Week of March 4, 2016

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Uhh, can you tell that baseball is back? Yes, 1-2-3 Sports is excited. Photo c/o Dottie Blue


The Science Behind the Sweetest Sound in Sports

Every baseball fan knows and loves the crack of the bat. Even when an opponent does it to your team, when you hear that pure sound of a ball crushed by the sweet spot of the bat, you know you’ve witnessed something pretty amazing.

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So, why, exactly, does the sweet spot create that crack, while a ball off the end or the handle creates completely different noises? SCIENCE is here to help. -TOB

Source: An Ode to the Crack of a Bat, The Most Satisfying Sound in Sports”, Carrie Hunt and the Spoonerisms, Deadspin (03/01/2016)

PAL: “Watching baseball is an exercise in craving that sound as a sort of near-Pavlovian stimuli. Our brain is constantly receiving hundreds of messages from our sensory system, and our sense of sound is a big part of filling in the gaps of what we see.” What a great article. Applying science, psychology, and even neurology to a feeling so absolutely perfect only adds to my appreciation for one of my favorite sounds. That and my buddy Matt Scanlan just made me a wooden fungo bat – he friggin’ made it. I mean, look at that beauty in the photo up top. Hot damn! I’ve been looking forward to hitting fungos this Saturday morning for the last 24 hours. 


Fun With MLB Photo Day

This made me legitimately LOL a number of times. This week MLB had “Photo” day, where they take headshots (and more) of every player and coach at Spring Training. Grant Brisbee went through over 5,000 of this year’s photos and noticed that most of the photos fall into one of eleven categories. In this article, Grant lays out the eleven categories, including “Let Me Show You a Baseball”, “Fake Hitting a Home Run”, and my favorite – “Coach Swallowing a Bug:

MGR

Yep, he definitely just swallowed a bug. Please enjoy. -TOB

Source: The 11 Genres of Baseball Photos from Photo Day”, Grant Brisbee, SB Nation (03/03/2016)

PAL: TOB, you overlooked the best category: The Class Photo. Who knows? Perhaps someone from 1-2-3 Sports! has a series of senior class pictures with a lot of hair gel, wearing a suit from Jos. A Bank, and pointing a baseball bat at the camera. Baseball players are such doofuses.


Do They Panic? Do They Flinch? NOPE.

I wanted to share these two stories on Steph Curry and the Warriors last week, but life got in the way and I didn’t have time to write them up. Lucky me. Because on Saturday night Steph and the Warriors went bananas – trailing the Thunder the entire game, only to force overtime after a crazy turnover, and then winning in OT on a 32-ish foot bomb by Curry. If you didn’t see it, crawl out from that rock you’re under because here it is:

That, by the way, tied the NBA record for 3-pointers in a game, at 12 (including 3 in OT). During the game, Curry also broke his own record for 3-pointers in a season, set last year. And there are two months left in the season! He’s incredible.

Anyhow, the first story is an ode to Curry by Bethlehem Shoals, one of the best basketball writers around, and how Steph’s supreme confidence allows him to do the previously inconceivable things that he routinely does. The second is a look at whether the Warriors should sacrifice their depth for a chance to sign Kevin Durant this summer, which to me is a tough call. The Warriors bench is so good that when the bench comes in during the 2nd quarter, they always extend the lead. Does Kevin Durant give enough to the starting unit to make up for what they’d lose in trying to get him? The Warriors would likely need to lose Barnes, Bogut, and Livingston, if not a little more. That’s a hefty price to pay. On the other hand…Curry and Durant together would be terrifying. It’s one of those nice problems to have, but also a problem I am glad I would not have to make the call on. -TOB

Source: Stephen Curry’s Essential Confidence”, Bethlehem Shoals, SB Nation (02/24/2016); Golden State’s Kevin Durant Question”, Zach Lowe, ESPN.com (02/24/2016)

PAL: It is absolutely nuts that a story about a team coming off of a championship, in the home stretch of a 70+ win season considering breaking up that team is…well, not necessarily ludicrous. That said, under no circumstances would I bring in KD and get rid of Barnes, Bogut, and Livingston to free up space for KD for 3 reasons:

  1. Ah…they are going to win 70+ games, and this team already holds the title.
  2. Name 1 team you enjoyed after they added a top 10 player to a team that already has/had a top 10 player (TOB loved Miami with LeBron and Wade…gross).
  3. Steph – you have your nucleus with Draymond and Klay. This Warriors team can win multiple championships without KD. The league is better when the alphas are leading their own crew. Also, that would be a weak move on KD’s part. 


Video of the Week

Clippers owner, and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer with an absolutely ridiculous, emasculating trampoline dunk. My favorite part, other than his hilarious face, is how he very nearly misses the trampoline.


PAL Song of the Week: Etta James – “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Check out all of our weekly picks here. Science has proven this playlist increases volume and shine in your hair.




 “Well, you don’t need a million dollars to do nothing, man. Take a look at my cousin: he’s broke, don’t do shit.”

Lawrence

 

Best of 2015, Part 2: The Funny Stuff

The other day, 1-2-3 Sports featured the best stories of 2015; todays’s post is all about the laughs. Here are the funniest stories and video clips that we came across in 2015.  We couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the post than this picture of Chris Christie playing softball.

In all seriousness, we love sharing these stories with you, our friends and family. If you love 1-2-3 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

http://123sports.net 

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Mascot Rampage

This is amusing. The guy pictured below, with the fantastic mullet, went to a minor league baseball game in North Carolina last weekend. 

