Week of August 17, 2015

Mantis

#RallyMantis


Dirty, Flashy Money: Miami & Scamming Athletes

As if being a professional athlete doesn’t attract enough leeches, try being one in Miami. It’s not surprising that con men are swindling athletes out of money, but I’m shocked at how easily careless and shortsighted folks get million-dollar checks from people. In this story, Miami Heat employees even facilitated the introduction between the scammers and Heat players Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, and others. There is a new money culture in Miami that is the perfect breeding ground for scams. Columnist Fred Grimm (not this story’s author) sums up this way:

“So many of us come from other states and other countries that we seem to lack that sense of shame that doing wrong would bring to someone living in, say, small-town America, where people have known you and known your family for years. What we have instead is a place where someone who flashes money and drives luxury cars and lives the high life can find instant social acceptance.” –PAL

Source: Taking the Heat”, Robert Andrew Powell, Grantland (08/18/2015)


Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy

There aren’t too many true “Bad Guys” in sports, but I think I found one. “New Jack” was a wrestler in the underground “ECW” (Extreme Championship Wrestling). The ECW was known for being, well, extremely violent. Absurdly so. New Jack was one of the more violent and infamous ECW wrestlers, and he was not a good person. In one match, he once beat an amateur wrestler unconscious – and then continued to beat him with weapons – including a cheese grater, a garbage can, and a crutch, at one point yelling, “I don’t care if the motherfucker dies!” The amateur, Jason Kulas, did not die. And New Jack escaped any consequences. When asked about it twenty years later, New Jack said, “I was high. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me. The fucking fans loved it. I thought it was great.” You know the famous scene in Scarface, when a coked up Tony Montana makes a scene in the fancy restaurant and then turns to everyone staring at him and gives his “Bad Guy” speech? New Jack was/is a true Bad Guy. He did truly insane things, but he was also insanely popular, even getting name-dropped by Weezer in El Scorcho (“…Watching Grunge leg drop New Jack through a press table, and then my heart stopped…”). In a truly fascinating profile, Grantland catches up with New Jack and tries figure out what made (and makes) this Bad Guy, who regrets nothing, tick. -TOB

Source: The Most Violent Man in Wrestling Lays Down His Staple Gun”, Tom Breiham, Grantland (08/18/2015)


A Quality Craigslist Find

Matthew Wallock was trying to find a used hockey goal for his young kids. He found one on Craigslist and went to pick it up. When he got there, he realized that the owners were the parents of NHL star Phil Kessel and US Women’s Hockey Player Amanda Kessel. A nice find. But he realized that the goal could not fit in his car. No matter. Mr. and Mrs. Kessel offered to drive the goal 40 minutes to Wallock’s house. And they did. To top it off, they threw in some hockey pucks and autographed photo of Phil for the kids. But that’s not all! Mr. and Mrs. Kessel then told Wallock that before they owned the goal, it was owned by hockey legend Bob Suter, a member of the 1980 Olympic Hockey “Miracle on Ice” team. Like I said, that’s a quality Craigslist find! -TOB

Source: Phil Kessel’s Parents are Top-Notch Craigslist Sellers“, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (08/18/2015)


Jason Day: An Unlikely Golf Story

This is an old story, but in the wake of Day’s first Major victory at the PGA Championship last weekend, it’s worth taking a look at his unlikely path to the PGA. Unlike most PGA golfers, Day grew up in poverty in Australia. His father, an alcoholic*, died when Day was 12. Shortly thereafter, the son was following in his father’s footsteps as a 13 year-old. His mother mortgaged the house and sought out help to get her youngest boy into a sports academy. His coach at the academy remains his coach to this day, caddies for Day, and has long been a father figure to the 27 year-old golfer. There have been other challenges along the way, and I found Day’s honesty in this story refreshing (he admits that for the first few years as a professional he played for the money because he’d never had any, and sometimes he likes to check his bank account online just to see the money in there). As writer Shane Ryan puts it, “For the poor kid from Beaudesert who started with nothing but a sawed-off 3-wood, the hard part of this journey ended a long time ago. The miracle was getting to the threshold; the price of a major is just four rounds of golf.” Now Day has paid that price, too. – PAL

Source: “Just Another Day, Shane Ryan, Grantland (07/17/2014)


“Like a Band of Gypsies We Go Down the Highway…”

Because of political wrangling over upgrades to their stadium, the Biloxi Shuckers (in their first year in Biloxi), the AA affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers, began their season on a 58-day, 54-game road trip. David Fleming (not of SF Giants announcing fame, of course) followed the team on the trip – which ended up even more eventful than he could have imagined. A great look at a team enduring the ups and downs of minor league baseball, magnified by the longest road trip in American sports history. Long, but highly recommended. -TOB

Source: On the Road Again”, David Fleming, ESPN the Magazine (08/17/2015)


Video of the Week

Hopefully this kid learns a lesson here, or he’s gonna be grow up to be an unbearable jerk. For now, this is hilarious – as he smarmily shakes off his catcher and then gives up a dinger.

