sports bra to the marketplace, including the financing, legal and patent hurdles typical for any start-up, as well as the anachronistic attitudes of the male bankers and sporting-goods store owners they dealt with.

But never once did these or other contemporary accounts address what was perhaps the most significant barrier that the entrepreneurs faced: intra-office feuding that nearly undermined their nascent business, with accusations of betrayal and backstabbing that linger to this day. By the time they sold their company in 1990, Lisa Lindahl and Hinda Miller were so fed up with each other that they didn’t speak for more than a decade.

Erasing the strife from the creation story of the Jogbra, as it was called, has sanitized and simplified the narrative. Female empowerment in the post–Title IX era has become the default storyline—why ruin a plucky underdog yarn with dollops of angst and conflict? Why portray complicated, real women and their divergent drives and opinions when you can stick to the facile script and produce what Lisa describes as a “fluffy piece” about three bosom buddies?

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the sports bra – Davis notes Runner’s World said it was the greatest invention in running…ever – and its popularity lines up perfectly with the passage of Title IX in 1972. After struggling to find a design that made sense, co-founders Lisa Lindahl and Polly Palmer Smith had that breakthrough moment, courtesy of a joking ex-husband, calling back to the first seed of the sports bra came from a joke between Lisa and Polly – we need a jockstrap for women.

A second jockstrap reference provided Polly with her lightbulb moment. Lisa’s husband was a bit of a jokester. One day, watching the women despairing over their unsolvable puzzle, Al Lindahl came down the stairs bare-chested, wearing a jockstrap stretched over his torso. 

“Ladies … I present your jock-bra,” he announced to the room.

For Polly, seeing the straps pulled over Al’s shoulders, with the pouch stretched over his chest, provided the visual prompt she was missing. It was the “fateful moment when all the pieces fell into place,” she recalled.

Hinda was sent to the UVM bookstore to buy two jockstraps. Polly cut them up and made a crude prototype. The two pouches served as the cups; the waistbands became a solid rib-band that stretched around the torso; the butt straps were converted into shoulder straps that crossed at the back. 

Hinda was the third co-founder, and perhaps the reason for imbalance that led to so much stress and strife in the years to come. What follows is decades of friendship colliding with landmines that come with growing a booming company. A must-read. – PAL

Source: The Mostly Untold Story Of How The Sports Bra Conquered The World And Tore Its Inventors Apart,David Davis, Defector (April 20, 2022)

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I ask you, who among us has not run across a playing field and tackled an opponent…-TOB

Same vibes:

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“Say Merry Christmas, goddammit!”

-Eli Gemstone

Week of April 15, 2022


Coaches: Let Athletes Figure It Out

This story tries to do too much, but there’s a specific section of it that’s stuck with me all week. 

As most of you know, Scottie Scheffler won the Masters Sunday. I can’t remember watching the no. 1 golfer in the world ever play, so Sunday afternoon was the first time I noticed there’s something odd about this guy’s swing. 

And after meandering about a bit with a writing style that’s about as heavy-handed as SNL’s take on high school theater performance, Brendan Quinn gets to a key insight: there’s never one way to play a game. Scheffler found a coach that taught him the game, not how to swing. 

He makes it sound easier than it is, but Scheffler was built for this. As a child, his family moved from New Jersey to Dallas, landing Young Scottie under the tutelage of Royal Oaks Country Club legendary pro Randy Smith. An old-school Texan with old-school wit, Smith crafted his teaching style from the likes of Harvey Penick and Lee Trevino. He taught the game to a young boy named Justin Leonard and crafted multiple other kids into tour pros. When it came to Scheffler, Smith found boundless talent and filled it with oxygen.

“He didn’t teach Scottie Scheffler a golf swing,” says University of Texas golf coach John Fields, who recruited Scheffler as a 12-year-old and coached him for four years in Austin. “He taught Scottie the game of golf.”

That footwork? That move? Randy Smith says Scheffler has always had it. It’s intrinsic. He never gave a single thought to coaching Scheffler out of it.

Why?

“He’s an athlete,” Smith says. “And athletes play golf differently than robots.”