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He got so drunk that he passed out in a stairwell and awoke around midnight, long after the ballpark had been deserted. While leaving, he stumbled upon the team’s mascot’s costume. He put the costume on and met up with friends at a local bar – dancing the night away and, as he put it, “ragin’, dude.” Nice work, guy. Also, excellent headline, Creative Loafing Charlotte. -TOB
Source: Homer’s Night on the Town: If You Drank a Shot With the Knights’ Mascot on Sept. 20, You Were Basically Harboring a Fugitive”, Ryan Pitkin, Creative Loafing Charlotte (09/30/2015)

PAL: Since there is nothing I could possibly write to make this story any better than it is, please read this excerpt:

He said he was at Hooters, so I told him to stay there. I start walking down the hallway to leave and I look to my right and see the mascot dressing room. I thought, there’s no way this door is unlocked. I turned the handle and it opens right up and there’s the damned costume.

So, I suited right up, walked out the door and proceeded to Hooters. I walked right up into Hooters and my buddy didn’t even know it was me. I was ragin’ dude.

I left Hooters and there was a big line at Tilt next door. I just said, “Yo man, can I go in?” The guy said, “No,” and I was like, “Dude, You’re not gonna let Homer the f*&kin’ mascot into your bar right now?” Then he said I could go in. There was nobody on the dance floor. I come sliding in and start getting it. I was doing all the moves you always wanted to try but are too embarrassed to.


Manny Being Too Manly?

Pedro Martinez released an autobiography this week. He’s been making the media rounds, telling some stories; this one, about the 2004 Red Sox, is especially great. They called themselves “The Idiots” – and, really, it was hard to argue. But the team also was a lot of fun. Pedro writes that before playoff games the players would take a shot, suggested by a different player each game. When it was Manny’s turn, he suggested a shot of “Mama Juana” – gin, honey, wine, and medicine root. But Manny added his own twist – Viagra. Ellis Burks, who was on the team but not active, decided to give it a shot. As Pedro tells it:

“I say, ‘You know, this Mama Juana, if you drink it, you might get turned on.’ He said, ‘Oh, I’ll try it. I’ll try it. I’m not playing anyway.’ So he took it, it seemed like it worked. So everybody was coming up to him for a little shot.”

Watch Pedro tell it himself here.- TOB

Source: Manny Ramirez Gave Ellis Burks a Boner”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (05/06/2015)

PAL: Two things: (1) Pedro Martinez, a head-hunter loathed by many (and one of the best 10 pitchers in the history of the game), is going to age very gracefully and become MLB’s cool uncle who’s full of wisdom. His stock will only go up in retirement, and he’ll become baseball’s better version of Charles Barkley. (2) Baseball players are a bunch of grown-ass men acting like fifteen year-olds, and sometime that’s really funny. This is one of those times.


Kurt Busch’s Ex Is A WHAT (allegedly)?

Nascar is dumb, but this story is fun. Fun > Dumb. Kurt Busch makes left turns for a living, and allegedly got into a physical altercation with his girlfriend. They’re in court right now, and part of Busch’s defense is that he didn’t do it because Patricia Driscoll could kill him…because she’s an assassin. Here is a thorough back story on Driscoll that makes it at least appear that the Busch’s claim isn’t that out of left field. The accompanying profile video on Driscoll is hilarious, too. – PAL

Source: “Testimony: Kurt Busch Ex Terrible At Keeping Assassin Gig On The Downlow”Stef Schrader, Jalopnik (1/14/15)

TOB: This is great writing. When I read the headline I thought, “This is going to be the dumbest thing I read all week.” But…as Phil suggests… somehow it makes sense! She’s totally an assassin! I’m all in on this and I can’t wait for the resolution.


Rapper Baseball Card Puns = The Best Tumblr

There’s more where this came from at http://straightouttacooperstown.tumblr.com


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.


An All Too Familiar Scene

This is great. A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle dragged his girlfriend to the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night, and the two of them chronicled the events in a series of amusing tweets. Here are my two favorites:

https://twitter.com/EireannDolan/status/677629950694981633/photo/1?ref_src=twsrctfw

Source: Sean Dolittle Dragged His Girlfriend to Star Wars“, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (12/18/2015)


Funniest Videos

Not much for reading words? We got you covered. Here are the funniest videos of 2015. We’ve watched these videos over and over, and they in no way get old or unfunny.
Shake that off, cake eater

I will never get tired of that smirk followed by that bomb. -TOB


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.


I Just Want To Be Friends With The Currys

Yes, that is Steph Curry, on a pony, set to Ginuwine. 


He’s The Bro-iest Bro We Know

May-may!


Life Moves Pretty Fast

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfL4G_8Uy9g

I could watch this over and over and over and laugh every time. And I have. -TOB


Warning: Explicit Language & Dumb L.A. Guy


Funny Song of the Year, Part 2: John Prine – “In Spite of Ourselves”

Check out all our weekly picks here. It’s a good playlist.


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“Life gets in the way. And, you know, the songs weren’t that good.”
-Darland Miller

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)

Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re good).


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

– E. Hemingway

Week of July 5, 2015

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How about our team?


More Than A Game: USA Women’s World Cup Victory

I was back home in Minnesota over the Fourth of July. Coming from large family (5 siblings, 17 nieces and nephew at last count), trips home are delightfully filled to the brim with dinners, youth games, late night beers, errands, and – on this occasion – work. It’s rare for me to find myself in the house alone, but that was the case during the USA’s semifinal match against Germany. I’d yet to watch this USA team play, but the collective talent on the field was clear in an instant. I was into it, man! Without knowing Germany was actually the favorite, I just assumed the USA team would prevail, which they did thanks in large part to two penalty kicks (a miss by Germany and a gift call that led to a USA goal). I expected a US Soccer team to win a Wold Cup match. Have we ever assumed the US men’s team would win a World Cup match?