PAL’s Song of the Week: D’Angelo – “Sugah Daddy”

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“Let me tell you something about these tattoos, okay. That is Buddhist, that is Nordic, that is Hindu, that’s just gibberish. They are completely conflicting ideologies, and that does not make you a citizen of the world, it makes you full of shit!”

– Sarah Marshall

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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 January 19, 2015

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Happy Birthday to the sometimes-editor of 1-2-3 Sports – my lovely, kind, and very competitive wife. Happy Birthday, Suze! -TOB


I’m In Love with the Polo

Possibly the greatest athlete in his sport’s long history is still dominating, at the age of 39, and I am almost certain that you have never heard of him. Adolfo Cambiasso plays polo. Not water polo. You know, the sport that is sort of like hockey, but on horses. Maybe you’ve seen Prince William play it. Well, you and I may not know Adolfo Cambiasso, but I think that’s ok with him. The guy is a multi-millionaire, and doesn’t even know it. He’s married to an Argentinean model. His kids are adorable. He does things in a polo match that people cannot believe, and he keeps winning, even at his age. Life is good for Adolfo Cambiasso. Friend of 1-2-3 Fernando Estrada submitted this story. We appreciate it, and welcome your suggestions, too. -TOB

Source: Argentina’s Polo Star Adolfo Cambiasso – the Greatest Sportsman You’ve Never Heard of?”, Harriet Alexander, The Daily Telegraph (12/08/14)


Storytime: NHL Dentists

A heartwarming, flowery piece about the athletes with the most messed up teeth, and the dentists who “fix” them. These dentists have seen some gnarly, gnarly stuff, and they share their best stories here. NHL players are very, very tough, and a bunch of oddballs to boot, which is why they are the coolest. Bonus: this article changed my mind about Jaromir Jagr. I always thought of him as a bit of a cake-eater. – PAL

Source: “Blood, Sweat, and Teeth: Wild Nights with an NHL Dentist”, Matt Crossman, Bleacher Report (1/20/15)

TOB: This article was equal parts cool and gross. As an aside, I only recently learned that “cake-eater” was not an inappropriate way to call someone a homosexual, but a very appropriate way to call someone wealthy/spoiled. Good to know!


Max Scherzer Helps Janet Yellen

Here’s an excellent story of how long-term sports contracts shed light on projected inflation rates. The Nationals signed Sherzer to a 14-year/$210 million contract. Because of the length of the contract, this essentially means Scherzer’s agent is in part betting on a low inflation rate increase, while The Nationals are betting on a higher inflation rate increase (it’s a little more complicated than that, but the article explains it really well). There’s an element of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to inflation rate: “[W]hatever level of inflation that key actors in the economy expect to occur is then more likely to actually occur.” Max Scherzer will be very rich either way, but this accessible article looks at contracts from a fresh perspective. – PAL

Source: “The $210 Million Baseball Contract That Explains How Inflation Works”, Neil Irwin, The New York Times (1/21/15)

TOB: Since this article, and this equally excellent one by FanGraphs, was published, more details on the deal have emerged:

Scherzer gets a record $50 million signing bonus, of which $5 million is due this year and $15 million each in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The money is due in 12 equal semimonthly installments in those years from April through September.

He receives salaries of $10 million this year, $15 million in each of the next three seasons and $35 million in each of the final three years. That $105 million total due over the final three years will be deferred without interest and paid in $15 million installments each July 1 from 2022 through 2028.

I’d like to see the analysis done by NYT and FanGraphs to be re-run given this information. Nonetheless, pretty interesting. Another tidbit from that FanGraphs article is that, although the reported number of Scherzer’s total deal is $55M more than what the Cubs gave Jon Lester, in actual value the difference is only $10M. Yes, the Giants could have been in on Scherzer for just $10M more than they were offering Lester. Ugh.


