Best of 2015, Part 1


On this, the day of the Rose Bowl, a.k.a, “The Granddaddy of Them All”, we bring you Part 1 of 123’s Grandaddy of Them All – the Best of 2015. Today’s post features our 6 favorite stories we shared with you throughout 2015. Take some time and read even one of these stories. They are all fascinating. Tomorrow, Part 2 will feature the 6 funniest stories and our favorite videos from 2015. This AP photo of Harry Caray was our favorite that we came across. Are you sensing a superlative theme here?

In all seriousness, we love sharing these stories with you, our friends and family. If you love 123 Sports, or even like it sometimes, then we would so very, very much appreciate you spreading the word this weekend. While our readership is the best, it’s quite small. We’d like to change that, and we need your help in order to do so. Send the link to a friend and tell them it’s worth 10 minutes every week. – TOB & PAL

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Mark Davis Doesn’t Give a Damn What You Think

This is an amazing piece of journalism, by one of my longtime favorite sportswriters, Tim Keown. Keown profiles Raiders owner Mark Davis, who took over the team when his dad, Al Davis, died in 2011. That guy above? That’s Mark. Do you see that haircut? Mark has been rocking that awful hairdo for years, and people have been mocking it for just as long. But Mark Davis doesn’t just like that haircut. He travels 500 miles to Palm Springs to go to the same barber to get that haircut. Does he know people laugh at it? Yep. Does he care? Nope. The dude is worth $500 million and he does not care what you think. Check out the opening paragraph to the story:

Most days start the same — behind the wheel of a white 1997 Dodge Caravan SE outfitted with a bubble-top Mark III conversion kit, a VHS player mounted to the roof inside and a r8hers personalized plate. Mark Davis pilots this machine from his East Bay home to the nearest P.F. Chang’s, where he sits at the left end of the bar, same spot every time, puts his white fanny pack on the counter, orders an iced tea and unfolds the day’s newspapers. Beside him on the bar, next to the papers, is his 2003 Nokia push-button phone with full texting capability. When someone calls and asks him where he is, he says, “I’m in my office,” and sends a knowing nod to the bartenders. It gets ’em every time.

I have read that five times and I laugh every time. If that doesn’t make you click this story to read the rest, I give up. -TOB

Source: Just Live Up to Your Dad’s Name and Solve the NFL’s L.A. Problem, Baby!”, Tim Keown, ESPN the Magazine (10/01/2015)

PAL: The next time someone tells you “I don’t care what other people think,” you can call bulls*&t. Simply pull out your phone, have them read this story. Mark Davis doesn’t care what other people think, and he’s the only one. Hilarious story. Great find. Also, the man is worth $500 million and he drives a conversion van with a vanity plate. Can we get the Mark Davis biopic movie into pre-produciton already?


Twins.com

This is one of the funniest stories I’ve ever read. Durland and Darvin are twins. In 1995 they registered for the URL twins.com. In the 20 years since, all but 3 URLs for MLB baseball teams have been secured by the MLB. The holdouts: The Giants (football team got that one), the Rays (a restaurant in Seattle has that one), and the Twins. While the Giants and Rays situations make sense, the Twins URL makes for a great, absurd, hilarious story. I don’t want to spoil too many tidbits about these brothers – remember, their names are Durland and Darvin – but here are a couple teasers:

  • Aside from living together, at one point they had complementary black and white humvees. 
  • They were in a successful San Francisco band…a “copy” band of course, and nearly made the finals of a national Battle of the Bands in the early 80s against eventual winner…Bon Jovi.

I want a 30 for 30 doc on these brothers, and I want it now. – PAL

Source: “The Website MLB Couldn’t Buy”, Ben Lindbergh, Grantland (8/27/15)

TOB: I cannot recommend this story highly enough. It is completely absurd and I laughed out loud at least a half dozen times.


Before He Was A Cub, Harry Caray Was A Trailblazer

“The Stacks” collection is one of the best series featured on Deadspin, and this week’s story will have you smiling all the way through. Read how Harry Caray (the legendary Cubs announcer and perhaps Will Ferrell’s best impersonation) got his break into calling games for the Cardinals, how he changed the way baseball was announced, his odd but powerful relationship with “Gussie” Busch (Budweiser), and how his “call it as I see it” approach enraged players and coaches alike. Some people loathed him, but the fans sitting by the radios throughout the country loved him. In his own words:

“I like to think that if I’ve accomplished anything, well, I’ve tried to develop the feeling in the little man, the man we call the fan, that I have his interest at heart. In the baseball business I’m the last of the nonconformists. I feel that eventually, in this day and age, my kind of guy’s gotta get fired.”

Fantastic read that got me ready for the baseball season to kick off! – PAL

Source: “When Harry Caray Was A Rebel With A Microphone,” Myron Cope, Sports Illustrated, October 1968 (℅ Deadspin, 4/1/15)

TOB: Like many baseball fans of my age, I grew up watching Cubs games on nationally-aired WGN, announced by Harry Caray. He was like a lovable grandpa – loud and funny, maybe a little drunk. He loved baseball and he made you love it, too. But this article has me rethinking my understanding of Harry Caray. While I will always appreciate the enthusiasm with which he called a game – and his concerns about play by play announcers becoming mellow and boring was prophetic – e.g., Joe Buck, Dave Flemming (yes, I said it) – this article sure does mention a lot of people that worked with Harry that did not like him. He sounds like the kind of guy who stepped on a lot of people to get to the top. There are multiple facets to every person, but this does paint a picture of a Harry as someone whose public persona was more contrived than I had previously thought. Still, I can’t help but agree with this poem, taken from the story: “If you lack the tickets to see the Cards, you can listen in your own backyards, and the greatest show, no ifs or buts, is to hear Harry Caray going nuts.”


OH, HELL YEAH: A STORY ON HUMAN CANNONBALLS

Yeah, I went full caps lock. That’s how excited I am to share this story. It doesn’t disappoint. How are the cannons made? No one knows. How far down the barrel is the human projectile? No one knows. How many people have died doing this? Not exactly sure. Why don’t we know the answers to any of these questions? Because the human cannonball is like a magic trick in that no one who practices the art divulges any information on how it is done and it’s not like there’s a circus version of Baseball Reference out there to keep records such as fatalities for a stunt that’s been going on for hundreds of years. Also, good luck if your dream is to become a human cannonball. It’s a family affair, in large part to protect the aforementioned trade secrets. One overachiever from – where else? – Minnesota has found her way into a club that some estimate is less than 10 active members. Gemma “The Jet” Kirby gives writer Robbie Gonzalez a partial peek into the guarded world of the Human Cannonball. – PAL

Source: A Glimpse Inside The Secretive World Of Human Cannonballs”, Robbie Gonzalez, io9 (4/30/15)

TOB: Wow. This is fascinating on many levels. I recall the first time I saw a person shot out of a cannon. The details are incredibly vivid to me. I was at Disneyland, probably about 6 years old. We were headed toward Tom Sawyer’s Island (yes, I know the name has changed). A crowd was gathered and my parents told me that someone was about to be shot out of a cannon. What in the world!  We were quite close to the cannon – I remember him tucking inside. He was dressed a bit like Evel Knievel. There was incredible anticipation in the crowd. Then an explosion! And holy hell if the guy didn’t fly halfway to Tomorrowland! Looking back, he probably flew only to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But it was far! Far enough that I couldn’t see him land. My dad assured me he was ok. But in reading this article, and about how dangerous this job is, how could he have been so sure? Maybe the guy broke his neck? Thanks for letting me see a guy break his neck, Mom and Dad. Also: Drug dealers use cannons to shoot drugs across the border from Mexico??? This story has it all. Finally, am I imagining this story at Disneyland? Was it a dream? Mom and Dad, you are invited to chime in on this topic.


Tom Brady: Profile of a Christopher Guest Character

Tom Brady is successful, and, according to the writer, “anything but a bonehead football player.” Yet, he comes off like a, well, a bimbo in this story. Like the best characters from all of the Christopher Guest movies, he seems to lack self-awareness outside the realm of the football field. I’ll let one quote do the heavy lifting for me: ‘He marched me back into the house, through the kitchen and past a shelf that displayed a large glass menorah. “We’re not Jewish,” Brady said when I asked him about this. “But I think we’re into everything. . . . I don’t know what I believe. I think there’s a belief system, I’m just not sure what it is.”’ There are two types of people that can say something like this and get away with it – really attractive women and Tom Brady. And – yes – of course he is a spokesman for Stetson cologne. – PAL

Source: “Tom Brady Cannot Stop”Mark Leibovich, The New York Times Magazine (1/26/15)

TOB: If you’re looking for some laughs, read this story. Phil and I had a great time copy/pasting the best Tom Brady lines to each other as we read. Find a buddy and do the same.