Many celebratory articles and posts have been made about the USA victory, but Maggie Mertens puts the triumph into a global, social context. Take, for instance this stat:  “A recent analysis by Public Radio International showed that the greatest predictor of a nation’s women’s soccer team’s success was gender equality—more than even the country’s GDP or overall interest in soccer.” The US women certainly made us proud of their victory, but the fact the team’s dominance is a long-earned result of a much larger movement is reason for even more celebration. -PAL

Source: A Different Kind Of Party At The Women’s World Cup, Maggie Mertens, Screamer (7/9/15)


Who Let The Dogs Out: A Retrospective on the biggest stadium anthem of all-time

The first “Sports Anthem” I can recall brings me back to a better time. A time when the NHL team in Minnesota was called the North Stars, the jersey was a classic, and they were a team of destiny before running into a young Mario Lemieux and an even younger Jaromir Jagr in the Stanley Cup Finals. The year was 1991. A good year in Minnesota sports to say the least. The song name might not mean a thing – “Rock And Roll Part 2” – but it’s that “Hey Song”. The next song that comes to mind is the terrible, no good, awful “Who Let The Dogs Out”. While the song is brutal, the marketing behind it was trailblazing.

Mercury record executive Steve Greenberg pins down the genius: “Most songs peak on radio. ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ peaked at the World Series. It was the biggest sports anthem ever, in the sense that it got all its strength from being a sports anthem, and the radio was secondary. It was the only hit record that was ever like that.”

But why this song, of all songs? “Herschel Small, one of the band’s longtime guitarists, suggests that the song managed to tick all the boxes that 15 years later are common to many viral Internet memes: dogs and sports and kids.” I hate this song, but I love the story behind it. – PAL

Source: How ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ forever changed music’s place in sports, Ben Reiter, Sports Illustrated (7/8/15)

TOB: This article is hilarious, especially with the producer of “WLTDO” (yes, they use that initialism), Steve Greenberg, trying to defend the quality of that god awful song. “Dogs’ is a really good record. That’s why it won a Grammy. It’s tight, it’s colorful, it’s infectious. There was magic in that record.” I literally LOL’d when I read that. I also dispute his assertion, as quoted by Phil, that it was the biggest sports anthem ever. What about The Macarena? WHAT ABOUT THE MACARENA? I remember being at an Oakland A’s game in the height of Macarena Fever, and even the construction guys hard at working building “Mt. Davis” in the Coliseum’s outfield stopped to dance to the Macarena. I don’t know which song was worse, but I do know which was more of a cultural phenomenon: The Macarena hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and stayed there for FOURTEEN weeks!) and went 4x Platinum. Who Let the Dogs Out only got to #40 (40!) on the Hot 100 and the album went 3x Platinum. Case closed. Verdict entered for the Macarena.


Bartolo Colon is one Fat, Old, Impressive Baseball Player

He was a Major League pitcher before Monica Lewinsky was an intern at the White House. Bartolo Colon’s longevity is, as writer Dan Barry puts it, “confounding,” even without the fact that he’s not exactly a fitness freak (read: fat), but it goes beyond durability with him. “Consider the Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard, 22 years old and able to throw at 99 miles an hour. In the Colon paradigm, Darling said [former pitcher and Mets broadcaster Ron Darling], Syndergaard “would have to have the ability, in 2035, to throw the ball 92 miles an hour. In a big league game.” Even with the PED suspension a few years back, Colon’s career and journey from the Dominican Republic reads more like folklore than biography. – PAL

Source: Defying Time and Space”, Dan Barry, New York Times (7/9/15)


Video of the Week 


PAL Song of the week: The Dramatics – “Gimme Some” (Good Soul Music)

Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“Pontoon boat? What the hell are you gonna do with a pontoon boat? Retake Omaha Beach?”

– Roman Craig

 

 

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

 

 

Week of June 1, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bats during the first inning of the “True Blue” benefit celebrity softball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

No comment.


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.


Glory Days: The One Dude Who Struck Out Joe Mauer In High School

I grew up playing against Joe Mauer in Minnesota. Before he was “Baby Jesus” (as he’s sometimes referred to in Minnesota), he was right there with the rest of us in the Catholic School league games, the youth summer camps at Hill-Murray, and the 6:00 PM games at Concordia (no fence). He was “one of us”, or at least it felt like it for about 5 minutes when he was about 10, and then it became clear his talent was from a stratosphere the rest of us could never even see with a telescope. He struck out one time in high school. Once. Here’s a story about the regular dude who did it. – PAL

Source: 15 years later, Paul Feiner’s high school strikeout of Mauer still resonates”, Tyler Mason, Fox Sports North (6/1/15)

TOB: So much to like about this story. How does Joe Mauer strike out only once his entire high school career? How does the guy who strikes him out look like…that? How is it that the guy who struck him out now runs a sports website and has a media credential for Twins games, and Phil and I don’t have squat? Wait, that’s the one part I don’t like.


No Back Talk, Please

This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. This week, the New York Times re-ran an article introducing then-Boston Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth to its readers after he dominated the New York Yankees, 100 years after its first publication, on June 3, 1915. The article is short, but I highly recommend that you read it. It reads as almost a parody of old-timey sportswriting. Examples: “As the sky promised to weep and Old Boy Fahrenheit was flirting with the freezing point…a crowd of about 500 were exposed to the pneumonia germs… a teeth-chattering, shivery afternoon was had by all.” And, “…but Umpire Dineen calculated that the run counted. No back talk, please.” And, “Ruth was then at bat. The big pitcher’s architectural make-up is of such a nature that it doesn’t lend itself to speed. He rather rolls along.” It goes on, and you will laugh. -TOB

Source: Left-Hander Ruth Puzzles YankeesNew York Times (06/03/1915)

PAL: Sportswriting is worse today than it was in 1915. To wit: “Between his (Ruth) pitching and batting yesterday the Yankees were as comfortable as a lamplighter in a gunpowder factory.” Call me crazy, but it reads like the writer actually had a good time with this game recap. Reporting? Sure. Entertainment? Absolutely. It’s always best when we don’t have to take sports seriously.