Help Me, Help You

You may not know the name Leigh Steinberg, but you do know him. Steinberg was the first sports “superagent” and the inspiration for Jerry Maguire. Leigh was enormously successful and was more famous than many of his clients. But then in the early 2000’s, ego and alcoholism combined to lay waste to Steinberg’s empire, and his fortune. Now attempting to get back into the sports agent business, this is a fascinating read – it is not often that a profile is so openly skeptical of its subject, as the writer repeatedly questions whether Steinberg is engaging in the very same behaviors that once ruined him. -TOB

Source: Show Leigh Steinberg the Money (Again)”, James Vlahos, The New York Times (01/15/15)

PAL: Hold the goddamn phone. If Tom Cruise’s character was based off of Leigh Steinberg, then there should be a sequel in the works for Jerry Maguire. Let’s break this down. Cameron Crowe: needs a hit (We Bought a Zoo was a tremendous flop). Tom Cruise: wouldn’t hurt for him to reintroduce himself as a guy that sings to Tom Petty in the car. Bring glasses kid back, have him date Emma Stone – the intern with a shark mentality. Renee Zellweger can debut her new face, too, and Cuba is playing an effing horse farmer on Empire. Since when does Terrence Howard get the lead role over Cuba in a drama about a Hip Hop empire? This works on every level.


Swept Up In A Story: Robert Allenby 

Dear PGA Golfer Robert Allenby,

We’ve all been there, man. I mean, who among us hasn’t missed the cut at a PGA Tour event, drank away our sorrows at a wine bar in Honolulu, and ended up bloodied in a park 6 miles away from said wine bar (or 10 yards away from said wine bar)? We get it, buddy. We know the horror of patting down our pockets hoping our phone and wallet aren’t actually missing and instead in the cargo pocket of our shorts. And – yes – we’ve taken pictures of the scrapes and bruises to show the crew. The conclusion is the same for all of us: we must have been beaten, kidnapped, and in danger of being swept up by a street sweeper…Wait – what the hell? This story obviously isn’t meaningful on its own, but add it to the endlessly entertaining list of athletes hitting the panic button, making up a story to cover up a truth that’s either more embarrassing or incriminating, then backpedaling as facts or other accounts come to the fore. The latest witness claims Allenby was drunk at a strip club, which seems more logical, but not nearly enough to make up a kidnapping story in my opinion. There’s got to be more to this, and I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival. – PAL

Source: “Robert Allenby’s Kidnapping Story Challenged By Another Witness”, Kevin Draper, Deadspin (1/21/15)

TOB: What’s more bizarre? This story, or former Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad story about swimming 21 miles in the Atlantic Ocean to the safety of the shore after falling off his fishing boat? Crazy.


Update: Climbing the Dawn Wall

A couple weeks ago we brought you the story of the attempt by Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson to free-climb the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, Yosemite. We are happy to report that they both made it safely. This quick video is incredible to watch (thanks for sharing, Jamie Morganstern).


Video of the Week

Give yourself a pat on the back if you could understand every word on the first viewing.


Bonus Gif of the Week:

This kid rules.

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“I didn’t want to do this, but I’m afraid I’m gonna have to pull rank on you. I’m with the Mattress Police. There are no tags on these mattresses.”

– Fletch

Week of September 15, 2014

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Hey, Everybody. We Matter!

Yes, more about the mess in the NFL. My opinions on this have been conflicting and inconsistent. I have at times lamented the fact that the NFL punishing players for off-field incidents is nothing more than PR, and so it seems hollow and fake. But in this article, Will Leitch makes a really great point:

The pressure on everyone involved, from the league to the sponsors to the team to the players … it has all come from you. From us. Sure, it’s cynical and hypocritical of all these entities to pretend they care about “the right thing” and justice, when all they really care about public relations. But that doesn’t mean that the right thing wasn’t done, that justice wasn’t actually served. That’s because of you. That’s because so many people spoke up and, more important, they could all hear us. They couldn’t ignore us if they tried…. Sometimes you look at Twitter, and social media, and comments sections, and it makes you despair for humanity. But sometimes it makes a difference. Sometimes it is a force for good. Sometimes, it really is progress.”