Steve Kerr: Good Dude

Steve Kerr is a five-time NBA champion as a player, and his Golden State Warriors are presently up 1-0 in the NBA Finals in his first year as an NBA coach. He is quite possibly my favorite person in sports – earnest, honest, unflappable, a great father, and above all else he seems kind, which is a rarity in his world. But there was a time when Steve Kerr was just a scared, lonely, 18-year old kid, just weeks into college, when he received news that his father, a university president in Beirut, had been assassinated by a terrorist organization. Kerr’s family was scattered throughout the world at that point. He could have packed it in and left college. I don’t think too many people would have faulted him. Instead, he marched on. As his college teammate Bruce Fraser says, “It feels strange to say this, but…I think the death of his father helped Steve as a basketball player, because he realized it was just basketball.” I am sure that if given the choice, Kerr would take his dad over his basketball career, but it does give some insight into how he has become such a truly decent person, when so many people in sports are not. Kerr understands – this is a game, it is not life, and he is lucky to have created such a great life by playing a game. -TOB

Source: The Assassination of Steve Kerr’s Father and the Unlikely Story of a Champion”, Chris Korman, USA Today (06/03/2015)

PAL: I wish this focused less on Kerr’s biography following his dad’s death and more about how he struggled and/or dealt with the tragedy. That wish isn’t likely to come true. By all accounts, Kerr doesn’t talk about it much, and his friends follow his lead. I understand. I’ve heard Kerr on a couple podcasts and on his weekly interviews with Tom Tolbert, and this guy comes off like the real deal. Sincere, funny, and – judging by this story – a hard-ass competitor. There’s not a lot of bluster to him, and I like that. I was just talking to TOB, and we agreed – we’d like to be more like Kerr than, say, a Tom Thibodeau if we were coaches (we’re talking about coaching a Little League team to greatness next year). Kerr seems like a good dude who’s succeeded following a horrible tragedy, and though that storyline might seem cliché on the surface, his version of it is unique in sports. With that said, I don’t understand how he remained at school instead of going to Beirut for the services after his dad’s death.


Video of the Week: Wait for the Best of 2015, Part 2 tomorrow! We’re posting the best videos/vines of the year in addition to the funniest stories of the year.


Song of the Year: No, this is not a song released in 2015, but a song discovered in 2015. For me, it was a clear choice: Fleetwood Mac – “What Makes You Think You’re The One”.

Check out all of our Songs of the Week in this here playlist.


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“What kind of person could ever cheer for that Duke team over the Fab Five? Is that someone you would ever want to be friends with?”

-Chris Ryan, Grantland

 

 

 

Week of December 6, 2015


It’s Time to Talk About the Warriors

I have been hesitant to write about the Warriors until, you know, they actually lose a game. But it’s time. What the Warriors are doing right now, 23-0 at the time of publication, is likely the most incredible thing I’ve seen in my life as a sports fan. Most of those 23 games haven’t even been particularly close. There are not enough superlatives for this. The Dubs have the whole league feeling like Kemba Walker does here:

 Unfortunately, in the closing seconds of a win over the Pacers on Tuesday, Klay Thompson sprained his ankle. I hope it isn’t too bad, because they will need him in order to do something historical. How historical? Before their 23rd win on Tuesday, FiveThirtyEight’s projection system has them with a 44% chance of setting the all-time NBA record with 73 wins a season, surpassing the 72 wins recorded by the 1995-96 Bulls (and a 25% chance of winning an insane 75 games). In this brief article, Kyle Wagner breaks down the various projection systems’ predictions for the Warriors’ final record.

Source: It’s Time to Take the Warriors’ Chances of Going 73-9 Seriously”, Kyle Wagner, FiveThirtyEight.com (12/08/2015)

PAL: The Warriors are absurd, and oh-so-fun to watch. Solid article, but I liked the other FiveThirtyEight article, which focused on trying to contextualize Steph Curry’s shooting. How about this nugget: “Curry shoots threes about as well with a defender 2 to 4 feet away (classified as “tight” by NBA.com) as an average NBA shooter does with the nearest defender 12 feet away.”


Scott Weiland’s Letter to Charlie Weis. Wait, What?

Back in 2005, in the first year of his original deal and after very little success, Notre Dame handed head football coach Charlie Weis a massive, 10-year contract extension. They quickly lived to regret that, and ended up having to pay him a buyout of $19 million. Notre Dame made their final annual payment on that contract this month. In other news, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland died last week at the age of 48. Weiland had struggled for years with drugs and alcohol. These two stories are seemingly unrelated. So why do I bring them up together? As it turns out, Weiland was a huge Notre Dame football fan. He grew up in the midwest and his father went to Notre Dame. Weiland was such a big Notre Dame fan that in 2007 when Weis was rumored to be considering taking the New York Giants head coaching job, Weiland wrote Weis a fervent open letter, literally begging Weis not to leave Notre Dame. A sampling:

But LEAVING NOTRE DAME, your Alma Mater, without having achieved really anything of monolithic proportions like you’ve promised us is absurd and unfair. So at this point, I will get on my knees and beg. Don’t do it Coach. Don’t do it! Stay and do what you promised; your team, your school, the fans, the legacy deserves to be taken to the Promised Land.

The whole letter is pretty amusing, as Weiland writes like a 12-year old throughout. What a weird story. -TOB

Source: Dead STP Frontman Scott Weiland’s Impassioned Letter Begging Charlie Weis to Stay at Notre Dame”, Troy Machir, Sporting News (12/04/2015)

PAL: I never would’ve guessed this. It’s strange to read the words of a rock star that come off like such a dorky Notre Dame guy – impassioned and hyperbolic with the blinders firmly affixed. Also, Jimmy Clausen was a thing.


Vicarious Abuse

In Minnesota, the “Hockey dad” is a thing, as I’m certain it’s “Football dad,” in Texas, “Tennis dad” in some faux “academy” in Florida and so forth, especially in places where a sport and location are nearly one and the same. Watching a parent lose control at youth sports game is surreal and disturbing. The lack of awareness needed in order to, say, threaten violence on an umpire, referee, or – worst of all – your kid  in a public setting at a meaningless sporting event is unsettling.

Untitled 2

O’Sullivan’s dad was beating him by the time this picture was taken.

Patrick O’Sullivan’s story of enduring years of physical abuse is horrible, yet familiar. We’ve heard this story before. However, his perspective on it is refreshing and needed, especially  in an era when younger and younger kids are specializing in a sports at the insistence of coaches and parents. O’Sullivan’s take on the single-mindedness of it hits home, especially for a dude that grew up in a hockey-crazed community:

“Once you get to the pro level and you witness how fast the game moves, you finally realize that no amount of running or weight lifting or private lessons is going to change one simple question: Do you understand hockey? Do you really understand the game? Do you know where that puck is going next?”

O’Sullivan’s dad is a pathetic failure. – PAL

Source: Black & Blue”, Patrick O’Sullivan”, The Players’ Tribune (12/09/2015), ℅ 1-2-3 reader Pat O’Brien

TOB: This was a really disturbing, but also necessary, read. It helps that O’Sullivan is a little removed from the game – he is 30 years old, but has been retired since 2012. This perspective allows O’Sullivan to note two important truths about his horrible story: (1) the worst part of it all is that O’Sullivan’s NHL success undoubtedly makes his awful father believe he did the right thing; that O’Sullivan owes his success to his dad beating the hell out of him, day after day, for over a decade; and (2) that there were people, grown adults, who saw O’Sullivan’s father abusing him after games and did absolutely nothing. O’Sullivan’s story could have been a woe is me memoir – but instead he makes an important point: parents abuse their children, and it is not acceptable. But the least acceptable thing is for other adults to witness the abuse, look the other way, and do nothing. As O’Sullivan closes his story:

“I’m writing it for the people in the parking lot. Yes, if you say something, you may ruin the relationship you have with that person. You may get embarrassed in front of the other hockey parents. You may have to go through the awkwardness of filing a police report.

I can understand why a lot of people worry, “But what if I’m wrong?”

If you are wrong, that’s the absolute best case scenario. The alternative is that child is a prisoner in his own home. What you’re seeing in the parking lot or outside the locker room — whether it’s a kid getting grabbed and screamed at, or shoved up against a car — could just be the tip of the iceberg.

It’s so ironic, because the hockey community loves to talk about toughness and courage. In that world, courage is supposed to mean standing in front of a slap shot without flinching, or taking your lumps in a fight.

But that’s easy. That’s not real courage. Anybody can do that. I guarantee you there’s hundreds of kids across North America who will get dressed for hockey this weekend with their stomach turning, thinking the same thing I did as a kid: “I better play really good there, or tonight is going to be really bad.” It just takes one person to act on their instinct and stand up for that child. That’s real courage. The kind we don’t always glorify in the hockey world.”