So Fresh, So Clean

I’ve been romanced. I didn’t see it coming. Hell, I don’t even love basketball. Still don’t, but I’m smitten with Steph Curry’s shot. So are you. Recently, Ryen Russillo said that he’s never expected a shot to go in from any other player ever as much as he does when Curry pulls the trigger. I agree. The article dissects the emotions of love into equally impressive analytics that back it up. When a shot’s this pretty, I forgive hyperbole like the following:

“It’s hard to imagine someone so relatively slight having such a huge impact on the game. But that’s what Curry is doing — in the same way a great artist changes the way we see the world, he’s changing the way we see basketball. Suddenly, our ideas of risky shot selection, of off-balance attempts, of what is and isn’t “long distance” have changed. About 20 years ago, in the time of Jordan, sharpshooters like Dell Curry (Steph’s dad) and Steve Kerr (Steph’s coach) were niche contributors, mostly relegated to role-player status…Oh, how things have changed.” -PAL

Source: Outsider Artist: Understanding the Beauty of Steph Curry’s Jumper”, Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland (06/04/2015)

TOB: Steph Curry won the NBA MVP this year. That is pretty amazing. He’s the best “little guy” since Allen Iverson, and that is saying something. Steph can do a lot of things on the court, but for him it comes down to his shooting. He is just so much better at it than everyone else, it is hard get a frame of reference. But this article gives one stat that I think might do it – the average NBA player shoots 24% when his shot is contested and 44% when he is wide open. Steph Curry shoots 44% when his shot is contested! I’ll go a step further than Russillo – it is to the point that I am a little shocked when Curry does miss. That is remarkable. And to top it all off, he’s a great dad.


MORE CURRY!

On the eve of the NBA Finals, the New York Times revisited a really funny rap video featuring college-aged Steph Curry and his fellow students rapping about Davidson College’s dining commons, to the tune of Asher Roth’s “I Love College.” Come for the horrible rapping by Steph and his buds, stay for the the mid-aughts college throwback. -TOB

Source: Stephen Curry Gave Davidson Good Publicity, and a Bad Rap“, Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times (06/03/2015)

PAL: This is terrible. We were all terrible in college, and yet somehow still endearing.


Video of the Week

Fifteen years after his peak, Stone Cold Steve Austin is still culturally significant.


Tweet of the Week

Yes, that is Steph Curry, on a pony, set to Ginuwine. 


PAL’s song of the week: The Band’s cover of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City“. Check out all of our weekly picks here (they’re super good).


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“Dane Cook, pay–per–view, 20 minutes, let’s go!”

– Derek Doback

 

Week of April 27, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 12.04.56 AM


Camden Yards Attendance: 0

In response to the riots in Baltimore this week, MLB made unfortunate history: On Wednesday, the Orioles and White Sox played the first ever major league game without a paying crowd. The game at Camden Yards was closed to the public so police and National Guard resources could be stationed elsewhere in the city. The decision was made in response to the riots that overtook Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. While the “ghost town” atmosphere created bizarre results – infielders openly heard talking to each other, the crack of the bat echoing around the stadium, and announcers calling the game as if it was The Masters – it was a stark reminder that sports do not only exist on highlight reels and big screen televisions. Ironically, a game played before an empty stadium served as a reminder that sports and the communities for which they play are inseparable. – PAL

Source: Even with Camden Yards closed to the public, fans found way to support O’s”, Eduardo Encina and Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun (4/29/15)

TOB: At 1-2-3 we write about sports, and we generally avoid divisive political/social issues. But the situation in Baltimore, I cannot abide. However, there are writers who can say this more eloquently than I can, and so I leave you with this story from the Atlantic, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, wherein he writes:

When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is “correct” or “wise,” any more than a forest fire can be “correct” or “wise.” Wisdom isn’t the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community.


So, Lonestar, Now You See That Evil Will Always Triumph, Because Good Is Dumb

On Saturday, the fight boxing fans have been waiting for will finally take place: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao. Unfortunately, it’s about 4 years too late, as both fighters are no longer in the prime of their careers. Nonetheless, the years-long buildup and anticipation are expected to make this the highest-grossing pay-per-view fight in boxing history.

Floyd Mayweather is not a good person. He has done some terrible things. Boxing fans have largely overlooked that fact because Mayweather is the greatest fighter of his generation, and a very good entertainer. But the press is building this fight up as Good vs. Evil (Mayweather, a showman and a salesman, is not exactly discouraging that story, as he knows it will increase PPV sales and therefore his paycheck). But as with all such real-life storylines, it’s not that simple. Manny Pacquiao is no saint. Diana Moskovitz details some of their failings. As she sums it up:

What’s worse, beating up women or trying to make it harder for millions of them to get birth control? Do you mind less the absent politician or the abusive father? Which is easier to tolerate, a man who leveraged his fame and fortune for favors across the Philippines or a man who leveraged his fame and fortune for favors across the United States? Athletes are human; they exist on the same ethical continuum as the rest of us, stretching from saints to sinners with a long, murky middle where most reside. It should be enough to sell this fight that Mayweather and Pacquiao are the two best boxers of their generation. But don’t let the appeal to morality confuse you: that’s all they’re good for.