That is spot on. Unlike Phil, I don’t feel the need to boycott the NFL. Being vocal about how these incidents, and the NFL’s maddeningly inconsistent punishments, however, does help. And if the punishments cause players to stop doing things like beating their wives and girlfriends (or even just reduces the number), well, that’s also good. -TOB

Note:  Boycott, tweet, post, etc – whatever card you want to play is fine by me, but play a card.  We – the common people – need to be better on calling b.s. when b.s. is what we’re fed. – PAL

Source: The NFL: Where Our Opinion Matters”, Will Leitch, Sports on Earth (09/17/2014)


Yes, Even More About the NFL

Dave McKenna is a great sports writer with real integrity. In this piece, he goes in-depth on how the most prominent NFL sportswriters have become nothing more than mouthpieces for the NFL and Roger Goodell. But this cozy relationship hung these prominent writers out to dry when the second Ray Rice tape was released. They had all suggested or said that the NFL had seen the second video, and that the video backed up the light punishment. Those writers now look like idiots, and initially they were quite unhappy. But, they couldn’t bit the hand that feeds too long, and before the week was up, many of them were backing off their criticism of the NFL, and once again spouting the party line. Sad. I highly recommend this one. -TOB

Source: “Will the Elite NFL Media Still be Stooges After the Ray Rice Scandal“, Dave McKenna, Deadspin (09/16/2014)

Note: This story was a pick of mine this week, too. Upon more reflection, it seems obvious that we shouldn’t have our primary source of sports news be a company that has a professional relationship with a league upon which it reports. -PAL


Power Play

I don’t expect you to care about the Columbus Bluejackets. Hell, I don’t expect you to even know what professional league the Columbus Blue Jackets play in (the NHL). But here’s a story for any fan who’s gone through the dreaded contract negotiations headache (Giants fans, be prepared – your next one will be Pablo Sandoval, and we all know he’s looking to get paid). Depending on your view, the NHL team in Ohio (not a misprint) pulled either a pretty gutsy or dumb move  – they went public with the offers rising star Ryan Johansen has rejected. How could this move end well for the team? Maybe they just wanted to call b.s. on this kid. I can get behind that. Of course he can call b.s. on the team, and I can get behind that, too. -PAL

Source: Blue Jackets Not F*&^ing Around With Ryan Johansen Contract Negotiations”, Barry Petchesky, Deadspin (09/17/2014)

Note: I know nothing about this kid, but if he’s a very good, young star, then I have no problem with him seeking as much money as he can get. Owners are greedy billionaires who make money hand over fist. If Johansen, a restricted free agent, can get better money elsewhere and force the Blue Jackets to let him take that deal, or to give it to him themselves, more power to him. -TOB


1 Swing >/< $10 Million?

Anthony Kim was on the verge of being the next young rival to Tiger Woods. Don’t forget – he was a badass on the 2008 Ryder Cup team. He also liked to party and spend his money (and wear oversized belt buckles). Where has he gone? Injuries have a lot to do with it, but so too might a hefty insurance policy that would be void if he came back. -PAL

Source: “Anthony Kim, MIA Since 2012, Wrestles With Whether To Tee It Up Again or Reap an Eight-Figure Disability Settlement“, Alan Shipnuck, Golf.com (09/17/2014)


Close, But No Cigar

A guy placed a $5 bet on the NFL games last week. No big deal, except he did a 15-team parlay. Through Sunday, he was 14-0 and poised to turn $5 into $100,000. Then a kid from Stanford had to screw it all up. – PAL

Source: Bettor loses $100k payday”, David Purdum, ESPN (09/17/2014)

Note: As always, Eff Stanfurd. -TOB


VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Bryan Cranston, aka the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle aka Walter White aka Heisenberg absolutely kills this long commercial for the MLB Playoffs. It’s six minutes, but super funny.


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“…cause’ there will always be poverty and pain and war and justice in this world, but there will, thank the Lord, always be… the Beatles.”

-The Count, Pirate Radio

Week of August 11, 2014

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Click on the pic to get the joke.


The Tiger Effect: Overrated?

“Tiger will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.” – Earl Woods. I didn’t buy that even when I was 14, but I did buy into the notion that Tiger Woods was one of the very few transformative athletes. While his impact can’t be summarized by the almighty $, Matt Brennan’s examination of Tiger’s financial, social, and cultural impact on the game is revelatory. This could be one of the best original pieces I’ve read on Deadspin. -PAL

Source: “What Happens To Golf After Tiger?”, by Matt Brennan, Deadspin (8/14/14)

TOB: I have always liked Tiger Woods. But whenever I think of how Tiger’s career has fallen apart over the last five years, I think of this. At the 2009 Big Game, a game that underdog Cal would win over Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck, Stanford honored Tiger Woods. As Tiger tried to give his speech, the Cal fans that had taken over Stanford Stadium began to boo him mercilessly. And the look on Tiger’s face is priceless. He is a true Stanford Man – smarmy and entitled – and he had no idea how to react to a negative reception, even some good-natured ribbing like this. Cal fans rightfully take credit for jinxing his career.