Video of the Week:

Wait for it…

Baseball players are so lovably dumb.


Tweet of the Week

-Former teammate of Marshawn’s at Cal, who went on to play quite a few years in the NFL.


PAL Song of the Week: A Tribe Called Quest – “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo

Check out the playlist here. Consider it your holiday bonus.


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Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

– Clark Griswold

 

Week of November 30, 2015

God bless the super senior.


Greatest Post-Fight In-Ring Interview Ever

I almost made this the Video of the Week, but it really deserves so, so much more. When I saw this I texted it to Phil and said: “This is why we started 1-2-3 Sports!” It’s quite possibly my favorite sports video of all-time. Quick background: British boxer Tyson Fury beat long-time Heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko last Saturday. It was a HUGE upset. Klitschko had been the champ for 10 years. In the ring after the fight, Tyson Fury (that name is pretty fantastic) took the mic and…just watch:

Tears in my eyes, man. -TOB

PAL: I cannot recommend clicking on this link enough. So absurd and hilarious.


Once Again, Navy’s Uniforms Are So Choice.

A few years ago, Navy unveiled these awesome uniforms for its annual game against Army. Those helmets remain SWEET.

Navy 1Nothing about that is bad. Great job by Nike. Since then, Navy has moved to UnderArmour, and I do not often say this, but UnderArmour has bettered Nike on this one:

Navy 2

Look closely. Those are seven different helmets, with seven different hand-pained Naval ships, with one ship for each position group. Plus:

Navy 3“Damn the Torpedoes” vertical down the leg. They’re gonna be so fired up, they’ll win by 50. Sorry, Army. And thank you to my own mother for sending in this story. We love reader submissions! -TOB

Source: Navy’s Badass Helmets for Army Game Have Hand-Painted Ships, Custom For Each Position Group”, Jason Kirk, SB Nation (11/30/2015)

PAL: “Damn the torpedoes” on the pants is a half-step too far. Everything else about this jersey kicks ass.


The Greatest Season by The Great One

In the 85-86 NHL season, Wayne Gretzky tallied 215 points in 82 games. For some perspective, Gretzky had more assists in that season (163, or just about 2 per game) than the previous NHL scoring record-holder (Phil Esposito) had goals and assists. To be fair, the NHL in the 80s was kind of like the NBA in the 80s – that is to say, high scoring – and I’m trying to figure out what a good comparison would be. Jordan averaging 45ppg? Magic averaging 15 points and 20 assists per game? I don’t know, which is kind of the point of this story. It’s hard to find a comparison to how great Gretzky was, especially in that 85-86 season. – PAL

Source: Assist by the Great One: How Wayne Gretzky redefined scoring in the NHL”, Colin Fleming, Sports Illustrated (12/02/2015)

TOB: I thought about Phil’s challenge for about 30 seconds before Steph Curry’s name popped into my head. And I spent much of the evening trying to formulate how I would make the argument that what Curry is doing as a shooter in basketball is equal to Gretzky’s prime as a scorer in hockey. Curry is shooting so many threes, at such a high rate, that the comparison is apt. But I wanted to find something to really make it stick. While trying to find an article to support my position, I had Sportscenter on in the background and heard Scott Van Pelt start talking about Curry. And he nailed it. I transcribed it, edited a bit for space:

“After our show last night a few of us were sitting in the office when something hit me: We’d done the highlight of the Warriors win, it’s 20 wins in a row to start the season; we’d shown the highlight where Steph scored 40 and we’d shown his latest monotone explanation about being more confident, and whatever else he said. And, here’s where I think we failed: We just acted like this is normal. Because this is what he’s done. Steph Curry has blinded us in short order to the fact that what he does on a nightly basis is completely out of order and outrageous.

An Ethan Strauss article on ESPN.com today began with a Klay Thompson quote: ‘This is normal. This is normal, now.’ Well, yes and no. Yes, this is what Curry does. But no, nothing about this guy is normal. He scored 28 points in a quarter. He had 14 points in the final 1:53 of the quarter on shots averaging almost 30 feet.

Tom Haberstroh had some insane stats on ESPN.com and on Sportscenter that framed the lunacy of Curry so very well. He’s 4 for 10 on shots of 30 feet or more this season. That’s legitimately his range. He’s gonna pull from a dribble over halfcourt sometime soon and I will expect it to go in. It will be effortless and it will be a reasonable shot for him to take. Haberstroh listed 17 NBA teams that have gone a combined 4 of 119 from 30 feet or more this season.

Another gem: Curry is on pace to make more 3’s over the course of last season and this one than Larry Bird had in his entire 13 year career. Larry Friggin Bird. 

Whatever the volume of freakout is on Curry, it is still insufficient and it is not hyperbole. He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen and it’s really not close. I want to make sure we do a better job of not being as nonchalant as he is about it. Because this is starting to feel like some once in a lifetime stuff, and acknowledging it, and appreciating it, as it happens is what ought to be done. So we will.”

Amen, SVP.


Never Change, KG

Kevin Garnett is very nearly insane, and the stories are so damn entertaining. This is an anecdote by Jackie MacMullan, in a story about how KG is mentoring the young Timberwolves. It is set back in 2009, when KG was still with the Celtics. Coach Doc Rivers asked KG to sit out a practice, to give him some rest. Here’s what happened:

“Garnett, forbidden to take the floor by his own coach, had concocted his revenge: He would track the movements of power forward Leon Powe, the player who had replaced him in the lineup. As Powe pivoted, so did Garnett. As Powe leaped to grab a defensive rebound, Garnett launched himself to corral an imaginary ball. As Powe snapped an outlet pass, Garnett mimicked the motion, then sprinted up his slim sliver of sideline real estate as Powe filled the lane on the break. The players were mirror images: one on the court with a full complement of teammates, the other out of bounds, alone. Two men engaged in a bizarre basketball tango.

“KG,” Rivers barked, “if you keep doing this, I’m canceling practice for the whole team. That will hurt us.”

Garnett’s reverence for coaches was legendary, but still he turned his back on Rivers. He returned to his defensive stance, an isotope of intensity, crouched, palms outstretched, in complete concert with Powe. He was, in fact, becoming so adept at this warped dalliance he’d invented, he actually began to anticipate Powe’s movements, denying the entry pass to his invisible opponent before Powe thought of it.

Finally, an exasperated Rivers blew the whistle. “Go home,” Rivers instructed his team. Then he glared at Garnett. “I hope you’re happy.”

Hilarious. More KG stories, please. -TOB

Source: “Rookie Watch: The Cruel Tutelage of the Wolves’ Kevin Garnett, Jackie MacMullan, ESPN.com (11/25/2015)

PAL: Just to be clear, this is not the endearing type of crazy. KG is crazy crazy, as in “ruin a career crazy”. Also – I know I’m in the minority on this, but I can’t help but think the picture of him sitting in front of Flip Saunders’ parking spot has a pinch of self-aggrandizement. Interesting read, to be sure, but what KG defines as leadership comes off as, well, a teenager’s misguided understanding of the concept.


Flip A Coin: The Sports Tradition Goes Way Back

The coin toss first shows up in a sport’s rulebook in 1774. No surprise here, it appears in a cricket rulebook. Many of us consider it a tradition that now carries little significance to the game it precedes, but this story outlines many instances where that was not the case. Sometimes it led to a rule change (Jerome Bettis, anyone?), and in other cases (the NBA Lottery) it likely changed a franchise’s destiny. Most interesting, however, is how important the coin toss remains in cricket (for now?). Fun read about something we hardly ever think about in sports. – PAL

Source: Coin Toss Retains Its Place in History, if Not in Cricket, Victor Mather, The New York Times (11/30/15)


Bench Celebrations Never Get Old

Monmouth’s basketball team is off to a good start. They got a win at UCLA, then beat #17 ranked Notre Dame and USC. They are 4-2 and were a on my radar a bit after those big wins. But now they’re really on my radar, thanks to this Deadspin article highlighting their bench celebration antics. My favorite has to be this one:

But click the link and watch the rest. These guys are having fun and not afraid to look silly. Isn’t this what college sports should be about? -TOB

Source:Nobody in Sports is Having As Much Fun As the Monmouth Bench”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (11/29/2015)

PAL: Would it be in poor taste to buy a keg and send it to the residence of where these perfect morons live in New Jersey? 100% love these goofballs.


Video of the Week:

PAL: Do any of our readers know this young lady? Asking for a friend.


PAL Song of the Week: Van Morrison – “Into The Mystic”. Dance with a loved one in the kitchen. Hold them tight, and don’t say a damn word.

Here’s the full playlist of all our picks. It’s all over the place, like you and me. 


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“You thought he was cute? Do you realize when he graduated we were like three years old?”

-Mike

Week of November 9, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.04.40 PM

Known as a dunker early in his career, Steph Curry has added a reliable outside shot to his game this year. 