She’s right: this is entertainment (though I disagree with her other contention that who you root for says something about you). I will be rooting for Mayweather, because I think Mayweather is the better fighter and have thought so for years…and I like being right. Either way, I’ll be watching the fight. You’re welcome to come by, but don’t start crowing about Mayweather being a bad person. Pacquiao ain’t much better. -TOB

Source: Don’t Believe the Hype: Mayweather-Pacquiao is Not Good vs. Evil”, Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin (04/09/2015)

PAL: “But sports is never just about the act itself. It’s about the the storylines, the unknown, the unexpected, the sides we choose, and what those choices say about us. We do define ourselves by the team or the athlete we back. And in this case, we have no comfortable choices.” Moskovitz brings up a fresh and insightful argument, but I would only add this caveat: We are allowed – and take advantage of this allowance –  to selectively “define ourselves by the team or athlete we back.” We define ourselves with partialities when it comes to sports, because we have no negative relationship with beloved athletes or teams. It’s easy for me to sing the praises of Kirby Puckett because he gave me great personal moments. As horrible as it sounds, I have no personal connection to him allegedly threatening his wife with a knife or being charged with fifth degree sexual assault. But I can tell you that I jumped up from a video game rocking chair when he hit that home run in the ‘91 Series. Charlie Leibrandt leaves a circle change-up out over the plate. Chili Davis is in the on-deck circle, and my mom – a lady who would rather vacuum than watch a baseball game – is laughing, cheering, and crying at the same time. Joe Buck’s announcing the game and shouts, “We’ll see you tomorrow night!” I can hear Buck shout that line out as if he is on my radio as I write this. Puckett bookmarks some of the happiest moments of my life, and that’s unchanging. Like it or not – there are more than a few people out there who feel the same way about Mayweather and Pacquiao.


OH, HELL YEAH: A STORY ON HUMAN CANNONBALLS

Yeah, I went full capslock. 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.


Math Is Good; ARod Was Better

This is really funny. Someone got a copy of Scott Boras’ actual projections for Alex Rodriguez when he was negotiating with the Rangers back in 2000. For Boras’ “projection system” he simply took Rodriguez’ previous 5 years and averaged them out until A-Rod was 40. Stupidly simplistic, right? Well, amazingly, Boras was pretty accurate, up through A-Rod’s age-34 season, which would have been the end of his original, 10-year, $252 million dollar contract. A-Rod was that good for that long. This is funny, the way the writer presents it is funny, and the way it makes me think that this is what Boras did to convince Sabean to give Zito that huge contract is not funny. -TOB

Source: Pebble Hunting”, Sam Miller, Baseball Prospectus (04/27/2015)

PAL: Great find, TOB (eat it, Rowe). In other words, Boras was negotiating a contract for an unprecedented player. Wasn’t that the larger point? Wasn’t his goal to convince teams to throw out all financial comps when it came to ARod’s contract, because there was no comparable player like him? Boras’ projections were simultaneously laughable, accurate in chunks, and a $uccess ($252MM).


Updates:

  • Last week we posted a great story about how a series of photographs from the Boston Marathon helped changed the course of female athletics. My sister, Angela Fehringer (mother of 4), burned up the 2015 race with a staggering time of 03:23:07. So impressive.

Video of the Week:

CANNONBALL! The aforementioned Gemma “The Jet” Kirby in action, GoPro-style.


PAL’s song of the week: I Ain’t Blue,” Bonnie Raitt. Yep, still have a crush on her. Also, SF’s Nicki Bluhm sounds a lot like Raitt, and that’s not at all a bad thing.

Follow the 1-2-3 Sports! Weekly Pick’s playlist


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“Illusions, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money.”

– GOB

Week of April 13, 2015

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When it’s your birthday, Helmet Nachos are acceptable.


Why Charles Barkley Once Gained 19 Pounds in 2 Days (On Purpose)

Unrelated to the above photo, this is a great story about Charles Barkley. We’ll get out of the way and let Charles tell it:

“Back in my day we had a hard salary cap so you could not go over the salary cap like you can today and the Sixers had the No. 5 pick in the draft. I left college after three years and in fairness, I was fat in college. I played at 300 pounds. The Sixers called me a month before the draft and said, “We want you to get down to 285 pounds and come in before the draft.” So I get down to 283 and the night before we fly into Philly my agent said, “You do know if the Sixers draft you they are going to give you $75,000,  right?”  I said, “Dude, I didn’t leave college for $75,000. We have a problem.” He said, “You weigh about 283 now. What do you want to do? You beat their weight limit.” I said, “Let’s go out.”

So we went to Dennys and I had like two Grand Slam breakfasts. We went to lunch and I had like two big barbeque sandwiches. That night we went to a big steakhouse. The next morning I had two more Grand Slam breakfasts and when we flew to Philly, I weighed 302. I was like, Thank goodness, the Sixers are not going to draft me. So when you look at my face when commissioner [David] Stern says ‘With the fifth pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Charles Barkley,’ I was like, ‘Oh, sh–.’ When people go back and look at me walking, and they see that awful burgundy suit, everybody else is happy and Charles isn’t happy. But it worked out great. The most important person in my basketball career was Moses Malone and he got me down to under 250 pounds and the rest is history.”

Classic Chuck. -TOB

PAL: If for nothing else, read through Barkley’s transcript to see a dude who can get onto a tangent faster than a dog gets on a dropped piece of steak. In response as to whether he will accept an invitation to the Sloan Conference (an advanced metrics gathering), he said the following:

“They just charge you more calling them analytics but they are just stats. It’s kind of like, if you are black, you are a cook and if you are white, you are a chef. The chef gets paid a lot more than the cook (laughs). But my big rule is if people should be able to take a joke … Everyone knows Muhammad Ali is a hero of mine. So is Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. I did some research on Abe Lincoln when that movie came out. There are a lot of great men. But when they asked me for some great Americans, I said Colonel Sanders.”

Source: Charles Barkley Talks Fame, Social Media, at SXSW”, Richard Deitsch, Sports Illustrated (04/12/2015)


Curt Schilling Message to Himself at 16: Don’t Chew Tobacco

I’m not a fan of Curt Schilling. He’s a blowhard. But this should be mandatory reading for all people who chew tobacco, and all teenagers and their parents. Curt Schilling chewed tobacco for decades. It gave him cancer. He is still here, but there’s no way to know if the cancer will come back. Here, Curt writes a letter to his 16-year old self, urging himself to never start the habit. It’s a very powerful essay, written by someone who has stared his own mortality in the face. -TOB

Source: Letter to My Younger Self”, Curt Schilling, The Players’ Tribune (04/11/2015)


Bonds on A-Rod…But Really on Himself.