I wish more coaches took this approach in youth sports. Let athletes be athletic and teach them the game instead of assuming there’s only one “proper” technique. How it looks doesn’t matter as much as the results. If the results stay great – especially when someone is a great athlete – let the kid figure it out. Great work, Randy Smith! – PAL 

Source: On his own two feet, Scottie Scheffler wins the Masters,” Brendan Quinn, The Athletic (04/10/22)


Play Better, I Guess

The Giants and Padres played a wild baseball game on Sunday. The Giants first base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected and later accused the Padres’ third base coach of using racially-charged language; the Giants’ Alyssa Nakken took over first base coach duties, becoming the first female on-field coach in MLB history; the Giants hit two dingers off Padres’ outfielder Wil Myers; and the Giants broke two unwritten rules, enraging the Padres. And despite all the other stuff worthy of discussion, I want to talk about the unwritten rule kerfuffle.

The game was never close. The Giants batted around in the first, and were up 10-1 in the second. They ended up winning 13-2. In the second inning, up 10-1, Giants’ outfielder Steven Duggar stole second. This made the Padres mad. In fact, it’s the event that led to Richardson’s ejection. 

The game was uneventful after that for a while, until the 6th inning. The Padres were down 9, with the score 11-2. The Padres had one of their better pitchers, Dinelson Lamet, in the game. The Giants’ Mauricio Dubon, a player on the roster bubble, came to the plate. And on an 0-1 count, he laid down a bunt. He reached first safely. The Padres dugout went ballistic

Even Kruk and Kuip were lightly chastising Dubon, suggesting Kapler did the same as Dubon came off the field. But, there’s a twist! After the game, Kapler was asked about Dubon’s bunt. Here’s what he had to say, from Andrew Baggarly:

“I said, ‘Great job. Way to try to get a base hit,’” Kapler said. “It was full, 100 percent support. The pitchers are trying to get Mauricio out. Mauricio is trying to get on base. The goal in baseball is to not make an out.”

This does not represent a sudden shift in Kapler’s thinking. Going back to his time managing in Philadelphia, he would express his disdain for the general understanding that teams should coast with a sizable lead. He was adamant during a morning session with reporters in Scottsdale this spring: the Giants would not stop playing the game hard until the final out regardless of score or inning.

“Our goal is not to exclusively win one game in the series,” Kapler said Wednesday night. “It’s to try to win the entire series. So sometimes that means trying to get a little deeper into the opposition’s ‘pen. I understand that many teams don’t love that strategy and I get why. It’s something we talked about as a club before the season and that we were comfortable going forward with that strategy. It’s not to be disrespectful in any way. … It’s the best way to win a series.

“We’re not emotional about it. We’re not trying to hurt anybody. We just want to score as many runs as possible, force the other pitcher to throw as many pitches as possible, and if other clubs decide that they want to do the same thing to us, we’re not gonna have any issue with it.”

Kapler expanded on his thoughts the next day:

Not only do I love thumbing your nose at the unwritten rules, but I really love the logic behind it. I never thought of that – keep hitting, keep attacking because you’ll get deeper into the other team’s bullpen. Also, this made me laugh:

And, as Joc Pederson said after the game: “You don’t like it, play better, I guess.”

Man, yes. Print the t-shirts already! -TOB

Source: “Giants’ Alyssa Nakken makes history; Antoan Richardson says ejection followed comments with ‘undertones of racism’, Andrew Baggarly, the Athletic (04/13/2022)

PAL: It’s professional baseball; all is fair. Who doesn’t like a little added animosity?


If Your Team is Tanking, Don’t Give Them Money

Despite the labor deal, MLB still has a tanking problem. After the lockout ended, the A’s traded away every good player they have. The Reds did the same, including underpaid all-stars, like Jesse Winker. They are trying to rebuild, they’ll tell you. Trust the process. But you shouldn’t.

The Reds team president offered that reminder this week, when asked during an interview why fans should trust the team after all these trades? His response?

“Well, where you gonna go?”

Yeah, man, where you gonna go? This reminds me of a scene from Can’t Hardly Wait:

https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxHDK9ciqw78J6npP69f4cChfwVdxiv6CV

That’s right, Amanda Beckett. Somebody. When your owner asks: where you gonna go? Be like Amanda Beckett – tell him somewhere. These teams think they can hold you hostage. They think they can treat you like crap – collect your money, pocket it, and put out a terrible product that isn’t even trying to win. So, don’t let them. Go somewhere else. Spend your money elsewhere. -TOB

Source: Reds President And CFO Asks Fans To Consider Whether Maybe This Is Actually All Their Fault,” David Roth, Defector (04/12/2022)


White Men Can’t Jump, at 30

I saw this movie in the theatres, apparently just as I was turning 10, with my dad. And I gotta say – it was wildly inappropriate for a child of that age. But, it’s also a great movie. As the movie turns 30 (and I 40!), I enjoyed this short* oral history of the making of the movie.