 “I’ve never really given it my best” – Michael Phelps

He’s the most decorated Olympic athlete ever. A GOAT in every respect, and, for a good amount of time, he was also a young man adrift, unhappy, and – though no one close to him will out and say it – flirting with addiction issues. Following a stint in rehab, Michael Phelps seems happy, focused, and serious about training for the first time since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. If his recent race times are any indication, Phelps’ best might be yet to come in what will be his fourth Olympics. Referring to the upcoming Rio games, longtime swim coach (not Phelps’ coach) Eddie Reese says, “I think we’re going to see him go faster than he’s ever gone. Faster than [high-tech] suit times. He’s going to be very, very hard to beat.” I dug into this profile – it touches on a lot of factors at play (absent father, addiction, yes people vs. real friends, and riveting relationship between Phelps and his long-time coach, Bob Bowman). When it all comes down to it, I’m in – I want to see what Phelps’ best looks like. – PAL

Source: “After rehabilitation, the best of Michael Phelps may lie ahead”, Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated (11/10/15)


Phil Lang: Ahead of the Fashion Curve

Not too many years ago, it seemed weird to me to see a guy wearing shorts above the knees. But fashion has changed and now it’s weird to see a guy wearing shorts below the knees. Just the other day I was at a coffee shop and I saw a guy in his early 20’s and he had those monstrously baggy basketball shorts that were down to his mid-calf, and I could not stop wondering how he thought this was ok. To be fair, I always thought shorts that baggy were terrible. To be sure, baggy shorts were in from the early-90’s until just a couple years back. To his credit, 1-2-3’s own Phil Lang has been rocking thigh-highs for years. But even as men’s shorts have crept back northward, it hadn’t really hit the NBA. Until now: LeBron James, has begun wearing shorts several inches above his knee this season. To wit:

Nov 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) works against Philadelphia 76ers guard JaKarr Sampson (9) during the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

He’s still wearing compression shorts underneath, but it did get me wondering: With LeBron wearing shorter shorts, could we eventually see an NBA player return to the butt-huggers of the 70’s and 80’s?

DRJ

And then I read this article about Russell Westbrook’s interest and influence in high fashion. We now have our suspect: If any current player has the fashion sense and the clout to rock the Thighlights like Dr. J did, it’s Russ. I predict he does it within the next two seasons. -TOB

Source: LeBron Reveals the Reason Behind His Shorter Shorts“, Zach Harper, CBS Sports (11/09/2015); NBA Star Russell Westbrook is Changing How Men’s Fashion Works“, Joshua Green, Bloomberg Business (11/03/2015)

PAL: Am I visionary? A fashion icon? An inspiration? It’s hard to say no to any of those questions I posed to myself. I’ll add that I’m grateful my contemporary, LeBron James, finally saw the light I was shining.


We, The Fans, Are Morons, Exhibit 845

Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett was busted for DUI a couple weeks ago. The response from fans: Frustration with law enforcement for not doing real work. I would contend keeping drunk drivers off the road qualifies as real work, but that’s just me. My favorite: “[U]nderage drinking and a blood-alcohol content threshold of 0.08 are artificial limits set by a cowardly Ohio General Assembly more interested in federal highway funds than what was right for Ohio.” – PAL

Source: These Letters To The Editor Of The Columbus Editor Defending J.T. Barrett Are Hilarious”, Patrick Redford, Deadspin (11/8/15)

TOB: We now have dash cam footage of the arrest. Do yourself a favor and watch it to the end. The best part comes when the cops, who have kindly decided not to take J.T. to jail and allow someone to pick him up, have a hearty laugh at the fact that the person on his way to pick J.T. up is none other than Cardale Jones. Cardale is the other Ohio State QB, and J.T. and Cardale have played a bit of musical chairs with the starting QB job over the last two seasons.


The NFL Wants SF to Take Down Overhead Muni Cables

I just can’t even. At this point, the NFL is just trolling me. Me, personally. Reports this week say that the NFL wants the city of San Francisco to remove all the overhead Muni cables on Market Street in order to accommodate “Super Bowl City” for Super Bowl 50, which ohbytheway, will be played 45 miles south at Levi’s Stadium, the home of the Santa Clara 49ers. And ohbytheway, this will cost millions of dollars to accomplish. Even if the NFL foots the bill (which there is no suggestion that they are offering to do), I want to punch Goodell in the face. This will inconvenience commuters for weeks. I don’t even want them in our city. Go to San Jose, which is a lot closer to Santa Clara. If you wanted to “host” a Super Bowl in San Francisco, then maybe you should have built the stadium in San Francisco. And if the citizens of San Francisco wouldn’t give you any money to do so, maybe the 49ers should have spent their own money to do it, just like the Giants did. -TOB

Source: Muni Wires May Come Down for Super Bowl“, Joe Fitzgerald RodriguezSan Francisco Examiner (11/12/2015)

PAL: There’s one point you’re missing, TOB: The NFL wants it. They want it! Gimme…gimme. Come on. Just…Seriously, come on. I want it. I want it. I waaaaaaaaaant iiiiiiiiit! God, this is so unfair. 


Thursday Night Football Unwatchable For TOB and Others Like Him

So there were some new jerseys on display in Thursday night’s football game. The Buffalo Bills wore all red; The Jets wore all green. “Who cares?” you might ask. Well, I’ll tell you who – colorblind folks like Tommy. Deadspin did a nice job putting together a video of what the game looked to those folks – it really does look like everyone’s wearing the same jersey.

image

I’ve seen :15 of the world from your perspective, TOB, and I don’t like it. – PAL.

Source: Stupid Nike Uniforms Wreaking Havoc On Colorblind NFL Fans”, Timothy Burke, Deadspin (11/12/15)

TOB: Actual post I made about these uniforms as a comment Thursday night on FB long before reading this story: “I’m colorblind. When it is zoomed in, I’m fine. But on the normal distant shot I have serious trouble telling them apart.” It sucks, man. I am hopeful that, one day, the plight of the Color Blind is taken seriously.


Video of the Week:


PAL Song of the Week: Goat – “Run To Your Mama

Check out the entire playlist. I like it, and you just might, too.


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“I’m not talking about dance lessons. I’m talking about putting a brick through the other guy’s windshield. I’m talking about taking it out and chopping it up.”

– Royal Tenenbaum

 

Week of October 19, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.53.06 PM

Stan Van Gundy’s rap game is raw. 


Donuts Are Serious Bidniss

Sometimes it seems that being a professional athlete can be really tedious. That coupled with the fact that many pro athletes are overgrown children can at times lead to some really strange and funny happenings. Take the Minnesota Vikings’ Donut Club. On Saturdays, the players don’t have to arrive at team facilities until 10 a.m. But, as an incentive to arriving early, the players have created a Donut Club – which is exactly what it sounds like and so much more. There are rules to Donut Club: For example, don’t be late; don’t touch the donuts before the designated time (8 a.m.); Always finish your donut; and wear your Donut Club uniform. Yes, Donut Club has a uniform. And it’s kinda sweet:

donut

This is one of the funnier, goofier stories I’ve read in quite a while. -TOB

Source: The Rules of Donut Club”, Kalyn Kahler, The MMQB (10/20/2015)

PAL: These are the seemingly insignificant traditions the make life great. Stupid routines and rules that bring us together and laugh. Doesn’t matter the reason or the time of day – find a way to get together with your people. Look at the smiles on the dudes’ faces. 100% joy. Who wants to start a donut club?


Still The Same: The Chicago Cubs

Cubs fans – and baseball fans in general – have seen this movie before. The Cubs find ways to come up short. Sometimes it’s a cursed goat. Other times the blame falls on a dorky guy in a turtleneck reaching over the wall to snatch a potential out from his home team. This time, it was a better team with a scary-good starting pitching staff and a second baseman out of a Matt Christopher book who can’t stop hitting home runs. This article sums up the 100+ years of heartbreak. D. Francis Berry writes this game summary in the vernacular and stylings of a turn-of the 20th Century sports reporter. It might be a little cute, but it’s the perfect way to to encapsulate the timeless failure that is the Cubs. God love ’em. – PAL

Source: Even in the Language of 1908, the Cubs Come Up Losers”, D. Francis Berry, The New York Times (10/22/15)


Gif break! 


Handsome Man Throws Baseball

Sometimes I read an article that is not terribly interesting, but I want to share the article because of one passage or quote that is too funny to pass up. This is one such instance: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was struck on his pitching arm by a line-drive in Game 1 of the NLCS. He was fine and was throwing the ball around a few days later. Mets’ pitching coach, Dan Warthen, was asked how Harvey looked playing catch and Warthen responded: “Very handsome.” Heh. -TOB

Source: Matt Harvey Expected to be Available for Game 5 Despite Triceps Bruise”, Anthony Rieber, Newsday (10/19/2015)

PAL: Here’s my Matt Harvey prediction –  his career will mirror Josh Beckett’s in every way. Great stuff, solid success, moments of clutch post-season greatness (don’t forget Beckett threw a complete game shutout against the big bad Yankees, in New York, in the deciding game 6 of the series). Also, at 26, Harvey is already on his way towards mimicking Beckett’s skinny man gut


Gif break! 