I have always liked Barry Bonds. I have never liked Alex Rodriguez. This makes their new-found friendship a conundrum for me. Barry helped A-Rod during his hiatus and is supportive of A-Rod’s pursuit of home run milestones. So how do I reconcile this? I have mostly ignored it. My dislike of A-Rod has nothing to do with steroids (as I’ve said here before, I don’t care about that). But in reading this article about Barry and his feelings on A-Rod’s return – it’s striking how Barry’s plea to give Alex a chance is really a plea to give Barry a chance. For example: “Why the hate? Why hate on something you’re paying to see? I don’t understand it. He’s entertaining us…I wish life wasn’t like that…This guy is not running for president of the United States. He’s not running for commissioner. We’re not running for political office. We’re just ballplayers. We’re not God. We’re imperfect people. We’re human beings.” Poor Barry. Just elect the greatest hitter of all-time to the damn Hall of Fame, will ya? -TOB

Source: “Barry Bonds on A-Rod: ‘I can’t wait until he hits 660’”, Bob Nightengale, USA Today (04/13/2015)

PAL: First off, I think TOB and I need to have a good ol’ debate about the Hall of Fame (I don’t think Bonds, ARod, Pete Rose, Sosa, Palmerio, etc. should be in). Secondly, I agree with TOB in that Bonds’ support for ARod is a plea for himself. I would also add that Bonds’ support is conditional, in that he knows ARod will never challenge his home run record.


Matt Barnes: Future Sacramento Mayor?

Well, that’s his life goal, anyways. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I read that. I’ve never liked Matt Barnes. He’s a punk. He was a punk in high school, and college, and in the NBA. But I read this story, and I’m glad I did. It gives a lot of insight into an athlete that has many layers and wears his emotions on his sleeve. For example:

“We get paid a lot of money to play basketball. But what I want to let people know is that we’re still human. We’re still going through day to day struggles that everybody else goes through, but for two and a half hours, when you see us on TV, we have to act like we have the most amazing life in the world.” He pauses. “A lot of people don’t give a s— and I get that. They’re paying a lot of money to come see us play and we get a lot of money, so f— your human side.”

Matt Barnes may never be the mayor of Sacramento, but I understand him a bit more after reading this. -TOB

Source: The Clippers Polarizing Pariah Who Tells It Like It Really Is”, Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated (04/10/2015)

PAL: “And being an a–hole, he knows, is what’s kept him in the league.” Matt Barnes is a goon, and I mean that as a compliment. Every great hockey player has had a goon by his side. Teams in any sport need an enforcer, someone to keep the edge sharp. You don’t like these guys, and — guess what — you’re not supposed to like them, but they serve an important purpose. It’s a bonus that he seems to have his priorities straight when it comes to his kids, too. His job in the NBA isn’t glamorous, but it’s a necessity for a team to be great.


It’s Not Yet an Ending, And It’s Not Exactly Happy – But This is Great

As you may recall, Bryan Stow is the Giants fan who was beaten nearly to death, in front of his children, four years ago after an Opening Day Dodgers-Giants game at Dodger Stadium. He suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result. Stow has had a long road to recovery. It’s not over, but this week he provided quite the moving moment. On Thursday, Stow threw out the first pitch at the San Jose Giants’ (the San Francisco Giants’ minor league affiliate) game. Stow needed a walker to get out on the field, and he can no longer throw overhand, but damn if he didn’t get it to the catcher’s glove. Great job, Bryan – and good luck in your continued rehabilitation. -TOB

Source: Stow Tosses First Pitch For San Jose Giants Home Opener”, Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury-News (04/16/2015)

PAL: You know what really sucks about this? Bryan Stow is known by millions as the guy that was beaten into a coma in some pointless, drunken brawl outside a baseball game. No one deserves to be defined by what has happened to him or her. I wish him all the best, and I commend the Giants for sticking by him all these years (especially Tim Flannery), but it pisses me off that he’s known for what happened to him.


Video of the Week

Well, that was ridiculous.


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Before we get to the quote of the week, I want to thank Tommy for being a great friend, a pain in the ass in a debate, and a well of inspiration. This guy is a friend who always shows up, a doting father, and a husband who’s ridiculously in love with his wife. He’s doing it right, and I’m lucky to call him my friend. Happy birthday, buddy!

“Damn you people. Go back to your shanties.”

-Shooter McGavin

Week of March 16, 2015

NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship

Don’t Hate The Player – Hate The Game

As someone who doesn’t have a horse in the race, my rooting allegiance was available for the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is the odds-on favorite to win it all and has a chance to be the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to go undefeated (note: the tournament included only 32 teams in 1976). This article goes beyond the reasons Kentucky will or will not win the title; rather, Sharp makes argument for why as the headline suggests, the team matters. For instance, Coach John Calipari might be hated for recruiting “1-and-done” players, but all the major programs have followed his lead to a lesser degree of success. Furthermore, attracting super recruits is one challenge; getting a group of them to understand that playing as a team ultimately better for the individual player’s future is quite another challenge. And ultimately, the product is more entertaining during a time when the college game has become slow, low-scoring, and devoid of upper-classmen with NBA talent. Taking all of this into consideration, go Wildcats. – PAL

Source: Kentucky Is the Only Team That Matters, Andrew Sharp, Grantland (3/19/15)

TOB: #theyjustjealous. Every other coach wishes he could recruit the kind of talent that Calipari does every year. This is a true story: Kentucky has a guy named Marcus Lee. Lee is a 6’9 PF from the Bay Area. He was ranked as high as #19 in the country out of high school. He picked Kentucky, with Cal as his #2. Lee and his family explained that while they knew he wouldn’t get much playing time at Kentucky, he had a better chance of making the NBA by playing against the one-and-dones at Kentucky in practice every day for four years, than he did as the best player at Cal. Now, I don’t know if I agree with this, but it’s not insane. As I was writing the preceding sentence, I heard Calipari say at halftime of their first round game against Hampton, “It was nice I could get Marcus Lee into the game because (Cauley-Stein) had foul trouble.” Lee, who probably could have helped transform Cal’s basketball program, is a garbage time afterthought at Kentucky (he averages 11 mins and 2.7 points per game). I can’t be mad at that, though. Kentucky is undefeated and outscoring opponents by twenty-one points per game. They beat tournament teams UNC and UCLA by 24 and 39. They beat Kansas (a #2 seed) by 32! They are fun to watch – I hope they meet Arizona in the Final Four (who I think is even more fun). It will be can’t miss television.