PAL: Did you guys know that Tommy went to Cal?


Think Different

Chip Kelly is a great football coach because he doesn’t think like a typical football coach. He doesn’t do things just because that is the way they’ve always been done. He questions why things are done a certain way and whether there is a better way to do them. This method has allowed him to be extremely successful everywhere he has coached. In short, I’m glad he’s not coaching Oregon anymore (did you know I went to Cal?), and this story is why. -TOB

Source: “The Influencer”, by Chris B. Brown, Grantland (08/14/14)

PAL: I’m not the biggest NFL fan in the world, but this is a good read on innovation, especially for anyone who’s coached or thinking about coaching. My favorite part: “The practice field is not where we talk. It is where we do the skills. We want to keep the words there to a minimum. The words you do use must have meaning. [Players] do not want to hear you give a 10-minute clinic in the middle of the field.”


The Next Great American Hope

I am not exactly a soccer nut, but I do enjoy it, and I feel as though I know more about it than most American sports fans. So while my soccer knowledge is not great, it was impossible not to notice 21-year old Deandre Yedlin every time he entered the game for the U.S. at this summer’s World Cup. It was really freakin obvious – he was fast as hell, and caused havoc all over the field. The world took notice, too – and Yedlin became one of the most sought after young players to emerge from the World Cup. Since the article was published, the Seattle Sounders agreed to transfer Yedlin to the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs (former team of current Sounder Clint Dempsey) for about $4M, to begin in 2015. If you want to know what it’s like to go from being a fairly unknown athlete to being chased by some of the top teams in the world in a very short amount of time, read this. -TOB

Source: “America’s Most Wanted”, by Jordan Ritter Conn, Grantland (08/12/14)

PAL: This is the first time I’ve heard about the MLS Homegrown Rule, and I think we should immediately implement it in all major sports (TOB: Agreed). Also, I buy into the belief that it has/will take generations before US Soccer can legitimately compete for a World Cup. The infrastructure has been there in youth leagues for about 25 years now, and I think we’re starting to see it bear fruit on the world stage.


The guy behind ‘The Guy’.

Listen, I’m over the PED in sports stories, too, but this article is about the disposable men in illegal schemes. Does the name Yuri Sucart mean anything to you? I didn’t think so. He’s Alex Rodriguez’s cousin. He’s the guy A-Rod threw under the bus the first time he tested positive for PEDs, and Sucart was up to his elbows in the Biogenesis scandal that will more than likely end A-Rod’s career (don’t forget – A-Rod was on track midway through his career to become one of the best 5 players to ever play the game by any standard). I found this mini-profile interesting, sad, a bit pathetic, and quietly dark when you look at the facts. – PAL

Source: “Yuri Sucart Faces a Decade in Prison After Years of Doing A-Rod’s Dirty Work”, by Tim Elfrink, Miami New Times (8/11/14)

TOB: If you need more confirmation that Barry Bonds is great and A-Rod sucks, you have it here. Bonds’ Guy, Greg Anderson, served time in jail instead of testifying against Bonds, and I guarantee that Bonds didn’t cut the guy off. Even the mob knows (in the movies) that you take care of your loyal soldiers. A-Rod sucks.


Too good to be true. 

Grantland’s “30 for 30” shorts are admittedly hit or miss (Steve Nash’s ‘The Finish Line’ series had its moments, but any doc in which the feature is also an Executive Producer is a bit suspect). Danny Almonte captivated the Little League World Series, striking out 32 out of a possible 36 batters in the first two games. That stat turned out to be literally unbelievable. At just under 18 minutes, don’t feel the need to watch the entire thing if it doesn’t grab you, but watching the highlights of him dealing is pretty funny, especially for those of us who vaguely remember Almonte. Spoiler alert: he’s filled out. Also, parents in youth sports can be the worst. No embed available. -PAL

Source: 30 for 3o Shorts: ‘Kid Danny’, directed by Andrew Cohen, Grantland (8/13/14)


Video of the Week: 

Mike Schmidt should be number 1, for crying out loud. I’ll give TSN – a Canadian network – a pass here, but that squeal at the end is the capper.


