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)


Videos of the Week


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

Meredith Palmer