Who Am I? (What’s My Name)

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Guillherme Fuck is a college basketball player in Canada. He’s from Brazil. His last name, as you can see, has made some…uncomfortable. But Fuck embraces his name and so should we. I hope he runs for office one day. -TOB

Source: What’s in a Name? Fuck Proud of His”, Ryan McCracken, Medicine Hat News (03/19/2015)


Chalk One Up For The Geezers

With a kiss! Send it in, Jerome! Bill Raftery (73) has one of the most recognizable voices (and catch phrases) in college basketball, so it shocked me to discover he’s never called the Final Four on television until this year. He’s never complained or lobbied for the job, even when he’s been passed over for younger, and in some cases far less experienced candidates. He also represents a group of geezers that have no intention of retiring (I don’t believe the Jim Boeheim “retire in three years b.s. any more than you do). Legendary announcer Dick Vitale (76), SMU coach Larry Brown (74, and damn, did they get hosed in that game or what), and defiant Syracuse coach Boeheim (70) all keep chugging along. Unlike the others, who have reached the pinnacle of their respective professions – Brown is the only coach ever to win both an NCAA and NBA title, Boeheim got a title behind a teenaged Carmelo Anthony, Vitale as the pop culture icon – this is Raftery’s first time to the mountaintop. Good on you, Bill Raftery. You deserve it. -PAL

Source:At 73, a First TV Job at the Final Four”, Richard Sandomir, The New York Times (3/16/15)

TOB: As if Billy Packer for decades wasn’t bad enough, whoever chose Clark Freakin Kellogg over Raftery for the Final Four should be tried for crimes against humanity. And then Greg Anthony after that!? The stated reason of not wanting to break up Verne Lundquist and Raftery is bull. I’m excited for Raftery – I just wish it had happened sooner. At 74, he’s not quiiiiiite the announcer he used to be. Nonetheless, I expect at least one, “ONIONS IN INDY!” at the Final Four. I can’t wait.


One Player’s Pre-emptive Strike Against CTE

As you’re probably aware, 49ers linebacker Chris Borland retired unexpectedly this week. Borland had a very promising rookie year. But he walked away, after just one season and less than one million dollars in career earnings, because he was afraid of what the game of football might do to his brain. The news was shocking, especially to 49ers fans, who have experienced an almost comically bad offseason. As you can imagine, a lot of words were written about Borland’s decision. These were two of my favorites. -TOB

Source: Everyone Wants Chris Borland to Mean Something”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (03/17/2015); The Definition of Tough: How Chris Borland Walked Away From His Dream Job”, Bill Barnwell, Grantland (03/17/2015)

PAL: “At this point, it’s about the fact that football destroys some or many of the people who play it, and the consequences of that knowledge.” That’s the best description of where the NFL (and the country) is at with the CTE situation. Now that we have the knowledge, what do individuals do with it? Some players will say, “screw it,” and play anyway, and some won’t. More important to the long-term future of football: what decision will parents make on behalf of their kids? What’s most shocking to me is when I hear retired players who are seemingly healthy and got out unscathed (Herm Edwards is one example) say they would go back and do it again while knowing the risks. Really? You were lucky enough to have made it through the gauntlet once, while other players have suffered horribly, and you’d risk it again? That’s arrogance. Above all, I think Borland displays humility and confidence by walking away now. He’s not foolish enough to think it (CTE) won’t happen to him, and he has the confidence to not define himself by football.  


Crawford’s Web

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford makes some incredible defensive plays. This article was a great idea by Giants beat writer Alex Pavlovic, who sat down with Crawford to break down five of his best. Crawford explains what went through his head, how he made the play, and how he feels watching them now. I enjoyed it thoroughly. -TOB

Source: Giants’ SS Crawford Breaks Down Top 2014 Defensive Gems, Alex Pavlovic, CSN Bay Area (03/18/2015)

PAL: Beer on me for whomever posts a picture or short video of the following (someone take me up on this already, dammit!). Go to your local field (regulations size, folks), stand where the infield dirt meets the outfield grass 20 feet from the third base line, and throw a ball to first base. You’ll find it’s a hell of a long throw. Imagine diving for a ground ball, getting up, and making a throw to first base in time to beat a professional athlete to the bag. Someone please do this. Pat O’Brien, Al Pflepsen, and Ryan Nett, Ryan Rowe – I’m looking at you. In fact, Tommy and I might be cooking up a video series idea to try to recreate the best plays of each month from this upcoming season. You can already file it under comedy. Crawford is a maestro.