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Herman Blume: So you’ve changed your mind and you want the job.
Max Fischer: No, I’ve got an idea and I need some money.

– Rushmore

Week of July 21, 2014

It’s a baseball-heavy week, folks. You’ll survive.

The answer isn’t (just) steroids/PEDs: Barry Bonds was better than anybody at hitting a baseball.

This is 28-point list of Barry Bonds hitting stats that are hard to imagine, yet it happened. I’m trying to think of a music corollary here to demonstrate how nuts this list is, and the best I can come up with would be a Beatles-Michael Jackson combo. Do yourself a favor, read this over beers at a bar with a friend. It’s just effing bonkers. -PAL

Source: “Barry Bonds Was An Alien God Who Destroyed Space-Time To Bring Us Joy”, Tim Marchman, Regressing (7/23/14)


Is Illegal Defense Coming to MLB?

Across MLB, on base percentage is at its lowest since 1973 – when the American League introduced the DH. In the past nine years alone, left-handed hitters have lost eighty five points on their batting average on balls in play to the right field side (this stats takes home runs out of the equation). A contributing factor to this is the increasingly implemented defensive shift, especially against left-handed hitters. Tom Verducci explores a growing call for a ban on the defensive shift as a way to promote scoring across the league. -TOB

Source: “As Shifts Suppress Offense, the Time Has Come to Consider a Change”, Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated (07/22/14)

Note: I have a crazy idea – hit the ball the where the defense isn’t. Baseball – no – sport – no – LIFE is about adjustments and evolution. Hitters, make a goddamn adjustment. This is the worst idea I’ve come across in a long time. – PAL


I want to have drinks with Dan Jenkins, and I don’t even like golf.

Dan Jenkins is 84. Until last weekend’s Open Championship (The British one), he’s covered every golf major for 45 years (that’s 179 majors). Health reasons kept him in Fort Worth, TX this year, but the consolation prize is this story from his daughter, Sally Jenkins (not a bad sports writer herself). Word for word, this is the best writing I’ve come across since we started 1-2-3 SPORTS! Funny, heartfelt, dry where it needs to be dry. Whether you like golf or not, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this short read.

Source: “After attending every British Open for 45 years, Dan Jenkins deserves some barbecue”, Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post (7/18/14)


Hey, Timmy. Take a Seat. We Kept it Warm For You.

It seemed like it happened overnight. I remember sitting in AT&T Park with my friend Ryan for Tim Lincecum’s first home start of 2012. He had been rocked in his first two starts of the season, both on the road, to the tune of a nearly 13.00 ERA. We remained defiantly optimistic. Small sample size, and all. We had reason to be optimistic: Lincecum broke into the league and went on an unprecedented run – two Cy Young Awards in his first two full seasons in 2008 and 2009. 2010 and 2011 were also very good. But there were signs. His fastball velocity had dropped considerably, and his walk rate had gone up a bit more than a tick. However, no one saw this coming. And then he got rocked. Again. He gave up four runs in the first inning on a seemingly endless run of line drives. He was getting hit hard. Ryan and I exchanged nervous glances – and then watched over the next two seasons as our hero completely fell apart. Lincecum was one of the worst starters in baseball in 2012 and 2013. This past offseason, the Giants gave him a 2-year, $35M deal, anyways – in part out of loyalty, in part out of a lack of other options, and in part because they held out hope, as all Giants fans did, that Timmy would return.  This season began, and nothing had changed. Lincecum finished April with an ERA of 5.96. I was finally ready to give up believing he’d ever find that spark again. And then he did. Aside from one bad start, Lincecum has been really damn good since the end of April. Consistent. Dependable. Sometimes even electric – punctuated by his second no-hitter in less than a year. Is he back? Somewhat surprisingly, advanced statistics suggest that he is. Maybe he is not the Timmy of 2008-09, but he might be the Timmy of 2010-11 – finally learning to care for his body and actually pitch, even as his velocity remains diminished. – TOB

Source: “Don’t Call it a Lincecomeback”, Ben Lindbergh, Grantland (07/24/14)

Note: This is a sabermetrics-heavy story, but worth the read. Timmy’s career is fascinating at first blush, yet when I think about it, why am I surprised that a dude my size (short, but skinnier) has lost velocity on his fastball as he enters his 30s? It’s a novel-worthy story: what does the hero do when he can’t rely on his talent anymore? He learns the craft. -PAL


Video of the Week: 


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“That’s all I meant by ‘relationship.’ You want me to grab a dictionary?

– Max Fischer