The Next Great Fight Already Happened

Tommy is the boxing fan of this duo, but this story has a cool angle to it. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, a late-bloomer from Kazakhstan, is an unlikely choice to be the next big draw in boxing after Floyd Mayweather’s apparent retirement. Yet, the man has serious power (30 knockouts in 33 of his wins. The more likely “next big thing” would have been Canelo Alvarez. The young, talented boxer’s path to the main attraction seemed to be determined before he was 20. The two boxers, with paths that bear no resemblance, find themselves one last fight from the top before it would make sense for them to square off. They fight would be the main draw in a sport that really needs just that. Turns out, they’ve already fought. There were only a handful of people to witness it, but GGG and Canelo sparred 5 years ago it what might prove to be the preview to an eight-figure fight in the near future. There is a lot of other elements to this story – some I dig and some I don’t mind, but I’m a sucker for the foreshadow story that takes place in some nondescript ring. Boxing is all about the build up anyway, right? I mean, I for one like Rocky’s training montages more than the fights. – PAL

Source: ‘Are You Serious?’ The Unlikely Ascent of GGG to PPV”, Eric Raskin, Grantland (10/16/15)


PAL Song of the Week: Ann Peebles – “I Can’t Stand The Rain”

Check out the full playlist with all of our songs here. Play it loud while doing your Saturday chores. You ain’t too old to play your music real loud.


Video of the Week: 

http://bcove.me/kpufkj3i

Bills fans go hard.


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“And then, I look over, and she’s reading J. Crew, which was so weird, because I was such a huge J. Crew person then, too. Still am. We sometime like to go to Starbucks on weekends and take an L.L. Bean catalogue along, and I’ll say, ‘Honey, what’s new?’ And she has 5 minutes to look through and find out what’s new.”

– Hamilton Swan

Week of September 14, 2015

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It’s Just a Sweet, Sweet Fantasy, Baby…

If you watch sports on TV, you have lately been inundated with commercials for “Daily Fantasy” sports. The Daily Fantasy commercials feature excited people receiving oversized, seven figure checks (longtime 1-2-3 readers may recall this story about a guy making $1M/year in fantasy sports that we featured in one of our very first posts). It all sounds great, and on Monday night, I thought, “Well maybe I should try it.” This, despite the fact that I am a terrible fantasy football player. I am glad that I instead found this story on Tuesday, which made me realize that I would merely be throwing my money away. To wit: “Analysis from Rotogrinders conducted for Bloomberg shows that the top 100 ranked players enter 330 winning lineups per day, and the top 10 players combine to win an average of 873 times daily. The remaining field of approximately 20,000 players tracked by Rotogrinders wins just 13 times per day, on average…Only the top 1.3 percent of players finished in the green during the three months measured by the Sport Business Journal.” Those odds are awful. Don’t get suckered in. Don’t play Daily Fantasy. -TOB

Source: You Aren’t Good Enough to Win Money Playing Daily Fantasy Sports”, Joshua Brustein and Ira Boudway, Bloomberg Businessweek (09/10/2015)

PAL: Hey, my college buddy and sportswriter posted the perfect companion piece! Whereas Brustein and Boudway’s take underscores the odds of winning playing DFL (I will only refer to it as DFL from here on out), Opatz takes a crack at the effect DFL has on how we experience games. In addition to learning about DFL camps in Vegas (for cryin out loud), he nails it when he writes, “Watching sports for fantasy takes the poetry out of it, reducing the subtleties and nuance of sports to simple accounting in a ledger. It turns an epic novel into a spreadsheet. But that didn’t stop me from drafting a fantasy football team this year.”

Source: Fantasy Factory”, Louie Opatz, Litchfield Independent Review (09/10/2015)


Baby, I’ve Got Your Money

If you enjoy college sports, the idea to allow schools to pay players directly is troubling. In a free market system, an already stratified sport would only become worse, and the games would become a farce. Inevitably, many schools who are barely breaking even as is would be forced to cut football. At other schools, profits from football pay for non-revenue sports, including women’s sports. If college football players begin getting paid, available profits for smaller sports will shrink. The Title IX implications are also significant – it is likely that, at least at some schools, every non-revenue male sport would have to be axed in order to comply with Title IX. It seems like a horrible mess and the death of college sports. However, inspired by a Nike commercial tribute to Animal House featuring great Oregon Duck football players of the past, Andrew Sharp proposes a system to pay college football players, without the payments coming directly from the schools themselves. His suggestion: Allow private companies to pay them. Nike, UnderArmour, local car dealers, etc. Just let players trade off their fame. It hurts no one. Hell, it even helps college football. If Johnny Manziel could have traded off his likeness for $10M/year for two more years of college, he’d be a lot better off, and so would college football fans who got to watch him, than he is being battered in the NFL. This idea is not without flaws, as schools like Oregon, with strong ties to Nike will have a strong advantage over other schools. But it’s better than the alternative, and at least the players are getting paid. -TOB

Source: The Pac-12 and the Smartest Way to Pay College Athletes”, Andrew Sharp, Grantland (09/16/2015)


I’ll Give You Summer Teeth. Some’r Here, Some’r There.

As a non-hockey fan, I do enjoy a good hockey fight. I was actually a big hockey fan in the early to mid-90’s, but when you get older you have to prioritize. I watch way less sports in general than I did when I was a kid, and hockey is one of those sports that did not make the cut. One of my favorite things about hockey fights is “jerseying” – when the players fighting attempt to pull their opponents’ jersey over their head. I had no idea, though, that this practice was effectively banned by the NHL in the late-90’s, which is a bummer – it’s such a classic move. This light-hearted article takes a look back at the history of Jerseying with some excellent examples, including an appearance by Terry O’Reilly, who was immortalized in the opening moments of Happy Gilmore. -TOB

Source: It Made Sense at the Time: The Art of Jerseying”, Sean McIndoe, Grantland (09/16/2015)


Discussing the Writing of the Unwritten Rules of Baseball

This is hilarious. First, watch this video:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v484986883

Ok, who was wrong here? I think it’s Seager. What a punk. For a more thorough and hilarious breakdown, please read Grant Brisbee’s article. -TOB

Source: The Unwritten Rules of Kyle Seager Calling for Time the Wrong Way”, Grant Bisbee, SB Nation (09/17/2015)


Alabama Weak Sauce

By now everyone has heard how nuts Alabama football fans are about their team. They are proud to be certifiable when it comes to the Crimson Tide, so I have to call them out on this weak ass crap. Every year before the home opener, people come together for the “Bear Bryant Namesake Reunion”. I know what you’re thinking – whoa, that’s nuts! Everyone named after Paul “Bear” Bryant come together to celebrate his or her father’s obsession with football that swirled out of control to the point where he named his child after a football coach. Here’s the deal – the rules for being a namesake are weak. Bryant Lambert, Andrew Bryant Madaris, William Bryceton Wooters, Paula Harrison – although technical namesakes, these folks are getting pretty loose with it. Only one kid featured here had the obvious, most bad-ass name: BEAR. That’s commitment to the insanity which should be at the heart of this bonkers tradition. As far as I’m concerned, there are only two people who should get the invite next year: Bear Bryant’s son (Paul, Jr.), and 7 year-old Bear Zeiden. – PAL

Source: Where Bear Meets Bryant, Again and Again“, Mark Tracy, The New York Times (9/14/15)

TOB: This reminds me of a favorite story of mine. In the late-1980s, the father of Isaiah Thomas, the player currently on the Celtics, was a huge Lakers fan. The story goes that his father was friends with a big Pistons fan, and that the two made a bet before the 1989 NBA season. If the Pistons won the title, Thomas’ dad had to name his son Isaiah Thomas, after the Pistons star. The story goes that although Isaiah was born 3 months before the Finals, by that time his dad had warmed to the name and it stuck.


PAL’s Song of the Week: Fleetwood Mac – “What Makes You Think You’re the One”Bullseye Podcast w/ Jesse Thorn

Check out all of our weekly picks here. It’ll make you better looking


Video of the Week

Hitting Cage Bombs with my amigo, Domingo Ayala! If you get a few minutes, check out more of Domingo’s videos. Like this one. And this one.

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“Hi… not you… Hi.”

– Ernie McCracken

Week of September 7, 2015

“Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in ’83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically. The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He’s been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far more bitter, cynical sense of humor.”