The Manhattan Project of College Sports

This week, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, the most influential AD in the NCAA, just pulled a Harry Truman, announcing the college sports atomic bomb. This has been brewing for years, but to hear the Notre Dame AD come out and present it as a viable plan is more than a little shocking. Swarbrick addresses the movement toward paying college players, and how some schools just will not go there (e.g. Notre Dame and Stanford). He proposes a move to two associations. Teams like Alabama and Oregon, who are committed to winning football at all costs, would go in one association. In the other association would be teams like Notre Dame and Stanford, following more of an Ivy League model. He believes that Notre Dame will still command a major TV contract even if they are not playing the other elite teams. I’m not so sure, and this seems like a major gamble for him. Will ND’s nationwide fans continue to follow the team if they move to what will be viewed as a lower division? I also found the placement of my alma mater, Cal, in the same division as Notre Dame as interesting. No doubt, the administration would want to join that league. But Cal just renovated their stadium a few years ago and need to pay off around $300 million over the next 40 years. Can they afford the move to the lower division? I am skeptical. -TOB

Source: Notre Dame AD Has a Vision of Two Collegiate Athletic Associations”, Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports (03/18/2015)

PAL: Let’s say this happened tomorrow. Notre Dame Football would be (more) irrelevant within 3 years, if not sooner. The coach would bolt, and boosters would have Swarbrick canned long before that. Perhaps one example of collateral damage in the eventual payment of college athletes is Notre Dame becoming a note in a sports almanac. Also, you are delusional if you don’t think Notre Dame athletes are receiving “benefits” right now. My advice: Lean into it, Mr. Swarbrick.

TOB: With the rare counterargument: From what I have read, Swarbrick is extremely intelligent and good at his job. It would shock me if, before he went public with this, his message was not run by (1) ND Administration and (2) NBC Sports Execs. I find it hard to believe that this mandate is not coming from his school’s higher ups – ND fancies itself in the rarefied air just below the Ivies, and they truly may not want to go to a pay-for-play model. But, I find it hard to believe they’d also forego the TV money they get from NBC. Perhaps they convinced NBC that they’d still draw ratings (though I think, as Phil said, it would not take long for viewers to tune out).


Video of the Week

This week’s video is another edition of MLB Statcast, where they use science to break down amazing plays. This play is the near-double play the Giants pulled on the Cardinals after the deflection off of He Who Shall Not Be Named’s glove in Game 5 of the NLCS. Click the image to load the video.


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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 March 2, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.51.31 PM

It’s that time of year again, folks. Spring Training is here!

Holding Back A Running Prodigy

According to running guru Alberto Salazar, Mary Cain has “as much talent as any young athlete I’ve ever seen in running in my life.” For now, though, she needs to take it slow. Writer Elizabeth Weil uses Cain as a jump point to examine a variety of subjects, including the physiological dangers in over-training young women, the positive impacts of a more matured Title IX, and how to approach practice when the intention is to peak in six or seven years from now. Thanks for sending this along, Jamie Morganstern. It’s a great read for everyone, but I think runners – especially female runners – will be fascinated. – PAL

Source: “Mary Cain Is Growing Up Fast”, Elizabeth Weil, The New York Times Magazine (3/4/15)

TOB: My grandparents (I think) got us our first subscription to Sports Illustrated when I was a kid. I’ll never forget the first issue we got – Jennifer Capriati’s “And She’s Only 13!” cover story after her run to the finals of a tournament in 1990. I’ll also never forget her fall from grace, culminating in her arrest in 1993. It is refreshing to read about a coach and parent who are not pressuring a young prodigy into too much too soon. I hope to hear Mary Cain’s name at the next Olympics.


“The Winds of Autumn are a Pirate…”

I say this with the knowledge that it is not necessarily a good thing: But I’d put my knowledge of sports trivia up against most. A big part of this is thanks to NFL Films – whose Super Bowl recaps I watched religiously as a kid. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, ESPN would show them in chronological order, and I would tune in everyday after school to gobble it up. These days, NFL Films get the winning team’s Super Bowl recap together in a very short amount of time, complete with footage and audio from the game, sideline and huddle – all set to inspiring music. NFL Films is the best in the business. This is an interesting look at how that sausage gets made. -TOB

Source: Monuments Men: Inside the Mad Scramble to Bring You Your Annual NFL Championship DVD”, Katie Baker, Grantland (03/02/2015)

PAL: For the past 7+ years I’ve worked at a company that shoots a lot of music performance videos. One of our biggest events is shooting concerts at the SXSW music festival. It’s a crazy amount of pre-production, man power, logistics, and media management…and that’s just for 15 bands over 3 days. The scale of what NFL Films does is staggering (covering 30 teams), and the efficiency with which they do it is masterful. A fun read on the cultural staple that is NFL Films. Also, please join me in supporting Tommy’s bid to get on Sport Jeopardy.


Game, Blouses

We all know and love the legendary Prince basketball skit from Chappelle Show. Well, here’s some evidence that Prince (5’2”) was a solid player for real, and he argued about playing time with his coach, too. The team photo alone is worth the click here, folks. A side note: while I love Bob Dylan, Prince is actually the musical icon of Minnesota. The dude still lives there, regularly goes to Timberwolves and Vikings games, and records his music right there in Minnesota. True blue Minnesotan. Got to love it. – PAL

Source: “Prince Was An Afro-Rocking, Coach- Hating Schoolboy Basketball Player”, Billy Haisley, Deadspin (3/3/15)


The Cardinals Can’t Stop Talking About Not Talking About Themselves

As far as rants go, Drew Magary dropped the mic on this one. Giants fans will get an additional kick out of this, too. The St. Louis Cardinals self-aggrandizement is insufferable, and writers who drink the punch on this line of B.S. are even worse. A writer from USA Today did a story about how the team lets its play to the talking for them. Naturally, the story is filled with quotes from several players and management talking about how “talk is cheap.”  Maybe I was only halfway into my coffee this morning, but I’m ready to loathe the Cardinals again. Ah, spring must be in the air. – PAL

Source: “Moron USA Today Columnist Thinks The Cardinals Poop Vanilla Sprinkles”, Drew Magary, Deadspin (3/4/15)


Video of the Week:

Bonus:


“About those sit-ups you want me to do. I got it right here in my contract – it says I don’t have to do any calisthenics I don’t feel are necessary. So, what do you think about that?”

– Roger Dorn