But here’s the best part, regarding that final scene when Billy Hoyle finally dunks:

In one of the final scenes of the movie, Billy and Sidney bet on whether Billy can actually dunk. Harrelson claimed he could actually dunk and would do so for the shot.

Johnson: And so the basket was at ten feet. Woody had been walkin’ around with these strength shoes — these strength shoes have, like, a — like, a big, gigantic pad on the ball of your feet, and then nothin’ on the heels. So you’re walkin’ on your calves the whole time. So Woody’s got these strength shoes on. He’s preppin’ to get this dunk down on the ten-foot basket. So we get to that part of the scene he’s got to dunk. And he’s nowhere close.

Snipes: And we had a side bet going on.

Harrelson: Yeah, we had a side bet, which kept growing.

Johnson: Ron Shelton’s like, “We gotta lower this thing, Woody. We don’t have all night.” So Woody’s, like, “No — no, whatever you do, don’t lower the basket. I know I can do it. I’ve done it before. I’ve been workin’ on this for the past couple of months.”

Johnson: Woody leaves and goes to his trailer. So my favorite line is Ron Shelton. It’s, like, “Take that thing down to nine and a half feet, please.” And so — they did, and Woody came out and dunked.

Shelton: I recall, as the bet was being upped, the rim was being lowered.

Harrelson: Then we upped the bet a little bit, and uh, oh my God. I’ll never forget [Snipes’] face when I slammed that.

Snipes: Ron, you were the co-conspirator, man. … You set me up.

Shelton: Yeah, gradually. I was.

Harrelson: I didn’t realize. I thank you for that, by the way.

That’s hilarious. Watch that scene again – look at Harrelson’s face. He really thought he dunked. LOL.

*So many oral histories drag on way too long. I enjoyed how this one got in, told its story, and got out. -TOB

Source: ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ at 30: Sneakers, bets and stories from an all-time sports movie,” Jeremy Willis, ESPN (04/12/2022)


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After having just flown with our baby the other week, this one really nailed it.

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Your art was the prettiest art of all the art.

Roy Anderson

Week of April 1, 2022

Yeah, now it will click – eight seasons into his career.

Second Base

TOB sent this one over to me and within a minute I was scrunching my face in disbelief. Second base is where? It’s not 90 feet from first and third? 

No, it isn’t. Hasn’t been where we thought it was for a long time. 

Jayson Stark breaks it down, best captured by the following diagram:

Since 1887, second base has never been positioned quite the same way as the other bases. How can that be, you ask? I asked the same question. Just take a look at this diagram from the official rulebook of baseball. Hopefully, you’ll see that one of these base things is not like the others.

See where first base and third base are located? They’re nestled into their natural corners on each side of the diamond. But now check out second base. It looks lovely, positioned aesthetically in the middle of the infield. Just one problem.

It’s not nestled into its own natural corner of the diamond.

Instead, it’s too deep (geometrically speaking), positioned so that the imaginary corner runs right through the middle of the bag.

Why? How even? I knew you’d ask.

The short explanation is that first base and third base were repositioned to help umpires make fair/foul calls. How? Because once they were moved to their current locales, any ball that hit the bag was obviously fair. Very helpful. Joe West’s thank you note is in the mail.

Odd, sure, but it’s more significant than a historical tidbit, especially now as minor league baseball begins an experiment: its moving second to be in line with first and third, nestled into the geometric corner. That moves the base closer. Add to that change the the fact that minor league baseball will also experiment with larger bases (from 15 inches to 18 inches). The combination of moving second in line and bigger bases means that second base will now be over a foot closer to first third. A foot is a huge distance. Think of all those bang-bang plays in a game. When a player that’s out or safe by a foot, it’s not that close play, many times I’m sure doesn’t even require instant replay.