Story Update: Tom Brady, Still a Bimbo

Around the Super Bowl last year we brought you a story about Tom Brady and we wondered aloud: Is Tom Brady a bimbo? We answered our own question with a resounding “yes”. This week, fuel was added to our Tom Brady as bimbo fire, as Brady’s locker was spotted with a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat. After the photo went viral, people wondered if Brady’s owned the hat seriously. The answer: Another resounding “yes”. In response to the question, Brady said this week that Trump is Brady’s “good friend” and that Trump “has done amazing things.” Once again, 1-2-3 Sports can confirm: Tom Brady is a bimbo. -TOB

Source: Tweet from Michael McCann, @McCannSportsLaw (09/08/2015)

PAL: Trump is the DNC’s secret weapon. Is Billy Clinton still the maestro?


Home Court

No surprise that the NY Times is at the cutting edge of multimedia stories. Here’s yet another example of a clear concept executed to perfection. This story is a series of short, narrated vignettes about the home courts of tennis greats set to the moving images of a typical day. Here is the neighborhood court where Andy Murray, Serena & Venus, Federer, Sharapova, and more first honed their craft. This feature is remarkable in its simplicity, and I love it. – PAL

Source: The Top Tennis Players In The World Started Here”, Catrin Einhorn, Joe Ward and Josh Williams, The New York Times (09/03/2015)

TOB: Really cool. One thing I like about tennis, as opposed to golf, is that while it seems like an upper-crust sport, it does not take a lot of money to play tennis, and so many of the great tennis stars have come from very modest backgrounds. That fact is well illustrated here by NYT.


Finding a Diamond in the Rough

For NFL teams, finding a good quarterback has always been difficult. The speed of the NFL game is so much faster than the college game that many great college quarterbacks have flamed out in the NFL. NFL coaches, though, fear it is getting worse. With the proliferation of spread and hurry-up offenses throughout college football, quarterbacks are not being prepared to face NFL defenses. The idea behind the hurry-up offense is not to fool defenses, but to run simple plays, over and over so that the offense perfectly executes the plays, and to do them quickly, to prevent defenses from having the opportunity to adjust or substitute players. College coaches using these offenses do not concern themselves with preparing their quarterbacks for the NFL – they do not see themselves as a minor league for the NFL. They want to win. Baylor is a perfect example – Bryce Petty entered the NFL this year after two great, record-breaking seasons at Baylor. But when quizzed by NFL coaches prior to the draft, he couldn’t identify even the most basic football concepts that any NFL quarterback should understand. And that’s because no one ever taught him. Understandably, NFL teams are terrified of what this could mean for the future of finding elite quarterbacks and they do not have a plan. I do think college coaches should be wary, though: If high school quarterbacks start to realize that these offenses are not preparing them for the NFL, the recruiting wells could begin to dry up for those schools. -TOB

Source: Why the NFL Has a Quarterback Crisis”, Kevin Clark, Wall Street Journal (09/09/2015)

PAL Note: So you’re telling me that the NFL has to coach its players? On a macro-level, it’s an interesting notion that the premier league (NFL) has to adapt to trends surfacing in what is essentially its farm system (college football).

TOB: But I get it. If you’re going to risk your job and pay millions to a player at the most important position in your sport, you’d hope that they understand the difference between a Cover-2 and a Cover-3, something someone who has played even a little bit of Madden understands, but somehow one of the best college quarterbacks in the country could not do.

PAL: Is Madden a new Settlers of Catan spin-off?


Jarryd Hayne: One of a Kind (?)

Perhaps the one bright spot in what has become an atrocious offseason of historical proportions for the 49ers is Jarryd Hayne. By some, he’s considered the Michael Jordan of the National Rugby League (Australia & New Zealand). Like Jordan, Hayne left his sport in his prime to pursue another sport – the NFL. It’s still unknown whether or not Hayne will make the gameday roster, but he’s shown enough in the preseason to at least start on the practice squad. This story breaks down how Hayne’s rugby talents are unique in their application to football, which are not likely to be followed by other rugby stars. Cool story, and I’m rooting for him. – PAL

Source: “Why Jarryd Hayne will make it in the NFL — and other rugby league players won’t”, James Dator, SB Nation (09/09/2015)

TOB: Very astute question mark in the title there by my main man, Phil. I don’t get why Dator wrote this. He is strongly discouraging other rugby players from even attempting what Hayne is trying to do. But why? Maybe he’s right. Maybe Hayne is unique in the rugby world in his ability to make an NFL roster. So what? If a rugby player attempts and fails to make the NFL, can he not go back? Dator writes as though the player cannot, which is silly. It’s also silly to suggest that there are literally no rugby players from Australia (or elsewhere) that have the skillset/talent to make the NFL. Hayne is half Fijian, a Polynesian country. There have been Polynesian players in the NFL for decades – great ones, too. Players like Troy Polamalu, Haloti Ngata, Mike Iupati, Jesse Sapolu, Mark Tuinei, and of course Junior Seau. Polynesian players in Australia and elsewhere excel in rugby, and there is no reason those same athletes can’t follow in the footsteps of guys like Seau and Polamalu and have an impact in the NFL.


Video of the Week

Our first 1-2-3 Sports Poll. Which wiffle ball catch is more impressive:


PAL’s Song of the Week: The Band – “Don’t Do It

Check out all of our picks on this dynamite playlist here. John Muir said, “It’s the best playlist I’ve ever heard.”


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“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”

– Rob Gordon

 

Week of August 3, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 10.39.58 PM

An Interview With Mike Krukow

An excellent radio interview with Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow, as he discusses dealing with his muscle disease, discusses the exciting debut of Giants rookie Kelby Tomlinson, the return of Matt Cain, and more. Worth a listen. -TOB

Source: Krukow Opens Up to Radnich About Muscle Disease”, KNBR (08/04/2015)

PAL: One of the simple pleasures of living in this city is having Kruk and Kuip narrate the sport I so love. I just love these guys, and my heart goes out to Kruk, but he’s a gamer. He speaks so frankly (“It sucks, it does.”), and he remains upbeat and passionate – always passionate – about the Giants.


Italians Are Officially Insane

Look at this sport! Look at it! The game starts and the players just start fist-fighting. Brawling! It’s like a cross between MMA/Boxing, Rugby, and No-Holds Barred Pool Basketball. My brother Pat O’Brien sent me this video last weekend and I couldn’t believe it. Watch for a little bit. Bodies begin dropping and littering the playing field. I found the sport on Wikipedia. It is called, “Calcio Fiorentino.” The rules are stated as: “…the players try by any means necessary to get the ball into the opponent’s’ goal.” They aren’t kidding. -TOB

Source: Calcio Storico 2014”, Youtube

PAL: I think this might be the truest form of sport I’ve come across. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s a sight to behold. Watch a few minutes from the beginning, middle, and end. You will be at once shocked, disgusted, and enthralled.


What Might Have Been: Jimi Hendrix – Sports Illustrator

Jimi Hendrix was not human. More specifically, none of us shared anything with Hendrix – at least that’s what I thought – but I guess the tabloids are right. “Stars – they’re just like us!” What the hell am I talking about? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has five Jimi Hendrix drawings from from when he was 15, all of them depict various teams from the Pac-12. Check them out, if for no other reason than to see proof that this legend was human at some point in his short life. – PAL

Source: Have you seen Jimi Hendrix’s college football drawings?”, David Lombardi, ESPN.com (8/5/15)

TOB: As a diehard Cal fan, I do love this. It popped up on the internet a few years ago, and every so often it makes the rounds. I like to pretend he really liked Cal, and the others were just out of pity. Reminds me of a video clip of a Tom Hanks interview where he says he’d rather win the Heisman as a Cal running back than an Oscar (Hanks grew up in the East Bay).


Don’t Make Fun of MJ. It Makes Us All Feel Old.

Teenagers really suck, don’t they? This little chump has the gall to go to Michael Jordan’s basketball camp and during the Q&A make fun of MJ’s shoes (which are dope, btw) with some meme that no one over the age of 17 knew. How you gonna play MJ like that, son? -TOB

Source: “Michael Jordan Victimized by Meme-Wielding Teen”, Tom Ley, Deadspin (08/04/2015)

PAL: A part of me kind of likes this kid – actually – I support this chump 100%. MJ’s fashion sense – including his shoes – is atrocious. This kid’s calling it like he sees it, and I see it the same way.

TOB: Here are the shoes MJ was wearing. Those are nice!

Simple! Clean! Undeserving of scorn!


Story Update: Junior Seau

After much excoriation, the NFL/Pro Football Hall of Fame have reversed course, as Junior Seau’s daughter will be allowed to speak at his induction this weekend. 1-2-3 Sports! pats itself on the back for the part it played in righting this wrong. -Staff

Source: Junior Seau’s Daughter to Speak at Hall of Fame Induction”, Steve Almasy, CNN (08/01/2015)

PAL: This speech is a great opportunity to honor her father and use the platform to speak her truth. I hope she speaks from her heart, and if that includes speaking about CTC, then so be it. If not, that’s absolutely fine, too, but make them take the microphone from her hands. For an entity as paralyzed by the fear of PR fallout as is the NFL, I doubt they are capable of doing anything in the moment.


Video of the Week: 

Rays rookie gets the silent treatment after his first career home run, but he does not let them stop him from celebrating.


Bonus Video of the Week: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:13312264

This is a great 30 for 30 short on Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of John, Bobby, and Ted, mother of Maria, and her extraordinary efforts to improve lives through the Special Olympics. It might get a little dusty in the room.


PAL’s Song of the Week: The Tallest Man On Earth – “Sagres”

Check out the 1-2-3 Song of the Week playlist. Tommy’s wife really likes it, and you will, too.


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“Look, Buttermaker, you’re not my father and I’ll not move an inch to play baseball for you any more. So why don’t you get back into that sardine can of yours and go, go vacuum the bottom of the Pacific Ocean? I’ve got business to take care of. You’re blocking my customers with your car.”

– Amanda Whurlizter

Week of July 13, 2015

“How come your dad couldn’t pick you up from practice?”


A Giant Pedigree

1-2-3 favorite Jonah Keri, who inspired me to buy this very cool tie that I am wearing as I write this, wrote about how the Giants managed to put together an all-home grown infield. That infield is presently the best in baseball by WAR: Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, and Duffy, three of whom are All-Stars. It’s especially impressive in light of (1) the Giants losing home-grown Pablo Sandoval to free agency in the offseason; and (2) team architect Brian Sabean’s previous reputation as a guy who did not know how to draft and develop position players – a reputation that was pretty well deserved for a long time. When you throw in the fact that the Giants have a possible all home-grown rotation (when everyone is healthy) of Bumgarner, Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong, and Heston, and you start to see why the Giants have been so successful over the last half decade. -TOB

Source: Grown at Home: How the Giants Built the Best Infield in Baseball”, Jonah Keri, Grantland (07/15/2015)

PAL: Man, did I pick the right time to move to San Francisco or what! All five infielders and five starting pitchers. Damn, that’s cool. This article really underscores what a huge, unexpected surprise Panik and Duffy are this year. Crawford, Belt, Posey – hey – that’s pretty good. But all five? Again, damn.I love this team like the rest of you – and this story only adds to that love, so let me be the fun sponge for a moment. The starting pitching scares the hell out of me. The word “fumes” comes to mind when I think of all they’ve done over the past 5 years. Cain, Timmy, and Vogelsong might well be on career fumes. One more time, guys!


Media: Please Stop Covering Eldrick Woods.

There’s no story here, just a rant: The British Open began yesterday. It’s at St. Andrew’s, a classic links course. I don’t watch much golf, but St. Andrew’s is my favorite when I do. Tiger Woods has won the Open three times, and twice it was at St. Andrew’s. So there seemed to be some interest in how Tiger might fare there this year. After one day, it is official: Tiger is done. DONE. Can we stop covering him? He hasn’t won a major since 2008. 2008!!!! And yet his weekly failures are reported on ESPN’s frontpage as if it is news. Especially in the Majors. He shot a horrible 76 yesterday, tied with old man Tom Watson for 139th of 156 golfers, eleven strokes behind the leader. And Tiger made the ESPN.com frontpage. Sportscenter did a full 5-minutes on him. Enough! He no longer deserves that status. He should be treated like every other golfer: When he is in contention, cover him. When he’s not, don’t. And it’s time to revoke the nickname Tiger. He’s back to Eldrick. “Tiger” is for closers. -TOB

Source: The 2015 British Open Leaderboard

PAL: “Tiger” is for closers. File that under “Favorite Tommy Lines”. I agree with you, but no one outside of the die hards watches golf. A lot of people have at least a passing interest in Eldrick’s story. While there is a certain group of people who relish this extended comeuppance after his salacious downfall, I think the real draw is the fact that a GOAT at the front end of his prime (for his sport) seems to have lost it. As crazy as this sounds, 49% of me thinks this dude still has 2 majors in him. While they weren’t majors, Woods won 5 tournaments as recently as 2013, and few sports allow a competitor to play at or near the highest level for 20 years. That, and I’m still a bit blinded by his dominance now 10 years in the rearview.

TOB: Quick point: You think Tiger is on the front side of his prime? He turns 40 this December, so the PGA Championship next month will be the last major of his 30’s. Even ignoring all his knee trouble, which has been significant, that is old. The average age of a winner of a major is 32. Guess how often players win a major over 40? Since 1986, when Arnold Palmer famously won the Masters at the ripe “old” age of 46 for his first major since the year he turned 40, only 7 players over the age of 40 have won a major. That is about 5%. Eldrick is done.


You Mess With The Bull…

Joe Distler was an ad man in New York living the regular life. Life was routine. Then he picked up The Swords of Spain in a bookstore. Then he went to San Fermin. Then he ran. He’s been running with the bulls ever since, and he’s considered one of the best to do it. I love how his story is a balance of romance (“I feel I am part of the herd”) and instruction (“Rules of The Run”). If nothing else, give this story a chance just to check out the beautiful photographs. At a more fundamental level, this is a story about a regular guy rediscovering a the passion for life that’s all so often inseparable from fear. – PAL

Source: “How To Run On The Horns In Pamplona”, Joe Distler, Tru.ink (2015)


“Dunk of Death”

Although the name doesn’t stick, most of us know Frédéric Weis. He’s the 7-footer Vince Carter jumped over in the 2000 Olympics. It is one of the most popular – and some would say incredible – dunks of all-time. Prior to the Olympics, The Knicks drafted Weis in the first round. Despite the posterization, things were looking up for the big man from France, but everything changed for the worse shortly after the Prior to the “le dunk de la mort” (Dunk of Death). The professional embarrassment at the hands of Carter had nothing to do with it. Here’s a story about the other guy in the sports highlight. – PAL

Source: For Frédéric Weis, Knick’s Infamous Pick, Boos Began a Greater Struggle“, Sam Borden, The New York Times (7/14/15)

TOB: Reminds me a bit of the story on Craig Ehlo we covered a few weeks back. I knew that Weis was the guy that Vince dunked over, but did not know that he was drafted by the Knicks. An interesting tidbit in there is how Weis was treated by Jeff Van Gundy during his one summer with the Knicks: Not well.


Never Change, Marshawn

This one does not require much explanation: Marshawn Lynch was at his youth camp this week and a reporter saw he had chicken wings. Stored in his sock. When the reporter asked why, Marshawn said: “”My auntie fried up some chicken and I had my hands full, and I don’t have no pockets on my shorts, so I just had to use what I had.” So resourceful. As I said: Never change, Marshawn. -TOB

Source: Why Marshawn Lynch Kept Chicken Wings in His Sock”, Jeff Bercovici, Maxim (07/16/2015)

PAL: Man, this would have been great as an “extra” in the Marshawn Lynch biopic (single tear). Hard not to love Lynch, but – come on – this is disgusting.


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GOAL!!!!! Look at him pulling a Steph Curry, celebrating before it even goes in.


PAL Song of the week: Mike Sempert – “Oceans of Rock and Roll” (great song for a solo drive)

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“There is nothing better than to be shot at and missed.”

– E. Hemingway

Week of June 22, 2015

What’s missing?


Blowback on a Whistleblower

This article made me sad, but it’s a good read. We have covered the Jackie Robinson West (JRW) Little League team a couple times now – first during their run to the U.S. title last summer, and subsequently when that title was stripped after an investigation revealed the team had used players outside their league’s boundaries. JRW’s run had inspired many, as a team comprised entirely of black kids from Chicago proved that baseball is not dead in the inner-cities, so people were understandably upset when their title was stripped. Much of that ire was directed at Chris Janes, a coach from a rival Little League from suburban Chicago, who was the person that alerted Little League officials to JRW’s use of ineligible players. The fallout was not pretty. Janes was accused of racism and received death threats, and at the height of his stress became involved in an unrelated but bizarre, drunken incident. Janes seems like a good guy, and he says after all he’s been through, he’d be the whistleblower again. I find it sad that he had to go through all that. It’s shameful that adults would have broken the rules, which only hurt these kids (and the teams they beat along the way) to begin with. And it’s even more shameful that the whistleblower is blamed by adults who should know better. -TOB

Source: Little League, Big Trouble: Jackie Robinson West Whistleblower Chris Janes Pays the Price”, David Mendell, SB Nation (06/24/2015)

PAL: A must read. “A handful of JRW players had received public congratulations from a congresswoman, a suburban mayor and others who hailed from outside JRW’s boundaries, with each specifically noting that players lived or went to school in their locales, outside the area served by JRW.” Through the first quarter of this story, I thought it was pretty clear. The Jackie Robinson West team broke the rules by bringing in ringers to excel in competition at a 12 year-old level. Pathetic. Although nothing changes that fact, the story does a great job presenting the other factors at play. This is a strange mix of politics, race, alcohol, whistleblowers, and Little League; Dave Mendell does a great job telling this story, but what would I give to read Hunter S. Thompson take a swing at this one in his prime.