The hope is that by moving the base closer the game will encourage more aggressive base running. More steals, more attempts to stretch a single into a double, and more runners trying to go from first to third on a single. More excitement. I wouldn’t be surprised if this change has a major positive impact on the game. 

But, the most incredible part of this story remains that second base isn’t 90-feet from first and third. Fun baseball read. – PALSource: Why baseball is moving second base, and what this experiment could mean for the game,”Jayson Stark, The Athletic (03/28/22)


Will Smith Stole The Show

Did you all hear Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars? Of all the words spoken and written about that moment, this story from Christpher Clarey has stuck with me the most. In what should have been a moment to celebrate the Williams sisters’ incredible story – authored in many ways by their father (who Will Smith portrays in the movie) became about Will Smith and just what the hell he would say (why was he still even there?!?) upon receiving an Academy Award for best actor. 

Per Clarey:

But then, as so often happens with the Williamses, things got complicated — and, through no fault of the sisters, an evening that should have affirmed their against-great-odds rise to stardom instead became about Smith slapping the comedian Chris Rock onstage.

When Smith accepted the Oscar, he delivered a tearful, rambling, semi-apologetic speech in which he said that “art imitates life” and “I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams.”

Serena, watching the speech from a front-row box seat, covered her face with her hand.

Clarey then goes on to remind folks of the sisters’ journey to the top of women’s tennis, and just how rare it is that they both made it, that they remain close, that they began a new era in their sport. If it weren’t true, we wouldn’t believe the story of Venus and Serena. Of course, it all came with its fair share of complications along the way, but a night at a movie awards show should not be one of those complications. Smith’s acceptance speech became about him that night instead of what his award-winning performance celebrated. – PAL 

Source: Will Smith Owned the Williams Sisters’ Story Onscreen. Then He Stole Their Moment.” Christopher Clarey, The New York Times (03/28/22)


Pointless Zion Williamson Story

And I’m still thinking about it over a week later.

Zion Williamson was the top NBA draft pick in 2019, and the closest we’ve had to Charles Barkley. At 6’ 6”, he’s a physically dominant player in the league when he’s right, but Zion’s been hurt a lot in his young career, playing in only 85 of the 226 possible games. He’s also looked a bit husky while not playing, which is especially concerning for a very young dude with injury issues, especially foot issues. 

Some wonder if Zion will force his way out of the small market team. He’s reportedly rehabbing in Portland, far away from the Pelicans, until recently. He’s yet to play a game this year. 

Despite the ups and downs, there’s a good chance a team will give him a max contract, be it New Orleans or elsewhere; his talent will overshadow the injury and diet red flags. Not many can do this:

TOB knows a lot more about hoops than I do, so I’ll let him add some insight, but when Zion wants to go to the basket, it sure doesn’t seem like there’s much anyone can do. So strong, and quick. The league is more fun when he’s playing, but this year has been a series of delayed debuts for Zion.  

  • In September, the Pelicans reported Zion had surgery on his right foot in the offseason, and the team said he’d be ready for the regular season (late October).
  • November 26: Zion is cleared to participate in full team activities
  • December 16: Zion is shut down, to be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks
  • January 5: Pelican’s tell media Zion will continue his rehab away from the team
  • February 10: GM David Griffin says, “Zion continues to progress well anecdotally at least. He feels very good. We hope that towards the end of next week or beginning of the following, we’ll have some imaging done and have a better update.” 

That all sounds like shit is going in the wrong direction for Zion and the Pelicans. Then this video shows up:

Damn, Zion! Looking good! Looking bouncy. Speaking of bouncy…

From Tom Ley:

I honestly do not know what’s going on here. Hardwood courts certainly have some give to them, but turning one into a trampoline should be impossible, even for a human as dense as Williamson. Which means the only conclusion that can be reached here is that shenanigans are afoot! The Pelicans obviously installed a special springy floor at their practice facility for the sole purpose of producing one grainy clip of Williamson performing an allegedly impressive basketball maneuver. 

Does this dunk – legit or not – make any difference to Zion’s future? Not one iota, but what the hell is this? Who thought it was a good idea to post this vid, knowing the internet will sniff out anything fishy. I remain fascinated. – PAL

Source: ZionWatch: Bouncy Floor??Tom Ley, Defector (03/23/22)


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No, no, no. I have Vienna sausages, and I have napkins. Let me fix you breakfast.

Meredith Palmer