Consider this: At a time when roughly 8% of Major League Baseball players are black (down from 19% in 1986), we had an all-black Little League team from the inner city winning the most feel-good, apple pie, American sporting event – the U.S. championship of Little League World Series. Remember, JRW’s run in Williamsport coincided with Mo’ne Davis taking the public by storm in becoming the first girl to pitch a shutout in the LLWS. We had feel good stories at the feel good event of the summer.

There’s no getting around it – the Jackie Robinson West team shamelessly broke a clear rule. They brought ringers in from outside of the boundaries. That’s weak. But the youth team’s rise and downfall unleashed emotions about issues far more complex than Little League.


Don’t Give In To Pete Rose

Most hits in MLB history. Fantastic player by all accounts. A competitive, team player. World Series titles. His play merits an induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is littered with racists, drug abusers, misogynists, and all around despicable people. After all, it’s a museum, not a hall of community leaders. So he bet on baseball. Who cares? Put him in with an asterisk and tell the old man to shut up already.

I care. I’m surprised by how much I care, actually. He broke a rule fundamental to the legitimacy of the sport I love the most. When players determining the outcome of the game gamble on the game, then how far away are we from wrestling? Fittingly, Rose appeared on WrestleMania between 1998-2000. More than the rule he broke, his brazen style of lying for decades really sticks in my craw. He infamously set up shop during induction weekend across the street from the Hall of Fame and sign copies of the Dowd Report (the investigation finding Rose to have bet on baseball as a manager for the Reds).

He continued to gamble. Then he cashed in on his lies and came clean in an autobiography… only he didn’t come clean! He lied in his admission. Oh, and by the way, Pete Rose voluntarily accepted his place on the permanently ineligible list. The Hall of Fame and managing are the two things in his baseball life that he’s wanted and has been told “no.” He’s not in prison (although he did do a stint for tax evasion). By multiple accounts he makes millions in appearance fees and memorabilia signings. So that’s the punishment. Rose doesn’t get what he wants just because he really wants it. -PAL

Source: “Pete Rose still belongs in the Hall of Fame”, Jayson Stark, ESPN (6/23/15)

TOB: Please read Jayson Stark’s article to get my position on this subject. But it basically boils down to: How can you have a Baseball Hall of Fame without some of the greatest players who played? This goes for Bonds and Clemens, too. I understand Phil’s anger, I guess. But I feel bad for Pete Rose. I do. Yes, he’s made millions signing autographs (though that would not have changed had he been reinstated). And yes, he’s not a likeable guy (though that would not make him unique in the baseball Hall of Fame). And yes, he accepted his punishment (though he was always eligible to be reinstated). But come on, how can you not feel for a guy who lost everything he cared about because he couldn’t stop gambling? Presumably, he has a disease, a gambling addiction for which he has paid a terrible price. He’s old. I doubt he has 10 years left. It’s time to let the guy into the Hall of Fame. It’s BASEBALL. It’s a SPORT. It’s a HALL OF FAME. It should be fun, and it should not be taken this seriously. The guy never hurt anyone. He bet on baseball games (there is zero evidence or even accusations that he ever bet against his team or that he threw a game). I understand the need to punish him, so that his crimes are not committed by others. But it’s been 25 years! It’s time. Put Pete Rose in the Hall, write on his plaque that he gambled on baseball and was banned for 25 years, and end this guy’s pain.


When Two Douchebags Fight, We All Win

On Monday afternoon, Sean Combs aka P.Diddy aka Puff Daddy went to the UCLA football offices to talk to strength coach Sal Alosi. An argument ensued, and during the argument Diddy picked up a kettlebell and allegedly swung it at somebody (Diddy claims he merely picked up the kettlebell and held it up in self-defense). Diddy’s son Justin is on the UCLA football team, though he does not get much playing time. Diddy’s camp is now claiming that Alosi had picked on and bullied Justin for years, culminating in Alosi sending Justin home on Monday, and telling him not to return until the end of the summer. This prompted Diddy to go to UCLA to talk to Alosi, and ended in Diddy’s arrest.

Undoubtedly, Diddy is an entitled jackass, but I don’t doubt for one second that Sal Alosi is a jerk and a bully. He’s a strength coach, which is a job notorious for employing meatheads of the highest order. On top of that, Alosi gained national notoriety a few years ago, when as a coach for the Jets, he intentionally tripped a Dolphins player during a punt return. When I realized who this coach was, and then heard the Diddy-camp’s claims that Alosi had bullied Justin, it did not surprise me in the least.

Amidst all the coverage of this story, I found this great tidbit from former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who recruited Justin Comb to UCLA:

“I took them on their campus tour. A half-hour into it, (Diddy) asked me who I was. He said, ‘Tell me what you do, Rick.’ I said, ‘I’m the head football coach here.’ He said, ‘You’re giving us the tour?’ I said, ‘Absolutely, this is my school. This is where I went. I want to give you a feel of what it’s like to be a student.’ …”When you’re weighing the assets of what a youngster can do for your program, there’s no question (being Diddy’s son) had something to do with it for me. Justin is a great kid. His problem was his size. He’s not big enough to be a dominant player. Could he be productive? Yes. The fact his father was an influential guy played into my decision to go ahead and offer him.”

The decision to use a scholarship on Diddy for his dad’s fame is such an L.A. thing to do. And Diddy being on a tour with Rick Neuheisel, a fairly famous college coach, for a half hour and not knowing who he is, is also an incredibly L.A. thing. Everyone looks bad in this story – UCLA, Neuheisel, Diddy, Alosi, and current UCLA coach Jim Mora, Jr. Accordingly, I enjoyed it thoroughly. -TOB

Source: Rick Neuheisel: Diddy Combs’ Celebrity Led to Son’s UCLA Offer”, Mike Huguenin, NFL.com (06/24/2015)

PAL: I heard this all stems from Ma$e’s son jumping Diddy’s son on the depth chart.


Brotherly Brawls

The Buffalo News ran a long feature on Rex Ryan this week. It’s a great read. During the 49ers coaching “search” this offseason (I say “search” because they clearly had no intention of ever hiring anyone but in-house guy Jim Tomsula), I campaigned openly for them to go after Rex. Mostly because he is a very good coach. But also because he is fun. This is a perfect example, a story of the time Rex and his twin brother Rob got into a fist fight because Rex wouldn’t join Rob on a double date:

They were students at Southwestern Oklahoma State. Rob wanted to take a lady on a date and needed Rex to be his wingman. Rex wasn’t down for the mission because he’d already met Micki, the woman he would marry.

Rob: “I was a solo rider and had a babe on the line. But she had a friend. I said, ‘You know, come on. Be a team player.’ ”

Rex: “I said, ‘Dude, I’m staying at home today.’ ”

Rob: “So after a few hundred beers I said, ‘You need to help out.’ He didn’t, so I was pissed and got in a wrestling match with him. I think he was a lot more sober than I was.”

Rex: “I was bigger and was just going to throw his ass down. But he reversed me and got on top. So we went at it. We ended up outside, and here he comes.”

Rob: “I ran after him, and he had a right hand waiting for me. I never saw it coming. Still haven’t seen it.”

Rex: “I got him good, and it was over. I felt terrible. I couldn’t believe I hit my brother like that.”

Rex was furious and, as keeper of the car key, drove off to clear his head. Tatters of a bloody shirt hung off him.

“I get pulled over by a cop. He sees me and doesn’t know what he’s got,” Rex said with a gleaming-white smile. “I said, ‘I just got in a fight with my brother. You can take me back there, and he’ll explain it.’

“They take me to jail and then called my brother. He said, ‘Nah, leave him in there.’ ”

Rob’s ankle was broken during the wrestling portion of the match, and his nose broken during the boxing portion. When they arrived in New Orleans for Super Bowl week, Rob’s ankle was in a cast. “We both had black eyes,” Rob said. Buddy wasn’t amused.

Is it too late to hire Rex? Damn. -TOB

Source: The Wild Early Years and the Football Family That Shaped Bills Coach Rex Ryan”, Tim Graham, Buffalo News (06/22/2015)


Video of the Week

Might be my favorite video we’ve ever featured. -TOB


PAL Song of the week: Roger Miller – “Oo-De-Lally” . Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“Just remember. It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

– G. Costanza